Fidel Castro, the former Cuban leader who died Friday night at the age of 90, once requested that the leader of the Soviet Union consider launching a nuclear strike against the US in the event the country attacked Cuba.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Castro wrote Nikita Khrushchev a letter detailing his concerns that an attack on Cuba was “imminent.”
He suggested two possible variants — the first being an air attack meant to destroy specific targets, and the second a “full invasion,” though he acknowledged that was less likely.
“This would require a large force and is the most repugnant form of aggression, which might restrain them,” he wrote.
Castro went on to explain that should the US attempt to invade and occupy Cuba, the country and the policies that would ensue would pose such a threat that the Soviet Union could not risk the possibility of a preemptive nuclear strike by the US.
“I tell you this because I believe that the imperialists’ aggressiveness makes them extremely dangerous, and that if they manage to carry out an invasion of Cuba — a brutal act in violation of universal and moral law — then that would be the moment to eliminate this danger forever, in an act of the most legitimate self-defence. However harsh and terrible the solution, there would be no other.”
The crisis was ultimately averted after weeks of negotiations between the Soviet Union and the US, which resulted in the removal of the Soviets’ missiles from Cuba.
In a 2010 interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Castro appeared to concede that such an attack on the US would have been a mistake.
When asked by Goldberg whether his recommendation to Khrushchev still seemed logical to him, Castro responded, “After I’ve seen what I’ve seen, and knowing what I know now, it wasn’t worth it all.”
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