Fidel in my nightmares as a giant bearded chicken

September 4, 1962

This has been a nerve-wracking summer from hell. I am still happy with my decision to “throw a hedgehog into Uncle Sam’s pants”—deploying our nuclear means and lots of other defensive weapons to Cuba. The Americans deserve some of their own medicine, and we intend to give it to them. They think they can just keep threatening us with the missiles in Europe and Turkey, and in the U.S., and on submarines and in all sorts of other ways, and that we have no right to protect ourselves. Bullshit! We are the other superpower. We are the wave of the future. We won the Second World War, too, and we fought a lot harder than the Americans and suffered far more losses than they did. So: the hell with Kennedy and his hawks and his threats. We’re gonna stick him in his soft underbelly. Won’t he be surprised to wake up one morning in November to see me on television, giving a speech in Havana, Fidel at my side, announcing that our two countries have just completed a legal and sensible deployment of nuclear defensive weapons to Cuba? And that will be that. Kennedy will just have to live with it.

But still, what if they discover the missiles before they are fully deployed and operational? Shit. But no, they won’t. Of course they won’t. We have taken such extraordinary measures to keep the secret. No, they will know about it when we tell them about it—when I tell them about it from Havana. Maybe I should wave to Kennedy, and say in my speech: now that we both have all these terrible weapons around one another’s borders, we should sit down and work out a plan of peaceful coexistence. Yes, that’s what I should do. Then we should meet, I can call him “Jack” and he can call me “Nikita Sergei’ich,” and we can make plans to behave reasonably with one another, until such time as the capitalist world collapses, and the U.S. is swept into the dustbin of history.

Frankly, the Cubans make me more nervous than the Americans. Sometimes, I see Fidel in my nightmares as a giant bearded chicken. I am chasing him and when I catch him I will wring his thick neck until he learns to behave himself and act like a proper communist. He is always shooting off his big mouth! On 26 July, the damned fool said that if the Americans attack Cuba, it will start World War III and the U.S. will be destroyed. That’s a helluva way to keep a secret! Then last month, as if we Russians couldn’t take a hint, he sent Che Guevara and that other guy, Emilio somebody or other, to see me in the Crimea to say that Fidel wants to go public immediately with this Statement of Agreement we have been passing back and forth between us. Go public! Just stand up and say, “hey you Kennedys, you imperialists, we are putting big missiles into Cuba and we dare you to do something about it.” That is insane. Five minutes after making such an announcement, Kennedy’s people will have launched an air attack on the missiles, and five days later, Fidel and his revolution will be dead and gone. Sometimes I can’t believe we are involved with people like this, so impetuous, so naïve, so unmanageable. On the other hand, the Cubans really love to throw hedgehogs into Uncle Sam’s pants, just as we do.

Now this: Kennedy issues this provocative statement today, saying that his CIA hasn’t spotted any missiles yet, but if they do, they will attack them. Hah! No you won’t, Mr. Kennedy, not if these weapons are ready to fire. You’re not that stupid. And you are not going to discover them in time. You’re not. At least I hope you’re not. Because if you do, we are in a helluva mess, because Kennedy is going to throw a hedgehog into my pants and we’ll both look like idiots.