Friday, October 01, 2004

Teddy Boor

American Spectator reader US Air Force Lt. Col. Tracy Welch (ret.) offers a review the previously mentioned article about Ted Kennedy's rant at George Washington University. The letter deserves a full reprint here not only for its salience but also because I'm such a military history buff.
It is comical that Ted Kennedy should make a statement like he did about "thanking God that President Bush was not our President at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis." His own brother handled that crisis much the same as President Bush has handled Iraq. A quick comparison of the facts of each case easily shows that Teddy has no idea what he is talking about, which is of course nothing new. Soviet Union had never overtly attacked U.S. Also the U.S. had provided assistance to dissidents to try and overthrow the Cuban government. This provided the Soviet Union an excuse for installing nuclear missiles, which could have struck U.S. cities in 10 to 15 minutes, in the first place. (Though this was only an excuse. The real reason for the Soviet deployment of these missiles was a quick fix to address a weakness in the Soviets' ability to counter an existing U.S. advantage in nuclear capability.) The Soviet Union was basically installing the same kind of missiles the U.S. already had in service in Turkey for some time. However, because it was not acceptable to allow the possibility of a "First Strike Capability," Kennedy started a "Quarantine" (actually a Blockade which is an act of war) and was within 24 to 48 hours of launching a pre-emptive invasion of Cuba, had the Soviet Union not backed down and withdrew the missiles.

Note here these actions were taken WITHOUT asking for the permission or consent of the U.N. Such an invasion would likely have started WWIII, since military personnel from Soviet Union would have become causalities in any attack on the missile sites being constructed, and the fact that the missiles were still the property of the Soviet Union. We also now know that the Soviet forces in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons available (which we didn't know at the time; talk about a catastrophic intelligence failure) and could very possibly, even likely, have been used on any invasion force. For his actions, Kennedy was hailed by the entire country and much of the world as a hero for taking a stand to prevent, what some considered, a threat to the United States.

Contrast this with the issue of Iraq, which could easily be argued to have even more of a reason for taking action. The United States has been attacked by terrorists. Iraq has shown it was willing to support such terrorists, and that it was also willing to defy the world (U.N.) in not cooperating to ensure it did not possess weapons of mass destruction. The cost of not taking action in the case of Iraq could not come close to the possible consequences of a nuclear attack on the United States from missiles in Cuba. However, the actual chances of an attack from weapons of mass destruction from terrorists are immensely more possible, and likely, than the use of the missiles based in Cuba. After all the Soviet Union was led by people who wanted to stay alive and in power, not by people who think that dying a martyr's death is an automatic ticket to paradise. However, President Bush is seen as a villain by some for taking the same decisive actions Kennedy did. It is also interesting to note that President Kennedy is often revered, by these same activists, as an idealist and hero for his ideas and actions in creating the so-called "Camelot' administration. Yet he took the world to the brink of Nuclear War because he was not willing to accept the POSSIBILITY of a first strike to exist. This, even though we had never been attacked or even overtly threatened with attack. Remember these missiles were supposedly for the "defense" of Cuba from invasion.
-- Tracy Welch, Lt Col USAF RetAlexandria, Virginia

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