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The following is an article from Haaretz. Of all the coverage of the former President’s remarks, this was one of the best:

Bill Clinton: Netanyahu isn’t interested in Mideast peace deal

Former U.S. President says a cynical perspective of Prime Minister’s calls for negotiations ‘means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank’.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the inability to reach a peace deal that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Thursday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, the former U.S. president was quoted by Foreign Policy magazine as claiming that Netanyahu lost interest in the peace process as soon as two basic Israelis demands seemed to come into reach: a viable Palestinian leadership and the possibility of normalizing ties with the Arab world.

“The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn’t seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu,” Clinton said, adding that Israel wanted “to believe they had a partner for peace in a Palestinian government, and there’s no question — and the Netanyahu government has said — that this is the finest Palestinian government they’ve ever had in the West Bank.”

Furthermore, the former U.S. president is quoted by Foreign Policy as saying that Israel was also on the verge of being recognized by Arab nations adding that the “king of Saudi Arabia started lining up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘if you work it out with the Palestinians … we will give you immediately not only recognition but a political, economic, and security partnership.”

“This is huge…. It’s a heck of a deal,” Clinton said, adding: “That’s what happened. Every American needs to know this. That’s how we got to where we are.”

“The real cynics believe that the Netanyahu’s government’s continued call for negotiations over borders and such means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank,” he added.

Clinton also said he felt the Palestinians would accept the deal rejected by former PA President Yasser Arafat in 2000 negotiations with then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, saying that Palestinian leaders “have explicitly said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before — my deal — that they would take it.”

“For reasons that even after all these years I still don’t know for sure, Arafat turned down the deal I put together that Barak accepted,” he was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying. “But they also had an Israeli government that was willing to give them East Jerusalem as the capital of the new state of Palestine.”

Clinton also added, as to the chances of Mideast peace being achievable in the foreseeable future, in light of past failures, saying that the “two great tragedies in modern Middle Eastern politics, which make you wonder if God wants Middle East peace or not, were [Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination and [Ariel] Sharon’s stroke.”

Clinton’s comments come as a Palestinian delegation headed by Abbas is planned to officially submit its statehood bid to the United Nations later Friday, with both Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to address the General Assembly.

Despite heavy pressure from the West, Abbas remained determined to formally apply for UN recognition of a Palestinian state Friday.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Abbas Thursday night in an effort to convince him not to seek Security Council recognition, warning that the U.S. would use its veto power to block it. Lower-level American officials also met with Abbas several times, but to no avail.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reiterated on Thursdays that Abbas’ statehood bid will not contribute to the peace process and will merely delay the start of negotiations – which, she added, are the only way the Palestinians can actually achieve independence.

American officials also continued their effort to mobilize enough Security Council votes to defeat the statehood bid without a U.S. veto. Germany has already announced it won’t vote yes, and Rice said she is convinced other countries will do the same. America, she said, is not the only country to realize that the UN gambit is unproductive.

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As July approaches, so too does the beginning of a withdrawal from Afghanistan. This has sparked some measure of debate in this country. Unfortunately, much of the debate around the future of our involvement in Afghanistan and the region is ill-informed. The most annoying debate is whether or not we should abandon counter-insurgency and embrace counter-terrorism. Allow me to simplify the effects of both strategies: The latter will result in prolonged war, while the former will bring about a negotiated settlement. But listening to the pundits, politicians, or reading the newspaper (or blog) writers, one would come away with the idea that counter-insurgency has failed and that counter-terrorism is the best strategy as we go forward. If we are to leave Afghanistan with some semblance of security, then we must continue the counter-insurgency strategy that has been in place for a year-and-a-half. Failing to do so will result in prolonged conflict. 

Conventional wisdom says that the killing of Osama bin Laden has boosted the argument for pursuing a counter-terrorism strategy. The detailed account of helicopters swooping down on a compound, with armed commandos rappelling down onto unsuspecting terrorists, has captured the imagination of Americans everywhere. It seemed so effective; indeed, bin Laden has a bullet in his head and chest to attest to the effectiveness of SEAL Team 6. Unfortunately, this is not exactly how counter-terrorism works. And if it did, it would require much more energy and money.

 Vice President Joe Biden is the White House’s biggest advocate of counter-terrorism. During the White House’s long internal discussion over what to do in Afghanistan, he pushed for a counter-terrorism strategy. In his view, a smaller footprint would yield better results, particularly if U.S. military forces went after Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. The larger footprint required by counter-insurgency would only create more terrorists, he argued. Biden also described counter-insurgency as nation-building. Throughout the internal debate, Biden sought to undermine the arguments of General David Petraeus and General Stanley McChrystal, the military brass. In the end, the President did not fully embrace the counter-terrorism strategy. He agreed to the strategy proposed by the military: counter-insurgency.  

The military, during the internal debate, argued that the Taliban was effectively winning the war. The momentum was on their side. But, in their view, the Taliban had an ally in Hamid Karzai. Karzai was corrupt and did not have the trust of the Afghans. A lack of security was also driving factor in allowing the Taliban insurgency to flourish. The only way to improve security and governance, they argued, was to add more troops on the ground and adopt a counter-insurgency strategy. They hoped for 40,000 more troops, but the President only approved 30,000 troops. Believing that the military was trying to box him in, the President dictated five pages of memorandum that were meant to straightjacket the military. He feared that they were pushing him into the trap of mission creep.

 Counter-terrorism sounds good on paper, which is why there were some vigorous supporters of CT in the White House. But the debate inside the White House (which is going on now in the public square) ignored the fact that insurgency is different from terrorism, and therefore require different approaches. This misunderstanding can be attributed to the Bush administration’s failure to accurately explain the post-9/11 challenge. By invading Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States created a power vacuum, which was the perfect environment for an insurgency. Salafist and takfiri Islamic militants were seeking to overthrow the governments established by the U.S. through the use of terrorism as a tactic. The Bush administration mislabeled the insurgents as “terrorists,” and that became the term everyone used to describe the enemies we faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are major differences between the two, which should inform our military strategy in Afghanistan.

 When talking about terrorists, it is imperative to note that these are generally acts of violence that are committed by individuals with radical goals. They and their goals are not representative of their social group. They use terrorism as a means to shock both the public and government into accepting the demands of the terrorists. These are criminal acts of violence. Counter-terrorism is a form of law enforcement, whereby the terrorists are captured (or killed) and brought to justice. This is what recently happened to Osama bin Laden. 

Insurgents are different in most respects, though terrorism is a popular tactic among insurgents. But here is the deeper issue: insurgents are representative of their social group, and their goals or grievances are widely shared within that social group. In other words, the insurgents are representative of deeply rooted problems in society. The way to counter an insurgency is through a whole-of-government approach that marginalizes the grievances through a compromise or reform. The Arab Spring is an example of a non-violent insurgency.

 Now we come to the crux of the matter. 

There is no way to kill our way out of Afghanistan or the region. We cannot simply capture or detain our way out either. These are the methods of counter-terrorism. Furthermore, the region is crippled by deeply rooted problems that have allowed militant Islamic fundamentalists to gain influence and threaten the stability of governments in the region. These are not simply terrorists that we can seek out and arrest or kill, as counter-terrorism would have us do. The way to defeat these insurgents is through a counter-insurgency strategy that protects the public, increases government responsiveness and transparency, and addresses the deeply rooted grievances of the public. This will undoubtedly require some sort of compromise with the Taliban. All of this will require time and patience, something the public lacks, which is why they are now hoping to pursue a CT strategy. If we are serious about getting out and leaving behind a secure Afghanistan that we will not have to re-invade some time in the future (I’m not talking about winning, mind you), then a COIN strategy is our only hope.

 But I hate to leave the impression that we should do a purely COIN strategy. Certainly, that should be our guiding strategy in Afghanistan. However, there is a need for CT. We are doing that in some areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan right now with our have drones policing the skies. And obviously we just took out Osama bin Laden using CT. A hybrid strategy is useful. But this talk about ending COIN and adopting a purely CT approach is not only silly, it is irresponsible. 

As General David Petraeus has said many times, we cannot win this war. There will never be a time when we can have a ticker-tape parade and see al Qaeda and the Taliban sign a document to end the war. We may never live in a world that is free of either organization. So, the goal is to ensure that the people of the region are satisfied with their government, have hope for their future, and feel secure… at least enough so that we can leave and the Afghan government can continue what we started. The Arab Spring is showing us that the people in this region are taking it upon themselves to bring about change. Let’s hope they succeed so that we do not have to pursue a COIN or CT strategy.

And just because it made me smile…

 

 

 

 

 

So, the Dems have followed the Republicans’ example and have abandoned President Obama. This will, counter-intuitively, be good for the President: he will look above the fray and independent. This is what happend to President Clinton early in his term, and it was probably one of the most liberating things for his presidency. So, take heart Mr. Obama: this is a good career move.

I have been so swamped with school work that I have neglected my blog. However, as I am now student-teaching, I have more free time. Hopefully, I’ll be posting on Wednesday about the results of the Tuesday elections.

With that in mind, allow me to make a bold prediction: the Democrats will hold both the House and Senate. They will hold by the slimmest of margins, which means there will be gridlock for the next two years.

Until I post again, enjoy this article by the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson:

With their “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” this weekend, political satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are late to the party. This weird campaign has been Comedy Central all along.

The main source of hilarity has been the Tea Party movement and its candidates, quite a few of whom give every indication of being several sandwiches short of a picnic. Whether they win or lose – and yes, there remains the possibility that some might actually be elected – they leave us with mondo-bizarro moments that may require years of psychoanalysis for our collective political psyche to purge.

Chief among them is an all-time classic of weirdness, right up there with those campy 1950s sci-fi/horror flicks like “Plan 9 from Outer Space” or “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.” You’ve probably guessed that I refer to Christine O’Donnell’s incomparable “I’m Not a Witch” television ad.

Much has been written about the “witch” ad, but I’m not sure anyone has done a proper deconstruction. If you regard it as a short film of the kind that might be entered at Sundance or Cannes, it may be a work of genius. The jarring contrast between what is said and what is seen can only be deliberate: O’Donnell delivers one message – not-a-witch – while the image presented on screen powerfully signals the opposite. She sits alone, against a black background that suggests infinite darkness; her makeup and lighting have been contrived to lend her face a ghostly pallor. Clearly, the viewer is being manipulated to think, “If you’re not from some Other Realm, lady, you could have fooled me.”

And then, after denying witchcraft, the zinger: “I’m you.” With that, she switches places with the viewer. I’m pretty sure this is homage to some old “Twilight Zone” episode, but I haven’t quite figured out which one.

I could go on about O’Donnell’s string of brilliant comic performances – during her debate with Senate opponent Chris Coons, for example, the way she convincingly insisted that she had no idea the First Amendment called for the separation of church and state. But the Tea Party is an ensemble sitcom, like “Seinfeld.” One mustn’t forget the rest of the cast.

Like Sharron Angle, who has a decent chance of defeating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle’s approach to comedy is blunt and to the point – or, rather, beside the point, since so much of what she says is divorced from objective reality.

She claimed that Dearborn, Mich., and Frankford, Tex., are instituting Islamic sharia law, and she demanded to know “how that happened in the United States.” Well, it didn’t happen. There’s nothing but good old-fashioned American law in Dearborn, which Angle seems to have singled out because of its large Arab American population. And Frankford no longer exists, having been annexed by Dallas in 1975.

Appearing before a group of Hispanic students to explain her harsh stance on immigration, Angle offered, “I don’t know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me.” I’d classify Angle’s humor as surrealist, and I’m guessing that she must be a disciple of Ionesco.

Then there’s the Angry Man comedic style of Carl Paladino, candidate for governor of New York. When a persistent reporter tried to ask him a question, Paladino threatened the man, “I’ll take you out!” He has gone out of his way to insult gay people, residents of Manhattan, illegal immigrants and many others, but he seems to hold a special grudge against present and former holders of the office he seeks. He called Gov. David Paterson “pathetic” and a “wimp,” and called former Gov. George Pataki a “degenerate idiot.”

Paladino’s policy proposals are angry, too, in an over-the-top way. He suggests that the unemployed who live on welfare could be housed in underused state prisons. “Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene . . .the personal things they don’t get when they come from dysfunctional homes.”

I’m thinking Don Rickles on a bad night.

And who can forget Rand Paul, with his Monty Pythonesque “Aqua Buddha” escapade? And Joe Miller’s in-your-face solution to border security: “If East Germany could do it, we could do it.”

Good luck trying to top all of that, Stewart and Colbert. You should have come sooner. The joke’s already on us.

eugenerobinson@washpost.com

Thanks, Eugene!


Thank God for Joe Biden. Everyone is so afraid of being natural and engaging in unscripted banter. I suppose they’re afraid of losing their jobs (I’m looking at you Stan “The Man” McChrystal). Americans want their politicians honest and forthright, but when they are they suffer the wrath of the public and media, so they stick to talking points and staged rallies.

We need more McChrystals and Bidens: people who just say what’s on their mind.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The Missiles of October

Or: Thirteen Days of Fear and Loathing

Part Four

By Jose Rodriguez

John and Bobby Kennedy

Part 3: https://dissentiscool.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/the-cuban-missile-crisis-part-3/

Part 2: https://dissentiscool.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/the-cuban-missile-crisis-part-2/

Part 1: https://dissentiscool.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-cuban-missile-crisis/

The next morning, at 9:15, the President met with the JCS for forty-five minutes. The JCS were hoping to get the President alone so that they might be able to convince him that a swift military strike was needed immediately. However, they only succeeded in irritating the President and stiffening his resolve against the military option.

KennedyLeMayJCS.jpg image by Tiktaalik

Lemay is sitting at the far left.

Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis Le May, chomping on his cigar, insisted that the blockade was a weak option. He insisted that “we don’t have any choice except direct military action!” (Talbot, 164) When the President pressed him on the Soviet response, Le May insisted that the Soviets would not respond at all: “They’ll do nothing.” (Talbot, 164) President Kennedy was infuriated by this response because it demonstrated a complete lack of empathy. “Are you trying to tell me that they’ll let us bomb their missiles, and kill a lot of Russians and then do nothing? If they don’t do anything in Cuba then they’ll certainly do something in Berlin.” (Talbot, 164) In a stunning display of insubordination, Le May made a veiled political threat by suggesting that the blockade would be “as bad as the appeasement at Munich. I think a blockade, and political talk, would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as being a pretty weak response to this. And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way, too. In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix.” Appalled by what he had just heard, the President shot back: “What did you say?” “You’re in a pretty bad fix,” Le May repeated. President Kennedy, disgusted with the JCS, retorted, “You’re in there with me.” (Talbot, 166) Because President Kennedy left the recording device running in the Cabinet Room after he left, the device recorded the angry denouncements of the President from the JCS. General David Shoup accused Le May of pulling the “rug right out from under” the President (Dallek, 555). Confused, Le May demanded to know what Shoup meant. Shoup explained: “If somebody could keep them from doing the goddamned thing piecemeal. That’s our problem. You go in there and friggin’ around with the missiles. You’re screwed… You can’t fiddle around with hitting missile sites and then hitting the SAM sites. You got to go in and take out the goddamned thing that’s going to stop you from doing your job.” (Dallek, 555)

File:Kenny O'Donnell.jpg

P. Kenneth O'Donnell

On Saturday October 20th the President convened the ExComm again. When asked earlier by Appointment Secretary Kenneth O’Donnell about what would happen if they could not reach a consensus, the President related a story about President Lincoln at one of his Cabinet meetings: “‘All in favor vote “aye”.’ The whole cabinet voted aye, Lincoln voted no, and then announced that the no’s had it.” (O’Donnell, 320) In other words, the President was determined to do what he damn well wanted to do. The meeting began, as usual, with an update on the construction of the missile sites in Cuba. Following that, McNamara began his presentation, known as the “blockade route,” which outlined the initial phases of the blockade. In order to proceed with negotiations, the U.S., he said, must be willing to “accept the withdrawal of United States strategic missiles from Turkey and Italy and possibly agreement to limit our use of Guantanamo to a specified limited time.” (Cuban Missile) He noted that withdrawal of the missiles could take some time, which might cause the President to incur some political damage, but in the long run it was the safest alternative to the military strike. He also noted that as the leader of the free world, it would not be in our long tradition to institute a first-strike policy, especially a sneak attack. The President then asked General Maxwell Taylor how he interpreted the statements made by McNamara. Taylor, speaking on behalf of the JCS, did not agree with McNamara’s belief that “if we used nuclear weapons in Cuba, nuclear weapons would be used against us.” (Cuban Missile) Mac Bundy then briefed the President on the “air strike alternative,” which he argued was their best shot for getting the missiles off the island. McNamara argued that there was no guarantee that all of the sites would be destroyed, thus leaving us open to retaliation.

At this point, Bobby spoke up. He argued that there be a combination of the two plans: an initial blockade, followed, after a set amount of time, by an air strike. This would eliminate the Pearl Harbor analogy by providing the Soviets ample time to respond, but it would also provide justification for removing the missile sites by force if the Soviets fail to dismantle them. This idea seemed to have a positive effect and it won over Secretary of State Dean Rusk to the blockade route. With the Pearl Harbor analogy in mind, Rusk asserted that we had no legal or moral justification for a surprise attack, which meant the U.S. should pursue the blockade route. He added that an air strike would be “chapter 2,” in other words it would be the next phase of the efforts to remove the missile sites. UN Ambassador brought up the idea that we trade our Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy for the missile sites in Cuba. The President argued that given the deceptive nature of the Soviets in the transportation of the missiles, and the sensitivity of the allies about these Jupiter missiles, that option was unacceptable. After some discussion about the rules of a possible blockade, Secretary Rusk brought up the idea of calling it a quarantine because a blockade is technically an act of war. As the meeting came to a close the President decided that the blockade route was their best option, followed by air strikes against missile site and missiles if the Soviets refuse to remove them from the island. The group discussed the blockade draft speech by Ted Sorensen that was to be given to the American public in the next few days. The ExComm had finally reached a consensus.

The President’s decision to pursue a naval quarantine, rather than an immediate air strike, undoubtedly saved the world from nuclear oblivion. This not hyperbolic rhetoric. Though they did not know this at the time, the Soviets were bracing themselves for a possible attack or invasion from the U.S.

In Havana, Cuba, 1992, historians James Blight, Bruce Allyn, and David Welch held a conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis. In attendance were the American, Cuban, and Russian officials that participated in the crisis thirty years earlier. Over four days in January, the group debated, discussed, and considered the causes and effects of the crisis, as well as the lessons that could be learned from it. Robert McNamara was quick to admit mistakes in judgment, but he also insisted that his Cuban and Soviet counterparts do the same, but they were a little reticent in that regard. It was during this conference that the U.S. delegation learned just how close they had come to the brink of nuclear war.

General Anatoly Gribkov, who oversaw the secret deployment of missiles and soldiers into Cuba, made several shocking admissions. He first admitted that there had been no fewer than 42,000 Russian soldiers on the island of Cuba. These soldiers were also in possession of 162 short and long range nuclear warheads—including 90 tactical nuclear warheads. However, most alarming of all, was the admission that Premier Khrushchev had authorized the use of these weapons in the event of an American invasion (Blight, 259). This news was so shocking that McNamara nearly fell out of his chair (Kennedy, 9). General Gribkov had been given the authority from Defense Minister Malinovsky, who had been delegated that power from Khrushchev: “If you use the tactical weapons, it must be in the face of an invasion, that is, a penetration into Cuban territory.” (Blight, 259) The reason for such a move was based on the need for quick decisions, which would not be possible if the Soviets had to get permission from Khrushchev himself to use the missiles.

In the documentary Fog of War, by Errol Morris, Robert McNamara talks about how shocked by the news that he nearly called off the conference. Even more shocking was the realization of how close they came to the end of civilization as they knew it: “It wasn’t until January, 1992, in a meeting chaired by Castro in Havana, Cuba, that I learned 162 nuclear warheads, including 90 tactical warheads, were on the island at the time of this critical moment of the crisis. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and Castro got very angry with me because I said, ‘Mr. President, let’s stop this meeting. This is totally new to me, I’m not sure I got the translation right… Mr. President, I have three questions to you. Number one: did you know the nuclear warheads were there? Number two: if you did, would you have recommended to Khrushchev in the face of an U.S. attack that he use them? Number three: if he had used them, what would have happened to Cuba?’ He said, ‘Number one, I knew they were there. Number two, I would not have recommended to Khrushchev, I did recommend to Khrushchev that they be used. Number three, “What would have happened to Cuba?” It would have been totally destroyed.’ That’s how close we were.” Had President Kennedy followed the recommendations of the JCS, nuclear war would have commenced on the beaches of Cuba and nations would have been destroyed.

The Missiles of October

Or: Thirteen Days of Fear and Loathing

Part Three

By Jose Rodriguez

John and Bobby Kennedy

Over the next five days, the ExComm routinely met in Under Secretary of State George Ball’s conference room to hammer out a strategy. Part of the President’s strategy was to remain absent from the ExComm deliberations so that the participants would speak more freely and openly about their opinions. In his memoir, Bobby wrote, “Frequently I saw advisers adapt their opinions to what they believed President Kennedy … wished to hear.” (Kennedy, 86) It also provided the group an opportunity to arrive at a consensus. Throughout the deliberations, recalled Gilpatric, “he didn’t, until the very end of our meetings, indicate what he was going to do.” (Strober, 378) In waiting to voice an opinion, he gave the ExComm members more time to discuss their positions. Though President Kennedy did not voice his opinion in the ExComm deliberations that does not mean his influence was not felt. This influence came in the form of the President’s brother– Bobby. The two boys were not close in their youth, due to the difference in their age, but the two formed a close bond when President Kennedy was running for the Senate. For the remainder of the President’s political career, Bobby was his greatest advocate and most trusted advisor. “He was his brother’s spokesperson on most matters,” and his brother’s attack dog when necessary (Dallek, 547). In those ExComm meetings, there is some indication that he was merely reflecting the President’s own views in order to have them vetted by the group, particularly the Pearl Harbor analogy. The reactions and responses would then be reported back to the President in private meetings. According to Arthur Schlesinger jr. however, Bobby came into his own during those thirteen days and seemed to genuinely lead the charge for the quarantine option (Schlesinger, “Robert Kennedy” 532). Either way, the brothers were like-minded on this crisis. Schlesinger recalls in his memoir of Robert Kennedy the last night of the crisis when the President said, almost to himself, “Thank God for Bobby.”

The ExComm was split between “hawks” and “doves,” though these were not terms used during the crisis. It should be noted, however, that the initial majority opinion was in favor of a military strike to remove the missile sites (Kennedy, 25). After subsequent discussions over the course of the first couple of days, a second option surfaced: a naval blockade. A naval blockade is actually an act of war, so, for legal reasons, the group termed the action “quarantine”. This option resulted in the split that divided the group into “hawks” and “doves”. The hawks were led by Dean Acheson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the doves were led by Bobby and Robert McNamara. Somehow, these men were supposed to find common ground.

The doves argued strongly for the naval blockade, or “quarantine”. The quarantine would exert the necessary pressure on Russia, but it was an option that “(allowed) the Soviets some room for maneuver to pull back from their over-extended position in Cuba.” (Dallek, 556)   If necessary, they argued, the military option was still on the table. Robert McNamara stressed that there was no guarantee, in the event of a military strike, that all of the missile sites would be known, especially considering that they did not know whether or not more sites existed (Kennedy, 27). For Bobby, the military strike was morally unacceptable as it “would rain bombs on Cuba, killing thousands and thousands of civilians in a surprise attack,” a course of action that was not in the American tradition (Kennedy, 29). The American public, nor the rest of the world, would tolerate a “very big nation” blasting a “very small” nation back to the stone age in an act that was reminiscent of Pearl Harbor. Bobby’s position is greatly different from his views just before the crisis broke out, according to Gaylord Nelson who said that Bobby remarked, “What we really should do is make a strike—a huge strike and knock ‘em right out of business.” (Strober, 377) The implication, therefore, is that Bobby’s contradictory position during the ExComm meetings reflected President Kennedy’s behind the scenes opinion.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, by contrast, were unanimous in their support for a surgical air strike. The hawks argued that the blockade would be “closing the door after the horse has left the barn,” not to mention the fact that there existed the very real possibility that the Russians might “do the same to Berlin.” (Kennedy, 27-28)  One of the most vocal hawks was former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who argued that the President had a moral obligation to take out the missile site that threatened the lives of 90 million Americans (Kennedy, 28-30). They even had plans drawn up to execute 500 sorties over the island, all of which would require ammunition and troop deployments (Kennedy, 29). The missiles provided, in their view, a perfect opportunity “to solve the Cuban problem.” (Talbot, 168)

The ExComm was scheduled to make their proposals to the President on the night of Thursday October 18, but first he had to attend a previously scheduled meeting with Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Foreign Minister. In a shining example of his cool and calm demeanor, the President gave Gromyko no indication that anything was wrong or amiss. In fact, it was Gromyko who insisted that the U.S. “stop threatening Cuba” and allow them to exist in peace (Kennedy, 31). Again, Gromyko reiterated the Soviet’s position that their support to Cuba was of a defensive nature: “As to assistance to Cuba, I have been instructed to make it clear… that such assistance pursued solely the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba and to the development of its peaceful economy.” (Sorensen, 690) This blatant deception infuriated the President, though he made no outward indication of his feelings. The President, instead, read his statement from September 4th: “All Americans, as well as all of our friends in this Hemisphere, have been concerned over the recent moves of the Soviet Union to bolster the military power of the Castro regime in Cuba… There is no evidence of any organized combat force in Cuba from any Soviet bloc country; of military bases provided to Russia; of a violation of the 1934 treaty relating to Guantanamo; of the presence of offensive ground-to-ground missiles; or of other significant offensive capability either in Cuban hands or under Soviet direction and guidance. Were it to be otherwise, the gravest issues would arise. The Cuban question must be considered as a part of the worldwide challenge posed by Communist threats to the peace. It must be dealt with as a part of that larger issue as well as in the context of the special relationships which have long characterized the inter-American System. It continues to be the policy of the United States that the Castro regime will not be allowed to export its aggressive purposes by force or the threat of force. It will be prevented by whatever means may be necessary from taking action against any part of the Western Hemisphere. The United States, in conjunction with other Hemisphere countries, will make sure that while increased Cuban armaments will be a heavy burden to the unhappy people of Cuba themselves, they will be nothing more.” (Statement) Afterwards, in a meeting with Robert Lovett, the President expressed his frustration: “[Gromyko] who, in this very room not over ten minutes ago, told more barefaced lies than I have ever heard in so short a time. All during his denial that the Russians had any missiles or weapons, or anything else, in Cuba, I had… the pictures in the center drawer of my desk and it was an enormous temptation to show them to him.” (Dallek, 553)

Later that night, in order to maintain secrecy, the ExComm piled into Bobby’s car and drove to the White House.  They had all agreed to the blockade proposal before they left for the White House, but that did not last. The group was presented with new aerial photographs that showed that the Soviets were constructing sites to launch intermediate medium range ballistic missiles. The group focused their discussion on whether or not they should act immediately to this new information, which lead to discussions about how and where the Soviet Union would retaliate. Dean Rusk also expressed concerns about how our allies might be affected: “The action also has to be thought of in connection with alliance solidarity, there we’re faced with conflicting elements. Unless we’re in a situation where it is clear that the alliance has worked to understand the problem, then unannounced, unconsulted quick action on our part, could well lead to a kind of odd disunitiveness the Soviets could capitalize upon very strongly.” (Historic Documents) The President then engaged the group in a discussion about whether or not they should alert the Soviet Union before they make any decision, but he seemed t answer his own question: “If we gave say this 24-hour notice, get in touch with Khrushchev, taking no action with our allies. I would assume that they would move these mobile missiles into the woods.” (Historic Documents) McNamara responded by saying that he doubted the Soviets, at this point, could dismantle the sites, especially since it had taken them so long to erect them in the first place. When the subject of the blockade finally came up, the President was still concerned about how they planned to remove the missiles from the island. Llewellyn Thompson suggested that they declare war or find some sort of legal basis that would not only force the Soviets to dismantle the sites, but it would also justify any future actions the U.S. might make to punish them for their defiance. Playing the role of devil’s advocate, Bobby states: “the argument against the blockade is that it’s very slow death, and it kills up, and goes over a period of months, and during that period of time you’ve got all these people yelling and screaming, examination of Russian ships and shooting down of Russian planes that try to land there, you have to do all those things.” (Historic Documents) An unidentified voice asserts that any blockade of Cuba would most assuredly prompt the Soviets to retaliate by blockading Berlin. The meeting ends without any final decision and the President sends the ExComm back to their offices to develop their arguments.

Part 2: https://dissentiscool.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/the-cuban-missile-crisis-part-2/

Part 1: https://dissentiscool.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-cuban-missile-crisis/

By Jose A. Rodriguez

Ah, to be young again and circumnavigate the vagaries of the pre-teen social scene. Those who can successfully exploit the system tend to be the most popular, and we all know who they were: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the preppy kids, and the more attractive kids. These people tended to be more aggressive, more self-confident, and very hungry for attention. Some would say these individuals simply possess better people skills; other would argue that they prey on the socially awkward in order to maintain their social standing. Either way, some studies have shown that the more popular a student is, the more likely it is that they will be financially successful. According to a study reported by the UK Times, for every friend a student has, their income was 2% higher.

For students with fewer friends—or who are simply unpopular—this poses somewhat of a disadvantage. Allow me to provide some unsolicited advice.

First things first: appearance. The saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” does not really apply in the pre-teen social realm. A 1986 study by Seymour Fisher entitled Development and Structure of the Body Image found that, from a young age, people choose their friends based on appearance. For instance, while obesity is accompanied by a range of health problems (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc), it is also accompanied by ridicule from one’s peers. In a Yale study entitled “Adolescent Obesity, Overt and Relational Peer Victimization, and Romantic Relationships,” researchers determined that obese students tended to be more victimized by their peers and have fewer dates than their average weight peers. Obviously, this lowers self-esteem, leads to depression, and neither of those is likely to boost one’s popularity. In addition to weight, clothing is another important factor in appearance. Wearing old, generic, hand-me-downs simply will not do. Brand name and trendy clothes will not only help you blend in with the popular crowd, but will improve self-image and confidence, both of which are key ingredients to popularity. And, finally, good health and cleanliness are usually pre-requisites for joining the popular crowd. It’s hard to make friends and have people like you when you smell like a gym sock, especially when your coke-bottle lenses are grimy and you’re huffing on an inhaler every other sentence. According to researcher Nathan Popkins of Northwestern University, a low self-image perpetuates low self-esteem. So, conversely, looking more attractive will raise your self-esteem, making you more confident and more popular. The bottom-line is this: if you can look like the rest of the popular kids, then you won’t stick out like a sore thumb and feel sorry for yourself. You’ll be more likely to fit in and be popular.

Most people will tell socially awkward people to just “be themselves,” as though that would simply solve all their problems and make them popular. Here’s the flaw in that advice: you are being yourself, and it isn’t working. Having long hair and carrying the Dungeons and Dragons core rule book is what repels people—and that’s who you are. Think about your online social networks: the way you market yourself online is not the real you. It’s the you that you have invented to make yourself seem likeable, personable, confident, and acceptable. Apply this concept in the real world. Join one of your school’s athletic teams and sport a Letterman jacket; if you can’t make the team, find a Letterman jacket at a local thrift store or buy one online. These jackets will make you more well liked and accepted, which will undoubtedly expand your friend pool. Rather than carrying the Dungeons and Dragons core rule book, carry a football or the latest cell phone. If you’re particularly brave, you’ll be holding a girl’s hand. We all have an identity that longs to be expressed, but sometimes that identity prevents us from making friends and being popular. End the identity crisis and start marching to the beat of everyone else’s drum.

Before embarking on the quest for popularity, it would behoove one to become familiar with the various social groups that would need to be infiltrated. Within these social networks, you will be able to network and develop friendships. Obviously, there are the jocks; they are bulking, half-witted, Letterman-wearing, ego-centric, sacks of popularity and they know it. They often times have charisma, which they not only use to cultivate chicks on the cheerleader squad, but they also use it to get a good enough grade in any class so they can continue to play on the team. Speaking of the cheerleaders, they are the hardest group to penetrate—socially speaking. They seem to speak in code, and they travel in single file in order to hide their numbers. Don’t even bother speaking to them without a Letterman jacket. Another group that you might encounter is the high achievers. The high achievers are very busy; when they are not doing homework, they’re involved in ASB, clubs, and working in the community. Other groups include skaters (or the pot heads), the Goth Kids, and the Fashionistas. If you can move in and out of these groups, remembering to conform to their style and behaviors, then you should have little problem making friends and having people like you for being just like them.

Actually, ignore everything I’ve written.

There is no reason to change your behavior. So you won’t make as much money in your career as the popular kids—so what? And who says that will be true? I’m sure Bill Gates or Gary Gygax were not the most popular kids in school, yet they both became rich, happy, successful, and influential. I know that at times school social scene can be stressful and that there can be a yearning to be one of the “cool” guys, but hear me out: these are not your Golden Years. There is more to life than how many friends you have, or how many times you get invited to a party. Life is about pursuing what makes you happy. And to do that you have to be yourself.

Shakespeare once wrote: “To thine own self be true.” Truer words were never spoken… or written. If you want to wander the halls with your Dungeons and Dragons core rule book, while wearing sweat pants and sporting long hair, then do it if that’s what makes you happy. You have to “March to the beat of your own drum,” as Henry David Thoreau once wrote. Not everyone is going to like you and that is a sad truth, but it is one you have to accept if you want to be happy. And just because people do not like you does not mean that you’re a freak or something. The only person who has to like you is you. After high school, these people will not be around, but you will still have to live with yourself. Studies have shown that people who are comfortable in their own skin, who know their strengths and weaknesses, and are true to themselves, are much happier people.
In the end, are you going to look into the mirror and see everyone else, or are you going to look in the mirror and see yourself. If it’s the latter, you’ll find that it’s much easier to get through life as yourself, rather than constantly trying to be someone you’re not.

This is a “commerical” that I put together as an example for a media literacy unit for the AVID class that I work in. The students then wrote and put together their own commercials, which were really well done. Unfortunately, I cannot put them up. The commercial takes place in the 1950’s, and plays off of the commercialism, communist fears, and all-American stereotypes that represent the decade. Many thanks to my lovely wife for playing the role of the mom, and many thanks to her cousin Jamie for playing the role of Susie. Hope we did okay!

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