Significance of the Cuban Missile Crisis

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In October of 1962 the United States were in the middle of a major conflict with Cuba who was working with Soviet Union. It all started in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista (the leader of Cuba) was overthrown by Fidel Castro. At first the United States thought that this would be good for business, and help Cuba with their financial problems. But they soon realized this was not the case. This is because Castro had started working with Nikita Khrushchev who was looking to put multiple nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba. Not only would lose the advantage the United States had over the Soviets is the nuclear arms race that had been going since the start of the Cold War. It would be a major threat to all United States national security. These was a very significant time for the United states because there was many opportunity for a nuclear war with the Soviet Union to begin.

Since the United States was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union on October 14, 1962 we sent an American U-2 spy plane on a high altitude flight over Cuba. During this flight the pilot captured photograph of a Soviet SS-4 medium range missile being assemble for installation.In the beginning Khrushchev stated that any weapons that were in Cuba were for the protection on the Cuban Independence and the safety of the new cuban leader ,Castro, but we knew that wasn’t true at all. With this newfound information President Kennedy assembled a Executive Committee of National Security Council also known as ExCom to try to handle the issue. They had many option on how to stop them from bombing the missile sites to a full scale invasion of Cuba(Schier 10). One problem with bombing there missile sites was that the advisors felt that was too similar to Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into World War Two. So they decided the best thing to do and prevent a nuclear war was to send a blockade around the island. But the only problem was that was viewed as an international act of war which was the last thing the US wanted. So Kennedy gave a speech inform the United States and Khrushchev about the situation. At noon the next day Khrushchev responded to the speech and said that if the United States carried out with their plan that consequences would happen. However Kennedy and the rest of ExComm decided if they did not send the blockade worse consequences would happen. So on October 20 Kennedy order a quarantine blockade. Quarantine meaning that is was only temporary and didn’t want to start anything big. US intelligence were reporting that Soviet technicians were as almost completed and to expect more nuclear weaponary.So this blockade was only stopping offensive weapons not food or any other supplies. And at 10:00 President Kennedy sent out a DEFCON 3 telling naval ships to go to the blockade line. Kennedy told them to stop any soviet ship with any necessary force that would not sink the ship.

Since the President had the the blockade line positioned eight hundred miles from the shore he felt safe until Khrushchev sent him a confidential letter telling him that if the situation escalated there would be a consequence against world peace. So Kennedy move the line back to five hundred miles give Khrushchev one more day to decide on what to do. The Cubans planned for invasion by the United States by putting Soviet submarines into Caribbean waters. They also began to mobilize Cuban troops.

After this occurred Kennedy issued a DEFCON 2 which is the highest military readiness that took place during the Cold War. During this time in Key West Florida ,which is less than one hundred miles from Cuba, people were fleeing away and buying any food or survival gear they could. Both countries where ready for war if is was needed. The morning of the 24 two Soviet Naval ships were in approaching the quarantine blockade line. They were worried what would happen if they requested a Naval search. But later that day ExComm reported that it as actually six ships and all a which had turned around. Relieved of this good news one Naval officer named Rusk committed “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and i think the other fellow just blinked”(30).

On October 26 kennedy got a letter from Khrushchev and said that if the United States removed the blockade and promise not to invade Cuba that the Soviets would remove all nuclear weapons from the island. Kennedy didn’t know if that would be the best idea for if just taking out the missiles ourselves would be better. Without a response Khrushchev sent a another letter the next day saying that they would only remove the missiles if we removed our missiles for Turkey. Robert Kennedy John’s brother and one of his closest advisors said that he should probably pick the easiest options that would result in not having a war. Kennedy decided to ignore the first letter and tell Khrushchev that he would promise not to invade Cuba and remove the blockade. But Robert knew that wouldn’t work and he secretly sent a letter to Khrushchev. This letter promised that if they removed the missiles from cuba that after the Crisis was over and had cooled down that the United States would secretly and quietly remove the Nuclear weapons from Turkey. In the communist world Khrushchev told his fellow Soviets that he had been victorious and got the promise that the us and other allie country would not invade Cuba. This was to make him look like a more powerful leader. But we still feel that we won because we got the soviet union the remove the nuclear missiles from the island of Cuba and the surrender to our commands. Some Americans at the time choose to believe that Kennedy tried to avoid war was to save the no good Soviets the humiliation(40). But this is not true either Kennedy did so because a nuclear war between two of the biggest world powers was the last thing anyone needed.

There was also so negative reactions to the result. An example of this is that General Curtis Le May said that Kennedy’s unwillingness to fight a war was a sign of weakness. Or the fact that may Cuban exiles felt betrayed by the United States because they did not take Fidel Castro out of power. Finally Fidel Castro himself felt negatively. He felt like he was just a pawn in the middle of a bigger game.

This brought the end to a significant time in United States history. It was significant because there was several times tat either country could of started a war similar if not worse to World War Two. That would have resulted in a possible million lives lost. But since President Kennedy and his advisors , including his brother Robert, that possibility was avoided. Also because it was the first time a DEFCON 2 was ever issued in the history of the United States. And according to all the promised both superpowers removed there nuclear weapons. To prevent any more almost catastrophe they installed a hotline that runs from Washington DC straight to Moscow.

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Significance of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (2021, Feb 22). Retrieved March 5, 2024 , from

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