Kenny O'Donnell: If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of good will. That is all there is between us and the devil. Robert McNamara: This is not a blockade. This is language. A new vocabulary, the likes of which the world has never seen! This is President Kennedy communicating with Secretary Khrushchev! Adlai Stevenson: I'm an old political cat, Kenny, but I've got one life left. [about the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Kenny O'Donnell: They want a war, Jack, and they're arranging things to get one. General Curtis LeMay: Those goddamn Kennedys are gonna destroy this country if we don't do something about this! President Kennedy: I am the commander in chief of the United States, and I say when we go to war! Adlai Stevenson: [asking the Russian ambassador if there are any Soviet missile bases in Cuba] Sir, I am prepared to wait for your answer till Hell freezes over, if that's your decision. Robert Kennedy: You know, these past couple days, I've been thinking. Thinking about what we've had to do to get where we are... and I was wondering, why the hell are we doing it? Kenny O'Donnell: I don't know about you, but... I'm in it for the money. Kenny O'Donnell: You know, the Joint Chiefs are gonna be upset if you mess with their chain of command. President Kennedy: Well, you tell them that their chain of command leads up to one place: *me*. President Kennedy: Bobby, you go and make them understand. Tell them that we have to have an answer tomorrow... because on Monday, we go to war. Kenny O'Donnell: Communicate with the Soviets? We can't even communicate with the Pentagon. And they're just across the goddamn river. Robert Kennedy: By the way, China invaded India today. Kenny O'Donnell: You're kidding, aren't you? Robert Kennedy: Yeah, I wish I were. Galbraith is handling it in New Delhi. Makes you wonder what's coming next. Kenny O'Donnell: Geez. What is it about the free world that pisses the rest of the world off? Robert Kennedy: I don't know. We have Tupperware parties.
General Curtis LeMay
: The 'big Red dog' is diggin' in our backyard, and we are justified in shooting him! Robert McNamara: We're heading out to the backyard to take a look for that 'big Red dog'! Dobrynin: [to RFK] You're a good man; your brother is a good man. I assure you there are other good men. Let us hope the will of good men is enough to counter the terrible strength of this thing that was put in motion. Kenny O'Donnell: The point is, you trade our missiles in Turkey for theirs in Cuba, they're gonna force us into trade after trade, until finally, a couple of months from now they demand something we won't trade, like Berlin, and we do end up in a war. Not to mention that long before that happens this administration will be politically dead. Robert Kennedy: I don't care if this administration ends up in the freaking toilet! We don't do a deal tonight there won't be any administration. Dean Acheson: Gentlemen, for the last fifteen years, I've fought at this table alongside your predecessors in the struggle against the Soviet. Now I do not wish to seem melodramatic, but I do wish to impress upon you a lesson I learned with bitter tears and great sacrifice. The Soviet understands only one language: action. Respects only one word: force. President Kennedy: Dean, how does this all play out? Dean Acheson: Your first step sir, will be to demand that the Soviet withdraw the missiles within 12 to 24 hours. They will refuse. When they do you will order the strikes, followed by the invasion. They will resist and be overrun. They will retaliate against another target somewhere else in the world, most likely Berlin. We will honor our treaty commitments and resist them there, defeating them per our plans. President Kennedy: Those plans call for the use of nuclear weapons. So what is the next step? Dean Acheson: Hopefully cooler heads will prevail before we reach the next step. Kenny O'Donnell: Call me Irish, but I don't believe in cooler heads prevailing. President Kennedy: Acheson's scenario is unacceptable, and he's got more experience than anybody. Kenny O'Donnell: There is no expert on the subject, there is no wise old man. There's... shit, there's just us. President Kennedy: The thing is that Acheson's right. Talk alone's not gonna accomplish anything. Kenny O'Donnell: Well, let's bomb the shit out of 'em! Everybody wants to. Even you, I mean, even me, right? It sure would feel good. Kenny O'Donnell: They look warlike? Jesus Christ, we're lighting off nuclear weapons like its our own private Fourth of July! General Curtis Lemay: Mr. President, you give me the order right now, my planes will be ready to carry out the air strikes in three days time. All you gotta do is say "go," and my boys will get those Red bastards. Robert F. Kennedy: Jack, I'm as conniving as they come, but a sneak attack is just wrong.
[Soviet ships turn away from the U.S. blockade of Cuba]