Nothing unusual, he told Ted

September 7, 1962

Washington, DC (Associated Press). September 7 1962

President Kennedy, acting in the face of a communist buildup in Cuba and other international tension, sought authority today to order 150,000 reservists to active duty.

White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger said Kennedy was asking the new authority to order reservists to duty “because of the critical nature of the international situation.” Salinger said he was referring to the “general international situation.” Asked if the move was inspired by the Soviet-backed buildup of armed strength in Castro’s Cuba, he said newsmen would have to draw their own conclusions.

Pierre didn’t fool anybody with that cockamamie statement. But it is just not possible to evade the Cuba question anymore. Everybody knows what the reserve call-up is about. Soon, everyone will notice a great increase in the population of south Florida, and a lot of the new residents will be wearing uniforms.

I just can’t make two and two add up to four. Just yesterday, the Russian ambassador, Dobrynin, told Ted Sorensen, with a straight face, that nothing unusual was happening in Cuba, that the Soviets were simply putting a few weapons over here, a few military technicians over there. Nothing unusual, he told Ted. And we have made it totally clear—at least I hope we have—that nuclear weapons in Cuba will not be tolerated.

On the other hand, our intelligence people are becoming apoplectic over the Soviet deployment in Cuba—the size of it and the diversity of the weapons systems that have been spotted already. Some have asked me: what do the Soviets need surface to air missiles for? What are the SAMs supposed to be protecting? Their answer is: the same thing SAMs are used for the Russia, namely, to protect their nuclear missiles. Walter Sweeney, head of the Tactical Air Command says he now has a plan for a massive bombing assault on Cuba, as a precursor to an invasion of the island by the Marines and Army. Sweeney says they are ready to roll with that.

And then there are the whining no-nothings in the Congress. Bomb Cuba! Invade Cuba! Kill Castro! That’s all they know how to say. If those sonofabitches think they can do a better job than I can, then they can have this goddamned job. Days like this, my back just aches. The rocking chair doesn’t even help. I forget to do my stretching exercises. And who the hell has time, anyway, in the middle of this never-ending Cuban crisis?