October 18th in the Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

Follow the inside story of the Cuban Missile Crisis as it evolves day by day from now through October 28!

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(Photograph: Oval Office Meeting, October 18, 1962. From left to right: Vladimir Semenov, Soviet Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the United States; Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs; John F. Kennedy, President of the United States; photographers.)

Meet Mr. Nyet

October 18 was the third of the “Thirteen Days” Bobby Kennedy referred to in the title to his book about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

President Kennedy hosted Soviet Ambassador to the United States Анатолий Добрынин (Anatoly Dobrynin) and Soviet Foreign Minister Андре́й Громы́ко (Andrei Gromyko, often referred to as “Mr. Nyet” by Western critics), along with Gromyko’s deputy Vladimir Semenov, at a long-planned meeting in the Oval Office.

Although Cuba was not on the agenda, JFK had photos of the missile bases on his desk, and planned to produce them if he could catch one of the Soviets in an outright lie. However, Gromyko was argumentative and critical of American policy in general, and refused to discuss Cuba. Dobrynin, we now know, had been kept in the dark about the missiles, so offered nothing on the topic either. As a result, JFK would hold on to the secret for a few more days before revealing the degree of his knowledge to the Soviets.

A Note on the ExConn Tapes

While many people think that Richard Nixon was the first president to tape White House conversations, the practice went back to FDR. The biggest difference between Nixon’s system and those of his predecessors was that the Nixon system was fully automatic, and earlier systems were turned on and off at the President’s discretion.

You can listen to some of the actual recordings here. For transcripts of the recordings, look here.

Guest post by Douglas Niles, author of Final Failure: Eyeball to Eyeball, an alternate history of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Doug and I co-authored three alternate history military thrillersFox on the RhineFox at the Front, and MacArthur’s War. He is also known for his fantasy novels and is an award-winning game designer.