Sunday, October 14, 2012
"The War” Myths Endure after 70 years
From the Associated Press: Cuban missile crisis beliefs endure after 50 years
In the spirit of the Associated Press article by Peter Orsi, I believe it’s past time to re-examine some of the myths surrounding the dispute between England, France, Germany, Italy, the USSR, Japan, China, Netherlands, the US (and others) often referred to as World War II.In the five decades since the nuclear standoff between Washington and Moscow, much of the long-held conventional wisdom about the missile crisis has been knocked down, including the common belief that Kennedy's bold brinksmanship ruled the day.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, historians now say it was behind-the-scenes compromise rather than a high-stakes game of chicken that resolved the faceoff, that both Washington and Moscow wound up winners and that the crisis lasted far longer than 13 days.
Despite what many believe, this so-called “war” ended as the result of intense diplomatic negotiation between the major governments involved.
Declassified documents, oral histories and accounts from decision-makers involved in the standoff have turned up new information that scholars say provides lessons for leaders embroiled in contemporary crises.
There were, of course, people who wanted to wage total war rather than come to an understanding, but FDR resisted pressure from foreign leaders like Winston Churchill who advised him to demand nothing less than unconditional surrender and who even went so far as to propose that we invade continental Europe.
But cooler heads prevailed and meetings were held by American, British, and Soviet representatives and leaders in Germany and Japan. We were about to provide a face-saving out for Mr. Hitler but an unfortunate accident while cleaning his pistol made that impossible. In the end, negotiations were concluded with German President Karl Dönitz which led to the end of the misunderstanding in Europe.
In the Pacific, negotiations were soon begun after fighting ended in Europe. In the end a deal was struck between Mr. MacArthur and Mr. Hirohito in which Mr. Hirohito was widely reported to have gotten the better deal, keeping his job as emperor, his palace and a firm guarantee that he would not be hanged. MacArthur was later fired from his job and, to rub salt in the wounds, failed in his effort to be nominated to office running as a Republican.
The myth that the US Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marines had much to do with ending this potential conflict is due to the incredible propaganda effort on the part of the Military Industrial Complex.
Now we know better.