Cuban Missile Crisis Essay, Research Paper
In October 1962 USA discovered Soviet nuclear bases on Cuba. This was only seventy miles away from the US coastline. It was literally in America s back-yard . It came as a shock to the Americans because Cuba and the US had such close ties so recently and this was going against such ties.
This source is from a historian named Stephen E. Ambrose. This means that it is a reliable source because history books have to go through checks from other historians. It tells of the Executive Committee that Kennedy appointed to advise him on the situation. It is important as it shows the importance of Kennedy s brother, Robert Bobby Kennedy. It was he that persuaded Kennedy to take the option of a blockade of Cuba which stopped any military goods being transported to Cuba. This would not force an immediate response from Khruschev.
The Soviet missiles with their warheads could devastate vast areas of the American continent. The missiles could reach as far as south California.
This map shows the strike range of the Cuban base. The entire East Coast of America can be destroyed with such cities as New York and Washington D.C. well within the area. If the missiles were to be launched then it would be a disaster. Kennedy was faced with the most dangerous crisis of the Cold War, and in the history of mankind. The world looked on in fear of the breakout of World War III. If this were to happen then both sides would unleash their arsenal.
These sources show the technological terror that could be unleashed. Source A1 shows a picture of the ominous mushroom cloud that a nuclear explosion would produce. A huge towering mass of smoke, dust and fire. Source A2 (i) and A2 (ii) show information on the nuclear submarines and their Polaris missiles, which could be fired, from any ocean in the world.
Kennedy s advisors told Kennedy that now was the time to attack. Some, however, opposed to military action such as that. Kennedy decided to blockade Cuba. This was a good decision. The blockade began on Wednesday 24th October. The NAVY blockade consisted of 100 warships surrounding Cuba. The US was aware of a fleet headed to Cuba, which was suspected to be holding missiles. The fleet was escorted by one submarine; if they needed to the NAVY could have easily defeated the fleet.
The blockade did not get the missiles off the island; it did however give Kennedy more time. This also switched the decision making to USSR; it was their move. The only ships that were stopped by the blockade were ones carrying offensive military equipment. The blockade played on the strengths of the US, as their NAVY was the strongest around the world. But tensions were rising.
This is a British cartoon from the Daily Mail. It shows the crisis as an old fashioned, wild west showdown. With Kennedy seemingly being the Sheriff and Khruschev being the no good bandit. The missile crisis was a showdown. The hope of the world was that neither would call DRAW!
The Soviet fleet turned back and tensions loosened. The crisis was not over though. The missiles were still on Cuba. On Friday 26th October Kennedy received a letter from Khruschev. The letter promised that the missiles would be removed if the Americans complied with the following:
1. The blockade must end.
2. The US must not invade Cuba.
The Crisis was over. The Soviets said, in the letter, that they wanted to avoid war at all costs.
On Saturday 27th October another letter came. There was a different tone to this one. It seemed more aggressive. The letter said that they Soviets would pull the missiles out of Cuba if the Americans pulled their missiles out of Turkey. USA was confused about the reason for this change. What reason would Khruschev have to jeopardize the peace that had seemed so close only a day before?
Some advisors were concerned that on Friday the generals had taken over from Khruschev. If true it would make it harder now to settle the dispute and stop the crisis. There was no way the US would pull out of Turkey. Kennedy did not know how to respond. He was faced with another dilemma. Kennedy could not back down.
Bobby Kennedy enters again. He told Kennedy not to worry about the second letter. He advised that Kennedy simply ignore it. Kennedy replied to the Soviets agreeing to the terms of the first letter. If there were no reply by Monday 29th October then USA would invade Cuba. The Soviets replied on Sunday 28th October. It was accepted. The crisis was over.
It had seemed that Kennedy was the victor and Khruschev, the looser. Khruschev saw himself as the winner. Kennedy got the missiles removed and Khruschev managed to save Cuba from invasion.
If Khruschev wanted war then there would have been nothing to stop it happening. Khruschev deserves credit for stopping the crisis, as he didn t lead the situation to war.
This is an American cartoon showing both Kennedy and Khruschev working together to prevent nuclear war.
Kennedy succeeded getting the missiles off Cuba and avoided war. He was the Savior of the western world. He steered the west through the most dangerous crisis Mankind had seen with a little help from Khruschev and Bobby Kennedy.