In occasione dei 50 anni dalla crisi dei missili, intervista a Peter Kornbluh del National Security Archive di Washington


In occasione dei 50 anni dalla crisi dei missili, intervista a Peter Kornbluh del National Security Archive di Washington

La locadina della Conferenza di cui è stato ospite Peter Kornbluh

Peter Kornbluh ha partecipato al convegno “Un’isola caraibica nella Guerra Fredda: Cuba e la crisi dei missili”, tenutosi il 24-25 ottobre 2012 e promosso dall’Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Kornbluh è direttore della National Security Archive alla George Washington University e ha mostrato, nella sua prima volta in Italia, i recenti documenti segreti declassificati, rilasciati dalla biblioteca di JFK il giorno 11 ottobre 2012

Mr Kornbluh, you are a senior analyst and you directed "the Archive's Cuba and Chile Documentation Projects": what about your job?

We can use government documents declassified to advance our understanding of what my government, in United States, and other governments, around the world, are doing in the names of its citizens but without their knowledge. The history of the United States foreign policy and documents in other countries can help with a variety of things: they can help us to understand the Cuba missile crisis so that we know and understand the real lessons of the crisis for future conflicts between the countries. They can help us advance the cause of human rights, if we get human rights documents and give them to victims, judges and lawyers. They can reveal government deception and government crimes and so it's important that we get these documents out. In the case of Cuba, we are trying to get the history declassified and unfold in hopes of changing relations and changing the policy of the United States towards Cuba.

You are author, co-author and co-editor of various books and documents, such as The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 and The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History: how did you tell the story "the missile crisis in Cuba" in your works?

We use declassified documents to tell a story in a book, The Cuba missile crisis 1962. We used, when the United States discovered The freedom of Information Act, to push forward hundreds of documents that were so secret but declassified. It was twenty years ago, on the 30th anniversary of the missile crisis and we told the story through documents in a book. We put them in context, wrote about them, we picked one hundred and more of that documents and put them in a book and told the whole story of the missile crisis from the United States intervention at the Bay of Pigs and the Operation Mogul to November of 1962, when there was still conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet withdrawing. Other weapons from Cuba and not the missiles themselves, but other weapons the United States warned out.

What about the secret documents you have shown during the Conference held in Naples?

On October 11th, 2012, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, the JFK Library released new documents from the Robert Kennedy papers, showing previously unknown details of these secret efforts of the Kennedy administration to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba and to establish relations with a Cuba clearly committed to a peaceful course. These papers yield the original draft of a top secret cable sent to Brazil, dated October 26th, 1962, suggesting the Brazilian ambassador in Havana to approach Castro to discuss with him the predicament in which Soviet actions had placed him. The JFK papers have advanced our understanding of this unique Kennedy effort and backchannel diplomacy with Cuba at a time of maximum crisis.

In November 2003 you worked as consultant for the production of the documentary Kennedy and Castro: The Secret History based on one of your articles, in the Cigar Aficionado, Kennedy and Castro: the secret quest for accommodation. What about the most "uncomfortable" secrets you tried to reveal about them?

During the Cuba missile crisis one of the biggest secrets was that John Kennedy tried to try an approach to Castro. He sent a secret message to the Brazilians to say to Castro: “If you get rid of the Soviets, get rid of the missiles, then we can somehow learn to accommodate each other and live in a modus videndi”. That message arrived too late to influence the actual end of the Cuba missile crisis, but Fidel heard the message and in the weeks following the crisis he engaged the negotiations with United States emissary over freeing three prisoners they had from the Bay of Pigs invasion and after that he engaged negotiations over twentyseven American prisoners that he had including three C.I.A. agents in his jails and he let them go and those negotiations started a ball rolling on the secret promise between Kennedy and Castro which was culminating right in the moment that John Kennedy was murdered. Many people in my country think that he was murdered precisely because somebody had found out that he was secretly trying to approach Castro to encourage him in arrive at an accommodation – I don't think that's true – but, it was every secret effort and it almost had know results, but Kennedy was assassinated right as he had an emissary, in the same day, meeting with Castro in Havana carrying there another message from John Kennedy basically saying: “If you change your relationship with the Soviet Union, if you stop screwing around, I think we could conceivably have respectful, civil relations. United States can learn to live with the communist Cuba as long as it's not threatening us and our interests in the rest of the world”.

Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro came close from using the atomic bomb: what, and how much, was essential diplomatic work and “secrecy”?

Secrecy was important to solve the crisis. Without secrecy it's unlikely that Kennedy would have made his deal to secretly sort out the missiles that ended the crisis. So secrecy can be important at certain times but after the crisis was over it would be important at some point: a year, 2 years, 3 years later. The missiles aren't been taken out of Turkey. For somebody from the Kennedy administration that step forward and said: “The real lesson of the missile crisis is that accommodation, diplomacy and negotiation saved the world rather than letting the idea over resolute strong president who stared down his enemy and force the enemy to a draw. That was the wrong lesson and that's the lesson that is still being applied today. We're just beginning fifty years later to understand the truth of the Cuba missile crises.

In your opinion, if Kennedy had been a Republican, would it end in the same manner or would it erupted in World War III?

If Richard Nixon had won the presidency in the 1960ies, instead of Kennedy, would we still be standing here today, talking about the Cuba missile crisis in the history fifty years later? Because Richard Nixon was a very different personality than John Kennedy: he was much more aggressive, much less diplomatic oriented and else. The key, that is understanding this history, is that John Kennedy was committed to diplomacy, to backchannel, secret efforts to solve this without risking violence that could resolve in Nuclear war between the superpowers. To be sure John Kennedy got into this crisis to begin with by uprising the Bay of Pigs, by uprising the Operation Mogul and giving the cubans reasons to want to have a nuclear deterrent; they feared they had another invasion from the United States. Khrushchev was reckless also, he put his missiles secretly into Cuba when he should really try to put them openly under International Law just like United States put their missiles in Italy and in Turkey openly under a International Law and international alliances. But Khrushchev was so reckless that he secretly deceived Kennedy directly. Kennedy said: ”Are you putting missiles into Cuba?” and he said: ”No, I'm only putting defensive weapons in Cuba”. So he lied to thePresident of the United States and that created a kind of sinister element to what he was doing.

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