The Cuban Missile Crisis was a time of great tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States had been monitoring Soviet activity in Cuba for some time, and when it became clear that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles on the island, the United States reacted quickly.
The United States put a naval blockade around Cuba, and warned the Soviet Union that if they did not remove the missiles, there would be serious consequences. The crisis lasted for 13 days, during which time the world came close to nuclear war.
In the end, cooler heads prevailed and the crisis was resolved without violence. But it was a close call, and it showed how easily tensions can escalate between two superpowers. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a defining moment in the Cold War, and it showed the world just how close we came to Armageddon.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy’s greatest success as President of the United States was to avert nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States by bringing them closer together and making them more hostile towards each other. The Soviet premier of Russia was caught trying to supply Fidel Castro with nukes. For thirteen long days, mankind lived in dread as a result of this confrontation, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.
For a time, it looked as if the United States was losing the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union had installed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Kennedy responded by establishing a naval blockade around Cuba, preventing any more missiles from being delivered. The United States also began preparing for an all-out invasion of Cuba.
The Soviet Union didn’t back down. Khrushchev sent a letter to Kennedy daring him to start a nuclear war. Kennedy’s advisors urged him to take military action, but he instead chose to negotiate. After several tense days of back-and-forth negotiations, the United States and the Soviet Union reached an agreement. The United States would remove its missiles from Turkey, and the Soviet Union would remove its missiles from Cuba.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a close call, but it ultimately ended without a nuclear war. It was a turning point for Kennedy and the United States, showing that they were willing to negotiate and avoid war. The crisis also led to the creation of the United States’ first peacetime draft.
Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union, made a daring gambit in 1962. He covertly dispatched nuclear weapons to Cuba under orders from the Soviet leader. The Soviet premier previously offered Cuban protection, stating that “Cuba is protected by the USSR” (Hersh 345). Several reasons for his actions have been put forward by historians. One factor was a military one (Hersh 346).
The United States had significantly more nuclear weapons than the Soviet Union (Gaddis 263). In addition, American missiles could reach Moscow from bases in Turkey, while the Soviets could not yet retaliated in kind (Gaddis 263). By placing missiles in Cuba, Khrushchev hoped to achieve “strategic parity” with the United States (Hersh 346).
The Soviet leader may also have been motivated by domestic concerns. He was under pressure from Soviet hardliners who were critical of his policies of de-Stalinization and liberalization (Gaddis 264). The placement of missiles in Cuba was a way to show these critics that he was still committed to the defense of communism (Gaddis 264).
Khrushchev’s gambit created a tense standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States was aware of the missiles, but was not sure of their precise location. In early October 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent any more Soviet weapons from reaching the island (Gaddis 266). Khrushchev responded by ordering the Soviet ships headed for Cuba to turn around. The United States also began preparing for a possible invasion of Cuba (Gaddis 267).
The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in return for a United States pledge not to invade Cuba (Hersh 349). It was a close call; as Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense at the time, later recalled, “We came within a hair’s breadth of nuclear war” (qtd. in Hersh 349). The crisis also marked the closest the world has ever come to a full-scale nuclear war (Gaddis 267).
The Cuban Missile Crisis is often seen as a turning point in the Cold War. It showed that the United States was willing to use military force to oppose Soviet expansionism (Gaddis 267). In addition, it led to negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union which eventually resulted in the end of the Cold War (Hersh 350).
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a pivotal moment in the Cold War. On one side was the United States, led by John F. Kennedy, and on the other side was the Soviet Union, led by Nikita Khrushchev. The United States had nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey, while the Soviet Union did not have any nuclear weapons stationed outside of Eurasia.
In October 1962, Khrushchev ordered the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. This created a tense standoff between the two superpowers. The United States was aware of the missiles, but was not sure of their precise location. In response, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba.
The discovery that nuclear missile shipments were being made to Cuba coincided with the publication of Acheson’s speech. The United States was aware in July 1962 that nuclear missiles were being sent to Cuba. U-2 spy planes flew over the island, bringing back information on construction and ballistic missiles.
Intelligence showed that 5,000 Russian military personnel were in Cuba, as well as a variety of military weapons being unloaded onto the island. When U-2 flights increased, reports revealed the presence of SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) and torpedo boats with ship-to-ship rockets.
President John F. Kennedy held a meeting with his cabinet and advisors on October 16th, 1962 to discuss what should be done about the missiles in Cuba. Most of the United States’ advisors wanted an air strike to take out the missile sites and military bases on the island. However, JFK was worried that Russia would retaliate with a full-scale nuclear attack on the United States (Mills 234).
After much deliberation, JFK decided to put a naval blockade around Cuba, which would stop any more weapons from arriving on the island. He also ordered a brigade of United States Marines to be ready for possible invasion of Cuba (Mills 235).
The United States sent a letter to Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev, demanding that the missiles be removed from Cuba. Khrushchev replied with a letter of his own, stating that the missiles in Cuba were for protection against a United States invasion (Mills 236).