Cuban Missile Crisis

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Assess the short term impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis on relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

On October 22, 1962, after reviewing newly acquired intelligence, President John F. Kennedy informed the world that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba, a mere 90 miles off the shores of Florida. After weighing such options as an armed invasion of Cuba and air strikes against the missiles, Kennedy decided on a less dangerous response. In addition to demanding that Russian President Nikita Khrushchev remove all the missile bases and their deadly contents, Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine (blockade) of Cuba in order to prevent Russian ships from bringing additional missiles and construction materials to the island. In response to the American naval blockade, Premier Khrushchev authorized his Soviet field commanders in Cuba to launch their tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by U.S. forces. Deadlocked in this manner, the two leaders of the world's greatest nuclear superpowers stared each other down for seven days - until Khrushchev blinked. On October 28, thinking better of prolonging his challenge to the United States, the Russian Premier conceded to President Kennedy's demands by ordering all Soviet supply ships away from Cuban waters and agreeing to remove the missiles from Cuba's mainland. After several days of teetering on the brink of nuclear holocaust, the world breathed a sigh of relief. This essay will therefore look at the short term impacts of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Viewed in hindsight, it is not surprising that the Soviets chose Cuba as their stage of operations against the U.S. Ever since his rise to power in 1959, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro struggled to survive America's efforts to "encourage" his political demise. When General Castro came to power, the U.S. stopped buying Cuban sugar and refused to supply its former trading partner with much needed oil. After weathering the failed Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-backed Cuban exiles in 1961, Castro observed as U.S. armed forces staged a mock invasion of a Caribbean island in 1962. Castro soon became convinced that the U.S. was serious about invading Cuba. Sensing an opportunity to gain a strategic foothold in America's "back yard," Khrushchev eagerly extended an offer of assistance to the desperate Cuban general. The Soviet Premier offered Castro new trade opportunities, to ease the effects of U.S. sanctions, and a promise of protection from U.S. hostilities. The cozy alliance which ensued between Castro and Khrushchev laid the ground for what culminated in a Soviet missile base in Cuba and ended in the Cuban missile crisis. One of the major impacts of the crisis, was the global destruction it would cause. Not only would the US and USSR suffer at the hands of their eagerness to detonate the bombs, the majority of the world would also suffer. This was seen through Illingworth’s source* of both Kennedy and Khrushchev sitting on two hydrogen bombs. The source shows how both men are inches away from pressing the detonators to the bombs the opposition is sitting on. However, because Illingworth was a British cartoonist , and the British and Americans were allies at the time, it can be stated that the posture in which Kennedy is drawn seems to be much stronger than Krushchev’s who has his back to the reader. The source is a clear indication of how significant the impact of nuclear weapons was, and how because of this relations between both the US and Soviet Union were at the brink of destruction. Secondly there was a major impact on the global population. The comic book “If an A bomb Falls”* , was a step by step guide to the public on how to react if there was a bomb threat. It is understandable that there was immense threat and danger felt by the general public. Krushchev warned that “ hundreds of millions might perish in a nuclear war”. Therefore indicating that Krushchev was not keen on a nuclear war despite having known...
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