October 14-28, 1962, the world never came so close to nuclear war. For 13 days, the world sat on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. In the end, rationality didn’t prevail; it was all but for a bit of luck that kept this hair's breadth of a situation from escalating. The crisis exemplified the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, which would come to define the rest of the Cold War. It also showed how fragile diplomacy can be when addressing the issue of preventing global annihilation. This conflict was not simply between the United States and Soviet Union. As written in Decolonizing the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mark Laffey and Jutta Weldes document the Cuban perspective on the situation that they argue is often overlooked. In addition, Castro’s role is also overlooked. In One Minute to Midnight, Michael Dobbs examines Castro’s influence on the crisis and how he helped to hold the world hostage.
From 1947-1991, the Cold War was a time in which there was protracted military, political, and economic tensions between the United States and its allies in the Western Bloc/NATO, and the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact. Although no direct military conflict ever erupted between the two sides, proxy wars were fought. The doctrine of mutually assured destruction, the manufacturing of large nuclear arsenals, military buildups and deployment, spying, and competitions like the Space Race also characterized the Cold War. With the battle lines drawn, it was only a matter of time before something like the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.
The origins of the Cuban Missile crisis stemmed from the U.S. installing nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey pointed towards Moscow...
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... so close to seeing nuclear war. A struggle between two global powers for supremacy overlooked the crucial third component that was Cuba. Cuba wasn’t merely just a passive pawn in a big game of chess. Cuba, under the control of Castro, played an integral role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Castro was keen on getting his way in order to protect Cuba’s interests, sovereignty, and to stave off perceived American aggression. Ultimately, Castro’s extremist rhetoric did not win out. And humanity was saved from total annihilation.
Weldes, Jutta. "Decolonizing The Cuban Missile Crisis." International Studies Quarterly 52: 555-577. (accessed April 30, 2014).
Dobbs, Michael. One minute to midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the brink of nuclear war. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
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