Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Most historians agree that the world was never closer to the brink of a nuclear holocaust than during the Cuban missile crisis. After President Kennedy decided to blockade Cuba to prevent further shipment of Soviet missiles and demanded the removal of those already there, the world waited anxiously as Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stared each other down. Khrushchev eventually agreed to withdraw when Kennedy publicly promised not to invade Cuba and privately agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. An excerpt from The Post of Oct. 23, 1962:
By Edward T. Folliard
President Kennedy told the Nation -- and the world -- last night that the Russians had built offensive nuclear missile bases in Cuba, and announced that the United States has ordered a blockade of the Communist-ruled island to turn back ships hauling offensive weapons.
He said that if the offensive military buildup in Cuba continues, thus increasing the threat to the Western Hemisphere, further action will come.
"I have directed the armed forces to prepare for any eventualities," he said.
Mr. Kennedy said he had "hard information" that the Cuban bases were equipped to fire medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads more than 1000 miles, a range that would take in Washington and Mexico City.
He said bases under construction, but not yet completed, appear to be designed for intermediate range ballistic missiles that travel as far as Hudson's Bay, Canada, and as far south as Lima, Peru. Their range is considered to be about 2200 miles.
"The purpose of these bases," the President emphasized, "can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere."
"It shall be the policy of this Nation," Mr. Kennedy said, "to regard any nuclear missile launching from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."
The Chief Executive in effect accused the Soviet Government and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko of lying in saying that the Russian arms being sent to Cuba were purely for defensive purposes. ...
"I call upon Chairman Khrushchev," he said, "to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations."