If the Cuban Missile Crisis had escalated and triggered a war, what do you think would have happened?
It would’ve gotten very, very ugly. There was no “hot line” at the time, and I doubt that JFK and Khruschev could have maintained adequate command and control after the first few hours of war. The US had a decisive strategic nuclear advantage over the Soviet Union at the time (the 1960 presidential campaign’s “missile gap” notwithstanding), but even a limited nuclear exchange would have killed many millions. It would’ve made the Black Death look like a bad hair day.
The US could have come through it all and survived, but probably devastated and economically ruined. I suspect that the USSR would have fallen apart. Hard to preserve a dictatorial state, hated by many of its subject peoples, after your national capital is nuked and most of your leadership has been killed. Fallout and starvation would’ve taken a big toll in the years after.
IMHO, JFK pretty capably managed the crisis, refusing advice from Pentagon and ExComm hawks that would surely have resulted in war. Even many of his advisors thought the odds of nuclear war were about 50-50.
On a somewhat related note, can anybody recommend a good non-fiction book on the Soviet side of the Cuban missile crisis? There are numerous books (and other works) about what was going on inside the top level of the American government but virtually nothing similar on what was happening on the other side of the crisis. Surely after forty years and the collapse of the Soviet Union there must be some information on what was happening inside the Kremlin.
My dad was a military policeman at the time of the Cuban Missle Crisis. When word came that the crisis had been solved, his unit was sitting in a plane waiting to be flown to a “front line” base on the Gulf Coast. They were going to be patrolling the streets of Havana after the missles stopped flying. Or whatever might be left of Havana, at any rate.