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Thirteen Days

PDF Robert Kennedy, as both brother and Attorney General to President John Kennedy, does a masterful job of explaining the US Administration’s internal deliberations and decisions during the Cuban missile crisis.Many members of my generation do not, perhaps, understand the gravity of the situation, and how a 45 year old president was able to calmly deliberate on the facts, assemble an Executive Committee full of experience, ability and deliberative dissent, and make a decision that protected the world from nuclear holocaust.

While protecting the American public, both Kennedy's remained ultra-sensitive to the impact of United States Military actions on the rest of the world, including Berlin, Turkey and Italy, to name a few potential Soviet targets.It was fascinating to read about the mixed messages that the US Administration received from Khrushchev— occasionally claiming there were no missiles, and at other times avoiding specifics and arguing forcefully for Cuba's right to arm and protect itself.Of particular note, was President Kennedy's rational response to the tragedy of a US fighter pilot being shot down by a Cuban surface-to-air-missile.Many demanded a strong military response, but Kennedy weighed the consequences of such action, and ultimately decided against it.

Robert Kennedy describes how, while always leaving all options on the table, President Kennedy negotiated the treacherous mine field of a nuclear stand off, with both bravery and brilliance.Kennedy was the kind of rational leader who surrounded himself with intelligence and experience, brought out the best in others and made sound decisions based on all of the evidence at his disposal.In short, Robert Kennedy was writing about the kind of leader America desperately needs today.

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