WASHINGTON, November 27, 2016 — In October 1962, President John F. Kennedy narrowly avoided World War III with the Soviet Union. The conflict centered on Russia’s stationing short-range nuclear weapons on Cuban soil, a mere 90 miles off the U.S. mainland.
Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove his missiles from Cuba after Kennedy assured the Russians the U.S. would remove its short-range nukes from Turkey and promised not to invade Cuba.
Grateful Americans said grace with a renewed sense of earnestness the following November before digging into their thanksgiving dinners.
But one man was fuming mad – Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
During the height of the nuclear crisis, Castro wrote Khrushchev, begging him to launch a nuclear first strike against the U.S. “to eliminate this danger [American imperialism] forever, in an act of the most legitimate self-defense. However harsh and terrible the solution, there would be no other.”
Khrushchev later wrote back,
“We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course, the United States would have also suffered greatly. It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people.”
But as was always the case, the Cuban people were the least of Castro’s concerns. Alexander Alexeyev, former Soviet Ambassador to Cuba, recalled in his memoir that a “fearful” Castro had arranged his spot inside the Russian embassy’s nuclear fallout shelter in the event the Russians followed his advice, killing millions of Americans.
“War against the United States is my true destiny,” Castro wrote a friend shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. “When this war’s over I’ll start that much bigger and wider war.”
More than a half century before New York City fell victim to Al Qaeda terrorists on 9/11, with Osama bin Laden still a mere lad of five, an Associated Press story dated Nov. 19, 1962 announced Cuba’s United Nations delegation had filed a formal protest with the world body “seeking the release of an attaché [by the United States], one of three men charged in an alleged Cuban sabotage plot.”
According to the FBI, the “trio were believed planning to blow up oil refineries in New Jersey, set off incendiary bombs and smoke devices in New York’s major department stores and throw hand grenades into crowds of Christmas shoppers here,” said the AP.
The FBI confiscated more than 1,000 pounds of TNT meant to kill holiday shoppers at Gimbels and Bloomingdale’s department stores, as well as the bustling crowds making their way through New York’s Grand Central Station.
Lucky for New Yorkers of the early 1960s, a competent J. Edgar Hoover was at the helm at the FBI.
Disgraced CBS anchorman Dan Rather once described the island dictator as “Cuba’s own Elvis.” After meeting Castro, actor Jack Nicholson said, “We spoke about everything. Castro is a humanist. Cuba is simply a paradise!”
When Fox host Sean Hannity brought up the thousands of innocent Cubans murdered by Castro in the aftermath of the revolution, director Michael Moore shot back, “You’re still following that line? That was forty years ago.”
Here in the land of the free, there is no statute of limitations for murder. But justice is a malleable concept to those sympathetic to totalitarian, communist dictators.
A compassion now shown the frail, spent man who died Saturday. The dictator who once begged his Soviet masters to incinerate his northern neighbor with nuclear weapons and followed that up with a plot to commit mass murder in the streets of New York City.
In spite of the Cuban dictator and his supporters, the nation he so hated, the one “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” endures.
Fidel Castro is dead, but the American republic stands “rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible.”