The 1962 midterm elections were under way in the United States and the White House had denied charges that it was ignoring dangerous Soviet missiles 90 miles from Florida. These missile preparations were confirmed when an Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of medium-range (SS-4) and intermediate-range (R-14) ballistic missile facilities. The United States established a military blockade to prevent further missiles from entering Cuba. It announced that they would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the USSR.I had become an officer in the Coast Guard a little more than a year earlier, what with the draft blowing down my neck and not wanting to be militarist. I remember feeling stunned and scared that my efforts had come to naught, that we were on the verge of World War III, and I would be in it.
After a long period of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a U.S. public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba again without direct provocation. Secretly, the United States also agreed that it would dismantle all U.S.-built Jupiter MRBMs, which were deployed in Turkey and Italy against the Soviet Union but were not known to the public.
When all offensive missiles and Ilyushin Il-28 light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 20, 1962. The negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union pointed out the necessity of a quick, clear, and direct communication line between Washington and Moscow. As a result, the Moscow–Washington hotline was established. A series of agreements sharply reduced U.S.–Soviet tensions during the following years.
Fortunately, John F Kennedy rather than Donald Trump was our president, and sanity prevailed on both sides. In less than a month. But how would have Trump has handled the crisis? Certainly not with anything as unmanly as negotiations.
I was recently disturbed again when the US began threatening Russia's Cuba - Ukraine - and was reminded how unimportant talking things out has become in our foreign policy. In part, Trump is a product of a society and a government that has forgotten the lessons of the Cuban missile crisis and that's one more reason not to let Trump anywhere near the White House.