The New Australian (Australia)
 Octubre 13, 2002



                                   By Servando Gonzalez
                                   TNA News with Commentary
                                   The New Australian
                                   La Nueva Cuba
                                   Some time ago I found on the Web a joker's site with suggestions about
                                   deductions you can legally claim to lower your taxes. One of them was, go watch a
                                   Kevin Costner movie and deduct it as a charitable contribution. Last week I followed
                                   the guy's advice and saw Thirteen Days. Believe me, it was not worth the effort.
                                   Next time I'll rather pay my taxes in full.

                                   Though we are used to Hollywood's freedoms in telling history, I always watch a
                                   movie for entertainment. If I want to know about history I read it in a good book.
                                   Initially, film makers never made any claim that what they were creating was
                                   nothing other than fiction, and I never had a problem with that. Lately, however,
                                   there is a growing trend to pass some of Hollywood's fiction as history, and this is
                                   something I don't like one bit.

                                   As a card-carrying compassionate Liberal, Kevin Costner feels a strong attraction
                                   for starring in politically correct movies. When applied to history, however, political
                                   correctness is equivalent to the distortion of the past to justify the politics of the
                                   present; that is, lying. Thirteen Days, Costner's latest film about the Cuban missile
                                   crisis, is a politically correct movie.

                                                             THE LIES

                                   Thirteen days is as full of lies as Robert Kennedy's homonymous book in which the
                                   film is mostly based. The rest of the lies come from some recent studies about the
                                   crisis made by "serious" historians. Among the most flagrant lies depicted in the
                                   film are:

                                   1. In some scenes, soldiers jump from trucks to ready intermediate range missiles.
                                   Unless the Soviets had implemented affirmative action at the time and had enlisted
                                   some Africans as privates, one must assumethat the soldiers manning the
                                   missiles in the film are Cuban. It is true that some Cuban troops had been
                                   authorized to work on the installation of the SAM bases. But, with the exception of
                                   Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, and Ché Guevara (none of which are black), the Cubans
                                   were strictly forbidden to access the strategic missile bases, or even come close
                                   to their perimeter guarded by seasoned Soviet special troops.

                                   2. Kennedy and his close associates were surprised and shocked with the
                                   unexpected discovery of strategic Soviet missiles in Cuban soil. It seems that their
                                   surprised was faked, because as early as August, 1962, the word was out in
                                   Washington that the Soviets were building missile launchers for weapons already in
                                   Cuba. Between August 31 and October 12, 1962, Senator Kenneth Keating made
                                   ten Senate speeches and fourteen public statements about the developments in
                                   Cuba. He was merely saying publicly what the American intelligence community,
                                   apparently his source of information, was muttering as loudly as they could.

                                   Cuban refugees, leaving the island in drones, had been reporting sightings of Soviet
                                   army trucks carrying extremely long cigar-shaped objects covered by tarpaulins.
                                   Some of the refugees strongly suspected that the cigar-shaped objects they had
                                   seen riding on Soviet trucks on Cuban highways were not Siberian Cohibas for
                                   Castro. But, instead of paying attention to the growing concern, White House press
                                   secretary Pierre Salinger criticized the television networks for giving Keating the air
                                   time to express his concerns

                                   3. We were more close to the brink than ever before. During the crisis President
                                   Kennedy ordered to defuse the nuclear warheads of the American missiles in
                                   Turkey, allegedly to avoid an accident. It was also reported that, even during the
                                   most dangerous moments of the crisis, Kennedy didn't alert the civil defense or
                                   show any curiosity about learning how to use the secret codes to unleash a
                                   nuclear attack. Strange behavior indeed for the commander-in-chief of a country at
                                   the brink of a nuclear attack.

                                   But one of the most striking things of the Cuban missile crisis is that the Soviets
                                   never placed their troops, nor the civilian defense, under alert. This astonishing fact
                                   is mentioned in most of the early accounts of the crisis. Recently declassified top
                                   secret CIA documents confirmed the fact. At 10:00 in the morning of Tuesday the
                                   23rd of October, CIA Director John McCone reported a strange thing to the
                                   ExComm: no signs of a general alert of Soviet forces in Cuba or around the globe
                                   had been reported

                                   A top secret CIA memo of October 25 clearly states that "We still see no signs of
                                   any crash procedure in measures to increase the readiness of Soviet armed
                                   forces." A top secret memo of October 26 gives the first indications of a state of
                                   alert, but in some European satellite countries, not in the Soviet Union. As late as
                                   Friday, October 26, American intelligence reported from Cuba, from Moscow, and
                                   from the United Nations, that the Russians were not ready for war. It is only on
                                   October 27 that a top secret CIA memo clearly acknowledges that "No significant
                                   redeployment of Soviet ground, air or naval forces have been noted. However, there
                                   are continuing indications of increased readiness among some units."

                                   Surprisingly, even at that late date, the Soviets had made no attempt to mobilize
                                   their civil defense nor to prepare the population for the eventual use of fallout
                                   shelters. This was quite significant, because the Soviets had devoted considerable
                                   effort toinstructing their civilian population in civil defense and had invested
                                   considerably in fallout shelters.

                                   4. Now it can be told: we were even more closer to the brink than most people may
                                   think. During a three-day meeting that took place in Havana with the presence of
                                   Cuban, Soviet, and American scholars and officials, among them Robert S.
                                   McNamara, new declassified documents of the crisis from the different parties
                                   involved were made available to the scholars. It was during this meeting that a
                                   Soviet official, Army General Anatoly Gribkov, who allegedly was responsible for
                                   planning the operation in 1962, dropped a bombshell when he confirmed the
                                   presence of both strategic and tactical nuclear warheads on Cuban soil. Gribkov
                                   provided no evidence to support his claims.

                                   However, notwithstanding Gribkov's unsubstantiated claims, one has to be very
                                   naive to believe that the Soviet Union could commit nuclear suicide in defense of a
                                   small island lost in the Caribbean whose leader was an unstable, self proclaimed
                                   "Marxist." That would have been a totally foolish decision. But Nikita Sergueyevich
                                   Khrushchev a.k.a. the "Butcher of Budapest," and the "Hangman of the
                                   Ukraine"-- was anything but a fool.

                                   5. The Soviets had deployed 32 nuclear warheads in Cuba in 1962. The American
                                   intelligence never confirmed the presence of nuclear warheads on Cuban soil. They
                                   never found evidence of nuclear warheads in Cuba and Kennedy gave specific
                                   orders about not verifying the extraction of nuclear warheads by boarding and
                                   inspecting the Soviet ships leaving Cuba after the crisis.

                                   Lately, perhaps enticed by juicy grants from American foundations, some of the
                                   ex-Soviets have engaged in a fierce competition to tell some Americans what they
                                   love to hear. In 1989 Gen. Volkogonov revealed that 20 nuclear warheads were in
                                   Cuba. In 1992, Gen, Gribkov raised the number of nuclear warheads in Cuba to 48.
                                   In 1996 Lt. Col. Anatoly Dukuchaev raised the ante to 162 nuclear warheads in
                                   Cuban soil in 1962. Like rabbits, the nuclear warheads in Cuba keep multiplying. If
                                   this fierce competition keeps heating up fueled by American money, one of these
                                   funny Russians may end up by claiming that there were more nuclear warheads in
                                   Cuba than the number the Soviets actually had at the time.

                                   The main force behind this concerted effort in proving that nuclear warheads were in
                                   Cuba is Robert McNamara, whose main goal has been to find justifications for his
                                   absurd policies as Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy administration.
                                   Recently McNamara found support for his theories from none other than his former
                                   executive action target, Fidel Castro, and from a group of Russians, among them,
                                   Sergei Mikoyan, an old KGB hand. But McNamara, Castro, and the ex-KGB
                                   operatives are very questionable sources of intelligence.

                                   6. The Soviet officers in the field in Cuba had an open hand to use nuclear weapons
                                   without further authorization from Moscow. According to Gribkov, General Pliyev,
                                   the Soviet military commander in Cuba, had been given authorization to fire nuclear
                                   devices against an American invasion force if he considered it necessary, without
                                   further authorization from the Kremlin.

                                   However, it is very difficult to believe, as some American researchers and retired
                                   senior Soviet officers now claim, that Russian field officers in Cuba had been
                                   authorized to use tactical nuclear warheads without further authorization from
                                   Moscow. Such an action would have been tantamount to mass suicide, since a
                                   single nuclear warhead fired by Russian troops in Cuba would had been equivalent
                                   to a declaration of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
                                   One has to be very naive, or have had as many vodka bottles as Gribkov, to believe
                                   that the Kremlin, whose zeal over the control of nuclear devices bordered paranoia,
                                   would have committed that act of sheer madness.

                                   7. The plan was Khrushchev's idea to protect Castro from an American invasion. In
                                   his memoirs Khrushchev claims that the main reason for sending strategic missiles
                                   to Cuba was because Castro feared an American invasion. But it is very difficult to
                                   believe that Khrushchev planned to install missiles in Cuba to protect Castro just a
                                   few days after Khrushchev had tried to overthrow the Cuban leader by force.
                                   Actually, in April of 1962, after Castro discovered and neutralized the plot, he
                                   expelled from Cuba Soviet Ambassador Kudryatvsev (who also moonlighted as a
                                   senior GRU officer) and a group of his embassy thugs.

                                   Moreover, simple logic dictates that no great power is going to give missiles to any
                                   newcomer who just asks for them. The USSR installed missiles where it wanted,
                                   and nowhere else. When Mao asked for missiles the Soviets turned him down flat.
                                   Neither before 1962, nor after, did the Soviets deploy nuclear warheads beyond
                                   their borders. It was not until many years later, only after they had developed
                                   reliable devices to control its arming, that the Soviets allowed a limited number of
                                   nuclear warheads to cross their borders, and always under strict control of KGB's
                                   special troops.

                                   If the Soviets didn't trust their own army, why, then, would they risk placing nuclear
                                   missiles so close to the unstable, trigger-happy Castro? If anything, what
                                   Khrushchev would have loved was having the Americans doing the dirty job he
                                   failed to accomplish, by invading Cuba and helping him getting rid of the unreliable
                                   Fidel Castro.

                                   The Soviet commitment in Cuba had proved to be a calamitous failure. As seen
                                   from the Kremlin, Castro was unpredictable, volatile, undisciplined, and often
                                   nonsensical. His wholesale executions, mass arrests, and terrorist adventures
                                   against his Latin American neighbors, together with the sight of hundreds of
                                   thousands of Cubans attempting to flee his rule, raised the very Stalinist specter
                                   Khrushchev was trying to dispel. Moreover, Castro was making a shambles of the
                                   Cuban economy and neglected to pay attention to "suggestions" coming from

                                   In such circumstances the sensible course for Khrushchev was to cut his losses
                                   and get out of the game, particularly considering that the Soviet lines of supply to
                                   Cuba were long and extremely vulnerable. But to leave Cuba voluntarily would have
                                   been tantamount to an admission of failure and would had involved substantial loss
                                   of face. If, however, Castro could be eliminated as a result of American
                                   "aggression," then Khrushchev and the USSR could retreat from Cuba, their honor
                                   relatively untarnished. After an American invasion of the island the failure of
                                   Communism in Cuba could be blamed not on deficiencies in Soviet-style
                                   communist management of Cuban affairs, but on "Yankee Imperialism."

                                   *Servando Gonzalez is a Cuban-born American writer. He was an officer in the
                                   Cuban army during the missile crisis. His upcoming book The Secret Fidel Castro:
                                   Deconstructing the Symbol will appear this Spring.

                                   Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved.