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The purpose of this investigation is to answer the question to what extent did Fidel Castro play the most significant role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. This investigation is important in its historical context because the United States was against communism and Castro was establishing communism in Cuba which sparked the United States to plan an invasion in Cuba thus creating tensions between both nations. The main body of evidence will investigate Castro's involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Evidence will include scholarly journals, articles, books, and documentaries. Documents will be analyzed in regards to their origin, purpose, values, and limitations in order to properly evaluate evidence. The book, Khrushchev Remembers written by Nikita Khrushchev and Lessons' of the Cuban Missile Crisis for Warsaw Pact Nuclear Operations written by Mark Kramer have been evaluated and will be used for the evidence to formulate an analysis. An analysis of these documents, as well as the summary of evidence will be used to determine Fidel Castro's significance in the Cuban Missile Crisis by reviewing Castro's decision to allow the Soviet Union to install missiles, his decision to shoot down the United States renaissance plane, and Castro's lack of participation in negotiations between the United States and Cuba.
B. Summary of Evidence
In early 1962, an American invasion was planned to overthrow Castro's dictatorship in Cuba. It was under these conditions that Cuba learned that the Soviet Union was very much afraid about a direct assault by the United States and, thus the Soviet Union tried to figure out how to increase their country's capability to defend against this sort of assault (Zubok 9). Soviet Leader Khrushchev proposed a plan to Castro about protecting Cuban independence by installing missiles with nuclear weapons in the nation without the United States noticing or able to discover until it was too late to do anything about it. The proposal was accepted by Castro. After the Soviet Union heard that Castro approved the proposal, they began installing nuclear weapons in the nation (Allyn 3). When the United States found out about the missiles being installed, tensions between the nations were increased even more than the preexisting tensions created by the Bay of Pigs in 1961 in which the United States attempted to invade Cuba. Therefore, this categorized this situation as a crisis which could lead to nuclear war (Khrushchev 29).
Next, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, called for a naval line of defense from Cuba and used diplomatic negotiations with the Soviet Leader Khrushchev to come to a settlement to remove the weapons. Numerous events took place during the negotiations between the United States and Cuba that influenced the increased tensions and appeared to bring the world even closer to a nuclear catastrophe (Brenner 6). One of the numerous events was that the United States believed that Castro was the one who ordered Cuban artillery to fire at the U.S. planes on the morning of 27 October, 1962 (Hershberg 7). In addition, an incident that took place and influenced the increased tension between the countries was Castro's letter to Soviet Leader Khrushchev which suggested that the Soviet Union should launch a first-strike nuclear attack on the United States. Also, the United States stopped trading with Cuba due to the renaissance being shot down and Cuba nationalized all American-owned companies in retaliation (Kramer 126).
The Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end on 28 October 1962 when both the President Kennedy and the Soviet Leader Khrushchev came to a settlement that called for the Soviet Union to remove their weapons from Cuba while the United States observed. The United States was also obliged to remove their naval line of defense and promised that they would not overrun Cuba. Soviet Leader Khrushchev's announced a new order on the radio which was to take apart the weapons that they created (Welch 234). Castro would not contribute to the negotiations between the United States and Cuba which left the situation to be resolved by the United States and the Soviet Union. Khrushchev decided to take apart the weapons which he announced on the radio which and it humiliated Castro for not taking part in the negotiations (Garthoff 51). Although Khrushchev was in charge during the time period of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Castro was still very much involved with the deploying of nuclear weapons and the shooting of the United States renaissance plane.
C. Evaluation of Sources
The origin of the book "Lessons' of the Cuban Missile Crisis for Warsaw Pact Nuclear Operations" by Mark Kramer, a researcher from the Davis Center for Russian Studies, also known as The Russian Research Center at Harvard University. The purpose of this source is to convey what Cuba was going through during the Cuban Missile Crisis and what Cuba has learned from this situation that took place. The book goes into detail about how Fidel Castro visualizes Cuba's troubles and what he hopes to do about it derived from this account of a unique conference held in Havana in 1992. The value of this source is that it addresses Castro's significance in the Cuban Missile Crisis and this source helps aid the comprehension on Castro's influence on Cuba. This source is also valuable because it is written by a researcher that has studied the Cuban Missile Crisis for several years and a multitude of information on the topic. A limitation of this source is that it does not address why Castro allowed the Soviet to install missiles. A second limitation is that the recently discovered facts about the Cuban Missile Crisis and all facts pertaining to the Cuban Missile Crisis may not be given.
The origin of the book "Khrushchev Remembers" by Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Leader during the time period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, provides an elaborate and inclusive description of the origins of Soviet Leader Khrushchev's experiences during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The purpose of this source is to depict what the Leader of the Soviet Union recollected during the Cuban Missile Crisis period. The source goes into elaborate detail about his memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis and his recollection and strengthens the impression of gratitude for small things won or not lost. The value of this source is that it addresses Khrushchev's significance in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the source goes into great detail about Khrushchev's presence during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This source is also valuable because this is told in the point of view of the man who was in charge of the Soviet Union during the crisis. A limitation of this source is that it does not directly address why Castro made the trade agreement with Russia. An additional limitation of the source is that it is written from Khrushchev's perspective, thus Fidel Castro's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis is not emphasized as much.
Fidel Castro's importance in the Cuban Missile Crisis was to damage the reputation of Americans and its interference with internal issues because Cuba was ashamed about the failed Bay of Pigs humiliation that they faced (Zubok 9). In addition, Khrushchev installed missiles with nuclear warheads without the United States aware. Castro allowed the Soviets to install missiles extremely close to the United States which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war due to the fact that when the United States found out they threatened serious retaliation (Khrushchev 29). Castro was able to install such weapons because of the trade agreement made with Russia where Cuba sent sugar to Russia in return for resources to make weapons (Brenner 6).
Castro's role was significant because he allowed Soviet Leader Khrushchev to follow through with the plans that he had created and also because he made a trade agreement with Russia which allowed it to produce weapons of mass destruction. However, sources have stated that Cuba sent missiles out because of the strategic inequality between the United States and the Soviet Union. Cuba wanted to balance power; therefore, they felt they needed to build nuclear weapons (Kramer 126).
The decisions made by Castro during this time period such as the shooting of the United States renaissance plane significantly impacted the Cuban Missile Crisis because it raised the tensions between the US and Cuba. Castro ordered the anti-aircraft officers to gun down the United States reconnaissance plane (Fursenko 42). This demonstrates Castro's significance in the Cuban Missile Crisis because he decided to order artillery to shoot down the US artillery plane which conveys his significance because it was Castro's decision that got the plane shot down (Hershberg 7). In addition, Castro recommended that the Soviets launched a nuclear attack on the United States. This was Castro's greatest significance in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Castro's willingness to use violent behavior persuaded Soviet Leader Khrushchev to embrace the importance of preserving world peace (Burr 7).
Castro's lack of participation in negotiations was another big impact in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because Castro did not participate in the negotiation, he was unaware of what was being compromised. Castro's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis was significant in the Cuban Missile Crisis; however, because he did not participate in the negotiations between the United States and the Cuba, his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis was not as important as him. (Khrushchev 101-102). For instance, when Soviet Leader Khrushchev removed all the weapons from Cuba, Castro was unaware of the Soviet Leader making that decision (Garthoff 51). Soviet Leader Khrushchev states that Castro was solely responsible for the shooting of the renaissance plane (Khrushchev 101). He also stated that Castro encouraged the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive strike against the United States. This demonstrates that Castro was a massive influence on the Cuban Missile Crisis because the Soviet Leader Khrushchev stated that Castro was fully responsible for the shooting of the plane and launching the strike against the United States. This also demonstrates that Castro impacted the Cuban Missile Crisis because when the plane was shot down the United States wanted to retaliate immediately and now knowing that Castro was responsible for the plane being shot down we know that he ignited the flame under the United States.
It can be said that Fidel had a huge impact on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 because Castro was held accountable for the shooting of the renaissance plane which was an attack on the United States. As a result of this attack, the United States wanted to strike back immediately; therefore, the tensions between the two countries rose after Castro's decision. Also, Castro encouraged the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive strike against the United States. This was another huge impact because Cuba alarmed the United States and made the United States become fully equipped for a nuclear war. Furthermore, because Castro allowed the Soviets to install missiles so close to the United States people say that he is responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of Fidel Castro's actions and decisions, the world was brought to the brink of the nuclear war which demonstrates that Castro did have a significant role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. However, Castro cannot receive full credit for the Cuban Missile Crisis because the major role belonged to Soviet Leader Khrushchev, who caused the entire occurrence of the crisis and resolved the crisis. Nevertheless, one can say that Castro had a huge impact on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Although there are many conclusions that could be made about if Fidel Castro had a significant role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, I believe that Fidel Castro had just as much of a significant role as Soviet Leader Khrushchev did because Castro helped make the decisions that were made; therefore, Castro's role was significant to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
F. List of Sources
Allyn J. Bruce, "The Scali-Feklisov Channel in the Cuban Missile Crisis" 1995. Print.
Blight G. James, "The Mikoyan-Castro Talks" Cold War International History Project Electronic BulletinÂ 6 1996. Print.
Brenner Phillip, "The Crisis and Cuban-Soviet Relations: Fidel Castro's
Secret 1968 Speech"Â 1995. Print.
Fursenko AlexanderÂ "Tactical Nuclear Weapons, Soviet Command Authority, and the Cuban Missile Crisis"Â Cold War International History Project Electronic BulletinÂ 3 1993. Print.
Garthoff L. Raymond,Â "New Evidence on the Cuban Missile Crisis: Khrushchev, Nuclear
Weapons and the Cuban Missile Crisis" 1998. Print.
Hershberg G. James,Â "More on Bobby and the Cuban Missile Crisis"Â 1997. Print.
Welch A. David, "The Sino-Indian Conflict, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Sino-Soviet Split,
October 1962: New Evidence from the Russian Archives" 1996. Print.
Mark KramerÂ "The 'Lessons' of the Cuban Missile Crisis for Warsaw Pact Nuclear Operations"
Nikita S. Khrushchev, "Khrushchev Remembers" Ed. and trans. Strobe Talbott. Boston: Little
Brow, 1970. Print
William Burr ,Â "Soviet Cold War Military Strategy: Using Declassified History" 1957. Print.
Zubok M. Vladislav,Â "Dismayed by the Actions of the Soviet Union': Mikoyan's talks with Fidel
Castro and the Cuban leadership, November 1962,"Â 1995. Print.