D-Day all over again

September 8, 1962

Malinovsky, my loyal, patriotic defense minister—he means to be helpful. But that recent speech of his sent me through the roof. I mean, look: last October, the American deputy of McNamara’s, Gilpatrick, made a speech and spilled all the beans about the balance of nuclear forces. I thought we had Kennedy and his people fooled, with our fake missile sites and so on in Siberia. So okay, they found out. And right in the middle of that Berlin crisis, wham, they hit us by saying, basically, they have more of everything than we do, with the single exception of troops under arms. Especially the long-range nuclear weapons. After that—after the Americans shoved our inferiority in our faces and all but threatened us with the first strike—we’ve had to be more careful about how we talk about the nuclear threat.

But Malinovsky—what a dunce!—now Rodion Yakovl’ich has claimed that we can destroy all the U.S. forces in a first strike, including all the NATO forces in Europe as well. Great! Kennedy knows he’s either lying or is not very well informed, or maybe a little of both. Of course, McNamara said the same thing in reverse—except McNamara’s generals, I fear, actually believe it. I almost believe it myself. That’s one of the reasons we need to succeed with the Cuban deployment. Wait until Kennedy discovers that he has to recalculate his nuclear numbers, because we have a lot of strategic weapons in Cuba that can all hit cities all over the U.S. Then we’ll see his speeches take a different tone. Then he will start talking about a summit with the Soviets, a summit at which he and I can begin to discuss nuclear disarmament as equals. Meanwhile, however, I have got to put a bag over Malinovsky’s head.

The Caribbean is turning into one big pressure cooker, like one of Nina Petrovna’s pots for preparing the meat for her famous stew. Kennedy keeps sending in more and more troops to the area. Our informants tell us that Florida is beginning to overflow with men and hardware, as if they are preparing for D-Day all over again. I don’t think Kennedy wants to attack Cuba. But the hawks in the U.S. are clamoring that we have put nuclear means in Cuba, while Kennedy keeps issuing statements claiming there is no evidence of offensive weapons on the island.

It will be a race to the finish. Will the Americans discover the weapons before they become operational? Or will they find out about them when I make my speech in Havana in November? Our KGB people say that we are disguising our deployments by using palm trees for cover. Palm trees? Cuban palm trees must be huge! Fidel must show them to me in November.