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I'll be glad to furnish several examples during the Cuban crisis that were objectively far more dangerous than the Arkhipov incident and were resolved by the sober intelligence and calm of those involved on both sides. Off hand- I do not have documentation with me right now- I would mention the accidental explosion of a munitions deposit in Cuba that killed numerous Soviet military that could have been construed as an attack, the downing of a U2 over Cuba by two Soviet officers in an extreme act of insubordination, the accidental violation of Soviet airspace by another U2, and the message of an American spy asserting that the Soviets had opted for nuclear war. All of these events happened in a matter of days while tension was at its highest under a 48 hour ultimatum to cease installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba. Any one of those incidents could have triggered a conflict and degenerated into a nuclear exchange. We can not only thank the Kennedys and Krushchev for their calm in the face of numerous conflicting reports but the number of anonymous professionals who just did their job and made snap decisions that added up to keeping the peace. At the bottom both adversaries were committed to negotiations and neither allowed the many grave incidents that occurred to compromise their committments.

As for Arkhipov, I believe that he was the only one who was really following orders in front of an act of insubordination. The Soviets had ordered that no arms were to be put into firing position and American reconnaisance had the capacity to verify this fact on land through overflight missions. It certainly would have been impossible for the Americans to verify that a nuclear torpedo had been put into firing position by insubordinate officers but the order applied to all.(In fact it seems that it happened on another occasion.) The downing of the U2 over Cuba by two Soviet officers was perhaps the most dangerous event of all precisely because the Americans were aware that the SAM batteries were not in firing position. In fact the Joint Chief of Staff lobbied for an immediate invasion in the wake of the downing with State not far behind. It was the two Kennedys in permanent Executive Command that saved the day.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Sep 28th, 2013 at 06:24:17 AM EST
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