Cuban Missile Crisis The world's closest call with nuclear war was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Steaming this problem on was both Soviet insecurity and Cuba's fear of U. S. invasion. Tension and secrecy drove the three nations to the breaking point, and yet, miraculously, not a missile was launched. What caused such a virulent situation? Well, there were two main factors provided by Cuba and the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was far behind in the arms production race with the U. S. , and they feared a first strike from the U. S.'s base in Turkey which was only 150 miles away. Khrushchev noted that Cuba was only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, but the 60 mile difference was "nothing for a missile." Most of all, however, Khrushchev feared a first-strike by the U. S.
If the Soviet Union lost the arms race so badly, he worried, it would invite a first-strike nuclear attack from the U. S. Consequently, Khrushchev began looking for a way to counter the United State's lead. Secondly, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro feared that Cuba was not safe from invasion. The Armed Forces conducted a mock invasion of a Caribbean island to overthrow a fictitious dictator whose name, Orts ac, was Castro spelled backwards. Additionally, the U.
S. was drafting a plan to invade Cuba (Operation Mongoose). The mock invasion and invasion plan were devised to keep Castro nervous. Finally, the CIA had also been running covert operations throughout Cuba trying to damage the Castro government. Consequently, Castro was convinced the U. S.
was serious about invading Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was a close call to nuclear war. The Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States. U. S. armed forces were at their highest state of readiness.
Soviet field commanders in Cuba were authorized to use tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by the U. S. The fate of millions literally hinged upon the ability of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to come to an agreement. In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.
S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U. S.
attack against the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the U. S. Ever since the Bay of Pigs invasion failed, Castro sensed a second attack would not be avoided. In this mood he made the decision to approve of Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island. The Soviet Union began it's construction of missile installations in the summer of 1962.
For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when photographs revealed the Soviet Union's construction efforts. The next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Immediately, Kennedy formed EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to deal with the crisis. After seven days of debate, Kennedy decided to put Cuba under a naval quarantine. On October 22, the public was informed of the missile installations and of Kennedy's decision to quarantine Cuba. He also proclaimed that any missile launched from Cuba would be seen as an attack from the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all their offensive weapons from Cuba.
Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba. Personally, I am in awe at how the crisis unfolded. It's incredibly interesting how sly and smart Khrushchev was in finding a way to level out the arms race by coming to assist and protect Cuba and at the same time establishing a missile base for the Soviets. I'm happy with how well President Kennedy handled the situation, and I find that, at least for this part, history can be as thrilling as the best-written novel.