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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 06/23/2008

What the President Didn't Know

By Michael Dobbs


The Kennedy brothers in October 1962.

"It was now a few minutes after 10:00 o'clock. Secretary McNamara announced that two Russian ships, the Gagarin and the Komiles, were within a few miles of our quarantine barrier. The interception of both ships would probably be before noon Washington time. Indeed, the expectation was that at least one of the vessels would be stopped and boarded between 10:30 and 11:00 o'clock."
--Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1968.

"We were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked."
--Secretary of State Dean Rusk, October 24, 1962.

Sometimes, history merges into mythology. Dean Rusk's "eyeball to eyeball" quote has long epitomized the essence of the Cuban missile crisis--a High Noon showdown between a cool and youthful president of the United States and an emotional, risk-taking Communist dictator in Moscow. The defining Cold War showdown has even become part of the current presidential election campaign, with Barack Obama emphasizing the importance of talking to America's enemies and the McCain camp pointing to the failed Kennedy-Khrushchev summit in Vienna in June 1961.

But guess what? The eyeball-to-eyeball moment never happened, at least not as portrayed by RFK and other Kennedy acolytes.

The Facts

During two years of research into the missile crisis, I was startled to discover how much bad information flowed into and out of the White House. Like most commanders-in-chief, John F. Kennedy was groping about in the dark as he tried to avert a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. I described some of the revelations from my recently published book, One Minute to Midnight, in an article for the Outlook section on Sunday, and in a series of postings at the National Security Archive.

Kennedy had no idea that the Soviets had tactical nuclear weapons on Cuba, poised to destroy Guantanamo Naval Base. McNamara informed him on October 20 that there were 6,000 to 8,000 Soviet technicians on the island, when in fact there were 43,000 heavily armed combat troops. The Air Force failed to inform Kennedy and McNamara for more than an hour and a half that a SAC U-2 had gone missing over the Soviet Union on the most dangerous day of the missile crisis.

By delving into CIA and JFK Library archives, I was able to plot the actual positions of Soviet and American warships on October 24, 1962, when Dean Rusk made his celebrated "eyeball to eyeball" quote. It turned out that the Soviet missile-carrying ships had all turned around the day before, soon after Kennedy went on television to announce the blockade. As the following map shows, the Soviet ships Kimovsk and Yuri Gagarin were at least 500 miles from the nearest American warship, when McNamara and others led JFK to believe that a confrontation was imminent. A Soviet submarine, B-130, was still in the vicinity of the quarantine line.

It is quite probable that the Kennedy team were convinced that the Soviet ships had reached the blockade line on October 24. In that sense, RFK's portrayal of what was happening in the White House at the time was accurate. But declassified CIA records show that the president knew within a day or so that the Soviet ships had turned back to the Soviet Union on October 23, not October 24.

The story of the Soviet ships turning around at the last moment, in an "eyeball to eyeball" confrontation between Kennedy and Khrushchev, was all part of the Camelot myth. It is featured prominently in the movie, Thirteen Days, and Graham Allison's political science classic, Essence of Decision. Kennedy and his aides had no interest in setting the record straight after the missile crisis, and it gradually became calcified into historical fact.

If you are interested in the history of this period, or just want to gripe about the Fact Checker column, please join me for a live on-line discussion Tuesday at 3 p.m. I will do my best to answer all your questions and comments.

The Pinocchio Test

The Cuban missile crisis has been built up into the classic Cold War confrontation. In fact, by October 24 at the latest, both Kennedy and Khrushchev were pretty much on the same side, struggling to contain the chaotic forces of history that they themselves had helped to unleash. In order to draw the proper lessons from the missile crisis, and apply them to a future confrontation with Iran or some other "rogue state", we first need to separate the myth from the facts. Three Pinocchios for the myth-makers.

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | June 23, 2008; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  3 Pinocchios, Barack Obama, Gov Watch, History  
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Next: From GITMO to the Battlefield

Comments

You suck.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 23, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dobbs,

It is bad enough that you are using this space to talk up your online discussion and your Sunday article.

But to categorize is as both a "McCain" and an "Obama" piece, when neither candidate's statement or viewpoint is at issue, is clearly dishonest.

How many Pinocchios for you?

Posted by: mikeinmidland | June 23, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Hardly suprising some persons in the Kennedy administration may have slightly exaggerated certain aspects of the Cuban missile crisis to enhance their reputations. This probably happens in virtually all modern presidencies.

The lack of adequate intelligence in certain areas available to President Kennedy is not surprising. People still debate whether Bush had proper intelligence about WMD's in Iraq or was simply knowlingly deceiving the public.

I think most people agree President Kennedy, all circumstances considered, handled the missile crisis very well. He showed sound judgment, a justified distrust of his military and CIA advisers, as well as confidence in his own decisions.

In this current election, McCain tries to tout his supposed superior national security experience to claim he would be a better commander-in-chief. Looking at the 1960 election, clearly Nixon had a "superior" national security resume than Kennedy. Johnson probably also did because of his greater experience in leadership in the Senate. Yet either Nixon or Johnson would have likely ordered an attack on Cuba, leading to disastrous consequences.

Given a similar situation, McCain, who has a tendency to support military intervention over diplomacy, evident in his consistent support of the invasion of Iraq,
would be more likely than Barack to abandon diplomacy in trying to deal with a major foreign policy crisis. McCain would probably have mostly very conservative advisers, who would urge military actions, while Barack would likely have advisers from more varying ideological perspectives, who would probably offer him more policy options. On the other hand, Barack could feel, especially early in his presidency, he had to be "tough" to maintain his credibility to certain other nations, which could possibly lead to errors in judgment.

Posted by: Independent | June 23, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The point that seems to elude everyone here is that the intelligence community neglected to pass on the correct facts. Had they, McNamara would have conveyed them to JFK. What's more important is that RFK didn't trust too many people in the intelligence community after the Bay of Pigs operation fiasco ala Allan Dulles.

Fortunately today as a result of the Kennedy Administration, we have satellites in space which can monitor such things and provide a bit more accuracy than was available in the 1960s.

Hopefully the intelligence community works better with the incoming administration.

Posted by: eww | June 23, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I have to laugh about all the boasting regarding the so called Crises. When in Moscow I heard the same boasting. "We forced the Americans to promise they would not invade Cuba. When they did we withdrew.
They blinked."
In this new high tech society Truth is a slipery eel.

Posted by: David Truskoff | June 23, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dobbs:

I look forward to reading your new book. Did you examine Ronald Reagan's role in your other book "Fall of the Soviets"?

mikeinmidland:

While not directly on point with a specify issue for our next President(s), those who fail to learn the lessons from such history are doomed to repeat them.

Posted by: JakeD | June 23, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I lived through the crisis and I can say that we almost did not. We truly expected a nuclear war to breakout in hours or a day, we came that close. This country's coming withing a hair of being involved in a global nuclear way was JFK's doing. JFK's inexperience and his teams inexperience was the primary reason we came that close to nuclear war. It took an ABC reporter to actually make the connections and be the go between to allay this way. We were dam lucky despite JFK and luckier that an ABC TV reporter had connections in the Kremlin. Do we really want gross inexperience in the White House?
http://brokengovernment.wordpress.com

Posted by: Ken Moyes | June 23, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Good question, Ken.

Posted by: JakeD | June 23, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I bet Kennedy changed his pants a couple times that month. It really doesn't matter if they could see each other's eyes, its not the days of the pirates. There were missles and cannons. The obvious point was that a war could have exploded and neither side wanted to back down and loose face but wanted a peacful solution. This event could have prevented global warming with a nuclear winter. I think this is what they were saying about the 3 am phone call

Posted by: Reason | June 23, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

This just an online ad for your book!!!

Posted by: vcsmith | June 23, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

"I described some of the revelations from my recently published book, One Minute to Midnight, in an article for the Outlook section on Sunday, and in a series of postings at the National Security Archive."

You cannot be taken seriously while shilling your book. Knowing Dobbs' reputation for credibility, I stopped reading with this sentence.

Doesn't anyone at WaPo have an editor anymore? Or have you just jettisoned all journalistic standards whatsoever?

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 23, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Is a "blog" subject to journalistic standards? Regardless, some of us (including maybe even WaPo editors) have a different take on his reputation for credibility. Just because you disagree with our view of the Tuskgegee experiment doesn't mean you get to slander someone.

Posted by: JakeD | June 23, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

The major point to note here is that McCain is a hawk, and like the hawks of that era that would have pushed for military confrontation, McCain would jump the gun... bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. That was McCain's joke. McCain believes in the military option. He really does not have the mindset to have his finger on the button. He would be a dangerous person to have in the White House. I don't want him in the White House. We have already seen what Bush's bluster has done to our foreign policy. Remember Rumsfeld and his bluster. Disaster in Iraq. McCain would continue that cowboy mentality. We need to turn our backs on that. We don't need McCain.

Posted by: Goldie | June 24, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Please check your grammar more closely.

Posted by: Scott | June 24, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow. And the Election is only 19 weeks away. Through all of this VP business, there is one weekly online poll that stands out. http://www.votenic.com hosts a 2008 VP weekly poll, and just started a political talk forum. Check it out, start your own political polls, and help get the forum up and running.

Posted by: Robert | June 24, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Goldie:

Those are the same canards that were used against Ronald Wilson Reagan before he ended the Cold War.

Posted by: JakeD | June 24, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I lived through the Cuban missile crises in
Washington, D.C., and can tell you that Washington and the suburbs were on the verge of panic and in fear. Kennedy, despite serving many years in the Senate, was definitely green behind the ears when it came to dealing with Russia, and everyone knew it. I went to my local Giant supermarket to "stock up in case..." and the shelves had been stripped mostly bare of canned and boxed goods. Mr. Dobb's report is correct.

Posted by: Indiana Democrat | June 24, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for bring this to light. You make some really good points

Posted by: elvislove | June 24, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

My first presidental vote was for JFK; I was young and not yet a woman of the world, inexperienced .... I was thrilled that a good looking Catholic was on the ballot. I too lives thru the Cuban crisis. This story is true.

If the Kennedys spent less time changing skirts, perhaps both of them (JFK & RK) would have accomplished something of significance. I have lived to regret my first vote for this president. The story of his presidency is a fairy tale. The youngsters today are again being fooled by someone called Obama.

Posted by: Millie | June 24, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Why would you say JFK is a fairy tale

Posted by: elvislove | June 24, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I love JFK, but most problems with the Soviet Union were caused once Kruschev got a look at him and concluded he was an inexperienced lightweight. Unlike Obama, JFK proved to have unexpected stones earned through a lifetime of real adversity and the experience of war.

Posted by: Chicago1 | June 24, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

This was written on 9/12/2001. He saw it clear.
Worth the time to read

+++++++
Fear & Loathing in America
By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV.

Even ESPN was broadcasting war news. It was the worst disaster in the history of the United States, including Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake and probably the Battle of Antietam in 1862, when 23,000 were slaughtered in one day.
The Battle of the World Trade Center lasted about 99 minutes and cost 20,000 lives in two hours (according to unofficial estimates as of midnight Tuesday). The final numbers, including those from the supposedly impregnable Pentagon, across the Potomac River from Washington, likely will be higher. Anything that kills 300 trained firefighters in two hours is a world-class disaster.
And it was not even Bombs that caused this massive damage. No nuclear missiles were launched from any foreign soil, no enemy bombers flew over New York and Washington to rain death on innocent Americans. No. It was four commercial jetliners.
They were the first flights of the day from American and United Airlines, piloted by skilled and loyal U.S. citizens, and there was nothing suspicious about them when they took off from Newark, N.J., and Dulles in D.C. and Logan in Boston on routine cross-country flights to the West Coast with fully-loaded fuel tanks -- which would soon explode on impact and utterly destroy the world-famous Twin Towers of downtown Manhattan's World Trade Center. Boom! Boom! Just like that.
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.
It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.
Nothing -- even George Bush's $350 billion "Star Wars" missile defense system -- could have prevented Tuesday's attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying.
We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.
This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.
Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job -- armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy.
OK. It is 24 hours later now, and we are not getting much information about the Five Ws of this thing.
The numbers out of the Pentagon are baffling, as if Military Censorship has already been imposed on the media. It is ominous. The only news on TV comes from weeping victims and ignorant speculators.
The lid is on. Loose Lips Sink Ships. Don't say anything that might give aid to The Enemy.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I find it curious that you had to dig into history to create a rather inane blog entry totally unrelated to any current events our nation is facing.

And to further waste space to tout your recent book.

Come on, do your job, and Fact Check some of the blatant wastes of American taxpayer dollars in Iraq and Pakistan.

Four yawns on this one Michael.

Posted by: IllinoisVoter | June 25, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

IllinoisVoter:

I realize that Barack Hussein Obama is your favorite son, but that doesn't change the fact those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted by: JakeD | June 25, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

TO MILLIE:

If the Kennedys had not been MURDERED, perhaps both of them (JFK & RFK) would have accomplished something of significance.

Posted by: JJ | June 25, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Independent wrote: "The lack of adequate intelligence in certain areas available to President Kennedy is not surprising. People still debate whether Bush had proper intelligence about WMD's in Iraq or was simply knowlingly deceiving the public. I think most people agree President Kennedy, all circumstances considered, handled the missile crisis very well. He showed sound judgment, a justified distrust of his military and CIA advisers, as well as confidence in his own decisions."

Incorrect. At the time the US, England, France, and the Netherlands had an excellent source of intelligence called "Ultra". Formed under Churchill and Roosevelt, ULTRA operated until is was accidently disclosed in 1972, at a British Embassy gala. Our intelligence (as well as Europe) has not been the same since.

Kennedy was furnished with ULTRA intel, chose to ignore it, and decided to take out both Mays (AF) as well as Kruchev (USSR). The Russians blinked when Kennedy recognized his folly and had Adlai reveal ULTRA intel to the USSR.

My father was a full bird in SAC at the time in Wichita, KS. We were on full alert, DEFCON Red, ready to launch. You don't get to that stage unless you mean business. We initiated first, the USSR reacted in a similar manner. This was folly.

My father sent my mother and we cihldren to northern Wisconsin where it is said radioactive materials would not fall.

Does ego pay? Not at all. Kennedy reacted just like G.W. Bush Jr. That's a fact jack.

Posted by: Truman_Plan | June 25, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Independent wrote: "The lack of adequate intelligence in certain areas available to President Kennedy is not surprising. People still debate whether Bush had proper intelligence about WMD's in Iraq or was simply knowlingly deceiving the public. I think most people agree President Kennedy, all circumstances considered, handled the missile crisis very well. He showed sound judgment, a justified distrust of his military and CIA advisers, as well as confidence in his own decisions."

Incorrect. At the time the US, England, France, and the Netherlands had an excellent source of intelligence called "Ultra". Formed under Churchill and Roosevelt, ULTRA operated until is was accidently disclosed in 1972, at a British Embassy gala. Our intelligence (as well as Europe) has not been the same since.

Kennedy was furnished with ULTRA intel, chose to ignore it, and decided to take out both Mays (AF) as well as Kruchev (USSR). The Russians blinked when Kennedy recognized his folly and had Adlai reveal ULTRA intel to the USSR.

My father was a full bird in SAC at the time in Wichita, KS. We were on full alert, DEFCON Red, ready to launch. You don't get to that stage unless you mean business. We initiated first, the USSR reacted in a similar manner. This was folly.

My father sent my mother and we cihldren to northern Wisconsin where it is said radioactive materials would not fall.

Does ego pay? Not at all. Kennedy reacted just like G.W. Bush Jr. That's a fact jack. Even George Keenan criticized Kennedy for his reaction to the Cuban Missile crisis, for his failure to enter the White House without a strategic plan, and relying on tactical responses. Just as Obama is doing.

Posted by: Truman Plan | June 25, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This is a great article, as far as it goes. It does seem a little odd to hint that the incident borders on "myth" because the players were making decisions based on faulty knowledge. The choices seemed real enough to them then, and revealing enough now.

I wrote my thesis on this years ago, and I think it's fair to say that there are diplomatic lessons to be learned:

1) We DID talk to the Russians, through cables and intermediaries and otherwise, to resolve the crisis. It wasn't posturing and one-way tough talk on either side that saved the day.

2) We also made trade-offs that let the Soviets save face (publicly) and let Khrushchev save face (privately) with his internal political enemies. For the former we agreed not to invade Cuba; for the latter we gave a secret wink-wink promise to remove our Jupiter missiles from Turkey, as long as it was never presented as a quid pro quo. That's classic, sensible diplomacy, not weakness.

3) Kennedy also saw the Soviet point of view: They may have been nasty aggressors, but they also felt genuinely threatened by our many missiles surrounding them in Europe. Missiles in Cuba would have been a huge PR coup, but also (in their eyes) would have been a mirror to a threat they faced on their own borders.

Kennedy knew that he couldn't let the missiles stay in Cuba, but he also knew that to avoid war, he had to give Khrushchev a graceful, face-saving way to get out. One can think of many places in the world today where that sensible theory might be applied.

In that sense, the "eyeball-to-eyeball" message is a bad reading of the incident: Yes, we were prepared to stand up militarily (an important element) but we were also working hard behind the scenes to avoid a fight. It was never true that we backed the Soviets down merely by glaring at them.

It seems fair to ask if Kennedy's youth and inexperience (as perceived by Khrushchev) might have caused Khrushchev to overreach. But it's also also fair to say that when his military leaders were all but insisting on airstrike or invasion (or maybe just "surgical" airstrikes), JFK had enough open-minded independence to seek other approaches. The two may go together.

And if Kennedy's six years in the House (1947-53) and eight years in the Senate (1953-61) count as "inexperience," then one would have to discount Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush as "too inexperienced" along with Obama.


Posted by: Fritz Holznagel | June 25, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Reagan, Clinton, and Bush43 had STATE Executive experience -- in one sense, there really is no "experience" that can prepare one for the Oval Office -- regardless, the choice THIS election is between a less-than one term and almost four term U.S. Senators.

Posted by: JakeD | June 25, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

this is why we have great presidents. great myths!

Posted by: jrzshor | June 25, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

It's clear now that Kruschev's intent was to remove the missles in Turkey, which he achieved. As we mistakenly thought the Russians wanted us dead, they thought likewise. The Kennedys in fact ran around the White House like headless chickens. Had they not belatedly found out the freighters had turned back, they planned to follow the usual Pentagon script and launched ICBMs against the Cuban missile sites, thereby triggering the vaporization of DC. But as JFK rationalized to RFK, if we lose one city, we've still got plenty of them left. Right, Jack, Bobby replied.

Posted by: charles zeller | June 25, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

So the big relelation here is that the Soviets turned back on October 23, and not on October 24, but Kennedy probably didn't know they turned back until the 23rd. Other than a reason to plug Dobbs own book, this was an great waste of space.

Posted by: bgjd1979 | June 25, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Why would this be the criteria for being ready day one? Why wouldnt it be the inherited Bay of Pigs op where he okayed the invasion but refused to support it so that it was a turkey shoot and disaster.

Posted by: Lucky Horseshoe | June 25, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't doubt it was a fairy tale. Governments often embellish their stories to make themselves look good and there's no reason to believe that Kennedy's didn't do the same. But the fact that Kennedy took some kind of action is worth som eemerit. Further, it doesn't really support Obama's whole "sit down and hold hands with your enemy theory." Presidency demands taking level-headed positions that are not radical in either direction.

Posted by: ttj | June 25, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

MCCAIN IS PORTRAYED LIKE A ANGEL IN THE MEDIA GET TO KNOW WHO MCCAIN REALLY IS AND WHAT A DEVIL IN DISGUISE HE IS.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-R5Vh5tOWk

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6TP1FjUp7bw&feature=related

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse

An "angel"? You mean OTHER than all the Fact Checker threads slamming McCain, including "Who is the Flip Flop Champion?" highlighting the TOP TEN Republican flip flops?

Posted by: JakeD | June 26, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

As for Ken's question ("Do we really want gross inexperience in the White House?"), if the massive experience that one candidate emphasizes is the equivalent of sawing off the branch on which he was sitting, I'd prefer the relatively inexperienced alternative.

Posted by: boesc | June 26, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The pinnocchio issue is irrelevant though I understand it is explored here because the candidates want to hold on to this story for their own political gain. Yes, Mr. Obama included.
The sad thing here is that Kruschev whether one liked communist Russia or not, was not a mad man fired by a religious mission.
Get the drift? It is a different world now where, on the other side of the fence, individuals do not care if they loose their lives because Allah is waiting for them.

September 11 was a terribly blow but also a misused opportunity to try and understand the world of the third century better. Perhaps with some diplomacy and introspection as a nation of the free world, the United States, might have managed to rally more nations around it and made any self defense attack more effective. Instead, and with uncanny arrogance, this administration decided to shoot from the hip and it is all a mess now. Whoever becomes president of the United States now has to send the right message and it is sad to say that neither of these gentleman is doing it. McCain is a lost case and Mr. Obama who is enveloped in his own mystique of a history making candidate is too arrogant to understand that this is all bigger and more powerful than him. He, without humility or with it for that matter, cannot save the world. He will need a lot of help in places the United States has never looked at and it is not necessarily Europe.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The pinnocchio issue is irrelevant though I understand it is explored here because the candidates want to hold on to this story for their own political gain. Yes, Mr. Obama included.
The sad thing here is that Kruschev whether one liked communist Russia or not, was not a mad man fired by a religious mission.
Get the drift? It is a different world now where, on the other side of the fence, individuals do not care if they loose their lives because Allah is waiting for them.

September 11 was a terribly blow but also a misused opportunity to try and understand the world of the third century better. Perhaps with some diplomacy and introspection as a nation of the free world, the United States, might have managed to rally more nations around it and made any self defense attack more effective. Instead, and with uncanny arrogance, this administration decided to shoot from the hip and it is all a mess now. Whoever becomes president of the United States now has to send the right message and it is sad to say that neither of these gentleman is doing it. McCain is a lost case and Mr. Obama who is enveloped in his own mystique of a history making candidate is too arrogant to understand that this is all bigger and more powerful than him. He, without humility or with it for that matter, cannot save the world. He will need a lot of help in places the United States has never looked at and it is not necessarily Europe.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

MCCAIN IS PORTRAYED LIKE A ANGEL IN THE MEDIA GET TO KNOW WHO MCCAIN REALLY IS AND WHAT A DEVIL IN DISGUISE HE IS.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-R5Vh5tOWk

http://youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6TP1FjUp7bw&feature=related

Posted by: craig | June 27, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Re: angel. Please see my 9:39 AM post above.

Posted by: JakeD | June 27, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

jfk made two serious mistakes when he first became president. he finked in his initial meeting with khrushchev and he followed the joint chiefs reommendation in the cuban muissile crisis and went ahead with the disastrous invasion by cia-recruited cubans in florida. one fact stood out about him, however: he learned from his mistakes and handled the missile crisis masterfully. the next time he met khrushchev, he stood up to him resolutely. interestingly, when kennedy was assassinated in dallas, nikita went to the u.s. embassy in moscow and signed the visitor book as a mourner.

Posted by: jim fain | June 28, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Democracy Vs. Republic : A Defining Moment in American History

Posted by: Damballah la Flambeau | June 28, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting this for a while. Now you need to write in details about Iran and Iraq situations.

Senator Obama plans to trip there this summer, so readers need facts before being duped by wrong information. Please post your factual report on the situations in Iran, Iraq, Palestine before national discourse will be dominated by Obama's trip again. People are easily duped when information is not available or provided correctly.

If such data are not available for security reason, please let us be informed about 1991 Dessert Storm Operation which was successful or the history of Korean War or Vietnam War in which maintaining status-quo was the best option to protect American interests.

What lessons can we learn from such historical facts? What implications do they have to the election? Was such withdrawal decision timely, correct, or wrong? What threat did US face or will be faced?

Your analysis should be factual enough to be endorsed by historians. If such reporting is not based on facts, your WP will be categorized as the "right-wing smear attacks" by Obama Campaign; people will be duped by his argument.

I am OK with the Test Score here as long as it is based on historical facts.
People are not buying any argument if it is not based on facts, evidence, or truth.

Let voters decide.

Posted by: peace4world | June 28, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting this for a while. Now you need to write in details about Iran and Iraq situations.

Senator Obama plans to trip there this summer, so readers need facts before being duped by wrong information. Please post your factual report on the situations in Iran, Iraq, Palestine before national discourse will be dominated by Obama's trip again. People are easily duped when information is not available or provided correctly.

If such data are not available for security reason, please let us be informed about 1991 Dessert Storm Operation which was successful or the history of Korean War or Vietnam War in which maintaining status-quo was the best option to protect American interests.

What lessons can we learn from such historical facts? What implications do they have to the election? Was such withdrawal decision timely, correct, or wrong? What threat did US face or will be faced?

Your analysis should be factual enough to be endorsed by historians. If such reporting is not based on facts, your WP will be categorized as the "right-wing smear attacks" by Obama Campaign; people will be duped by his argument.

I am OK with the Test Score here as long as it is based on historical facts.
People are not buying any argument if it is not based on facts, evidence, or truth.

Let voters decide.

Posted by: peace4world | June 28, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess Donald Rumsfeld had some history behind his notion that there are both known unknowns and unknown unknowns -- which demonstrates still further the grotesqueness of invading Iraq based on "information" known to be spurious and the even greater folly of potentially electing John McCain president given his overt willingness to attack Iraq regardless of any merits.

People might want to read Eric Alterman's perspective on Mr. Dobbs' facts and "facts" on the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Alterman had researched this extensively in the past and had written about it four years ago.)

http://mediamatters.org/altercation/200806240004

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Posted by: lance | July 1, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I like to sit in my bedroom and touch myself, saying in a low voice "Jake HUSSEIN D... Jake HUSSEIN D..." until I reach clarity and remember to say "John SIDNEY McCain."

Then, because I am old and have a number of exotic inhibitions, I must blog constantly on this and other sites before little Jake is ready to come out and play again.

Jake HUSSEIN D...
Jake HUSSEIN D....

Posted by: JakeD | July 1, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, many of my friends at high school, reacting to Republican racist propaganda, have informally changed their middle names to 'Hussein.' I asked one of them, who is a senior, why he did it, and he said "To protest ignorant smallminded racists who deliberately ignore other aspects of Obama's campaign and life to focus on the most childish insult possible." Then today I was online doing research for a term paper and found this blog. I have read it before, and I have noticed that you always emphasize "HUSSEIN" in capital letters when referring to Obama. Are you an ignorant, small-minded racist? And if not, why else could you possibly feel it was necessary to do that? I am majoring in political science this fall at UVA, so I am interested in your answer.

Posted by: high school HUSSEIN | July 3, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I answered those questions on the Gitmo thread.

Posted by: JakeD | July 4, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Just finished reading One Minute to Midnight. Great Work. Your conclusions drawn on the lessons learned were on point.

Thank you

Posted by: Frank Manfredi | July 5, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how anyone can rely on this fact-checker. His obvious bias about so many issues in the present makes one doubt whether one can trust what he says about the past, either. The one thing I can do is suspend judgment about any version of events that happened during that time. I find that a useful approach on many topics where facts are in dispute and I don't trust the reporters or even the historians. someone said that history is written by the winners. and journalism is written by people who are paid by the corporations controlled by the extreme rich - another word for current winners. one may actually be wiser if one is not "informed" because of the likelihood that one is merely mis-informed. I am glad that people have sense enough to laugh at the term "fact-checker." not only here, but elsewhere as well.

Posted by: lynnette | July 8, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

lynnette:

Except when he's "fact checking" McCain, right?

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