Cuban Missile Crisis 3 Essay, Research Paper
The closest the world has come to nuclear war was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States. U.S. armed forces were at their highest state of readiness. Soviet field commanders in Cuba were authorized to use tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by the U.S. The fate of millions literally hinged upon the ability of two men, President John F. Kennedy and
Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to reach a compromise. In 1960 Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev launched plans to supply Cuba with ballistic missiles that would put the eastern United States within range of nuclear missile attack. In 1962 U.S. spy planes flying over Cuba spotted the first ballistic missile. United States president John F. Kennedy announced a naval blockade to prevent the arrival of more missiles. He demanded that the USSR dismantle and remove the weapons and declared a quarantine zone around Cuba. For several tense days Soviet vessels avoided the quarantine zone, and Khrushchev and Kennedy communicated through diplomatic
channels. Khrushchev finally agreed to dismantle and remove the weapons from Cuba and offered the United States on-site inspection in return for a guarantee not to invade Cuba. Kennedy accepted and halted the blockade. However, the question that is debated over the issue is whether or not JFK got lucky or if he was tactically smart and made the correct decision. Many historians believe that
President Kennedy played a dangerous game of brinksmanship in the Cuban Missile Crisis and we were just lucky that the Soviets shied down while others believe that the actions of the Soviets influenced and framed the President’s decision. However, many others traditionally believe that JFK effectively defused the crisis by good diplomacy and executive decision making. This last opinion on the matter is, without question, the correct viewpoint, and is easily justifiable through substantial evidence. Kennedy was a great leader, and although he only served a short time as president, he was very wise when dealing with executive decision making. And in no other event is this more evident than in the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK, made his decision along with his executive board, EXCOMM, and “from this group came the recommendations from which President Kennedy was ultimately to select his course of action.” From the meetings of this secret organizations, three main view points were fabricated. The hawkish view point which would dispatch US Air Force bombers, the dovish which would pursue diplomatic actions, and the owlish view point. The last one, the owlish, would have the US Navy form a blockade surrounding Cuba. This action, which JFK chose, would prevent the arrival of Soviet ships carrying materials necessary to make the missiles operational. “A naval blockade represented a combination of diplomacy and a military response and was now presented as a separate option.” The secret committee feared that if direct military confrontation occurred, it would escalate possibly into nuclear war, the end of human existence upon Earth. As you can see, unlike the majority of the members of EXCOMM, Kennedy took the well being of the planet into consideration before deciding to act. This shows Kennedy’s good diplomacy and wise executive decision making. Before deciding to throw the nation into nuclear war he used his mind and decided that that course of action would be immoral and unnecessary. These are the actions of a good, smart, wise, leader. Another evident characteristic which Kennedy displayed through dealing with the crisis was the method in which he delt with the other members of EXCOMM, knowing that he would have the final decision. “It was the first direct nuclear confrontation in history and each man was being asked to make a recommendation that, if wrong and accepted, could mean the end of the human race. However, they knew that the responsibility for the ultimate decision rested with the president.” Despite the fact that he knew
this and that the other members of the board did to, he, being wise, missed some of the meetings. He knew that personalities change when he was present and therefore, since even strong men made recommendations on the basis of what JFK wanted to hear, he was absent for some of the meeting and allowed true opinions to come out. This shows how JFK was open to all opinions and that is a characteristic of a good leader. And even when he was present,
everyone was equal. “During all these deliberations, we all spoke as equals. There was no rank, and, in fact, we did not even have a chairman.” He was truly a good leader. But eventually he had to make a decision. On Friday morning, October 19th, the President made up his mind. “Kennedy had definitely made up his mind to start his action against Krushchev with a naval blockade of Cuba. Even though he had made his decision, he still wanted a consensus of support from the EXCOMM member.” As you can see he was still looking for the opinion of his comrades, never self-centered about anything. Besides these two last main points, which show JFK’s diplomacy and executive decision making, he had many more positive points to be made for the way he handled the Cuban Missile Crisis. First and foremost, Kennedy never rushed into anything or had a hasty or rash decision about the policy of the US. Furthermore, John Fitzgerald Kennedy always kept the nation aware of the situation, and through his eloquent leadership, he prevented panic from bursting out throughout the nation. He gave the citizens a sense of security by telling them that they would be protected in case of disruption. They were in good hands with JFK. “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cub er against any nation in the western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” It is clearly evident that President Kennedy lead the US through a time of tumult and a time when every second, the existence of man was at stake. John Fitzgerald, through good diplomacy and wise executive decision making, brought peace to the tense relations between the Soviets and the US. JFK remained calm throughout the entire situation and had many valuable qualities which helped the nation deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was never self-centered about anything, he was always open to opinions from other members of EXCOMM. He also wisely missed a few of the meetings which enabled previously shy but powerful men to state what they truly thought of the matter. He never rushed the nation into anything, he always thought before acting. Lastly, he always kept the nation informed and gave every citizen a sense of security. These are the qualities of a good leader. Finally, he must have made the correct decision because no missiles were ever launched and peace was restored. The future leaders of America and of all other nations worldwide must learn from the Cuban Missile Crisis. The effects of the Atomic Bomb were already displayed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, in the present day, no sensible person could drop a nuclear bomb, knowing that the result would be devastating. If the world were to go into nuclear war, it would mean the end of human existence. Groups such as EXCOMM and people such as the president of the United States have probably learned by now that if another crisis fabricated they would be the ones who would be responsible for the lives of billions. “The missile crisis illustrates a process where the top decision makers make a decision” and if it is the wrong decision it could mean the end of the world. These people in these paramount positions need to learn from people such as Kennedy, and how to deal with a situation of such importance, the way he did. Kennedy, however, believed there was no miracle decision making process. It takes perhaps a lot of luck and more than just a few prayers. But as you already know, Kennedy was a great leader who handled the Cuban Missile Crisis flawlessly.