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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 18, 1962

On this date in 1962, President Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, who told him that the Soviet aid to Cuba was purely defensive. JFK knew that Gromyko was lying: US intelligence had already spotted offensive missiles in Cuba. From a memorandum on the meeting:
 As to Soviet assistance to Cuba, Mr. Gromyko stated that he was instructed to make it clear, as the Soviet Government had already done, that such assistance, pursued solely for the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba and to the development of Cuba, toward the development of its agriculture and land amelioration, and training by Soviet specialists of Cuba nationals in handling defensive armaments were by no means offensive. If it were otherwise, the Soviet Government would have never become involved in rendering such assistance. This applied to any other country as well. Laos was a good and convincing illustration of this point. If the Soviet Government had pursued a different policy, the situation in that country today would be quite different. It was quite evident that the Soviet Union and its friends had broader opportunities of influencing the situation in that country than had the United States. However, the USSR had sought an understanding on that question, since it could not go back on the basic principle of its foreign policy, which was designed to alleviate tensions, to eliminate outstanding problems and to resolve them on a peaceful basis. 
 JFK later dictated his memory of a meeting with advisors (sound quality is not great):