La crise des missiles cubains a 50 ans

CAMBRIDGE – Ce mois-ci marque le 50ème anniversaire de la crise des missiles cubains – ces 13 jours d’octobre 1962 durant lesquels le monde a probablement frôlé une guerre nucléaire. Le président John F. Kennedy a officiellement mis en garde l’Union Soviétique de ne pas introduire de missiles offensifs à Cuba. Mais le dirigeant soviétique Nikita Khrouchtchev a décidé de franchir en secret la ligne jaune établie par Kennedy et de mettre les Américains devant le fait accompli. La crise a éclaté après qu’un avion de surveillance américain ait découvert les missiles.

Certains des conseillers de Kennedy ont préconisé une attaque aérienne pour détruire ces missiles. Kennedy a mobilisé les troupes, mais a aussi cherché à gagner du temps en déclarant le blocus maritime de Cuba. La crise s’est apaisée lorsque les bateaux soviétiques transportant des missiles supplémentaires ont fait volte-face, et Khrouchtchev a consenti à retirer les missiles déjà installés sur l’île. Ainsi que l’a exprimé le Secrétaire d’état de l’époque, Dean Rusk : « Nous étions face à face, et je crois que c’est l’autre qui a juste cligné des yeux. »

De prime abord, ce fut un déroulement rationnel et prévisible. Les Etats-Unis avaient un avantage de 17 contre 1 en matière d’armement nucléaire. Les Soviétiques étaient largement dominés en terme de puissance de feu.

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