The Cuban Missile Crisis was a problem rooted in the conflict that was the Cold War. When the Second World War ended, there was the restoration of order throughout the globe. Nonetheless, the end of the war also paved the way for the beginning of yet another conflict. The Cold War was a period of conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was this feud between the two superpowers which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred due to physical and technological factors inherent in the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.
This research paper aims to discuss the physical and technological factors which played a role in this incident. The primary physical factor behind the Cuban Missile Crisis was geography. In the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, the former was superior in terms of geography compared to the latter. The United States had allies spread out throughout the entire world. Some of these allies were located around Soviet territory (Garthoff, 1989). The relationship of the United States with the allies allowed the superpower to have military troops deployed close to the borders of the USSR.
Countries such as Iran, Japan, South Korea and Turkey were all allies of the United States. It was a known fact that the United States kept nuclear weapons in Turkey; this placement rendered the Soviet Union as an easy target for U. S. attack. On the contrary, the Soviet Union did not have military troops deployed in the Western Hemisphere. The absence of military force in that region proved to be a weakness. When the Soviet Union formed an alliance with Cuba, the superpower was presented with an opportunity to assert its military presence in the Western Hemisphere.
Cuba was geographically near to the United States, allowing the Soviet Union to attack the enemy at close range if and when necessary (Garthoff, 1989). The placement of weapons would prove detrimental to the United States as the missiles could reach 1,100 miles, a distance which covered main populated areas in the country (Patterson, 1997). It was the installation of missiles in Cuba by the Soviet Union which sparked the crisis. In September 1962, U. S. President John F. Kennedy warned Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev against bringing missiles on Cuban territory.
Khrushchev denied Soviet missile activity in Cuba, but photographic evidence revealed otherwise (Patterson, 1997). Technology played a crucial factor in the crisis. To begin with, it was weapon technology which caused the crisis; it was the nuclear activity of the Soviet Union which alarmed the United States. However, it was also technology which allowed the United States to discover this activity. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had become suspicious of Russian-Cuban relations; on October 15, 1962, the suspicions were justified (Patterson, 1997).
American U-2 reconnaissance flights retrieved photographs which revealed Soviet missile activity in Cuba. While the photographs did not prove the presence of tactical missile launchers or nuclear warheads, they proved the presence of intermediate-range nuclear missile (ICBM) launchers. Patterson (1997) noted that the weapons were not placed in Cuba for purposes of defense; he asserted that they were meant to provide the Soviets military capacity and diplomatic means in the Cold War. The photographs were enough proof for the United States to become convinced of Soviet military aggression.
Despite the tension caused by the photographs, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved amicably. The resolution of the problem was also grounded on military technology. Kennedy and Khrushchev secretly met and agreed to address the crisis; Kennedy proposed to remove the Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy in exchange for Khrushchev’s removal of missiles in Cuba. Khrushchev did remove the missile launchers and missiles from Cuba, as proven again by U-2 plane surveillance (Patterson, 1997).
The Cuban Missile Crisis was an outcome of the Cold War. The conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union caused the physical and technological factors which contributed to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hence, the Cuban Missile Crisis would not have occurred if the two superpowers were not involved in a rivalry. References Garthoff, R. (1989). Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Washington: Brookings Institution Press. Patterson, J (1997). Great Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974. New York: Oxford University Press.