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Cuban Missle Crisis

Powerful Essays
Cuban Missle Crisis

Many agree that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war; but exactly how close did it come? The Crisis was ultimately a showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union from October 16 to October 28, 1962. During those thirteen stressful days, the world’s two biggest superpowers stood on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. The Crisis started as a result of both the Soviet Union’s fear of losing the arms race, and Cuba’s fear of US invasion. The Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, thought that both problems could easily be solved by placing Soviet medium range missiles in Cuba. This deployment would double the Soviet arsenal and protect Cuba from US invasion. Khrushchev proposed this idea to Cuban Premier, Fidel Castro, who, like Khrushchev, saw the strategic advantage. The two premiers worked together in secrecy throughout the late-summer and early-fall of 1962. The Soviets shipped sixty medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) along with their warheads, launch equipment, and necessary operating personnel to Cuba. When United States President, John F. Kennedy discovered the presence of these offensive weapons, he immediately organized EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors. They spent the next couple of days discussing different possible plans of action and finally decided to remove the US missiles from Turkey and promise not to invade Cuba in exchange for the removal of all offensive weapons in Cuba.

On October 28, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a letter stating that he agreed to the terms Kennedy stated, and the crisis ended. The Cuban Missile Crisis can be blamed on the insecurity of Cuba and the Soviet Union. After the United States’ unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Castro and end communism in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, Castro was fearful of another US invasion. The US Armed Forces conducted a mock invasion and drafted a plan to invade Cuba to keep Castro nervous. As a result, Castro thought the US was serious, and he was desperate to find protection. This protection came in the form of sixty Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles. (Detzer 30-32, 39, 55, 68, 87) During his presidential campaign, Kennedy repeatedly stated that the US had less missiles than the Soviets, contradicting the Pentagon’s claim that the opposite was true. However, during the summer of 1961, when...

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...on of aerial and naval reconnaissance flights in Cuban airspace and waters; (5) and the return of Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba. Eventually, with the help of the UN, Castro backed down and all sides reached an agreement. A UN inspection team was assigned to monitor the removal of the missiles and the demolition of the missile bases in Cuba. Then, the Soviet Navy shipped the missiles back to the USSR. The missiles were sent back on the decks of the ships so that American reconnaissance planes could count the missiles and make sure that all had been removed.

Nine months after the crisis ended, Kennedy and Khrushchev signed an agreement to ban nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This marked the beginning of what seemed to be a new willingness to cooperate and communicate. However, on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas, Texas. Eleven months later, Premier Khrushchev was removed from office by communist "hard liners." (Brugioni 572-574) One can’t help but wonder what would have happened if these two men had stayed in power. Maybe the same two people who brought us so close to nuclear war, now changed by the experience, could have brought us far from it.
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