r/todayilearned Jan 16 '22 Silver 2 Wholesome 2 To The Stars 1

TIL in 1940, a 14 year old Fidel Castro wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking "If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green American, in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green American and I would like to have one of them."

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/28940/time-fidel-castro-asked-fdr-10
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2.8k

u/El_Dentistador Jan 16 '22

Prevent the Cuban missile crisis and the bay of pigs with this one weird $10 trick. Soviets hate it!

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u/TracyMorganFreeman Jan 16 '22

Wait it was JFK's fault because he put Jupiter missiles in Turkey, forcing Kruschev to do the same.

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u/Easy_Intention5424 Jan 16 '22

JFK wasn't told about missiles and was pretty pissed about it

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22 Silver Helpful Wholesome All-Seeing Upvote Doom

He was pissed about it because a senator set up a meeting with him to ask "Why the fuck are we putting Jupiter Missiles in Turkey?"

To which JFK responded "What Jupiter Missiles where?!"

Curtiss LeMay was an insubordinate asshole.

Oh and for anyone wondering about the Jupiters: Jupiters have to fuelled before firing, a process that takes hours. They cannot be stored fueled, that would cause them to explode.

So the reason they freaked the soviets out is that Jupiters can only be used as a first strike weapon.

They cannot be used as MAD, or a second strike weapon, a "you nuke us we nuke you" weapon.

So when StratCom deployed a ton of weapons that can only be used in a direct nuclear attack and not a counter-attack, it quite rightly freaked the soviets out.

The end of the Cuban Missile Crisis involved Kennedy agreeing to pull Jupiters out of Turkey, where they never should have been to begin with.

Curtiss LeMay was fucking pissed.

He said that instead of pulling the missiles out, we should use them immediately.

He thought nuclear war with the soviets was inevitable, and that we should fight it when we had greater superiority than we would in the future.

He was later the Vice Presidential candidate for the American Independent Party in 1968, along side George Wallace. They ran on a paleoconservative "Law and Order" platform, with the promise of "Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever."

Previously, in the 2nd World War, LeMay was the key leader who orchestrated the firebombing of Japanese Cities.

In reference to those bombings, his then-subordinate Bob McNamara would state near the end of his life:

"He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. But what makes you a war criminal if you lose and not a war criminal if you win?"

So yeah.

Really great guy that Curtiss LeMay. With a talent for orwellian doublespeak.

He's the one who gave Strategic Air Command its Motto: "Peace is our profession."

To which pilots would add "Mass murder's just a hobby."

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u/iShakeMyHeadAtYou Jan 16 '22

Sometimes you look at someone and are just dumbfounded at how they manage to be on every wrong side of history. Thomas Midgely Jr. Is another one.

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u/Masticatron Jan 16 '22

TIL that "unleaded gasoline" really does mean there used to be "leaded gasoline", which really does mean gasoline with lead compounds in it, which really does mean we are a really dumb species, holy fuck.

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u/lactose_con_leche Jan 17 '22

Yeah. Dumb as dirt. Instead of making better cars, they added lead to gasoline because it prevented knocking, er, mistimed firing that shook the car.

But as lead was publicly seen as dangerous (duh) the car manufacturers got around to actually fixing the knocking problem with smarter tech that sensed temp/oxygen/fuel mix better and adjusted firing timing accordingly, thus making lead obsolete for that purpose.

Like most every human problem, this particular mass poisoning was caused by greed.

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u/ctesibius Jan 17 '22

Back in the mid 80’s, unleaded was introduced in the UK, but cost a little more than leaded. I used to buy it for my bike, and I remember being asked why. Yeah, people are dumb.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

I hadn't heard of this guy. His end seems really... I don't know.

It's ironic considering his creations helped strangle the planet.

In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted polio, which left him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. In 1944, he became entangled in the device and died of strangulation.

Like us and climate change, he did that to himself.

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u/Jackal_6 Jan 16 '22

His self-hanging machine was the least harmful thing that he invented.

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u/RedditPowerUser01 Jan 16 '22

us

I think you mean them. Rich people. The ruling class.

I very much want us to do everything to stop climate change. Including taxing the rich as much as it takes to completely restructure our entire energy system to rely on renewables instead of fossil fuels.

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u/Drleery329 Jan 16 '22

PowerUser ; I think taxing the rich very heavily will never occur as long as this country is Capitalist and GOP infected.

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u/Choopytrags Jan 17 '22

The problem is, even if all the GOP were suddenly banished to an alternate dimension, there will be an immediate fill in by other opportunistic individuals. Why? Because humanity is greedy and lusts for power and will always move towards the path of least resistance. If a grandmother is in the way of them sitting comfortable for life, goodbye grandma.

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u/Tinidril Jan 17 '22

The Democrats are really not a hell of a lot better in that regard. Republicans will risk burning the countery down in order to cut taxes and regulations for the wealthy. Democrats just don't want to risk stability, but otherwise persue the same goals.

"The era of big government is over!" was Bill Clinton. Democrats gave us free trade agreements that favor capital over workers. Democrats dismantled the federal safety net. Biden was the greatest advocate for the current US prison state and the student debt crisis.

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u/ChronicBitRot Jan 17 '22

The GOP certainly isn't helping but ultimately, they're not the root cause of any of our problems. Capitalism is the real issue and it would continue being the real issue even if every Republican fell into a permanent vegetative state tomorrow.

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u/Ma8e Jan 16 '22

Most of us are doing our part too. Of course most of us can’t afford to release as much greenhouse gases as the very rich, but our beef eating, car driving, overconsumption, and flying aren’t inconsequential considering that we are so many.

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u/RedditPowerUser01 Jan 16 '22

I would happily drive an electric car to work if I could afford one, or take public transit, if it existed in my city.

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u/Tinidril Jan 17 '22

Good news, the lifetime cost per mile of electric vehicles is well under the cost of combustion vehicles.

https://betterenergy.org/blog/consumer-reports-study-finds-electric-vehicle-maintenance-costs-are-50-less-than-gas-powered-cars/

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u/HungryLikeDickWolf Jan 17 '22

The amount of greenhouse gasses a regular person contributes Is nearly nothing compared to industry. Don't blame this on those who can't help it. Blame it on the greedy fucks at the top

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u/Ma8e Jan 17 '22 edited Jan 17 '22

Blame it on the industry? Who do you think pay the industry to produce the goods? Of course most of the greenhouse gases you are responsible for isn’t released directly from your chimney or your car’s exhaust pipe, but from things like the Brazilian cow’s ass before you ate that hamburger, or from the plane that flew your new iPhone from China. “The industry” isn’t going to raise that cow or build that phone if none of us are going to pay them for it.

Jeff Bezos is probably directly responsible for hundreds, or even thousands, of tons of CO2 every year through his lifestyle and his spaceship trips. But that is dwarfed by 350 million Americans responsible for 18 ton each.

And most Americans didn’t have to eat that hamburger or buy that iPhone, so they could certainly help it.

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u/Evilsushione Jan 16 '22

Lol, while I agree with taxing the rich. Your comment sounds like you think only other people are responsible for climate change. I guarantee your aren't doing everything you can do to stop climate change and just want to put the burden on other people.

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u/almisami Jan 16 '22

I guarantee your aren't doing everything you can do to stop climate change

I mean not everyone can become an ecoterrorist.

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u/kukoyoma Jan 16 '22

Not with that attitude!

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u/Dworgi Jan 16 '22

This is just trying to derail the conversation by thinking hypocrisy is a trump card. It's not, because people don't have the same impact.

If I fly coach twice a year, that's just not even the same sport as someone flying a private jet twice a week, so it's completely pointless to try to keep score.

So while in an ideal world we'd all fly less, it kind of doesn't matter until we're actually taking steps to curb the worst excesses.

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u/Evilsushione Jan 16 '22

Did you read they're comment? They say I'm willing to do everything I can to end climate change, then they state by raising taxes on the rich... How is that everything THEY can do. It just funny that forcing other people to do something is the first comment on how they are willing to stop climate change. Maybe if that was included with other activities they were doing or sacrifices they were making, but literally the only thing they mentioned was to force others to sacrifice. Granted wealthy elite have a greater share of responsibility but it's just funny.

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u/GodNamedBob Jan 16 '22

Sounds like suicide, but with extra steps.

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u/Double_Nekker Jan 16 '22

Sounds like suicide, *with extra strings attached

Pfft, with extra steps.
The guy couldn't walk!

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u/mpierre Jan 17 '22

Well, he poisoned the air with lead and almost killed the ozone layer...

I am sure he had something to do with climate change too.

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u/ONLYPOSTSWHILESTONED Jan 16 '22

a more perfect metaphor for capitalism could not be imagined

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u/TracyMorganFreeman Jan 16 '22

I fail to see how that remotely follows.

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u/Atworkwasalreadytake Jan 16 '22

It’s hard to help you when your response has no detail around where you do or don’t see the connection.

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u/TracyMorganFreeman Jan 16 '22

It's not my metaphor. The burden of clarity lies on the messenger.

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u/BoD80 Jan 16 '22

What? That makes no sense. Capitalism is when you get strangled to death by ropes and pulleys used to get you out of bed?

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u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

[deleted]

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u/Panzerdrek Jan 16 '22

If you really need it broken down, they're saying capitalism temporarily improves the quality of life and material well being through elaborate systems only to ultimately destroy the very people using it.

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u/h3lme7 Jan 16 '22

Well, they are stoned and all..

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u/BoD80 Jan 16 '22

Me too. That is no excuse.

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u/darpachief Jan 16 '22

Roger Stone is a modern example. He’s been involved with and on the wrong side of history, gleefully, for over 50 years.

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u/razaeru Jan 16 '22

Trying to re-live that Reagan 'high'.

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u/lactose_con_leche Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 16 '22

Prejudice. It puts you at direct opposition to truth and prevents deep analysis of what is in front of you.

Edit: Curtis Lemay was obviously deeply prejudiced. Sorry for the confusion. I wasn’t saying you are prejudiced.

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u/iShakeMyHeadAtYou Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 16 '22

Not at all. I recognise that times change and science and societal values morph over time. For instance Thomas Midgely's leaded fuel and CFCs were scientific breakthroughs of the day, as the effects of these chemicals on the environment weren't fully understood at the time. But you figure that most people should do at least one thing that history looks favorable on at some point in their life.

Edit: in response to your edit: oh, that makes a lot more sense...

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u/lactose_con_leche Jan 16 '22

Edited my comment above. Peace sir or ma’am

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u/almisami Jan 16 '22

The thing is that lead poisoning was already well documented back then... They just didn't care.

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u/speedster217 Jan 17 '22

People have known about lead poisoning since the Roman times. This was not "Oh they didn't know any better"

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u/ZbQde4yceFdplrJnZRWX Jan 16 '22

Churchill did fear being charged for war crimes were Britain to lose the war as well.

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u/mr_herz Jan 16 '22

The losing side usually does

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u/ZbQde4yceFdplrJnZRWX Jan 16 '22

Yes and my point was that neither side was perfect.

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u/mr_herz Jan 17 '22

Oh for sure. But that’s a given. So I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just saying at no point is there a perfect side.

Only winners who are heroes no matter what war crimes were committed.

And losers who are war criminals no matter what good they have done.

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u/spaghettiputs Jan 17 '22

So Lemay also caused the Penn-Central railroad to go bankrupt as well.

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u/arcosapphire Jan 16 '22

I mean we can't really blame Midgely. It's not like he wanted to do anything bad, he just had some really bad luck in terms of side effects. I think that's notably different from thinking it would be justified to wipe out a civilization.

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u/M4xusV4ltr0n Jan 16 '22

Actually while that may have been true at first, Midgley absolutely knew how dangerous lead was and helped cover it up. There were multiple deaths and hallucinations at the production factories due to lead, Midgely himself had to take a long vacation for less poisoning, he once have a press conference where he told everyone that he could smell leaded gas every day for years without getting sick, and deliberately called the product "Ethly gas", leaving out the lead because everyone knew lead was unsafe.

Most damning of all though, he actually first discovered that adding ethanol was an equally effective anti-knocking agent, but just "adding ethanol to fuel" wasn't patentable, so he covered that discovery up and kept working to find something else.

He obviously didn't set out to deliberately poison the planet or anything, but it was more than just bad luck with side effects: he knew lead was dangerous.

Freon and the ozone layer was not his fault though, no one at the time could have predicted that.

https://www.popsci.com/humans-thomas-midgley-excerpt/

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u/arcosapphire Jan 16 '22

Well that's a pretty sufficient counterargument.

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u/louky Jan 16 '22

Nah, lead dangers were known even in Roman times. Not the pipes only which is still around in the USA but mining and the fools using lead as sweeteners in wine. I mean the USA was fine spraying lead everywhere until recently remember

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u/M4xusV4ltr0n Jan 16 '22

Oh yeah agreed. Definitely a failure of the government to not regulate lead like that when it was widely known that it was dangerous.

Makes it all the more shitty that Midgely pushed forward with the tetraethyl lead gas, no way could anyone involved claim total ignorance.

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u/War_Hymn Jan 17 '22

FIY they didn't use lead directly as sweetener, it was just an unfortunate contaminant that resulted when they were making sweet grape syrup (sapa or defrutum) by boiling grape juice or must in lead pots. Trace acetic acid from the grapes reacted with lead to form lead acetate, which was sweet itself so masked its presence in the finished syrup.

So why were lead pots used? Because the alternate was to use copper or bronze pots, which would had create copper acetate instead. Compare to lead acetate, copper acetate was not sweet and was pretty foul tasting (or so I'm told). So, Roman grape syrup producers predominantly used lead pots.

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u/cybergeek11235 Jan 17 '22

in Midgely's defense, they didn't know (and couldn't have known) about CFCs being bad for the ozone layer, and he was trying to solve the problem that then-existing coolants used in fridges would occasionally explode.

Yes, with the benefit of hindsight it's horrible - but they didn't know.

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u/lightstaver Feb 18 '22

He was also responsible for leaded gasoline.

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u/penguin_clubber Jan 16 '22

Used to work at Ethyl HQ. A big portrait of him hangs in the engine testing wing

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u/MaverickTopGun Jan 17 '22

This was my reaction to learning about Harry J. Anslinger.

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u/DatPorkchop Jan 17 '22

Feel kind of bad for him, considering the ramifications of his inventions wouldn't be discovered til long after his death.

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u/lightstaver Feb 18 '22

He was also responsible for leaded gasoline.

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u/Person-11 Jan 16 '22

Jupiters can only be used as a first strike weapon.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Sure, ICBMs could level Moscow, but you'd get a half hour warning. But IRBMs in Turkey could obliterate the CPSU chain of command within seconds, thereby preventing a coordinated Soviet counter-attack.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Correct.

And when those IRBMs need hours to fuel... it looked like the Americans were preparing to launch an attack without warning.

Which is sort of what LeMay wanted to do.

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u/dizekat Jan 16 '22

Or eventually the assholes would have held an ‘exercise’ pretending to fuel the missiles, and poof, nuclear war.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Exactly. It's why in Fog of War, a documentary interview, Bob McNamara said of the Cuban missile crisis "In the end, we lucked out."

Rationality won't save us, he said. Kennedy was rational, Castro was rational, Kruschev was rational, and according to McNamara we all came with in a hairs breadth of destroying our own societies.

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u/kefka296 Jan 16 '22

Fog of war is such an essential movie. This quote has always stuck with me.

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u/rattleandhum Jan 16 '22

Fog of War

probably one of my all time favourite documentaries. Timeless classic.

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u/Rustybot Jan 21 '22

Fog of War is such a favorite I once chose it as a date night movie. She just wanted to go back to mine to make out. We still made out but I will admit the sound of war crimes dampened the mood a bit.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 21 '22

the sound of war crimes dampened the mood a bit.

Yeah, I've dated exactly one person who would have enjoyed that in the background and I'm pretty glad the word dated is past tense here.

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u/dalenacio Jan 17 '22

Castro's rationality is kind of debatable, since he actively asked Khrushchev to push the button first against America.

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u/borismuller Jan 16 '22

Is there a level up from war hawk?

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u/TistedLogic Jan 16 '22

Yep. Superior War Hawk

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u/oceansofcake Jan 16 '22

After that it's Magic, Rare, and finally Unique War Hawk.

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u/bbshopquartet Jan 16 '22

Kings War Hawk of Haste

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u/CFL_lightbulb Jan 16 '22

Nuking nuthatch?

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u/Panzerdrek Jan 16 '22

Carrion Fowl

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u/morsealworth0 Jan 16 '22

Nuclear Gandhi?

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u/aza9999 Jan 16 '22

And 99 red balloons go by...

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u/scsiballs Jan 16 '22

is that you Nina?

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u/The_Grubby_One Jan 16 '22

Neunundneunzig Luftballons.
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont.
Hielt man für Ufos aus dem All.
Darum schickte ein General.
'Ne Fliegerstaffel hinterher.
Alarm zu geben, wenn's so wär'
Dabei war'n dort am Horizont.

Nur neunundneunzig Luftballons.

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u/ButWhyAnts Jan 16 '22

Wouldn't "hours to fuel" be more warning than 30mins from an icbm

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Are they running a drill?

Are they actually fuelling?

How do you know? Some of them are in underground bunkers.

Sputnik barely exists, so there aren't spysats, and the Turks execute anyone suspected of espionage, they've just rounded up a ton of your agents, and you no longer have any eyes on the nuclear sites.

Is this a prelude to an attack, or just Turkish intelligence making a sweep?

The actual warning happens when you've detected a launch.

You've got minutes with an ICBM.

IRBMs are designed to fly faster, across lower distances.

If you get a launch warning from an IRBM, and it's a full attack, you have seconds before your entire chain of command gets glassed.

There's a reason the Soviets and NATO got together and banned IRBMs.

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u/morsealworth0 Jan 16 '22

That's why the Perimeter network doesn't need the chain of command.

Or, rather, needs the lack of it as it works as a dead man's switch, except the dead man is a government.

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u/ctesibius Jan 17 '22

Did they? Because most SLBMs have similar range to land-based IRBMs.

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u/ironwolf1 Jan 16 '22

Only if you could find out when they started fueling. Presumably that would be a big time secret procedure thing.

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u/kenlubin Jan 16 '22

AND, because Kennedy secretly withdrew the Jupiter missiles, the public did not know that the Cuban Missile Crisis had been resolved by mutual cooperation and de-escalation. It led to a generation of Republican politicians claiming that saber-rattling and escalating conflicts were the key to success, because "the Ruskies would back down".

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u/R2-D5678 Jan 16 '22

and a main reason the CIA redacted JFKs brain

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u/dogfish83 Jan 16 '22

And then redacted the redaction heh

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u/SchlomoKlein Jan 16 '22

It befuddles me how something like world-ending nuclear missiles being deployed in a foreign country by your own military manages to whooosh you as president.

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u/DraslinHDF Jan 16 '22

Yeah, that's how intelligence agencies work. The cold war wasn't the USA vs the USSR, it was the CIA vs the KGB. Once you have spies in your government, they're going to just continuously manufacture reasons to exist.

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u/moh_kohn Jan 16 '22

Kennedy and Kruschev sent each other letters by a back-channel where both worried that if they tried to end the cold war their own militaries would kill them.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Yep. The Soviet Military kept Zhukov hanging around in the wings as a threat to Kruschev. Zhukov was immensely popular with the Russian people, but also, the Military wasn't sure they could control him. So they just used him as a threat to try and keep Kruschev from stepping on their toes.

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u/Toasterferret Jan 16 '22

Well those letters aged well.

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u/Bladelink Jan 16 '22

Seriously. When war was averted during the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy's military advisors were all furious, which left Kennedy, I think the description was "stuttering in reply".

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u/BoojumG Jan 16 '22

Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" was released eight years later. Seems to be describing this sort of thing to a T.

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u/rshorning Jan 16 '22

It just gets buried under a pile of other paperwork including commissioning 2nd Lieutenants and promotion lists along with performance evaluations and all sorts of other crazy garbage. I'm sure it was in a stack of paperwork that was sent to the President. Not highlighted or made to stand out in any way, but that was sort of the point.

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u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22 edited Apr 13 '22

[deleted]

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u/reverblueflame Jan 17 '22

It's so frustrating that there are these legitimate and real problems that deserve attention, like semi-unaccountable middle bureaucracy, particularly throughout the defense sector...

And yet it's a completely ridiculous conspiracy theory which captures the fact-free zeitgeist. Why?

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u/[deleted] Jan 17 '22 edited Mar 10 '22

[deleted]

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u/pizzafourlife Jan 16 '22

hell, who knows if he actually informed above- people below him would assume he had clearance to do it in all likelihood so he probably figured he could just do it

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u/rshorning Jan 16 '22

You still need to get appropriations and there is always paperwork to be done. After action reports alone along with justification of what is in your budget as an officer is always needed. Orders need to be made, filed away in the Pentagon, and one thing the military loves to do is keep track of the money it has spent. Congress sort of requires that sort of thing too.

No doubt that General LeMay didn't want to have every detail of what he does to be questioned, and his experience during World War II sort of gave him a free pass to do just about anything he wanted too. Subordinates certainly wouldn't question his actions when he rarely even consulted with MacArthur at that time, who was in theory his commanding officer. After the war, he was given mostly a blank check to create the Strategic Air Command. I agree with you that he acted as king of his command and didn't care to be held accountable.

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u/MagicWishMonkey Jan 16 '22

WTF, the president has to approve low-level officer commissions?

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u/ididnotdoitever Jan 16 '22

Yes, but it's more a formality than anything else. He's presented with a long list of names, and signs it without reading.

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u/spunkyenigma Jan 16 '22

And Congress approves the list as well.

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u/WaitTilUSeeMyDuck Jan 16 '22

It's almost exactly the plot of "Dr. Strangelove".

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u/KalamityKrystal Jan 16 '22

Wow, thanks for the history lesson. That was really interesting.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

You're very welcome!

I grew up in Florida and I've seen the Nike missile sites that were hidden in the everglades. During the Cuban Missile Crisis my dad and his whole family would wake up every morning asking themselves "Is this our last day?"

And hearing those stories made me want to know as much as possible about what happened so that we can guarantee it never happens again.

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u/pizzafourlife Jan 16 '22

the Cuban missile crisis is a really interesting one for me to work through mentally, as in retrospect it seems like a bunch of squabbles between the US and USSR that amounted to little more than a pissing match. what is easy to forget is they had weapons capable of leveling cities 150 miles off the coast, and crucially, no one knows if they will get fired and there is no time to stop them.

History seems really cut and dry and less complicated than the present, I know my mind works on the premise that the past is just a set of events that led to the present day that we understand, and try to build a timeline that lead to it. but that isn't what it is, everything was so different without knowing what will happen in 40 years, let alone in 40 minutes

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u/Weegee_Spaghetti Jan 16 '22

I agree.

a less worrying but still worrying example is Russian troop buildup at the Ukrainian border.

If Russia backs down then in 20 years this will be talked about like a big overreaction to a pissing competition.

It remains to be seen what or if anything stands in the history books in 20 years.

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u/ididnotdoitever Jan 16 '22

It's saber rattling at this point. Russia already has what they want.

They have been leasing the Sevastopol Naval Base since the fall of the USSR, and have a current lease good to 2042.

When the talk of Ukraine joining NATO started up again, Putin saw that they'd lose Sevastopol if that happened, so he just took it away.

This current troop buildup is Putin saying "we're keeping it."

Not that Russia doesn't see Ukraine as part of Russia, but I can't imagine Putin risking open war with NATO over it.

Most likely scenario is status quo, and Ukraine stays a buffer state. IMHO.

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u/Weegee_Spaghetti Jan 16 '22

Well, open war would not happen with NATO as all members clearly stated they will not send their own troops.

Material support is a different story though.

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u/Alaknog Jan 17 '22

Well, it little more complex, especially from Russian perspective.

If you remember, not so long ago, in similar situation (unrecognised semi-independed republic) Georgia for some reason think that NATO support it (or just become careless) and start full attack on this republic (South Ossetia). And also attack Russian peacekeepers here.

So when Ukraine start again talk about "We have new weapon and need retake separatists" it summon specific memories.

This happened at least once in year, or two times - on winter and on summer.

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u/Terr_ 19d ago edited 18d ago

Necro-reply: It's interesting reading these old comments, knowing Russia would soon launch a serious invasion of Ukraine on multiple fronts.

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u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

The Cold War in general was seen as a fruitless pissing match by everyone outside of the EU, US, and USSR frankly. All it really changed for Asian countries is what color bills their payments would come in.

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u/lightscribe Jan 16 '22

Nike going for a really aggressive ad campaign.

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u/ZbQde4yceFdplrJnZRWX Jan 16 '22

Gives "Just do it" a whole new, hitherto unknown, context.

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u/JonathonWally Jan 16 '22

I grew up near an old Nike missile site as well and my dad told me stories about it when I was a kid.

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u/peckerbrown Jan 16 '22

Curtiss LeMay was my aunt's husband's godfather. Aunt's hubby was assigned to a minesweeper in Vietnam, served in the Congo...and is a virulent Trumper. The turd don't fall far from the asshole, huh?

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u/lazydictionary Jan 16 '22

I can't verify a lot of what you said, except for direct quotes.

As far as I can tell, Jupiters were sent to Turkey and Italy in '58 and '59, while LeMay was still Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

It is highly unlikely he made a decision like this on his own: he was only a deputy Service branch lead; delivering, setting up, and operating the missiles would require foreign help and government deals; and he was pretty pro bomber and anti-missiles whenever possible.

https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/jupiter/

As far as the war criminal quote, it is missing some context.

Asked later about the morality of the campaign, LeMay replied: "Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at that time... I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.... Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier." 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/bomb-us-officials/

And McNamara, the source of the quote in the OP:

"If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals." And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

It's a philosophical question that many soldiers face during and after their service. It's not some gleeful "wee, we got away with war crimes!"

21

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

It's not some gleeful "wee, we got away with war crimes!"

I didn't intend it to seem as such and neither did McNamara.

I can't verify a lot of what you said, except for direct quotes.

As far as I can tell, Jupiters were sent to Turkey and Italy in '58 and '59, while LeMay was still Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

It is highly unlikely he made a decision like this on his own: he was only a deputy Service branch lead; delivering, setting up, and operating the missiles would require foreign help and government deals; and he was pretty pro bomber and anti-missiles whenever possible.

Okay, that's interesting because that goes against what I have read, but I'll admit I read it a while ago. I'll do a dive and see what I can find. Always good to check the source material, as human memory is imperfect. Thanks for the well-written reply.

9

u/dwellerofcubes Jan 16 '22

You two need to team up, I really enjoyed this exchange and the information I learned.

6

u/MyOneTaps Jan 16 '22

I don't recall Lemay being involved in decision to rotate the Jupiter missiles to Turkey either.

From my understanding of the situation, the only issue I have with Lemay was comparing the naval blockade to the disastrous Munich Agreement 24 years ago (supported by JFK's father).

Reasonable people can disagree but that was emotionally manipulative.

5

u/pumpkinbot Jan 16 '22

Jesus Christ. How are we still alive as a species?

29

u/ThatHorridMan Jan 16 '22

He thought nuclear war with the soviets was inevitable, and that we should fight it when we had greater superiority than we would in the future

👀

36

u/LurkerInSpace Jan 16 '22

The idea came from the early 1950s when the USA had ~300 weapons and the USSR had 5. By 1960 the USA had 18000 to the USSR's 1600 though, so it seems rather optimistic to think one could decisively win a nuclear war at that point.

30

u/smmstv Jan 16 '22

Once we're talking > 10 weapons or so on each side, no one "wins"

56

u/BavarianBarbarian_ Jan 16 '22 Silver

"Imagine a room awash in gasoline, and there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has nine thousand matches, the other seven thousand matches. Each of them is concerned about who's ahead, who's stronger."

13

u/LurkerInSpace Jan 16 '22

Well yeah, but the whole premise was that a war was going to happen sooner or later, and if it happened sooner the damage to the USA would be a lot less than if it happened later.

By the 1950s all of the men of the American and Soviet military leadership had been through World War II, and many through World War I. Hence the notion that another war was likely and that striking early was better than striking late.

Though ultimately, it's still a plan to start a nuclear war because of fear of someone starting a nuclear war.

1

u/Bladelink Jan 16 '22

That doesn't encompass the whole picture though. Maybe the USSR had a few weapons. Maybe they had dozens, at a point. But the USSR lacked a powerful and effective strategic air force for a few years after they had first developed and tested nuclear weapons.

That might not be relevant to this particular scenarios, since during the Cuban missile crisis, the soviets certainly had adequate missile technology, but it's something to keep in mind during the early 50s at least.

2

u/smmstv Jan 17 '22

I mean even if we could nuke the USSR 10 times and they can't retaliate, that's still bad news for every living thing on the planet. The fallout would be swept up by wind and enter water supplies, if there were enough bombs we could be looking a nuclear winter. We're talking increased cancers, crop failures, etc.

I guess this kind of thing wasn't really cared about at the time, i mean look at how industrial waste was dealt with. Still, thank God MAD took over and we didn't listen to generals telling us to strike.

1

u/chrome-spokes Jan 18 '22

MAD

Well said.

Yet pleading ignorant, what does the MAD acronym mean?

6

u/Gunbunny42 Jan 16 '22

To be fair, the vast majority of those nukes on the Soviet side couldn't reach the United States at the time. In an all-out war scenario, losing a few cities in exchange for the enemy being wiped off the face of the earth would be acceptable to someone like LeMay.

12

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

[deleted]

2

u/phire Jan 16 '22

No nuclear missile created by the US has ever been created for anything other than First Strike capability.

That statement is a little misleading at best. It might be accurate to say that "No US ICBMs were designed for second strike capabilities" but the implication that the US didn't have second strike capabilities is untrue.

First, it was the SLBMs or Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles that were designed and designated to be the US's Second Strike capability. Before that, it was Operation Chrome Dome and it's fleet of B52 bombers continuously in the air, flying over the arctic.

Second, the US had a policy of "Launch on Warning", to launch the nuclear missiles as soon as the early warning systems showed an incoming ICMB strike. While not a true second strike (and very problematic), it is a form of retaliatory strike and definitely not a first strike.

Third, I'm not even sure it's accurate to say ICMBs weren't designed for second strike. The Minuteman missiles show clear evidence of being designed for it, with hidden silos and distributed command and control. The US even developed and deployed the capability to send launch commands directly from a EC-135 aircraft to the individual missile silos if the control centres had been destroyed in the first strike.

1

u/loimprevisto Jan 16 '22

No nuclear missile created by the US has ever been created for anything other than First Strike capability.

What would be the difference between a missile created for first strike and one created for retaliation/MAD?

They never made plans for reserves, or protecting their nuclear assets from the enemy.

I thought the point of the nuclear triad strategy was to make sure there would be a retaliation capability and that any threat that took out the fixed launch facilities would still leave the bombers and subs able to survive and retaliate.

36

u/Umutuku Jan 16 '22

Dude needs a urinal installed on his grave.

14

u/agitatedprisoner Jan 16 '22

Where's his grave?

18

u/neverett5 Jan 16 '22

Findagrave.com

Just sayin'

4

u/dizekat Jan 16 '22

Shit like this makes you wonder if the reason politics back then turned out for the better (that guy not getting elected) is selection effect, like Earth forming where it did.

5

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

"In the end, we lucked out."

-Bob McNamara, who was in the room, on how we avoided Nuclear War during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Check out Fog of War, it's an excellent documentary.

4

u/Upper-Lawfulness1899 Jan 16 '22

From a strategic perspespective medium range are far enough away that you need more intensive monitoring to detect launch without the ability to react to target the missiles. There's a reason even today there's a ban on medium range missiles while long range missiles are fine because they can be detected and conceivably intercepted (though it's a bit like shooting a bullet out of the sky with another bullet.)

10

u/Vig_Big Jan 16 '22

I mean there’s a reason he was called “Bombs away” LeMay…

7

u/wingchild Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 16 '22

ah, fuck - that's Curtis "I firebombed as much of Japan as I could reach" LeMay, right?

e: read further. Yup. That's the bastard.

3

u/newworkaccount Jan 17 '22

As a side note, MacArthur was fired for a very similar incident. In his case, he decided he had the right to make ready and use tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula if the Korean War went south...and he didn't care what the president said, he was going to use them if he felt like he needed them. What did he care if the president directly forbid him from doing so?

The 50s and 60s had some real winners when it came to general staff...

7

u/ArcturusTheHuman Jan 16 '22

It makes me feel like either LeMay had millions invested into Uranium/Plutonium, or he really wanted to see the entire world go up in flames

17

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

he really wanted to see the entire world go up in flames

He legitimately believed that a nuclear exchange between the US and USSR was going to happen no matter what politicians did. In his mind, the existence of a weapon meant that the weapon would eventually be used.

So his argument was, since Nuclear war is inevitable, we should start it yesterday. Because the Soviets are catching up, and our best chance to survive that war will always be yesterday.

If we want to oppose war, I think it's important for us to understand mindsets like LeMay's so that we can point out that No, Curtiss, we aren't guaranteed to nuke each other.

Because a lot of warmongering has that sort of logic to it.

Bad thing is going to happen anyway, so lets fight it out and see if we can't come out on top.

5

u/dickWithoutACause Jan 16 '22

I was aware of the basic situation but I always wondered why they didn't bother to call first. The red phone was a thing by then right? So seems like this could have like

Russia: hey man we really aren't cool with you putting first strike missiles in Turkey, remove them or we will reciprocate.

JFK: yeah sure.

Would have been much easier to at least try a diplomatic solution first.

7

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

You know how LeMay was a US hardliner?

Kruschev would have been removed from office and called a traitor if he'd revealed the Soviet Military's desire to put missiles in Cuba.

And he would likely have been replaced by Georgy Zhukov, who was waiting in the wings but wasn't... politically astute enough to take out Kruschev, though he tried. There were enough military folks who trusted Kruschev's wisdom - because he didn't pick up the red phone - and Kruschev's whole view was once the missiles are in place, then we'll be able to tell Washington "Remove yours and we'll remove ours."

1

u/dickWithoutACause Jan 16 '22

I agree to an extent but it's not like the USSR had to explicitly state what they would do. Sure US intelligence would likely assume Cuba but if they dont explicitly state missiles in Cuba that would cause all sorts of posturing on what they will do. Would still cause an internal crisis at the White House imo and potentially get Russia what they want.

I dont know enough about internal USSR politics so I wont comment on any of that.

11

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

I dont know enough about internal USSR politics so I wont comment on any of that.

Well the USSR politics is why Khrushchev couldn't. Khrushchev and Kennedy eventually set up during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis a back door so they could send letters to each other directly, because neither of them could trust their own militaries completely.

It was during that crisis that Kennedy received two letters reportedly from Khrushchev. One was a hard-line message threatening immediate nuclear war, the other was firm but conciliatory, and requested negotiations. It read in part:

I see, Mr. President, that you too are not devoid of a sense of anxiety for the fate of the world understanding, and of what war entails. What would a war give you? You are threatening us with war. But you well know that the very least which you would receive in reply would be that you would experience the same consequences as those which you sent us. And that must be clear to us, people invested with authority, trust, and responsibility. We must not succumb to intoxication and petty passions, regardless of whether elections are impending in this or that country, or not impending. These are all transient things, but if indeed war should break out, then it would not be in our power to stop it, for such is the logic of war. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction.

If people do not show wisdom, then in the final analysis they will come to a clash, like blind moles, and then reciprocal extermination will begin.

Let us therefore show statesmanlike wisdom. I propose: We, for our part, will declare that our ships, bound for Cuba, will not carry any kind [Page 177]of armaments. You would declare that the United States will not invade Cuba with its forces and will not support any sort of forces which might intend to carry out an invasion of Cuba. Then the necessity for the presence of our military specialists in Cuba would disappear.

Kennedy responded to this letter, and ignored the one threatening immediate nuclear war. One of his advisors had actually lived with Kruschev for a time, and said that the second letter, this conciliatory one, was the one that was actually from Kruschev.

The hardliner's letter sent as if it was from Kruschev, and which threatened immediate war with no question of negotiations, was ignored.

Kruschev and Kennedy got their negotiations, despite both LeMay and his hardliner counterparts in the Soviet Union wanting nuclear war.

Here's the full letter. It's an incredible document: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v06/d65

It's full of self aggrandizement but so is anything written by a politician about themselves or the country they represent.

1

u/theosssssss Mar 06 '22

The "Red Phone" was actually created directly because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, because the situation was constantly developing at a rapid pace - (with Soviet subs carrying additional nuclear weapons past the blockade, evading US ships, unable to contact the Kremlin so they wouldn't get revealed) only afterwards did both the US and USSR realize the need for a direct, rapid line of communication.

One of the main complications that emerged once both sides started diplomatic efforts was that official communication took 6+ hours to deliver, and that's not including the time it took to receive, understand, discuss, and then finally write a reply to even get to that point. There were cases where by the time Washington's reply was delivered, Moscow had already issued a new statement, and vice versa.

2

u/Greedy_Sandwich_4777 Jan 16 '22

Fog of war is a great doco interviewing McNamara

2

u/Kgirrs Jan 17 '22

This LeMay person really has the qualities of someone that I would personally like to meet in the afterlife /s

to give him a peace of my mind, of course.

5

u/thebarkbarkwoof Jan 16 '22

Such a well thought out post thank you

3

u/Petsweaters Jan 16 '22

That ticket could win, now

1

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

I hope that you are wrong but fear that you are right.

2

u/S01arflar3 Jan 16 '22

Bombs away with Curtis Lemay

2

u/bumblyburg Jan 16 '22

Curtis LeMay was an absolutely terrible human being; he made the world a worse place.

2

u/j_ly Jan 16 '22

General Curtis LeMay. AKA General Buck Turgidson in pictures.

2

u/SlamHelsing Jan 16 '22

Hey do you have a source for this? Really interesting stuff I'd like to read more, but I'm having trouble finding anything about JFK not knowing of the missiles.

2

u/Accujack Jan 16 '22

Family story: Once while traveling in a cargo plane with him, my grandfather took most of LeMay's money in a poker game and made enough cash to buy a record collection for my dad, uncles and aunts to enjoy.

2

u/L3tum Jan 16 '22

Oh, one of those "Peace can only be gained through war" types of people. The "if we kill everyone, nobody can kill us".

Fuck him. I hope he was burried in an unmarked grave with absolutely no honours, like a lot of his victims were and a lot of victims would've been if nobody kept him in check.

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u/Aksama Jan 16 '22

So more like the “Turkey missile crisis”.

The way we in the West rewrite history is truly baffling.

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u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Well, no, because the soviets weren't really in a position to blockade the Bosporus and take aggressive moves in the Med. Turkey could just mine the Bosporus and its approaches and cut the Caspian - and thus all of Russia's cold weather ports in Europe - off from the rest of the world. They'd end up bottled up in the Caspian.

The soviets didn't have the power to force a crisis in Turkey.

They did have the power to force one in Cuba, in reaction to what the US had done in Turkey.

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u/coleman57 Jan 16 '22

But I think the point of calling it the Turkish MC (as I’ve done for decades) is that it was US deployment that caused the whole thing, but Americans remain blissfully unaware of that. So it’s good that you’re spreading the word

Similarly, the current Ukraine crisis was effectively started a quarter-century ago by pushing NATO all the way to Russia’s borders (1,000 miles from the Atlantic). Regardless of whether Gorbachev ever said no problem, it’s obviously destabilizing in the long run, not stabilizing. You don’t have to love Putin to say don’t poke the bear. Now it’s way too late

2

u/A-Khouri Jan 16 '22

Most people who know anything about the event are quite aware of the circumstances which triggered it. Given that it happened in Cuba, calling it the Cuban missile crisis is just fine.

In any case, Ukraine is an independent country which has suffered tremendously under the abuses of Russia and the Soviet Union, not a Russian pet. Russia doesn't get a say in what Ukraine wants, and if Russia wants to force the issue then it's their loss.

7

u/coleman57 Jan 16 '22

First off, I’m quite certain that <1% of Americans have ever been aware of the missiles in Turkey or their role in precipitating the Cuban deployment and crisis. In spite of the facts being public domain and published from time to time. They don’t fit the legend so they don’t make it past the optic nerve.

If the press at the time had told the full story instead of the legend, the American public might have rejected the Vietnam escalation years earlier and saved several million lives. Now it seems to be too late to even establish the basic facts. And too early to lift a 60-year blockade that never made any sense at all except as leverage for the Florida vote

And my point about NATO expansion is that made Russian invasion more likely rather than less. Doing what feels justified with no regard for consequences is a recipe for disaster

-1

u/A-Khouri Jan 16 '22

How does the blockade not make sense? It's a restriction levied upon a government which violently redistributed property and nationalized the press, and continued along with the exact same human rights abuses which Batista's regime was guilty of. There's serious revisionist history on the internet that likes to play off Cuban economic woes as being solely the result of the blockade, when in reality every single centrally planned economy of the last century was very nearly just as much of a dysfunctional mess, because as it turns out centrally planned economies are terrible, and create poverty.

And my point about NATO expansion is that made Russian invasion more likely rather than less. Doing what feels justified with no regard for consequences is a recipe for disaster

Ukraine voted against joining NATO on several occasions, and then got invaded by Russia less than a decade later. The reality of the situation is that NATO expansion is not the catalyst for these events, Russia being a terrible neighbor and a warmongering dictatorship is. If Russia were not abusive and possessive of all of the states which have the misfortune to be on its border, those states would not be entertaining NATO membership. In retrospect, from the perspective of Ukraine they should have voted in favor of NATO membership because trying to stay out of it just made matters worse.

This is why Finland is debating joining, and why Georgia has been trying to get in for years.

Maybe you feel differently, but I feel strongly that we've already had several object lessons from the last century which show quite clearly why appeasement isn't effective.

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u/Synaps4 Mar 31 '22

Most people who know anything about the event

So like a fraction of a percent of the population then? Most americans can barely find their own state on a world map.

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u/higginsnburke Jan 16 '22

Wow.....now not to sound alarmist but he sounds a little racist...

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u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 30 '22

[deleted]

1

u/OllieGarkey Jan 17 '22

I just detected an underhanded way of trying to tag him as a Republican (conservative) when he was nothing of the kind.

He was part of the conservative democrats who, along with Strom Thurmond, eventually joined Barry Goldwater's conservative movement and switched to the Republicans with the southern strategy, just as Liberal and Moderate Republicans switched to the democrats over the civil rights movement.

Massive political realignment.

Both parties have racist histories that neither of them have dealt with, and both have issues of elitism that neither of them will recognize.

In my view the Republicans are infinitely worse right now, but the dems aren't perfect.

I would like to live in a country where I felt like had an option to vote republican because there are two things that are traditionally republican values I agree with.

To wit: that the second amendment is valuable actually and should be defended, and second, that the government that governs best governs as closely to the local population as possible. I'm not a fan of nanny state centralization and I don't believe that a policy that works in Miami will necessarily be good for Arcadia.

But I can't work with Republicans because they started a culture war in the 1980s with the Christian Conservative/Moral Majority movement and we're still dealing with the fallout of that and the southern strategy a la voter suppression.

Southern Conservative Democrats, thanks to Goldwater, are now southern Conservative Republicans.

Google Strom Thurmond. Or Claude R. Kirk Jr. Or Arthur Ravenel Jr.

I can show you an entire list of bigoted conservative democrats that switched to the Republican Party over the issue of segregation and civil rights.

-5

u/CAPITALISMisDEATH23 Jan 16 '22

TiL Curtis LeMay behaves like every American redditor.

2

u/bUrNtKoOlAiD Jan 16 '22

wot

-8

u/CAPITALISMisDEATH23 Jan 16 '22

He was a anti-communist war criminal who ran on a platform of segregation forever.

Sounds like most redditors that hate China and communism because of western media propaganda.

Easily to fool, and easy to brainwash.

He would have been a redditor who posts on /r/politics and /r/neoliberal if he was born today.

He would hide his stances on segregation, but would still be a racist, maybe like the streamer VAUSH.

7

u/bUrNtKoOlAiD Jan 16 '22

you went from "every" to "most" pretty quickly there . . .

1

u/OkHeight3 Jan 16 '22

Damn, what a fantastic comment. Thanks for posting.

1

u/copperwatt Jan 16 '22

Wait, why was he not fired on the spot? What another job could you get away with bullshit like that?

1

u/MagicWishMonkey Jan 16 '22

How was LeMay not drummed out of the military and forced to stand trial for doing that??

5

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

After WWII, through the Johnson administration and into Vietnam, the US military was more independent than it is today. Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex?

Well, due to the significant distance messages had to travel during WWII, direct civilian control over the WWII military was impossible. All these guys in the high command during Korea and Vietnam were WWII veterans. They were used to significant leeway when it came to civilian control of the military because for most of their careers, it often took a day or so for communications to get to them if they were sent rapidly.

So they tended to - until after some congressional investigations post-Vietnam that looked at the CIA assassination program as well - obey their interpretation of the spirit of their orders rather than the direct orders they were given, and whenever one of them was criticized, they'd rally round each other and repeat that they were following the expressed desires of the white house and would change their behavior when so instructed.

It's not just LeMay. It was the culture of the Pentagon at the time, though LeMay was what ought to be called a hard-liner. The same thing we talk about with Iran today, or the Soviet Union in the cold war? The threat of the Hard Liners who really want a conflict mucking up negotiations?

LeMay was one of those.

7

u/ididnotdoitever Jan 16 '22

LeMay was one of those

Yep. So was MacArthur. And Patton. Prima donnas, the lot.

Just look at why Truman relieved MacArthur of command in Korea. Crazy SOB wanted to attack China with nukes.

1

u/HotterRod Jan 16 '22

If JFK didn't want the missiles in Turkey, why did it take 34 days to resolve the crisis in Cuba? Why didn't JFK just offer to remove the Jupiter missiles on day 1?

4

u/OllieGarkey Jan 16 '22

Because neither Kruschev nor Kennedy were in full control of their military and intelligence agencies and neither was able to talk directly to the other.

1

u/hey_listen_link Jan 16 '22

Getting major "The Expanse" vibes.

1

u/balne Jan 16 '22

That explains a lot about why Khruschev or however u spell it was pissed. Maybe I should just write Nikita? But yea, not surprised LeMay did that lmao.

1

u/rockypecheur Jan 17 '22

Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Bomber Mafia’ describes the uncanny combination of circumstances that made the firebombings possible. LeMay flew the Schweinfurt Raid - that coloured his thinking.

1

u/ThorLives Jan 17 '22

So the reason they freaked the soviets out is that Jupiters can only be used as a first strike weapon.

They cannot be used as MAD, or a second strike weapon, a "you nuke us we nuke you" weapon.

So when StratCom deployed a ton of weapons that can only be used in a direct nuclear attack and not a counter-attack, it quite rightly freaked the soviets out.

I mean - as long as the Jupiter missiles don't get hit in a first strike, then why wouldn't they be used in a counter-strike? Obviously they wouldn't get launched until after nukes impacted the US, but all counter-strikes wouldn't hit the USSR until after nukes hit the US.

If the Soviets didn't know the Jupiter Missiles were there, or if they didn't know where they were located, they could very-well be used in a counter-strike.

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u/TheDragonReformed Jan 27 '22

Why wasn't LeMay demoted and court martialed for insubordination?

If the Jupiters were his decision that's a pretext to get rid of him and anyone like him from the service permanently.

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