From October 16 to October 28 in 1962, the United States and the Soviets were in a apprehensive 13 day conflict that could have threatened the entire world. Nikita Khrushchev had feared the United States’ power, which led to him placing missiles into Cuba. Fidel Castro worked with Khrushchev to fulfill his plan. Kennedy was upset and planned his own plan of defense. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, leaders of the United States. and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff in October 1962 over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from United States’ shores. (Murray, Reynolds video) John F. Kennedy’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis will be explained and analyzed.
Khrushchev saw several advantages in setting up missiles into Cuba. He had even before, thought of using Cuba as a base for Soviets subs. (Frankel Pg 37) He had been afraid afraid of the United States’ power over the Soviet nation. Khrushchev had thought of using Cuba as a place to eliminate U.S power of having missiles in Moscow.The Soviets had already felt uncomfortable on how many nuclear weapons were facing them from Europe and Turkey. Within weeks of the Jupiter deployment Khrushchev planned to plant missiles into Cuba. According to Khrushchev he had thought the United States would go along with the deployment after they were considered “even”. He had planned to send Kennedy a notice once his idea was already in affect and propose to negotiate. The plan was to plant nuclear weapons into Cuba, facing the United States, hidden by palm trees. Nikita thought of this as a taste of John F. Kennedy’s own medicine since Kennedy had previously, even after Khrushchev’s own warning, planted missiles into Turkey. Khrushchev’s plan called for 40 launchers and 60 nuclear missiles. To get them into Cuba, Nikita had to first plan it out with Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader.
Castro did not agree with the argument that Cuba needed nuclear missiles to defend themselves. (Frankel Page 32) But, he did see Kennedy as a threat and thought Kennedy could and would invade Cuba using the military so Fidel went along with Nikita’s deployment. Castro, however did not like the idea of keeping the missiles in Cuba a secret. He wanted to openly deploy missiles. He felt so strongly about this that he sent his brother Raul to Moscow to negotiate a treaty of “Mutual Defense” but it was declined. To start the process the missile site needed to be cleared. To clear the missile sites, one thousand Cubans had been chased out of their homes and some lost their jobs. Castro even quarantined Cuban officers who had seen too much. (Frankel Page 45) The Warheads in Cuba were to have explosive yields ranging from two to eight hundred kilotons. (Frankel Page 37) The Soviets had planted close to forty-two million military personnel into Cuba discreetly, or so they thought it was discreetly.
On October 14, when planes were flying overhead Cuba taking photographs, as they do, the photographs that were taken scared and shocked the United States. The pictures, taken by McGeorge Bundy, showed Soviet soldiers secretly setting up missiles, warheads, and weapons into Cuba. John Kennedy was shown right away and Kennedy felt enormously betrayed and was extremely angry. Kennedy had thought Khrushchev would never deploy nuclear weapons into Cuba, especially since he had claimed he would never. Kennedy did keep it a secret from the Soviets, however, that he had known of their intentions to keep it under the radar. John F. Kennedy formed a secret group of members called Executive Committee of National Security Council, or EXCOMM. (May Article) In the first day of the debates, everyone in EXCOMM (Executive Committee of National Security) had favored bombing Cuba, except for John F. Kennedy. They had also considered going to war and launching an air strike. After long, countless, discussions, Kennedy decided to address the issue. Kennedy had not been in agreement with Executive Committee of National Security Council (EXCOMM) members to destroy the nuclear missiles in Cuba and risk the possibility of war. So on October 22nd Kennedy announced in his speech that the Soviets had deceived the United States and betrayed their own word. He also used this speech as a way to warn Khrushchev and the Soviets that the United States was well aware of their plan. He also explained his motive to place a naval blockade around Cuba. (James W. Davidson, Michael B. Stoff Pg 859) He made it clear the United States can and will use military force if provoked. Kennedy placed the blockade on October 24 against the Soviets. (Reynolds, Murray Video) Kennedy felt he had to put this blockade on the Soviets and foreign market. (Murray, Reynolds Video) He also did this to keep the Soviets from getting any further weapons into Cuba. Kennedy did not want to spread panic or worry to the United States, so he tried to act calm in the eyes of the public. But, after the news was spread many, many people were afraid the United States was on the edge of a nuclear war starting.
On October 24, Nikita Khrushchev reacted to the naval blockade and proceeded to send Soviet ships to Cuba. The Soviets saw there was nothing illegal of the Soviets putting missiles into Cuba, after all, the United States put missiles into Turkey. Khrushchev remembered how when he warned the United States to not put weapons into Turkey, and the U.S went along and deployed fifteen Jupiter missiles in Turkey. Some ships turned around because of the quarantine. However, the ships that did go on were stopped by the United States’ naval forces, but were found with no weapons on them. Therefore, the ships were allowed to go on. Kennedy saw the crisis as nowhere near over and decided to make a deal. John proposed a deal to the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin.
Kennedy pledged that the United States would never plan to invade Cuba if the Soviets agreed to take their missiles and nuclear weapons out of Cuba and back to the Soviet Union, along with any other along the way. But, the Soviet Union would only agree to the deal if the United States agreed to remove all the missiles from Turkey and parts of Europe. John F. Kennedy did not want to do this, but he figured he had no other choice but to oblige. So, Kennedy secretly agreed to get rid of the Jupiters in Turkey while Nikita Khrushchev agreed to pull the missiles and warheads out of Cuba. (Patrick J. Sloyan Pg 86-87) Kennedy did not want the public to know that he had to compromise with the Soviets to get them to back down because he did not want to seem weak or overpowered. Kennedy needed to remain as a public hero if he had any chance at getting re-elected.
The deal that was negotiated had a way greater effect than John F. Kennedy had anticipated. The main reason for this agreement was, basically just to prevent a nuclear war from starting. Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy both understood what was at risk if war wasn’t prevented. When Khrushchev sent his letter of agreement to Kennedy he tried to explain his misunderstanding of the crisis. “It is thus that we, Soviet people, and, together with US, other peoples as well, understand the questions of war and peace,” Nikita Khrushchev stated. Both leaders thought to put aside their differences to save the world from a possible nuclear disaster. Khrushchev did think, though, that it was not the Soviets fault that Kennedy “overreacted” and threatened their peace.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was considered one of the most important major periods of the Cold War. Nikita Khrushchev did not like how the United States was holding power over the Soviets from the nuclear weapons they had implanted near Moscow. So, within weeks of the deployment, Nikita planned his own idea to plant nuclear weapons into Cuba facing the United States. Of course, Khrushchev had Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, alongside with him.
Fidel Castro did not like the secrecy of the plan, but when along with it anyway. Unfortunately for the two leaders, the United States found out of their plan and the United States president, John F. Kennedy was outraged and betrayed. The United States organized their own design of defense. Kennedy formed the Executive Committee of National Security Council, EXCOMM, to help him figure out what to do to solve this important issue. They finally decided to devise a blockade on foreign markets and Cuba to stop any further weapon or missile deployment. The threat was real coming from the United States, or John F. Kennedy, to involve military if they were needed to invade. Nikita Khrushchev and Kennedy both did not want to go to war, but were both incredibly stubborn too. Eventually Kennedy decided to propose a deal to Nikita and explained the United States would never invade Cuba if Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union agreed to pull all their missile and weapons out of Cuba, that were threatening the United States. Khrushchev put in his own requirements that the United States in return would pull out their own nuclear missiles in Turkey and parts of Europe. John F. Kennedy decided to secretly agree to this arrangement and followed through with the deal. Thus ended the enormous crisis which had risked the lives of millions of people if the Cuban Missile Crisis went wrong.
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