As attorney general, Bobby Kennedy’s focus was supposed to be legal issues.
But ever since the Bay of Pigs debacle in April 1961, JFK had brought him into discussions on foreign policy.
This adds weight to the argument that the attorney general’s comments in Ex Comm about invasion were meant seriously.
Robert Kennedy’s prior involvement in Mongoose may explain in part his initial stance during the missile crisis. Once the news arrived that there were missiles in Cuba, the attorney general dwelt, as he had before October 1962, on the use of force as a solution to the Cuban problem.
“We did this against Cuba,” Robert Kennedy continued.
“We’ve fought for 15 years with Russia to prevent a first strike against us…Often it was Mc Namara, not Robert Kennedy, who was the dominant figure in this Ex Comm discussion.And in this same meeting it was not Bobby Kennedy but Llewellyn Thompson who came across as the leading advocate of the quarantine, and who drew JFK into a deeper consideration of the merits of that approach.On the other hand, he did not yet appear to be the leading champion of the blockade.In he explained how he had responded to former Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s insistence that the president should initiate military action by making a heartfelt plea for moderation and for the blockade. Thompson, not Robert Kennedy, in challenging Acheson by making the case for a blockade.With the subsequent declassification of documents, there have been intermittent attempts to modify this rose-tinted interpretation of Robert Kennedy’s role.But the extent to which his contribution has been oversimplified and exaggerated, and the influence of other officials underestimated, has not been generally appreciated.The Cuban missile crisis was a defining event of the Cold War, and the study and analysis of how it was managed and resolved quickly became a staple of graduate courses dealing with American diplomacy. Kennedy has been credited with a preponderant voice among the President’s advisers in devising a solution to the crisis that avoided war with the USSR; but this essay, drawing on meeting transcripts and other contemporary documentation, argues that his role was more nuanced, and that credit for the successful outcome should be more broadly shared.As the most dangerous episode in the history of the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis has inevitably attracted the attention of many diplomatic historians.For the past year he had been accustomed to thinking in terms of destabilizing the Castro government in preparation for a U. Another factor contributing to RFK’s hawkishness was his emotional state: he felt angry, as he had at the time of the Bay of Pigs disaster, consumed by a desire for revenge against what he perceived to be the humiliation inflicted upon his brother. Those sons of bitches Russians.” The fact that earlier in the fall Moscow had offered assurances to Washington that no missiles were being sent to Cuba could only have magnified Bobby Kennedy’s sense that his brother had been stabbed in the back.There is evidence of the fury felt by Robert Kennedy on October 16: having inspected the photographs of the Soviet missile sites, he erupted: “Oh shit! By the following day, October 17, the attorney general, having reflected no doubt on the dangers of the situation, no longer spoke of invasion.