The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From the Chairman of the Planning Subcommittee of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (Rostow) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, October 31, 1962.


Report Number Six of the Planning Subcommittee

1. The Planning Subcommittee reviewed the situation as of late Wednesday afternoon, October 31, 1962.

2. The situation was assessed as one in which the Soviets were seeking to retrieve diplomatically as much as they could from the debacle: re-raising, at levels short of formal diplomacy, the question of Turkish bases and Guantanamo; seeking to protect the Cuban revolution and maintaining some credibility for the value of Soviet support outside the Bloc; seeking, by propaganda, to make the most of Khrushchev's "statesmanship" and to reaffirm Soviet strength and toughness. The Soviets evidently have a problem with Castro; but it was judged likely that they would seek to salvage the Communist revolution in Cuba, with or without Castro; and that Mikoyan's mission was designed, by means of stick and carrot, to achieve a reconciliation of their commitment to remove the missile bases with this longer run objective.

3. It was judged urgent that we resume a posture of pressure unless there was a radical break in the diplomatic situation, including reconnaissance and maintenance of the blockade. On a contingency basis preparations for putting increased pressure on Castro by extending the blockade to POL were judged urgent. Such measures might be introduced in the first instance by increments, through low-level, informal action.

4. Such measures of increased pressure on Castro might be executed with the knowledge and even connivance of the Soviet Union, if it found Castro too difficult to deal with; although we should refuse any substantial price for Soviet collaboration in this exercise.

5. In the light of Soviet tactics, including Kuznetsov's invitation to Stevenson to widen soon the area of discussion, it was felt more important than ever that we separate all other matters from the three central issues; that is, the removal of offensive missiles, the lifting of the blockade, and a form of assurance that we would not invade, consistent with our OAS commitments and the President's September 13 press conference. As counterpoint to UN negotiations, the OAS should be active on several fronts, including the review of latest evidence on Cuban indirect aggression in Latin America. If discussions with Soviet officials were to go beyond Cuban problems, the first issue that ought to be raised is the question of the enforcement of the Laos agreement.

6. The eleven tasks listed under 3 a-j in Report Number Five were reviewed.(1) All are in motion.

7. With respect to task 3 a (probable Soviet military policy), it was noted that among the options open to the Soviet Union was a stepped up missile defense system, the possibilities for which should be included in that task, along with other measures for correcting what Moscow evidently regards as the dangerous Soviet nuclear imbalance. In addition, the CIA representative undertook to generate a speculative paper which would attempt roughly to cost out alternative Soviet methods for correcting the nuclear imbalance. (Action: Mr. Whitman)

8. One of the most likely possibilities was judged to be that the Soviet Union would undertake, as after Stalin's death, a prolonged and serious re-evaluation of its military and foreign policy in the light not merely of their Cuban misadventure but the frustration of many lines of policy which they have been pursuing since, roughly, 1957. The decisions at which they finally arrive in this likely reassessment will depend, in part, on our posture and our policy from the present forward, as they perceive it, just as Stalin's policy was shaped after 1945 by his assessment of our strengths and vulnerabilities, and Khrushchev's after 1957, by his assessment as of that time. The cast of our total military and foreign policy in coming months is thus one critical variable in the making of new Soviet dispositions. The implications of this possible interconnection and recommended courses of action and signals to Moscow, designed to produce new Soviet dispositions most in our interest, is a new task assigned to the group chaired by Mr. Harvey.

1 Document 109. Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, Planning Subcommittee. Top Secret. Initialed by Rostow.

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