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The Introduction To The Cuban Missile Crisis History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The human race and the modern world has never been such close to nuclear battle with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, during the Cold War. This was the result of a variety of things: the Cuban Revolution, the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, US anti-communism, insecurity of the Soviet Union, and Cuba’s fear of invasion all made causes for war. The Cuban Missile Crisis showed the world that compromising and discussion can in-fact prevent war. As Khrushchev said in 1962, “They talk about who won and who lost. Human reason won. Mankind won.” [1] The world had almost seen another world war, the effects of which would have been devastating because of the weapons involved. Humanity, indeed, was the prevention of the war.

The Cold War was a fierce competition between the former Soviet Union and United States of America, the two superpowers, and their allies. [2] And also was a invisible war between the the president John. F. Kennedy and Nikita. S. Khrushchev, leaders of the two superpowers. Although direct military conflict never took place, diplomatic and economic struggles occurred. [3] It occurred during the Cold War. The United States as well as Western European countries were greatly concerned. In response to Stalin’s military movements, President Harry Truman issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947. [4] In this background, the Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 14, 1962, when U-2 flight crews took photos over Cuba that were then analyzed meticulously by experts, who in turn found that there were in fact Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba. [5] Photos came back showing that the missiles place on the island were capable of reaching large cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The United States was now in a grave situation. As The Soviets had assured the president that they “would never become involved” [6] in building offensive military capacity in Cuba. For six days President Kennedy kept it secret that Khrushchev’s plan had been discovered.

Then, On October 22, 1962, John Kennedy went on national television and gave a resolute minute speech announcing to the world Khrushchev’s deception and America’s response. He stated that intelligence reports of Russian shipments did not pose a serious threat to America or any of its allies at this time. He was quick to add, though,

“That if Cuba were ever to become an offensive military base of significant capacity for the Soviet Union, then this country will do whatever must be done to protect its own security and that of its allies. ” [7] 

Kennedy’s speech was potent because it clearly communicated his desire for both peace and freedom while emphasizing his determination to resist Soviet aggression. [8] 

At this time, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a letter offering a compromise. He would remove the missiles from Cuba if America promised not to invade Cuba and end its blockade. [9] Before Kennedy could respond, a second letter arrived, adding that the US must also remove their nuclear missiles based in Turkey. [10] On the morning of Saturday, October 27, Kennedy sent a formal letter to Khrushchev accepting the terms offered in his first letter. The most critical moment of the Crisis was that evening when Robert Kennedy, brother of the President, met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to secretly negotiate an end to the crisis. [11] Robert Kennedy insisted there could be no explicit deal, quid pro quo involving the missiles in Turkey. He added that the President had wanted the missiles removed for some time and could assure their removal within four to five months, insisting it must remain a secret understanding. [12] Kennedy further stressed that the Soviet Union had to commit to removing their missiles by the next day or military action might be unavoidable. [13] 

The next day, after 13 days of enormous tension with the world on the verge of nuclear war, Khrushchev capitulated and began removing his missiles from Cuba. [14] 

As Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “We were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow blinked.” In reality, both men blinked. Khrushchev’s son, Sergei, said:

“My father said he did not want war because it would be the end of civilization. President Kennedy said that he didn’t want to start a war for the same reasons. My father said that after the first shot they would lose control of the events and then it will become a real war. We were very close to war. Both leaders’ most important legacy is that they prevented this war. [15] 

In reality, Kennedy and Khrushchev got lucky. Before the compromise several independent events out of their control occurred that could have triggered this conflict into an unwanted war. An American U2 Spy plane was shot down over Cuba; another U 2 strayed into Soviet airspace giving the appearance of a US invasion. Several false nuclear alerts were issued setting off alarms. US destroyers dropped depth charges on a Soviet submarine, damaging it.

Although the end of Cuban Missile Crisis is not the end of the Cold War, military rival was till took place between the two superpowers, but the crisis should teach both countries a lesson, as we were so close to a global nuclear war.

Figure 1: Political Comic about Cuban Missile Crisis

Word Cited:

1. Blight, James G., and Philip Brenner. Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba’s Struggle with the Superpowers After the Missile Crisis. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.

2. Blight, James G., and David A. Welch. Intelligence and the Cuban Missile Crisis. London: Frank Cass, 1998.

3. Brugioni, Dino A. Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Random House, 1991.

4. Brune, Lester H. The Cuba-Caribbean Missile Crisis of October 1962. Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 1996.

5. Caldwell, Dan. The Cuban Missile Affair and the American Style of Crisis Management. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp, 1989.

6. Chayes, Abram. The Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

7. Chang, Laurence, and Peter Kornbluh. The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Documents Reader. New York: The New Press, 1992.

8. Coleman, David G. The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.

9. Eubank, Keith. The Missile Crisis in Cuba. Malabar, FL: Krieger Pub., 2000.

10. Frankel, Max. High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004.

11. Fursenko, A. A., and Timothy J. Naftali. One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964. New York: Norton, 1997.

12. Garthoff, Raymond L. Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Washington: Brookings Institution, 1987.

13. George, Alice L. Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

14. Great Britain. The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: Selected Foreign Policy Documents from the Administration of John F. Kennedy, January 1961-November 1962. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2001.

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