Cuban Missile Crisis: Treatment In Different Countries

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Throughout world history, the same historical events were treated differently by different countries. Either different sides of the conflict or even allies considered them from their own point of view, emphasizing the facts that were regarded as the most important. Today, the situation has not changed much, at least in relation to recent events. However, even some long-standing facts can be seen by different countries in absolutely opposite ways. Different interpretation of historical events is the basis for propaganda, but it also directly follows from the fact that each country looks at the situation from its own side. It is for this reason that even the earliest periods of history may look contradictory. However, one of the most striking examples of this interpretation today is the view on the events of the Cold War and the modern period, which many consider its continuation, in Russia comparing to those in Western countries. Propaganda of the cold war superimposed on the point of view of politicians allowed the vision of the same events in these countries to differ dramatically. Differences in understanding and interpretation of certain events in the countries of the West and Russia the most brightly can be seen, referring to the official speeches of politicians and the media information (especially those media that belong to the state and express its point of view).

To begin with, confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, which is known in the United States under the name ‘Cuban missile crisis’, in Russia went down in history with the name ‘Caribbean crisis’. Even the differences in the name show the differences in the perception of this historical event. While in the United States of America, he is called ‘Cuban’, immediately telling us about the deployment of the Soviet Union missiles in Cuba, the Russian name is more vague and tells us about the Caribbean islands. However, in order to clearly see how dramatically different was the understanding of the situation in Russia and the USA at that time, you should turn to the current media of 1962.

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On the one hand there were Soviet publications in Pravda, whose name translates as ‘The Truth’, the most authoritative and in fact the main newspaper of the Soviet Union of that time.

September 12, 1962 ‘Pravda’ has published a statement by TASS under the heading ‘To end the policy of provocation.’ It States that in the US Congress, as well as the American press, ‘militant reactionary forces’ have ‘unbridled propaganda against the Cuban revolution’, calling for a war. The newspaper explains this by the upcoming elections to the us Congress, as political parties, using such a ‘hype’, want only to raise their rating among voters. Further, Soviet propagandists resort to the reception, called the researcher Sorochenko ‘principle of contrast’, contrasting ‘honest Soviet press’ to ‘corrupt bourgeois’: ‘unfortunately, many more people in the United States deceived this vile propaganda. American monopoly capital, owning the entire us press, radio, television – all means of influencing the minds of people – holds the American people in captivity of ignorance and uses it to process the public opinion of the country in a pleasing way 1.

In the following editions Pravda continued to write about the impact of the TASS statement in other countries. On September 13, the entire third page is filled with messages from Havana, Paris, London, Delhi, Berlin, Warsaw, United by the title ‘the Peoples condemn the aggressive plans of the United States against Cuba.’ This is the subject of a note entitled ‘In the heat of military hysteria’ dated September 15 2 of the Washington-based political columnist of the newspaper ‘Pravda’ Sergei Vishnevsky, where he also notes that the headlines of American Newspapers ‘make noise and rage’ reports about the war. The method of selective commenting in the press is a favorite method of both Soviet and American propaganda of that time. On a strip the statement disclosing a position of the Soviet government on any question is placed, statements of authoritative international figures, politicians, publicists who confirm correctness of this thought are nearby published. Review in this case enhances the original ‘effect common opinion’: with reference to authoritative opinion, the paper reinforces the truth of the main statements. Khrushchev later admitted that, using the TASS report, the government was deliberately deceiving both the United States and the Soviet people: ‘the Americans warned us informally < ... > that they know that we are installing missiles in Cuba. Of course, we denied everything. They may say it is treachery. Unfortunately, in our time, this form of diplomacy remains, and we have not invented anything new here, but only used the same means used by the enemy against us.’ 3 According to the Soviet Newspapers, to allow the Cuban crisis was only possible thanks to the Soviet Union and the position of Khrushchev. ‘Pravda’ published statements of prominent figures, for example, the famous British philosopher (supporter of the left views) Lord Bertrand Russell, confirming this position: ‘Humanity owes a great deal to Nikita Khrushchev for his courage and determination to prevent a war that could have started because of American militarism.’ October 29-31, newspaper articles came out with titles ‘Defend and consolidate peace on earth!’, ‘To ensure the peace and security of peoples!’, ‘Plans of aggressors are broken!’. The press has long cultivated personal merit Khrushchev to prevent a nuclear crisis, but never talked about the motives for the deployment of missiles. October 30 in the ‘Pravda’ was published an article ‘From the standpoint of reason’, where for better assimilation by readers once again was repeated the myth of the aggressive actions of the United States. The authors, Yu. Zhukov and V. Mayevsky, recalled that the Cuban missile crisis began with the speech of US President Kennedy, who suddenly, without any reason, announced the blockade of Cuba 4. The authors cite ‘informed political commentators and diplomats’ who allegedly told ‘Pravda’ that ‘the United States government planned a quick strike against Cuba, the elimination of the existing system there and its replacement by a Pro-American puppet regime’.

After October 31, operational reports on the development of the situation disappear from Pravda, but analytical articles about the events continued to be published in the Soviet press.

On the other hand there are “New York Times” publications, which was (and still is) the most popular newspaper in the US.

“New York Times” responded TASS statement ‘To end the policy of provocation’ with a whole series of articles. The most revealing of them – ‘Moscow beats the drums’ – begins with the phrase: ‘Yesterday was published a militant Soviet statement warning us that any aggression against Cuba would mean the outbreak of nuclear war.’ Further, the author reassures the Americans: Khrushchev repeated several times that the USSR has no military bases in Cuba, and therefore, it is not necessary to take such ‘aggressive statements’ of the USSR seriously, because ‘this is another of the propaganda methods of intimidation’ 5. In the midst of the Cuban crisis to maintain the myth of the aggressive Communist USSR ‘new York times’ puts a note ‘Soviet challenge in Cuba’, where draws the attention of readers to the fact that ‘the conquest of Cuba by Soviet control is the last step in a long list of Russian aggression in the last quarter centuries. This act made Soviet Russia the largest and most oppressive colonial Empire in history. This behavior is also a real Communist challenge’ 6. After Receiving photos of Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba, us President Kennedy decided to use them as the main propaganda technique against the USSR, calling on the media to help. It was important for Kennedy to tell this not only to the Americans, but primarily to the Cubans. Wilson notes: ‘We concluded that it was only possible to reach a large part of the Cuban audience with the help of major radio stations located in the South-East of the United States’ 7. An hour before Kennedy’s address to the people on October 22, the owners of all major radio stations in the South-East of the United States received a call from white house press Secretary Pierre Salinger asking to broadcast the President’s address in Spanish that night and for the next few nights. All the radio stations agreed to do it. In his address, in addition to describing the photographs received, Kennedy also announced the introduction of a ‘strict quarantine on all types of offensive weapons transported to Cuba’ 8. According to A. Alekseev, Kennedy specifically used the word ‘quarantine’ and not ‘blockade’, because in fact it would mean a Declaration of war 9. In the end, the President addressed the Cubans directly: ‘I, along with the American people, am deeply saddened to see how your national revolution was betrayed, how your Fatherland bowed to foreign domination.’ Kennedy called Cuba’s leaders ‘puppets’ and ‘agents of an international conspiracy’ that turned Cuba’s neighbors (i.e. Americans) into their enemies.

Shortly thereafter, in an editorial in “Pravda” under the title “To curb the presumptuous American aggressors!”. It was reported that Kennedy’s speech on radio and television “from the first to the last word is imbued with falsehood and hypocrisy. It is like a robber’s prayer before going out on the high road.” Wilson recalls that Kennedy`s speech in most of the European papers was also accepted with skepticism. Therefore, he advised the President to present evidence: to place photos from the U-2 plane in American Newspapers. On October 24, 10 photos were published on the front page of the “New York Times “. “After that, the entire press immediately took our side,” Wilson adds. To achieve the final effect of Kennedy’s speech, the “New York Times”, like Pravda, resorts to the method of “selective commenting”. In the following issues, there are publications expressing world public opinion: “The youth of Cyprus is United to fight communism”11, “Canada supports the US view on Cuba”12 etc. Tt is Interesting that, justifying the deployment of American missiles in Turkey, “New York Times” wrote: bases in Turkey are placed not by America itself, but by NATO 13. After several tense days, when Soviet-American diplomacy was teetering on the brink of transition to open military action, the Cuban conflict was resolved. Kennedy sent Khrushchev another telegram, where the USSR was asked to withdraw weapons systems from Cuba under the supervision of UN representatives, “as well as to take steps in compliance with the relevant security measures to stop the supply of the same weapons systems to Cuba”14. The United States, for its part, undertook to lift the embargo against Cuba and to guarantee non-aggression. In November, the “New York Times” published an article entitled “A blow to the Cold War”, which stated that “the Cold War will continue, but both sides have learned a lesson for the future from the Cuban missile crisis” 15. However, according to the newspaper, the crisis was resolved only thanks to the diplomacy of the United States of America in the person of John F. Kennedy: “Everyone loves winners, especially those who won gracefully, without spilling unnecessary blood, and this behavior will undoubtedly affect the whole world. Kennedy’s firm conduct in this matter has strengthened his trust and respect among his allies.” Another article summarizes the current crisis: “In the eternal propaganda race, the US has demonstrated that it will not make a deal with the Soviet Union about Turkey. Unfortunately, this can not be said about the USSR and its relationship with Prime Minister Fidel Castro”16. The new York times also published numerous articles about Communist propaganda trying to “hide the rubble of the Cuban missile crisis,”and many Muscovites were shocked by Khrushchev’s radio and television report about the USSR’s dismantling of its nuclear missiles in Cuba: “Moscow has remained calm this week because people have not been told about the seriousness of the situation. The news in the press only emphasized the efforts of Prime Minister Khrushchev to resolve the conflict peacefully, without informing about the readiness of the United States to act decisively if necessary.”17 The author also notes that the crisis showed the Soviet people how much they should not trust their press.


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