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The Cuban Missile Crisis
Transcript of The Cuban Missile Crisis
In their endless sense of ownership over the world the American government had created the Monroe Doctrine that laid claim to the entire western hemisphere. During Eisenhower and Kennedys time this was the basis of their foreign policy, creating numerous clashes and problems.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was the final instigator that caused major reprecussions. The Cubans, fearing another attack, appealed to the USSR for protection.
After Khrushchevs threats the United States began placing 100s of nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy, with Moscow in easy range, it was a direct threat to the USSR, on their doorstep.
Kennedy threatened to use force if Khrushchev didn't give in to his demands and escalated the crisis by blockading Cuba and threatening to fire upon the ships.
The Americans escalated the crisis, distributing bombers loaded with nuclear weapons around the world, ready to attack the Soviet Union.
Also, Premier Khrushchev gave in to the blockade, fearing nuclear war, unlike the Americans who were ready to send the world into a nuclear apocalypse.
At this point in the crisis Khrushchev is complying completly with the Americans demands, he no longer wants to escalate the crisis and has gotten his governments main objective. To get the missiles out of Turkey. The USSR allied itself with Cuba, merely 90 miles from mainland USA, aswell as arming it with tanks, planes and weapons to protect its economic investment and newfound ally from the United States.
Also in reaction to the Bay of Pigs, Khrushchev threatened to close off East Berlin and threatened war if the Americans interfered.
In reaction to the placement of missiles in Turkey and to protect its ally, the USSR began placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. Castro now leader of a communist country merely 90 miles from the United States was something that the United States led by the Monroe Doctrine could not live with. The US government (led by Eisenhower) began to plot the overthrowing of Castros regime
In 1961 a new president, John F. Kennedy, was elected and was immediately burdened with Eisenhowers plans to overthrow Castro. The CIA had funded, trained, armed and were ready to transport 1,400 Cuban anti-Castro exiles to invade Cuba from Guatemala at the Bay of Pigs against Castros 25, 000 man army, armed with Russian weapons, to expel the USSR's ally in the western hemisphere. Understandably, Kennedy was unsure of what he would do. After much debate Jack Kennedy decided to go ahead with the invasion, even after declaring publicly he wouldnt invade, and on the night of April 17th, 1961 sent over 1400 Cuban guerrillas as well as tanks and planes to the Bay of Pigs to begin an invasion. Armed with "untraceble" US weapons, supported by airstrikes and ships, assured by his chiefs of staff that they would easily win and told the Cuban people would rise up against Castro, Kennedy felt it was a risk worth taking to overthrow the communist government. The Kennedys Planning the Bay of Pigs
U-2's over Cuba
The Second Letter
The Deadline The Bay of Pigs invasion was a complete failure. Warned of the attack by covert information, Castros forces were ready and waiting. Marred by poor planning and execution the guerrillas had no chance without additional support from the US.
President Kennedy had the option of using the U.S. Air Force against the Cubans but decided against it. Consequently, the invasion was stopped by Castro's army. By the time the fighting ended on April 19, 114 exiles had been killed and the rest had been taken as prisoners. The failure of the invasion made Kennedy look inexperienced and weak infront of the Soviets and they later exploited this perceived weakness greatly.
The Castro regime remained firmly in power and strengthened its security alliance with the Soviet Union in fear of another invasion. This alliance included a Cuban-Soviet agreement to give Cuba much stonger defenses against the Americans. In June of 1961 President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met at a summit conference in Vienna. This was the first time the two leaders had met, and Khrushchev was determined to prove his superiority over the young and seemingly inexperienced Kennedy who had just humiliated himself with the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Khrushchev threatened to sign a peace agreement with East Germany that would block Western access to Berlin by turning over control of roads and air routes. Kennedy was shocked at the tone and threats made and refused to give in, in the face of Soviet pressure.
Khrushchev told Kennedy, "Force will be met by force. If the US wants war, that's its problem." "It's up to the US to decide whether there will be war or peace." "The decision to sign a peace treaty is firm and irrevocable, and the Soviet Union will sign it in December if the US refuses an interim agreement."
To this, Kennedy replied, "Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold, long winter." Later that year the United States government began to deploy over 100 Jupiter IRBMs in Italy and Turkey, missiles with massive nuclear payloads that could easily reach Moscow. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had to come up with a solution immediately. The idea of countering the United States' growing lead in developing and deploying strategic missiles by placing its own nuclear missiles in Cuba had always been on the table, but now that Moscow was directly threatened he went ahead with the idea, and in early 1962 the Soviets, with the agreement of Castro, began placing nuclear missiles in Cuba in the utmost secrecy and under the guise of agricultural aid. Upon seeing the photographs of the nuclear missiles, Kennedy assembled a secret, fifteen-member committee (named EXCOMM—Executive Committee of the National Security Council) to determine the course of action for the United States. Initially, the Committee listed five courses of action:
Use diplomatic pressure to get the Soviet Union to remove the missiles.
An air attack on the missiles.
A full military invasion.
The naval blockade of Cuba. After the agreement the Soviets immediately began to ship missiles across the Atlantic, assuring the Americans that there were no armaments on them whatsoever. The colossal operation was hard to keep secret. Over one thousand reports of the missiles’ construction reached Cuban expats in Miami (these were largely ignored by the CIA). They were constructed extremely quickly and would have been operational within days. Finally, on the 14 October 1962, an American U2 reconnaissance aircraft photographed the missile sites. The UNITED STATES San Francisco Dallas Washington D.C Seattle The SOVIET UNION CUBA Moscow Kennedy—swayed by his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, chose a 500 mile outwards from Cuba blockade, renaming it a "quarantine" so as not to break international law. On 22 October 1962, in a nationally televised broadcast, Kennedy announced the existence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba and his decision to quarantine the island. He directly stated that any nuclear attack from Cuba would “require a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” After Kennedys speech, Khrushchev sent a letter rejecting Kennedy’s “ultimatum” and declared that the quarantine was an illegal and “piratical act” and that the weapons were completely defensive , he warned that “with the advent of modern types of armament” the United States had “completely lost its former isolation”—a not so subtle reference to the Soviet nuclear weapons miles off the Florida coast.
But despite its aggresive tone, Khrushchev’s letter ultimately conveyed that he understood and feared nuclear war. Repeatedly the letter takes a pleading tone, at one point opining to Kennedy that:
“You, Mr. President, are not declaring a quarantine, but rather are setting forth an ultimatum and threatening that if we do not give in to your demands you will use force. Consider what you are saying! And you want to persuade me to agree to this!… You are no longer appealing to reason, but wish to intimidate us.”
Khrushchev refused to turn around the ships, calling the blockade as a bluff and even protecting them with submarines. Yet Kennedy did not give in, and sent a message to Khrushchev that the ships would not pass the blockade. Despite the Soviets rejection of the blockade the U.S. Navy and OAS allies began to enforce the quarantine with 56 warships, including eight aircraft carriers and raised the threat level to DEFCON 2, the highest ever reached. SAC headquarters put its forces around the world on the highest level of alert ever, distibuting bombers and even planning an invasion and nuclear strike on the USSR. Communications were sent uncoded, so that the Soviets would have no misconceptions regarding America’s intent.
As the ships came closer and closer, tensions increased until Krushchev finally gave in and ordered the ships to turn back, not prepared to start a nuclear war and kill millions of people. Krushchev also sent a letter, saying how "only lunatics and suicides who themselves want to perish would think to wage nuclear war". He proposed that the Soviet union would no longer ship weapons to Cuba as long as the US publicly stated to never invade the country. Kennedy agreed, and told the military not to attack whatsoever. Yet the crisis was not over... On the morning of October 27th Kennedy received news that a U-2 plane had been shot down over Cuba, an act of war by the Soviet Union. Yet in reality Khrushchevs order to not attack had been ignored by one of the anti-aircraft battery commanders, and the Russian embassy correspondant was mortified, leading Kennedy to beleive the story was true.
Another letter then arrived, not in the emotional and human tone of Krushchev but a bureaucratic message from the Kremlin. They demanded that if they were to remove the missiles from Cuba the Americans must remove theirs from Turkey. Bobby Kennedy then had the idea to ignore the second letter, saying that he understood what Khrushchev's position was, and that if the Soviets would agree to withdraw their missiles, the United States would end the quarantine and promise not to invade Cuba. As EXCOMM discussed their options, news came of a fleet of Soviet ships transporting more weapons for delivery to Cuba. Kennedy immediately set up a line with the Soviet embassy and was told that there were no missiles in Cuba and that the ships would not turn around. Despite ignoring the letter it was privately agreed that the Jupiter missiles positioned in Turkey would be withdrawn 6 months after the crisis, but that the decision would not be publicly tied to the agreement about Cuba. Kennedy gave Khrushchev a deadline of the next day to agree to their proposal. On October 28, a new message from Khrushchev was broadcast on Radio Moscow. Khrushchev stated that, "the Soviet government, in addition to previously issued instructions on the cessation of further work at the building sites for the weapons, has issued a new order on the dismantling of the weapons which you describe as 'offensive' and their crating and return to the Soviet Union."
Kennedy immediately responded, issuing a statement calling the letter "an important and constructive contribution to peace" and continued by saying that " the US will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other countries neighbouring to Cuba."
The U.S continued the quarantine, and in the following days, flyovers proved that the Soviets were making progress in removing the missile systems. The 42 missiles and their support equipment were loaded onto eight Soviet ships. The ships left Cuba from November 5–9.
Six months later the United States, too removed its missiles from Turkey, both removals were confirmed by the United Nations and finally ended the crisis that brought humanity to the brink of destruction. Americas boycott of trade with Cuba Cuba allied with the USSR Monroe Doctrine Bay of Pigs Nuclear Missiles in Cuba Blockade of Cuba and threats towards the USSR Khrushchev testing the blockade Escalation to DEFCON 2 and invasion preparations As we can see from our overview of the crisis, the term "American Instigators" is a much more apt description of the crisis, as Khrushchev in the end diffused an ever more escalating crisis and nearly everything the Russians did was in fear of or in reaction to the Americans, such as; In conclusion, the Cuban missile crisis was instigated and escalated by the American government and its policies, almost bringing the world to a nuclear war. Premier Khrushchev, diffused the crisis against the will of the Kremlin and suffered politically because of it. In the end the USSR seemed to have lost against American pressure but in reality humanity won the day and changed history forever. Threat to close off East Berlin Nuclear Missiles in Turkey After the crisis a direct line between Washington and Moscow was installed, to prevent future misunderstandings between the two countries. Today it is used to notify each other immediately in the event of an accidental, unauthorized or unexplained incident involving a nuclear weapon that could increase the risk of nuclear war. This resulting link between the US and Russia now hopefully promotes democratic and peaceful resolutions of crisis, instead of escalating acts that could spell the end of all peace...