October 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the new PBS documentary, Cuban Missile Crisis - Three Men Go to War, the events of those tense thirteen days as well as the three men who brought the world to the brink of war and back are closely examined.
The crisis in October 1962 threatened to "erase human civilization." As they say in the film, "The world almost came to an end in 1962." And that is no exaggeration. American U2 planes captured images of a Russian missile site on the island of Cuba. The missiles could reach most of the United States. The Soviet SS4 missiles were a direct threat to America, the hemisphere, and the entire world. One of those nuclear bombs was well over 70 times more powerful than either of the two bombs that were dropped on Japan.
Although Castro wanted the military buildup to be out in the open, Khrushchev insisted it be secret. He felt that once the missiles were complete the U.S. could not do anything to them. But they were discovered before their completion, which forced the issue and put President Kennedy in the position to possibly launch a pre-emptive strike, which would thereby force a retaliatory strike by the Soviets, and then the rest of the nuclear arsenals would undoubtedly be used which would threaten the entire planet.
The missiles were discovered on October 15, 1962 and the next thirteen days were some of the tensest days in history, culminating on October 27, which is referred to as "Black Saturday." On that day a number of events came into play, not the least of which was the shooting down of an American plane over Cuba.
This documentary examines the three leaders and the pressures they were each under during those days. Viewers will get a good understanding of what they were faced with and how they reacted. As one of the experts interviewed in the film states, "Fear saved the day." It was ultimately the rationalizations by both Khrushchev and Kennedy that were either of them to start a war, it would be the end of civilization. By today's standards, considering what we are living with around the world, it seems like common sense, but some of the leaders today do not care about life and the future of the planet. So, you could say that we owe our lives and existence to Kennedy and Khrushchev.
This is an informative film about these men and the events of October 1962. I can highly recommend it to families to view together. The Cuban Missile Crisis - Three Men Go to War premiers Tuesday, October 23, 2012 on PBS.