Copyright © 2017 Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The film features interviews with key witnesses and experts, including Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet premier; Ted Sorensen, former member of the renowned Executive Committee of the . National Security Council; former KGB and CIA operatives; and Captain Jerry Coffee, the reconnaissance pilot who made a split second decision to veer off course in Cuba and revealed a new type of nuclear weapon that could have annihilated invading American forces. An edge-of-your seat tale of espionage and intrigue at the highest level, Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War offers perspective on one of the most harrowing times in modern history.
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By the time of the Cuban missile crisis, thousands of nuclear antiaircraft weapons were deployed around dozens of cities and defense sites in the United States. These surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air arms existed because the large and lethal aerial blast they produced offered the greatest chance of destroying nuclear-laden attacking Soviet bombers. The military had the authority to use these weapons without presidential consultation if commanders believed an attack was underway. For five years, the widespread and ready expenditure of defensive nuclear arms to counter a nuclear air raid had been the basis upon which air defense units had been trained, equipped, and operated.
By August 1962 the first rumours of Soviet missiles in Cuba, from émigré reports and CIA leaks, appeared in the US press. Soviet diplomats, unaware of the project, issued flat denials. This made the sense of shock when they were discovered by a U-2 spy plane, on 14 October 1962, even more profound. Kennedy was stunned. He felt Khrushchev’s conduct was inexplicably provocative. Khrushchev, in fact, had never considered that the presence of missiles in Cuba would be deemed a monstrous threat in the United States. Nor had he realised that Kennedy and the United States would not tolerate the massive blow to their prestige that would result if the weapons were allowed to remain. In fact the weapons would make very little difference to a strategic balance that was massively in America’s favour. But their presence would give the appearance of a weakened America, and in the Cold War appearances were vital. For his part, Kennedy gave no thought to Khrushchev’s motives: the missiles had to be removed, and initially he favoured air strikes and an invasion of Cuba to achieve this.
Kids learn about the history of Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War. The Soviet Union put nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba.