Thursday, 25 October 2012

Balance at the Beeb

There is a telling take on history to be found in the human-interest piece by Jo Fidgen of the BBC World Service, in which she explores different personal retrospectives of the Cuban missile crisis from fifty years ago. It’s an engaging two-sided account but the revealing part is the accompanying timeline of events that prompted two super-powers to face off in near cataclysmic fashion.

Apparently it all started on 14 October 1962 when a US spy plane provided the first hard evidence of ballistic missiles on that “enslaved island” - as Kennedy described post-revolutionary Cuba to a receptive western audience. There is no mention at all about a failed attempt in May that same year to overthrow the Cuban regime by landing US-backed mercenaries at the Bay of Pigs in Operation Mongoose. And although there is a quick reference to an earlier American deployment of Thor missiles in the UK and Jupiter IRBMs to Italy and Turkey, the missing detail is that this action meant more than 100 delivery vehicles with a capability of striking Moscow with nuclear warheads within 15 minutes.

Five decades later, the accepted view by historians is that the underlying cause of the Cuban crisis was as much due to a fitfully aggressive US foreign policy and an inability of successive administrations to reconcile post-war reality with hangovers from the Monroe Doctrine.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it - but what are the chances of ever reading that in the BBC?

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