The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis has gone down the history books as one of the defining moments of the Cold War era. This incident is the closest that the world was about to witness a nuclear war as the United States army became highly ready and alert for any attack from the Soviet Union Commanders who had been deployed in Cuba. The Soviet commanders had been given authority to use the tactical nuclear weapons in case they were invaded by the United States. With the war eminent, it took the wise moves of President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to avert the crisis.
The Cuban Missile Crisis and its consequences come out as one of the prominent incidences of the Cold War era even though it lasted for a very short time. The crisis lasted for about two weeks and was so intense though it ended up peacefully with the signing of an agreement between the two leaders; Kennedy and Khrushchev, on 28th October of 1962 . This paper shall give a detailed coverage of the events that followed the Cuban Missile Crisis and the consequences it had on the U. S. -Soviet relations. Historical Background:
The Soviet Union was generally lagging in the arms race that had taken precedence after the Second World War. Their missiles could only hit targets in Europe but could not hit targets within the United States. On the contrary, the United States’ missiles were able to strike any target with the Soviet Union and this worried the Soviet Union a lot. In the hope to bring about a strategic balance with the United States, the Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev secretly deployed medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) together with intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRMB) in Cuba.
Upon being operational, it was hoped that these missiles would act as a deterrent to the U. S. as they could hit targets within the continental boundaries of the United States . Cuba was willing to cooperate with the Soviet Union as Fidel Castro had feared that the United States could attack once more following the failed Bay of Pigs attack of 1961. Fidel was desperate to defend his country from the U. S. invasion and thus welcomed the move by the Soviet Union by approving the Khrushchev plan of installing missiles in his territory.
In the summer of 1962, the Soviet Union in secret and swiftly, installed the controversial missiles in Cuba. This was only discovered by the United States in October 15th 1962 when photographic evidence was captured through the reconnaissance photographs indicating that the Soviet Union was constructing missiles in Cuba . The Cuban Crisis: There had been evidence of increasing Soviet Union military support towards Cuba as far as July of 1962. However, the availability of the air defense missiles in Cuba was confirmed by the photographs taken on August 29th of the same year.
After being informed of the missiles installations in Cuba, President Kennedy of the U. S. without delay organized the EX-COMM which was a top advisory committee to address the crisis . The committee went into a week long deliberations which resolved that a naval quarantine around Cuba was necessary to block the arrival of more new Soviet offensive weapons to Cuba. Upon reviewing the new evidence from the U. S. intelligence, President Kennedy on October 22nd 1962 revealed to the world about the secrete missiles being built by the Soviet Union in Cuba .
President Kennedy had to weigh the available options and settled for a less dangerous response. The U. S. demanded that the Soviet Union remove all their missile bases with their dangerous stuffing and that the U. S. naval was to keep surveillance over Cuba to ensure that no more missiles and weapons were shipped to the island from the Soviet Union. In retaliation to the blockade, the Soviet Union Premier gave orders to the commanders in Cuba that they were to launch the tactical nuclear weapons in any case they were attacked by the United States army (Goldman and Stein, para 1).
President Kennedy was categorical in his televised address to the nation on October 22nd that any attack from Cuba was to be considered as an attack by the Soviet Union and that the U. S. was going to respond appropriately. Having endorsed a naval quarantine against Cuba, President Kennedy issued Proclamation 3504 which ensured that the quarantine was effective as from 24th October 1962 . The President also directed for the necessary actions from the Secretary of defense in case of any eventuality. The military was placed on high alert to respond to any emergencies.
This is because the U. S. did not know the next course of action from the Soviet Union and thus the army was to get prepared for any eventualities. There was colossal movement of ships, aircraft, weaponry and the army troops in a short period and the army stood prepared for duty if the need arose. The United States continued spying over Cuba by taking the reconnaissance photographs which showed that the Soviet was engaged in a rapid military build up on the ground . The much anticipated confrontations failed to explode.
On 25th October of 1962, the first Soviet Union’s ship, the tanker Bucharest was caught and later permitted to proceed after being cleared of carrying prohibited material. On a similar day, other ships from the Soviet Union are believed to have been forced to change their course and return back home after fearing being intercepted. On 26th October freighter Marucla, which had been chartered by the Soviet government was intercepted and later cleared after inspection. There was some increase in tension following the destruction of a U-2 aircraft in Cuba that was piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr.
, USAF on 27th October. This prompted the Secretary of Defense to direct the Air Force to call for 24 troop carrier regiments together with their supporting units to active duty; this involved over 10,000 Air force Reservists . Resolving the Crisis: At the time when the crisis was going on, there were efforts from both sides to avoid the looming danger of nuclear war. There is evidence that the United States President and the Soviet Union Premier exchanged letters and/or were involved in other forms of communications to avert the looming war.
The Soviet Premier sent letters to the U. S. President on October 23rd and 24th explaining that the missiles were a deterrent mea sure and that the Soviet Union had peaceful intentions . The October 26th and 27th letters from Khrushchev indicated that the Soviet Union was ready to abandon its missions in Cuba if the United States was willing guarantee not attacking Cuba and agreeing to dismantle its installations that had been put up in Turkey. The U. S. decided to heed to the first demand which required assurance not to invade Cuba in the future .
It was not until October 28th 1962 that the tension of the crisis eased following the announcement of the Soviet Premier that he was going to dismantle the missile installations and return them to the Soviet Union believing that the U. S would live up to its promise not to invade Cuba . There were further negotiations involving the two sides in which the U. S. demanded that the Soviet Union remove the light bombers from Cuba which were regarded as offensive in the eyes of the U. S.
This called for further diplomatic involvement between the two sides and only came to succeed on November 20th when the Soviet Union agreed to remove the bombers from Cuba . The naval quarantine placed on Cuba was also ended on the same date that the Soviet agreed to remove its bombers from Cuba. Despite the reduction of the tension between the nuclear powers, negotiations went on and by January of the following year, the agreement between the two sides had not been formalized . Conclusion: The Cold War almost turned hot during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
With both sides equipped with nuclear weapons, the world came to the brink of a destructive war but thanks to the leaders of the time who gave diplomacy a chance in resolving the crisis. President Kennedy took tough measures to barricade the Soviet Union from posing a threat to the U. S. by ordering a naval quarantine on Cuba whereas the Soviet Union Premier turned to diplomatic efforts by initiating the proposals that finally culminated into the October 28th agreement that brought down the tension between the two sides.
Though it was tipped to be explosive, the Cuban Missile Crisis was able to be resolved in a peaceful manner much to the relief of many in the world. Bibliography: Blight, James and Welch, David. On the Brink. Toronto. Collins Publishers, 1989. Finklestein, Norman. Thirteen Days/Ninety Miles: The Cuban Missile Crisis. New York. Simon and Schuster, 1994. Goldman, Jerry and Giel, Stein. The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 18-29, 1962. (1997). Retrieved on 31at May 2010 from; http://www.
hpol. org/jfk/cuban/. Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Thorndike Press; ISBN 0783893566, 9780783893563, 2001. Knox, William E. Close-up of Khrushchev during a Crisis, The New York Times Magazine, November 18, 1962. Pike, John. Cuban Missile Crisis. (2010). Retrieved on 31at May 2010 from; http://www. globalsecurity. org/military/ops/cuba-62. htm. Thompson, Robert Smith. Missiles of October. New York. Simon & Schuster, 1992.