Poem: 'The Colonel And The President' | WBUR News
May 27, Already in Vienna Kennedy was distraught that Khrushchev, I clicked the link of course expecting to hear about the day Kennedy was shot. Apr 21, RealClearSports - John F. Kennedy - Nikita Khrushchev. In the year that followed, relations between the US and the USSR became more. Jun 11, President Kennedy endorsed the idea of sending Frost to Moscow, . This was followed by a discussion about the relationship of artists to their society. a book of his poems inscribed, "To Premier Khrushchev, from his rival.
This observation, in a sense, makes human existence and morality irrelevant. Also later in the lecture he suggested the cosmological possible. An Investigation into Possible Wars. In the preface he reminds us that the senior leadership of both the Soviet Union and the United States in had lived through their worst nightmares, for the United States, a massive preemptive strike as in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and, in the case of the Soviet Union, the German Operation Barbarossa from June 22, until May 08, when the triumphant Red Army stood in the ruins of Berlin at a cost of nearly thirty million Soviet and German Lives.
This is the operative link to nuclear winter. I mean, supposing the Russkies stashes away some big bomb, see. When they come out in a hundred years they could take over… In fact, they might even try an immediate sneak attack so they could take over our mineshaft space… I think it would be extremely naive of us, Mr.
President, to imagine that these new developments are going to cause any change in Soviet expansionist policy. I mean, we must be… increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mineshaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge!
President, we must not allow… a mine shaft gap! But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice [xii] It is fitting that as I finish the paper on Oct 31stAll Hallows Eve [xiii]working at a University of Wisconsin Eau Claire computer lab wondering if any trick-or-treaters will come by our house, about to pick my wife so she can absentee vote against the gubernatorial candidate that would lead our great state in the race to the bottom.
At the same time wondering will be ready for the potential trick-or-treaters or turn our lights off, and eat the candy myself. I wonder what happened almost exactly fifty two years ago between the President, the Premier and the Poet that has spared me from having to write these lines as a radioactive ghoul [xiv] It is now a week since I wrote the above paragraph.
My wife, the two parents myself, and the five kids all watched the extended edition of The Hobbit: It made me think more about the lines I had written last week. And it forced me to go back and actually research the actual factual situation, in terms of what was at risk during the Cuban missile crisis. The material will appear in a supplementary technical appendix, along with my reflections on how 52 years ago I was being trained, to become nuclear weapons analyst at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
As terrifying as a situation in Cuba looked 52 years ago, it is more terrifying when reflected upon, with all the information that has come to light in the last half century. On July 16that 5: This material is really a summary of several days of research, the kind of stuff I used to do a lifetime ago when I was a young man.
Here are the facts of the American nuclear capability during the second half of October We live in an age where most people do not know the difference between a fission and fusion weapon of mass destruction. The starting point is these three atomic weapons of the fission variety were detonated by the United States in Each one of these weapons was equal in explosive power to approximately 10, tons of TNT, hence, the phrase kiloton.
Therefore a megaton is equal to a million tons of TNT and has the explosive force of one hundred Hiroshima-sized atomic fission bombs. Inthe nuclear stockpile of the United States, consisting of more than 3, warheads, was six times that of the Soviet Union. The most powerful weapons — Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles ICBMs — had ranges greater than 8, miles and were capable of hitting targets almost anywhere within the Soviet Union from American soil.
The United States had missiles of this type, with a combined nuclear yield greater than megatons, the equivalent of , tons of TNT.
Although much lower than the long-range missiles held by the Americans, these weapons still represented a nuclear power between 7, to 14, times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. At the end of the crisis in October, a total of 1, American bomber planes were deployed with the ability to deliver 2, nuclear weapons.
Nuclear madness needs a different kind of analysis which somehow accommodates the irrationality and madness. I have had several conversations with my dear friend Dr. Michael Zielinski presently a programmer but a retired mathematics professor, who did his doctoral work on fractal geometry and Chaos Theory. This is actually one of the favorite modeling strategies of business schools.
First I must give a brief a summary of Catastrophe Theory. What Catastrophe Theory really does is it shows the limits of the modeling of complex system; because it shows that there is a limit to the number of variables that may be computed. At a certain point the data can no longer be retrieved. Perhaps one might focus on Dr. In other words there were probable outcomes which extended past the limits of probability but are yet serious considerations.
They were held together by their own escalating nuclear powers and capabilities. This was situation that neither could escape on their own nor distance from themselves.
Strangely enough they are faced with something that Richard Nixon first noted when he visited Moscow in What I think that he really did in that statement was make a judgment based on what we call in philosophical discourse a true opinion when knowledge is unattainable.
Nixon made a judgment call; he made that statement, because as the poker player he knew the odds. He did the same thing when he set the stage for the American diplomatic recognition of China.
He was calling the odds [xx]. That was what Kennedy and Khrushchev faced in the last half of October My observation was confirmed by Dr. Zielinski, and it goes something like this. A very possible scenario to produce this outcome was the hawkish part of the Kennedy team, Air Force Gen. On the Soviet side, stationed in Cuba were 36 intermediate range ballistic missiles that Fidel Castro desperately wanted to launch.
When bad things happen to good poets - az-links.info
They were at the time at, or close, to an operational state. Each one of these missiles could reach all of the American cities in a deadly arc that extended in formation of the deadly fan to include New York City, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and lest I forgot Seattle. Each one of these missiles had a thermal nuclear warhead with an explosive capability of 1. So why am I not sitting here reflecting on this as a radioactive, corpse-eating, ghoul?
It seems that the last days of October we were very close to the last days of humanity as we know it. Kennedy, and Nikita Khrushchev, and the power of poetry. As this paper has unfolded it has become necessary for me to do a substantial amount of background research on Nikita Khrushchev.
This model of accumulating wealth was of the type that caused my father, Edward Kavenyto flee for his life as a newspaperman incoming west, to Syracuse, Cleveland, Detroit, and finally Milwaukee, where he became the youngest political editor in the history of the Milwaukee Sentinel.
Nikita Khrushchev, as he often said, was the son of a Ukrainian coal miner. He was born in and experienced the horrors of the oppression of the Russian czarist government. He was exempt from service during the First World War because of his technical expertise of metal work. However some would call them sound. Yet Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin and nearly all of what he did in his famous 20th Communist Party speech in Yet if that were true that made the situation even more potentially fatal as far as possible post- Cuban missile crisis outcomes.
Rather than continue with this biographical approach I would say that John F. Kennedy had certain blackness, perhaps a callousness, in his own right. My way of approaching the power of poetry is to use my theory of threes to try to pull this all together. He was born inand he died less than three months after the Cuban missile crisis January 8, Robert Frost of course is famous for his presence and poetry reading at the Kennedy inauguration, and his connection to John Fitzgerald Kennedy through former secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall — I would suggest that the third thing that pulled these three men together was the power of poetry.
Khrushchev in spite of his reputation and sometimes brutal demeanor seemed to have a receptive part of his soul for the poetry of Robert Frost. This is why Khrushchev invited Frost to the Soviet Union in July of just at the point at which the preparations for the Soviet military buildup in the placement of intercontinental ballistic missiles was being finalized in Cuba.
Robert Frost former Sec. He was to suggest just a different form of competition outside the realm of the Cold War, and something other than mere coexistence. Again, according to former Sec. The trip was short, lasting no more than a week, but Khrushchev really wanted to see Robert Frost, one can assume out of at least a respect for his poetry.
UDALL it is s now 10 years since the curtains began to open on a nuclear showdown and the two great powers of the East and West confronted each other in the Cuban missile crisis. It was in late spring or early summer of that the Soviet Union began preparing to install about 60 offensive intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, well within range of the United States. The peoples of the world then watched, waited and were brought to the very edge of great danger before the crisis was ultimately met and the feared Armageddon averted.
Neither Frost nor I, however, was aware that we were in the presence of one who had made such a fateful decision as Khrushchev had. This was the very purpose of his trip. Khrushchev the man met his expectations, and as he told his press conference in Moscow the next day "there was nothing common or mean" to mar the conversation. Frost had no way of knowing whether Khrushchev agreed with his main argument, but he chose to believe he would use restraint and "take a stand for greatness" on the fateful issues.
He did know that he had had another big inning for poetry and power, and that was part of his elation. At the time, I wondered why Khrushchev was so solicitous about Frost, and why he spent so much time with me. We realize later that he was us because he was obsessed with President Kennedy's forthcoming response to his nuclear lunge.
Would Kennedy order an invasion of Cuba? Would nuclear weapons be used by the United States? The condition of Kennedy's nerve, and his initial interpretation of Khrushchev's intentions would be decisive. The Soviet Premier saw us, then, because he needed us. In a few days, the real purpose of the Cuban installations would be discovered. Khrushchev needed to send tidings of his sanity, to prove that he was still in charge. Our visits would give Kennedy a window into his mind.
When I look back now with the benefit of hindsight, Khrushchev's conduct was both conservative and cunning. He was trying, with deceptive twists and turns, to keep Washington guessing, to present a peaceful face one day and a tough stance the next.
He mentioned Cuba to me only once, and it involved a typical Khrushchevian anecdote. To show me he was abreast of Washington politics, he noted that "some Senators" were demanding that Kennedy invade Cuba.
He said it reminded him of a conversation young Maxim Gorki once had with the elderly Tolstoy. Gorki asked Tolstoy about his sexual prowess, and the older man replied, "I have the same desires -- but my performance doesn't measure up. They talk big, but they can't perform. Otherwise, Khrushchev acted the role of a reasonable man who was genuinely fond of the new President and was trying hard to understand his political problems in a midterm election year.
He went out of his way to boast that he had helped defeat Richard M. Nixon in the campaign by refusing, until after the election, to grant President Eisenhower's request for the release of two U.
He blandly accepted President Kennedy's explanation that a new U-2 spy-plane intrusion over the Siberian coast five days earlier was an accident. He asked me to deliver a personal gift of Georgian wines to the President, and as I left he said twice for emphasis, "You tell the President I want him to be my guest right here soon -- and I want him to bring Mrs. Kennedy and the little girl, too. This was the kind of personal politics that ultimately let to Nikita Khrushchev's downfall.
It was a clever, fascinating performance. Khrushchev's ominous game did not surface for six weeks, but at the very time we were at Gagra he was apparently preparing another bold stroke that would have fascinated Robert Frost. He was preparing -- literally -- to use poetry to consolidate his own political power: De-Stalinization was Khrushchev's most potent internal political weapon. His secret speech denouncing Stalin five years earlier was the chief source of his strength within the Communist party, but his control of the Presidium was still tenuous.
This, too, was a daring gamble, but it is clear now that Khrushchev was determined to alter the mode of party government. Literary men had already been selected to be the spearpoint of the new wave of de-Stalinization.
This was not surprising. Russian writers have been in the forefront of movements for political reform since the time of Pushkin. The young poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko and a then-unknown novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, were to fire the first thunderbolts.
It was an emotional plea for vigilance to "stop Stalin from rising again," and it warned: Others, from platforms, even heap abuse on Stalin, but, at night, yearn for the good old days. Solzhenitsyn, a personal victim of Stalin's paranoia, quickly achieved recognition as one of the great artists of the 20th century.
His book was a searching indictment of life in Stalin's slave-labor camps. It, too, appeared in an official Communist journal. We know now that Nikita Khrushchev personally approved the printing of these works.
En route, Surkov made the cryptic remark to Frank Reeve that he expected to transact "important business" with Khrushchev at Gagra. When the chairman's Cuban gamble went awry, however, he was lucky to survive politically and his new de-Stalinization campaign was quickly sidetracked.
JFK Was Completely Unprepared For His Summit with Khrushchev - HISTORY
Frost held a news conference at his apartment after returning to Moscow. Handling the inquiries with his usual skill, he reported that he had received a "private message for President Kennedy.
Frost's adventure should have concluded on this positive note. There should have been a visit to Washington and a quiet report to the President. Unhappily for Frost, however, this denouement was not to be. We returned to New York on Sept. Though Frost was in a mellow mood, he had been awake 18 hours by the time we finally deplaned and was bone-tired. I should have stopped any further press interviews, but the reporters were out in force and anxious to persuade him to expand on his impressions of Khrushchev.
As he was beginning to repeat himself near the end of his New York press conference, Frost astonished me by suddenly blurting out, "Khrushchev said he feared for us because of our lot of liberals. He thought that we're too liberal to fight -- he thinks we will sit on one hand and then the other. The phrase "too liberal to fight" was one Frost had used many times, but once he had attributed it to the chairman the damage was done and there was no way to correct the record.
From every standpoint it was an unfortunate slip: With one stroke, the poet had violated his own rules for "magnanimous conduct," had misrepresented Khrushchev's position, and had embarrassed President Kennedy. In a thoughtless moment, he had indulged in the very propagandizing he personally deplored in his conversation at Gagra. The Cuban situation already had Kennedy on the defensive. He was stung by Frost's statement. When I reached Washington, at the conclusion of our conversation the President asked curtly, "Why did he have to say that?
The extent of the President's resentment became clear in the following weeks. Frost was not invited to Washington for a debriefing; and Kennedy gave him no opportunity to present his "personal message" from Khrushchev. As the poet brooded over his blunder at home in Boston, I'm certain he realized he had "crossed" Kennedy, had lost a valuable friendship. He began to dictate a letter-report to the President late September, but his heart was not in it and the letter was never completed.
I saw him in Washington the week the Cuban crisis had the world at the brink of nuclear war.
When bad things happen to good poets
He had come to participate in a National Poetry Festival. His talk contained an undertone of bitterness toward the White House, but as the life-and-death missile confrontation evolved, Frost was strangely optimistic about its outcome. He admired the mutual restraint of the two leaders, and he was sure Kennedy and Khrushchev would "work it out peacefully.
They were discussing poetry and politics when this exchange occurred: The Government can use a poet to serve its purpose -- but when he is no longer useful, the Government has a right to cast him off.
Yes, but that is not the ultimate truth. Think of Caesar Augustus. The poet Virgil was used by him, was part of his circle of advisers.
But today Virgil is the one we remember. But that was a long time coming. But isn't that what we're for? During the last weeks of his life, Frost made only one indirect attempt to communicate with the President. In late November, when Kennedy officially ended the crisis by lifting the naval quarantine of Cuba, he sent me this wire: All the situation needed was his decision on our part.
You and I saw that Khrushchev was tipping westward with all his heart. His be some of the praise. Front-page stories noted the event, and friends from all walks of life including Ambassador Dobrynin and Ambassador B.
Nehru of India sent messages to his bedside. Yet no wire, no letter from the President. As his condition worsened, he was operated on for the removal of a blood clot.
Discreet calls were made -- and Robert and Ethel Kennedy sent flowers -- but the President's staff people, to my amazement, sent no message to the Boston hospital.
In early January, my wife, Lee, and I went to the hospital for a visit. Frost's spirits had been lifted by a wire from Yevtushenko. He especially wanted to talk about the Russian trip, which he called "the time of our lives. He made negative references to "those guys around the President," but there was no mention of Kennedy himself.
As we talked about the future, at one point he observed, "The only trouble with dying is not knowing how it will all turn out.
The tributes of Kennedy and Khrushchev dominated the news stories as final eulogies were pronounced. He was cremated, and three weeks after his death there was a quiet memorial service at Amherst. How does one explain the sad ending of such a felicitous friendship?