Bobby Kennedy

Born into the Kennedy family on November 20, 1925, Robert had a bright future ahead. He attended Harvard University, but took a leave of absence in the middle of his studies to join the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, Kennedy returned to Harvard and graduated in 1948. He then studied law at the University of Virginia and graduated in 1951. Later that year he became an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1952 he left the Justice Department to manage his brother's successful senatorial campaign. Following the campaign, Kennedy returned to government service as counsel to several Senate subcommittees. He first gained national recognition as chief counsel (1955-57) of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee in its investigation of Teamster Union executives David Beck and James Hoffa. When his brother ran for president in 1960, Kennedy again went to manage the campaign. In 1961 President John Kennedy appointed his brother to the post of Attorney General. In addition to serving as Attorney General, Robert was the president's confidante and closest advisor. Kennedy resigned his cabinet post in 1964 to run for political office in New York. In the spring of 1968 Kennedy, who disagreed with President Lyndon Johnson's policies, campaigned for the Democratic party nomination. After winning major primaries across the country, Kennedy was shot by the Jordanian Sirhan Bishara Sirhan; he died the following day, June 6, 1968. Robert Kennedy's role in the Missile Crisis was both as a facilitator and as an unquestioned confidante. Because the President could not be present at all the EX-COMM meetings, he assigned Robert the task of facilitating the discussions. The Attorney General performed expertly at steering the group and probing the members with difficult questions. Robert also voiced opinions of his own, which greatly helped in the crisis resolution. Perhaps Kennedy's most significant contribution was being adamantly opposed to an air strike from the outset. On October 16 he said: "You're going to kill an awful lot of people [with an air strike] and we are going to take a lot of heat for it.... You're going to announce the reason that you're doing it is because they're sending this kind of missiles, well, I think it's almost incumbent upon the Russians then to say, 'Well, we're going to send them in again, and if you do it again ... we're going to do the same thing to Turkey or ... Iran.'" When thinking more about the air strike he remarked, "Now I know what Tojo must have felt like when he was planning Pearl Harbor." Attacking a much smaller country was not something the United States did. Kennedy also proved his ability to reason clearly and look ahead in the discussion about why the missiles should be removed: "The other problem is in South America a year from now. And the fact that you got these things in the hands of Cubans here and then say some problem arises in Venezuela. You've got Castro saying, 'you move troops down into that part of Venezuela, we're going to fire these missiles.'" Kennedy's second major contribution was his contact with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. Through the back-channel Kennedy was able to convey his brother's wishes and work out a secret deal. In Khrushchev's memiors there is a section devoted to the crisis and his communications with Ambassador Dobrynin. It shows that the Soviet Premeir highly valued this channel since it came directly from the President. Overall, Robert Kennedy was the second most important man on the American side of the crisis. From his energetic approach to contacting Ambassador Dobrynin, Kennedy was an invaluble help to his brother and the world.