The Cuban Missile Crisis: An Interesting Tidbit
On the key Saturday during the Cuban missile crisis when Ex Comm was finishing its afternoon meeting, the last recorded comment was made by President Kennedy, to wit: “We can’t very well invade Cuba…when we could have gotten them [the missiles] out by making a deal on the same missiles in Turkey.” Kennedy was referring to Khrushchev’s offer in a letter to end the crisis if the US pledged not to invade Cuba and to remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkey by removing Soviet missiles from Cuba.
Here’s the thing: JFK was not “affirming the political” here because he was willing to make “a deal.” Affirming the political involves asserting one’s virtue, one’s superiority against your enemies. Thus, those who affirm the political don’t make deals; they make war and they do so in order to demonstrate their virtue, their superiority.
Politics is how humans define and demonstrate their virtue, their superiority. That is, people use politics to define and demonstrate their virtues and their superiorities, for example, that they are “good Americans.” That’s what the people in Kansas were doing during an election where their behavior led a commentator to ask, What’s the Matter with Kansas. But their behavior was no different than what other people were doing elsewhere and everywhere. There was nothing the matter with Kansas that wasn’t the matter everywhere else.
And in the deliberations regarding those missiles in Cuba, two sides emerged, those who wanted to prove American superiority and virtue by taking those missiles out via air strikes and an invasion, and those who wanted to “make a deal” in order to get the missiles out. For the former group, war was desirable, as proof that America was powerful enough, superior enough to forcefully get Soviet missiles out of Cuba. Such force was preferable to making a deal, even if such a deal could be made, because it would prove American superiority. Those favoring a deal saw war as undesirable, to be avoided if at all possible. It is, in the scheme of things, quite remarkable that those favoring dealing and not war prevailed. More often than not, war prevails, as we should be able to see these days.