I don't give a 💀 fuck 💦 about 😯 what 👏 people 🙎👯 say 👂😂 about 🤓🏻 doing 😧📌 a false 👳 flag 🎏🏳 to 📬 justify taking 💅 out Castro. I 🙋 do 😱💕 fine, 😂 I 🏻 don't 🙈🙈 give a ♂ shit 🎩👋 what society 😥😥 tells 💬🗣 me what my 👨👈 weight should 💘💘 be 🐝 or 💁 what ⁉ I should eat, 🏾👉 or 💰 what 👏 I should 👑 drink, 🍸🍷 or where 👏 I 🙋💰 can stage 🏁🏁 an attack 🤼🤼 to 🎯 justify invading Cuba. You 👧 met 🤝🔗 a 👏 true 💀✅ red-pilled alpha-motherfucker.
It seems timely to do a little bit of good 'ol fashioned analysis on the Cuban Missle Crisis (something, in the book I'm about to discuss' preface, Arthur Schlesinger notes it had very little to do with Cuba as a combatant). Robert Kennedy, by then no-longer Attorney General of the United States, wrote his account of the Cuban Missle/October Crisis in Thirteen Days.
What's remarkable about this book is that it's actually pretty fair to Khruschev and the USSR as a peer, not as much to Cuba, to whom much of the threat loomed in the Soviet Premier's negotation with JFK over disarming the island nation. I say fair to the USSR in that RFK acknowledges that the Soviets had a right to do trade with Cuba in this way, but that the US, likewise, concerning Cuba, had a right to do surveillance fly-overs because of the suspicion that the Soviets were lying about the nature of said trade, rather than the one-sided nature with which this story is usually told, out of the context of why Cuba may need defensive missles in the first place.
I dispute much of the chronology as presented by RFK (i.e. places initial overtures from Moscow behind common diplomatic back-and-forth initiated by Kennedy). I don't think matters very much, however, so I won't correct it beyond saying that controlling the narrative of the missle crisis is more important to RFK being seen as a theorhetician, rather than it was JFK's culpability for escalation. This, however, is still much more than you'd get from other politicians, then or now, about the nature of this crisis, and much of the import comes from the (still too self-charitable) tacit admission that, as RFK saw it, the US was as culpable as the USSR (rather than, as the jingoist revisionism typically goes, entirely unaccountable), even if this is heavily caveated by what he chooses to say next, and what he omits from the narrative entirely.
“I once attended a preliminary meeting with a Cabinet officer, where we agreed on a recommendation to be made to the President. It came as a slight surprise to me when, a few minutes later, in the meeting with the President himself, the Cabinet officer vigorously and fervently expressed the opposite point of view, which, from the discussion, he quite accurately learned would be more sympathetically received by the President.
We had virtual unanimity at the time of the Bay of Pigs. At least, if any officials in the highest ranks of government were opposed, they did not speak out. Thereafter, I suggested there be a devil’s advocate to give an opposite opinion if none was pressed. At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, this was obviously not needed.
It is also important that different departments of government be represented. Thirty years ago, the world was a far, far different place. The Secretary of State and his department could handle all international problems. Perhaps they were not always handled correctly, but at least this handling by one department was manageable. “Our commitments were few—we were not as widely involved as we are today—but we were nevertheless a very powerful nation. We could and did, in places we felt our national interests were involved (such as Latin America), impose our will by force if we believed it necessary. The Secretary of State dealt with all the responsibilities without great difficulty, giving “foreign-policy advice to the President, administering the department, directing our relationships with that handful of countries which were considered significant, and protecting the financial interests of our citizens around the world.
But that position has very little relationship with that of the Secretary of State today. The title is the same; it still deals with foreign affairs; but there the similarity virtually disappears. Today, the Secretary of State’s position is at least five jobs, five different areas of responsibility, all of which could properly require his full time.
The Secretary of State must deal with more than one hundred twenty countries, attend to the affairs of the United Nations, and travel to numerous countries. He must receive ambassadors, attend dinners, and handle other protocol and social affairs (and lest anyone believe this to be unimportant, we might remember that Secretary Rusk missed President Kennedy’s extremely important meeting with Prime Minister Macmillan in Nassau because of a diplomatic dinner he felt he should attend). The Secretary of State must deal with a dozen crises of various significance that arise every week all over the globe, in the Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, Aden, or elsewhere. He must deal with the one or two major crises that seem to be always with us, such as Berlin in 1961, Cuba in 1962, and now Vietnam. Finally, he must administer one of the largest and most complicated of all departments.”
He muses about the role of the Secretary of State, and indicates that not only does State's duties expand beyond the purview possible for one official, it does so into the entire executive branch (referring to people like himself with no real official duties relating to foreign policy, but did, demonstrably, have the ear of the president). He makes mention of, both, the role of people like himself, McNamara, Stevenson, Bundy, etc. who were not Dean Rusk in having a duty of playing "devil's advocate" in order to present JFK the most complete picture of the options, even if they aren't being advocated for seriously (this suggestion is, in and of itself, bad faith for reasons I'll articulate in a moment) as well as regime change sometimes being a necessary part of this practice. This is where the US taking partial responsibility in some functionally meaningless way is intended to pay off in an extremely meaningful way; even if Cuba was not a successful attempt at regime change, the attempt was justified in his estimation and therefore so were past and future interventions.
This imperialistic goal is underlied by the fact that RFK was not a dissenting voice, but one in a chorus suggesting things like a false flag operation (a "USS Maine" type scenario) to justify a preemptive invasion into Cuba– hardly advocating for an unpopular position, and when in a bloc like this, it amounts only to a vote of confidence in such an idea. Awkwardly, RFK in this book does not even mention his own positions to this effect, or what the position was in general that was purported to have been advanced for this purpose by others.
This is a glaring omission that, when taken on balance with the facts of this matter, along with the crusade for defense of a right to regime change, and that things the US actually, actively does can be floated as a theorhetical alternative that needs voicing (if it's meant to be hypothetically an opposing viewpoint), can only lead to the conclusion that this is as much a defense of himself (in what would be recordings from these meetings where he, with much alacrity, advances exactly this) as it is framing an argument much as a prosecutor, like himself, would awaiting future litigation of this matter.
There's another element to the crafting of the book I think relevant: at the end of the main text, written by RFK, there's an editoral note by longtime Kennedy "cleaner" Ted Sorensen (who would also step in on Ted Kennedy's behalf after Chappaquiddick) noting that not only was this Robert's personal diary sourcing much of this (meant to be an excuse of an incomplete narrative, perhaps not unrelentingly factual– otherwise this would've been included with the preface), but that it was incomplete (so, if something was missing or incorrect, well, he simply hadn't the time between 1967 when he wrote this and 1968 when, well, uh).
I find this bit about Sorensen interesting because, even in absentia, the two Kennedys who did, in my opinion, have any kind of redeeming aspect to their politics needed further coddling from inside their own organization, speaks to a kind of weird stewardship that seems to only say "you are not meant to understand this" about the facts of a well-documented period of thirteen days that literally requires the input of a culpable participant in what could've been armageddon to contextualize, not as memoir (despite the title), as historiographical, primary source, reporting of events. We wouldn't find out for decades what was really said, even if what was publicly known even then contradicted this version of events to some extent. What fascinates me here is the crafting of the narrative, so brazenly, rather than that, as we should always expect from a first-hand account where a series of wrongs was committed, the narrative requires extensive critical evaluation, which many have already done about the prevailing retelling of this story despite all corrective guidance.
Things like Operation Northwoods (the existence of which was not revealed until the 1990s), Operation Mongoose, the plot to blame a hypothetical failure of John Glenn's space flight on communist regime sabotage, plots to fake a downed airliner, etc. were abound at this time. The Gulf of Tonkin false flag was not long to follow to justify escalation in Vietnam. Theories about the historical incident with the Maine were widely discussed at this time. RFK, knowing we could not know these things at the time he was writing them (with the presumption they might eventually be published), suggests he foresaw exactly one thing about this: we'd eventually find out about what wasn't executed on, what was said during the crisis, and who endorsed what. The success was that these things happened over such a long period that the Kennedys became lionized again in the public imagination, and even the most well-documented and verifiable elements of this part of the Kennedy administration are relegated to the pile of things those who can afford to ignore them can dismiss as conspiracy.
That's the brilliance of this book, that he knew history would reflect on him in some way, and what better time than in advance of it to begin to seed the public imagination about how things happened that could be consumed by a celebrity public official.
See you in orbit.