Hillary Clinton posted a parody on her Twitter feed over the weekend of the bizarrely colloquial letter that President Trump sent earlier this month to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that implored Erdogan, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” — and to “make a great deal” with the Kurds that the Turks would soon attack.
The parody posted by Clinton, which had been apparently created for a Jimmy Kimmel show last week, imagined what it would look like if President John F. Kennedy had written Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev a similarly inartful letter during the Cuban missile crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union stepped to the edge of nuclear war.
“Don’t be a [expletive], ok? Get your missiles out of Cuba. Everybody will say ‘Yay! Khruschev! You’re the best!’ But if you don’t everybody will be like ‘what an [expletive] and call your garbage country ‘The Soviet Bunion,’” the letter said.
“You’re really busting my nuts here. Give you a jingle later,” the letter concluded.
Here’s the back story:
Trump’s letter, with its simple language and blunt approach —not to mention its outright threat to destroy Turkey’s economy — raised eyebrows. Some, at first, could not even believe it was authentic.
“Let’s work out a good deal!” it opened cheerily. Then it continued, “You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will.”
The brief letter was dated Oct. 9, three days after Trump had announced that American troops, would step aside as Turkey, a NATO ally, began an attack on the Kurds, who have lost thousands of fighters as America’s partners in the battle against the Islamic State terror group.
“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later,” Trump’s letter closed.
Turkish presidential sources told BBC Turkish, “President Erdogan received the letter, thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin.”
A senior adviser to Erdogan told NPR Thursday the letter was “not taken seriously at the time, especially given its lack of diplomatic finesse. And the response to that letter was the start of that operation.” Erdogan told reporters Friday that the letter “did not go hand in hand with political and diplomatic courtesy.”
American forces are making a chaotic, hasty withdrawal from northeastern Syria, even as Trump has faced a firestorm of criticism from usually loyal Republican allies for abandoning the Kurds. After a cease fire negotiated by the United States last week, Turkey has given Kurdish fighters until late Tuesday to leave a strip of territory in northeastern Syria or they will become targets.
The Cuban missile crisis
President John F. Kennedy’s adept handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the United States and the Soviet Union, after tense negotiations, backed away from the brink of a catastrophic nuclear war, is considered a foreign policy triumph.
The crisis broke in October 1962 after an American spy plane photographed nuclear missile sites being built by America’s Cold War nemesis on the island of Cuba, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Kennedy, rejecting the idea of an invasion of the island, decided to place a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. The young, charismatic president demanded the removal of the missiles and the destruction of the sites, informing Americans of the situation in a televised address.
The fate of the world hung in the balance.
Messages were exchanged between Kennedy and Khruschev as the two men walked a nuclear tightrope — including one from Kennedy to Khruschev on the day of Kennedy’s televised address.
The wording was a far cry from the parody circulated by Kimmel and Clinton.
“At our meeting in Vienna and subsequently, I expressed our readiness and desire to find, through peaceful negotiation, a solution to any and all problems that divide us. At the same time, I made clear that in view of the objectives of the ideology to which you adhere, the United States could not tolerate any action on your part which in a major way disturbed the existing over-all balance of power in the world,” Kennedy warned.
In another letter, Kennedy said, “I regret very much that you still do not appear to understand what it is that has moved us in this matter.” Kennedy noted that the Soviets had assured the United States that no offensive weapons were being sent to Cuba.
“In reliance on these solemn assurances I urged restraint upon those in this country who were urging action in this matter at that time. And then I learned beyond doubt what you have not denied—namely, that all these public assurances were false and that your military people had set out recently to establish a set of missile bases in Cuba. I ask you to recognize clearly, Mr. Chairman, that it was not I who issued the first challenge in this case, and that in the light of this record these activities in Cuba required the responses I have announced,” the letter said.
Ultimately, both leaders recognized the devastation that would be wrought by nuclear war and agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the sites in exchange for a pledge for the United States not to invade Communist Cuba and a secret pledge, not revealed until years later, that the United States would withdraw nuclear missiles from Turkey. (Turkey today still hosts US tactical nuclear weapons.)
By late November, the crisis was over, according to britannica.com.
On Dec. 28, 1962, Kennedy wrote to Khruschev, “There appear to be no differences between your views and mine regarding the need for eliminating war in this nuclear age. Perhaps only those who have the responsibility for controlling these weapons fully realize the awful devastation their use would bring.”