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Posted on on October 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ted Sorenson is now blind, but he said bluntly that he has now more VISION then President George W. Bush.

It hurts to say so – but really – the audience at   the October 2, 2008, Foreign Policy Association of New York “Lecture and Book Signing Event,” held at the New York headquarters of the great Spanish Bank – Grupo Santander (The best performing bank in these days that bared the nakedness of many other banks) was clearly drinking every word that Ted said.

Chaired by Robert Miller, the President of the Foreign Policy Association, an organization mostly aligned with the Republican Party, the evening dealt with those fateful 13 days in October 1962., but it also translated to – “from one crisis to another” – that is from the Cuban Missiles Crisis to the present Wall Street Crisis and Mr. Sorensen said with confidence:



Events during the JFK administration include the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African American Civil Rights Movement and early events of the Vietnam War.
Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas .

 Prior to Kennedy’s election to the presidency, the Eisenhower Administration created a plan to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba. Central to such a plan, which was structured and detailed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with minimal input from the United States Department of State, was the arming of a counter-revolutionary insurgency composed of anti-Castro Cubans. U.S.-trained Cuban insurgents were to invade Cuba and instigate an uprising among the Cuban people in hopes of removing Castro from power. On April 17, 1961, Kennedy ordered the previously planned invasion of Cuba to proceed. With support from the CIA, in what is known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1,500 U.S.-trained Cuban exiles, called “Brigade 2506,” returned to the island in the hope of deposing Castro. However, Kennedy ordered the invasion to take place without U.S. air support. By April 19, 1961, the Cuban government had captured or killed the invading exiles, and Kennedy was forced to negotiate for the release of the 1,189 survivors. The failure of the plan originated in a lack of dialog among the military leadership, a result of which was the complete lack of naval support in the face of organized artillery troops on the island who easily incapacitated the exile force as it landed on the beach.[20] After twenty months, Cuba released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. Furthermore, the incident made Castro wary of the U.S. and led him to believe that another invasion would occur.

The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 14, 1962, when American U-2 spy planes took photographs of a Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missile site under construction in Cuba. The photos were shown to Kennedy on October 16, 1962. America would soon be posed with a serious nuclear threat. Kennedy faced a dilemma: if the U.S. attacked the sites, it might lead to nuclear war with the U.S.S.R., but if the U.S. did nothing, it would endure the threat of nuclear weapons being launched from close range. Because the weapons were in such proximity, the U.S. might have been unable to retaliate if they were launched preemptively. Another consideration was that the U.S. would appear to the world as weak in its own hemisphere.

Many military officials and cabinet members pressed for an air assault on the missile sites, but Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine in which the U.S. Navy inspected all ships arriving in Cuba. He began negotiations with the Soviets and ordered the Soviets to remove all defensive material that was being built on Cuba. Without doing so, the Soviet and Cuban peoples would face naval quarantine. A week later, he and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reached an agreement. Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles subject to U.N. inspections if the U.S. publicly promised never to invade Cuba and quietly removed US missiles stationed in Turkey. Following this crisis, which brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any point before or since, Kennedy was more cautious in confronting the Soviet Union.


Our narrative starts the morning of October 16, 1962, when Sorensen was called in by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, shown some photos provided by the CIA has obtained two days earlier, and told of the crisis. Then, in a very systemic way he analyzed how JFK managed the crisis with a calm hand, while getting input from advisers, keeping his steady hand with all involved – including the Soviet adversaries and Cuba’s Castro. He made sure that at the time of his chosing, everyone knew what was at stake – and for a successful outcome – the cards were eventually open on the table and Khruschev agreed to withdraw those missiles in exchange for an eventual removal of NATO missiles from the Black Sea shores of Turkey that were superseded already then by technology, and replaced much more efficiently by Polaris missiles from US submarines in the Black Sea.

When the intelligence came in, Kennedy decided that nothing will happen as long as the Soviets thought the US did not know yet about those missiles – so the first thing was to go about business as usual – the continuation of the ongoing election campaign – without giving any indication that the US has other preoccupation in its official mind. JFK himself went on the 17th to Connecticut for campaign stop. He wanted to make sure that all intelligence is scrutinized – and all options considered before a decision on action or inaction is taken. He asked his advisers for all pro-s and con-s. Eventually Kennedy went ahead and had to inform the allies – this because he did not want to face them with edicts that in the end effect impact them as well.   He asked his advisers for all pro-s and con-s.

By October 22nd – Adenauer was contacted, the NATO, and De Gaul who was the most difficult. He called the Congressional leaders and told them what was discovered and what was decided. The leaders preferred bombing to passive reaction. Today we know that had we attacked, the Russians had passed the responsibility to the local officers, and tactical nuclear weapons would have been employed. The radio active fall-out would have spread globally and would have created nuclear deserts.

After that he went to the UN and presented it to the Organization of American States as the Regional Organization that endorsed a quarantine or blockade of Cuba with all, except one – voting in agreement.Now he told Dean Rusk to call in the Russian Ambassador to Washington and hand him a letter – and at the same time provide in each capital a letter via the US Ambassador to their Government heads.

Here Sorensen compared the actions with the way the US got into Iraq unilaterally.

The contacts with Khruschev he compared with the ongoing debate in the US in regard to the potential interaction with Iran – “only naive people say no to communication – no negotiation with those that do not like us.”

The analysis of options:

Obviously – the first option suggested by generals was a surgical air-strike. But Kennedy wanted to know how if this could take out all missiles which he was told that it will not be the case – so he would not go with this advice.

A second option would be to send a note to Khruschev and start negotiating – but this would project a weak America.

The third option was a “Blockade” would put the ball in Khruschev’s court – but this is an act of war. Our allies would find that sending ships to the Caribbean would see a quadrupling of insurance rates.

So the fourth option – “Quarantine” – was chosen because it is less offensive and is only against offensive weaponry – leaving also open the question about what constitutes a defensive missile.

On Friday October 26th – the 12th day – came a brimstone personal letter from Khruschev full of threats and denials, but not a closed door, then a second letter from the military that was even terser, and JFK chose to answer to the first letter.

On Saturday the 27th, the CIA reported work on the sites, a U-2 Plane was shot down. on Sunday Kennedy and wife went to church – and when they came back at 11:30 got the information that the Soviets will take home those missiles if the US gets the NATO missiles out of Turkey.

Sorensen said that a lot of Presidents prevented the cold war from heating up “by reaching out to moderates and modernists behind the curtain.” Now we made enemies of 1.3 billion Muslims without reaching out to moderates and modernists.

The CIA, in the Bay of Pigs, also projected that the Cubans will revolt and receive the Bay of Pigs invaders with open arms. It did not happen this way and it did not happen in Iraq either.

On the Georgia – Russia situation, Kennedy would not have gotten so close to Russia by working with a “superheated” Georgian leader.

On the Wall Street Crisis – there was no consultation and there was no plan – the way it was handled was no different then the way Iraq was handled.  

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