99. Editorial Note

In March 1987 former Secretary of State Dean Rusk shed new light on the question of whether the United States would have been prepared ultimately to consider the removal of the Jupiter missiles in Turkey in return for a Soviet agreement to withdraw the missiles in Cuba and defuse the crisis. In a letter to James G. Blight, who helped organize a conference of former participants in the crisis at Hawk’s Cay, Florida, Rusk wrote:

“It was clear to me that President Kennedy would not let the Jupiters in Turkey become an obstacle to the removal of the missile sites in Cuba because the Jupiters were coming out in any event. He instructed me to telephone the late Andrew Cordier, then at Columbia University, and dictate to him a statement which would be made by U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations, proposing the removal of both the Jupiters and the missiles in Cuba. Mr. Cordier was to put that statement in the hands of U Thant only after further signal from us. That step was never taken and the statement I furnished to Mr. Cordier has never seen the light of day. So far as I know, President Kennedy, Andrew Cordier and I were the only ones who knew of this particular step.”

Rusk’s letter was read to the conference of former officials and scholars of the crisis by McGeorge Bundy. Bundy added that Cordier was asked to stand by with the contingency plan the night of October 27. The proposal, he noted, intentionally bypassed the U.S. Mission at the United Nations. The intention was to make it appear to be a U.N. proposal, rather than one that originated in Washington. (James G. Blight and David A. Welch, On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Hill and Wang, 1989), pages 83-84)