Cuban Missile Crisis: October 27, 1962

Speaker: John F Kennedy
Delivered On: 10/27/1962
Place: Washington, D.C.
Subject: Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. United
States — Foreign relations — Soviet Union.
Audio/Video Available:

Description: See resource for
October 18, 1962
for brief description of the Cuban Missile crisis and previous
clips in this series for timeline events up to this date.
Tape 41A, 10/27, 10:00 (continuation of Tape 41.0); resumes at 4:00:

General Taylor reports that the JCS wants an air strike no later than Monday morning
unless there is irrefutable evidence that the missiles are being dismantled. (14:08)
RFK responds, “Gosh, I’m surprised!” resulting in a great deal of laughter. (14:36)

McNamara recommends more surveillance flights Monday morning with proper cover.
If attacked, he insists, “we must attack back.” (18:45)

News arrives that a U-2 has been shot down and the pilot killed. “This is much of
an escalation by them, isn’t it?,” JFK concludes. How can we put more U-2 pilots
over Cuba, he asks, unless “we take out all the SAM sites.” (30:09) Kennedy seems
ready for a reprisal strike without any prior warning. (33:30) (See October 27 summary.]

JFK reopens the discussion of trading the missiles in Turkey. McNamara insists that
the case should be made that this is not so much a trade as a way of preventing
a Soviet military attack on a NATO member nation. (52:58)

McNamara says that if reconnaissance flights are fired upon tomorrow that means
air strikes and “almost certainly an invasion.” (59:03)

[Apparently JFK is no longer in the room at this point in the discussion.]

Vice President Lyndon Johnson responds: “If you’re willing to give up your missiles
in Turkey – why don’t you…make the trade there and save all the invasion, lives
and everything else?” (1:02:10)

George Ball also argues for making the trade openly with the USSR to avoid “enormous
casualties and a great, great risk of escalation.” (1:03:35)

McNamara: “Max [General Maxwell Taylor] is going back to work out the surveillance
plan for tomorrow with the Chiefs as to how much cover we need and so on. We’re
just going to get shot up sure as hell. There’s no question about it. We’re going
to have to go in and shoot.” (1:07:15)

McCone responds: “I’d take these Turkish things out right now” but also tell Khrushchev
firmly that if they fire at our planes again “in we come.” (1:08:22)

McNamara denounces Khrushchev’s Oct 26 letter: “Hell, that’s no offer. There’s not
a damned thing in it that’s an offer. You read that message carefully. He didn’t
propose to take the missiles out….It’s twelve pages of fluff.” (1:09:30)

LBJ questions the value of the surveillance flights: “I’ve been afraid of these
damned flyers ever since they mentioned them…some crazy Russian captain…might
just pull a trigger. Looks like we ‘re playing Fourth of July over there. I’m scared
of that and I don’t see what you get for that photograph. … Psychologically you
scare them. Well hell, its like the fellow always telling me in Congress, ‘Go on
and put the monkey on his back.’ Every time I tried to put a monkey on somebody’s
else’s back, I got one. If you’re going to try to psychologically scare them…you’re
liable to get your bottom shot at.” (1:33:00)

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