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The Cold war, which existed between the Soviet Union and the United States following World War ll, and the constant threat of nuclear devastation, which it presented, evolved throughout its history. The relationship between these two super powers was strained at the best, at its worst; it was hostile and came near the unleashing of the devastating nuclear arsenal both countries possessed.
The term ‘cold war’ was used first by an American banker relating to the tension between the U.S.S.R and the USA, when he said cold he was referring to the fact that both countries were doing there best to stop direct fighting and for it to become a ‘hot’ war.
The reason these two super powers fought were over their ideologies on how to live in each others country where as America was run by Capitalism, this was the system that gave common civilians the right to vote for which ever government party they wanted to run the country it also gave the press freedom of speech where government scandals were hardly censored, unlike The Soviets who ran a one party state consisting of only the Communist party called Soviets, but because most of the soviets were Communist the government was really run by the one party. Also there was mass government run industries like the media as this was run by them, the news was censored strictly throughout covering up any government scandal. The other major difference was the distribution of wealth and the line between the rich and the poor as this was very low in Russia however in the U.S average living standards where much higher as wealth was dispersed more unevenly throughout business Tycoons and their estates.
All these factors lead to nuclear war and the cold war between Russia and America, America was the first to release a nuclear attack and used, the first nuclear atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, on 6th August 1945 showing the world what lengths America would go to, to win a war.
A concluding sentence
The relationship also evolved over time, and the emergence of Fidel Castro in Cuba was a catalyst for a change in the relationship between these powers. The threat he and his Communist party presented to his American neighbours would change the way the Americans dealt with their Cold War enemies. In the same way, Castro’s Communists also gave Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviets an entrance into North and Central American affairs.
Prior to the revolution in Cuba, during Batista’s brutal regime there was a period of time describes as ‘an easing of tensions’ in relationships between the East and the West. These tensions were eased because many of the potential conflicts between Eastern and western sides had been resolved, such as the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
During Batista’s regime as dictator over Cuba the Americans had been its main customer of Cuba’s main resource, Sugar cane, this made relationships between Cuba an America quite friendly and Cuba was full of American influence with Gentlemen’s Clubs, Brothels and Casino’s it was nick named the rich Americans playground, also on the island were strong Mafia connections, yet the police did little to stop them as they could easily be bribed and were often dealing themselves.
The easing of tensions and the apparent lack of interest from either of the two cold war powers in aggression against one another would be brought to an end following Castro taking over Cuba in early 1959, but at this time the relationship between Fidel Castro and the Cuban Communist was not entirely clear. During the Cuban revolution that saw Fulgencio Batista’s brutal regime overthrown and come to an end, Castro had been at the fore of the uprising. He sold all the American owned business’s the mere presence of a ‘Communist’ island within 100 miles of the United States drew much attention to Cuba, both to the Soviet Union and their American rivals.
The real cold war evolution did not have its beginnings in the working relationship, which was to be established between Havana and Moscow, but rather in the deteriorating relationship between the Cuban capital and Washington. American business interests in Cuba were being threatened by Castro’s policy of nationalisation of lands, and the U.S. was begging to feel that they “could not ‘do business’ with Castro’s government” this feeling was the reason for the beginnings of an action against the Castro Regime approved by President Eisenhower, and late adopted by John Fitzgerald Kennedy when he was elected to office in November 1960. This program consisted of political action, propaganda and military operations” and was behind the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, although this program was directed against Cuba it may also have sent another message to the soviet Communists that the Americans were not prepared to tolerate communism so near their own borders. In any case,
This policy, a direct reaction to Fidel Castro himself and the communist regime, which he had brought to power, could not have any positive effect on relations between the Capitalist Americans and the communists.
The real advantage of Cuba to the Soviets was in the form of gaining leverage in negotiations over Berlin, which was of far more importance to the communist than the small, poor island ruled by Castro. Tensions over Berlin came about after Khrushchev demanded the western powers, which occupied Berlin, evacuate the city. Khrushchev, “alarmed at the growing military and economic strength of West Germany” otherwise, the soviets would turn the administration of Berlin to the East German government, with which the west had no agreements and under the rule of which the western powers would have no access whatsoever to Berlin. By removing the western influences from the area, Khrushchev hoped to “Weaken ties between the United States and West Germany and provoke disunity among NATO allies” The NATO powers however did not back down, however there came to be a dï¿½tente over the question of administration of Berlin. This still existed in 1962, and Fidel Castro would prove to be a willing pawn in a move by Khrushchev to gain the upper hand in the negotiations over the administration of Berlin.
Prior to the events of 1962, which made up the Cuban missile crisis came the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, this great American failure showed to which lengths the Americans were prepared to go to remove the influence of Castro and communism from the island of Cuba. On 16th April 1961, 1,300 “CIA- trained Cuban exiles in American-surplus planes and boats left to invade Cuba and liberate their countrymen” this so called liberation was unsuccessful the Cuban people had been prepared for such an invasion and in fact the Cuban Military forces and Castro himself also knew of the plans of the invasion. One hundred and fifty invaders were killed, the rest taken prisoner and the American attempt to overthrow Castro and his regime had failed. There were several crucial outcomes to this invasion however, all affecting the relationship between the eastern and western powers.
The soviets, due to the ability of the island nation to withstand the invasion, became convinced of the value of Cuba in gaining the upper hand over the U.S. enough so that the Castro’s regime would now be “worthy of a major military and diploma. But while the Soviet Union now considered Cuba a worthy ally, it became evident to Castro that he also needed to pursue a relationship with the Soviet Union for protection because his island was very much within the U.S. sphere of influence. The invasion, while unsuccessful, showed that the Americans were willing to go to great lengths to remove him from office, and at this point, the best solution for Castro appeared to be the pursuit of an alliance with Moscow, directed against his American neighbours.
The strengthening of ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union, as a result of this Bay of Pigs invasion, led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis. As much as that conflict resulted from Khrushchev’s design to take advantage of Cuba’s proximity to the U.S. to install missile sites, it was the American policy towards Cuba, that which sought, by any means necessary, to remove Fidel Castro’s influence over Cuba, which pushed the new Communist allies into each other’s arms. The mere presence of Fidel Castro was responsible for the heightening of tensions between the Soviet Union and John F. Kennedy’s United States leading up to the crisis.
There was a strong Soviet presence in Cuba prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The sanctions, which followed Castro’s rise to power placed a large burden on the Cuban economy, as the U.S., naturally, had been the island’s primary trading partner. This burden was eased by the Soviets who, in 1960, agreed to buy out Cuba’s U.S. sugar share, and later made the promise to provide ‘necessary aid’ in the case of armed intervention. In fact, United States sanctions against Fidel Castro and his government “provided the rationale and the catalytic action which accelerate close economic, military and political relations between Cuba and the USSR.” But the gravity of the Soviets economic pursuits in Cuba is far less than the deal made which allowed the Soviets to build missile sites on the island. Due to the deadlock over the Berlin question, Khrushchev felt he needed to gain the upper hand in military might to have his way.
Because the USSR was falling behind in the arms race, a creative solution was needed which would achieve equality and the “cheapest and fastest way … was to install shorter-range missiles on Cuba.” The role of Castro in this affair was to accept the missiles from the USSR, but for his own set of reasons. Castro felt that some protection was needed from the threat of any more American invasions, and the addition of missile sites to his island would strengthen his position considerably. The military installations instilled confidence and would be a tremendous asset given any aggression by the Americans or their Western allies. In any case, both nations had interests in the missiles being installed in Cuba, so Castro gave the plan his blessing. By this time, it had become clear to the Soviets that their high expectations of Castro were warranted, as this revolutionary leader had given them the opportunity they thought they needed to tip the scale in their favour where there real interests lay, Berlin.
For someone who had so critical a role in bringing about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro played only the smallest role once it began. When an American U-2 first spotted evidence of the construction of a missile site in Cuba on 14 October 1962, the crisis began. While negotiations to end the crisis were underway between Kennedy and Khrushchev, Castro was left out and “did not take the exclusion lightly” Castro even went so far as to make a speech, on 23 October 1962, denying that “either the Cubans or the Soviets would ever consider withdrawing their missiles” While the Soviets and the Americans were negotiating a peace, while still on the brink of launching an all-out nuclear attack, Castro was still trying to extract some political gain from the conflict.
He imposed a set of conditions on the removal of missiles from his island, which called for the end of the U.S. blockade of the island, which had resulted when the crisis began, and for the end of subversive acts on the part of the U.S. against Cuba. All of these were ignored when a final agreement was hammered out between the U.S. and the USSR. Castro’s stubborn refusal to admit that he had been the real loser in the entire crisis was brought into focus when he refused entrance into Cuba to UN observers who were to assure that the missiles were dismantled, as had been agreed upon by Kennedy and Khrushchev. Castro’s reaction to his personal failure in the affair would signal the lesson he learned, as he made it known that “never again in the chess game of power” would his country play “the docile pawn”
While Castro was involved in conflicts in Africa in the 1960s, and supported the communism of Vietnam, his involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis left the greatest of marks upon relations between the Cold War powers. What Castro may not have realized in all his bitterness over the results of the crisis is that, unwittingly, he had the effect of easing tensions between the U.S. and the USSR. His mere presence and his part in bringing about the crisis were instrumental in beginning a new era in the relationship between East and West. Prior to this point, any move by one side was met by an equally strong move by the other.
Under such a system, no peaceful end could be sought to any conflict, only the escalating of tensions to a breaking point. The breaking point in the Cold War was the most undesirable, nuclear conflict, the implications of which were most destructive and grave. Indeed, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, while Castro was dreaming of power and prestige for his native Cuba, the Americans were reportedly minutes away for launching their nuclear arsenal against Russia, and likely the Soviets were in a similar position. But the diplomatic resolution to the problem, in spite of Castro’s designs, represented a turning point in the way problems were dealt with between the United States and their nuclear rivals. In a game of such high stakes, no longer could move be met with countermove because in such a case both would be losers. The value of diplomacy was realized and, in a way, Fidel Castro and his regime were facilitators for this lesson.
After the crisis, relations once again eased into detente between the U.S. and the USSR and Castro, standing by his assertion that he would no longer be the pawn for any other, no longer wielded much influence in Cold War politics. And the relations between the two powers eased, that existing between Castro’s Cuba and the USSR grew more strained. These were restored somewhat later, but no longer were they of particular military or international significance. Cuba has continued to be a source of frustration to the United States, but this mainly from an ideological or philosophical point of view. While Cuba “gradually began to pursue a pro-Moscow course” their alliance with Moscow no longer posed any real threat to America in the way of future military aggression. Through the Cold War, the Americans had developed a great hostility towards anything perceived as being communist, Marxist, or socialist and Cuba has retained this aspect, but to have had any great fear of Castro and what he might do after the resolution of the missile crisis would not have been warranted.
Castro’s role in the relationship between East and West, therefore, was played out over a short period of a few years, but on the largest of stages. His initial contribution to the evolution of this relationship was to cause it a large degree of strain. When the revolution of Castro became successful, he infuriated the Americans whose businesses and lands were being revoked by Castro’s policy of nationalization. The U.S. would accept this treatment at the hands of so insignificant a neighbour and launched the Bay of Pigs invasion. The reaction of the Cubans to this was the strengthening of ties with the USSR and inevitably the tensions between the USSR and the U.S. were raised as well. The USSR had one foot in the door, intolerably close to the American border and when the Soviets but this played this strategic card but installing the missile sites, the tensions were raised further.
Castro’s role in the evolution of East/West relations ended soon after this point as both the Americans and Russians began to ignore him and pursue their own solutions to the conflict Castro brought about. Because of this exclusion, Castro no longer wielded any influence and faded into the background. Nevertheless, the Americans had been humiliated by seeing an island nation, which they had once dominated fall under the influence of the Russian communists, and this was Castro’s own accomplishment. It brought the prominence and importance to his country, which he desired and did fulfil some of the more immediate goals such as removing the economic stresses placed on his country by the U.S. sanctions. While the new tensions he brought about between the Soviet Union and the U.S. were alleviated following the crisis, Castro undeniably brought the world one step closer to witnessing nuclear war.
It could therefore be said of Castro that his role and influence in Cold War politics was twofold. Firstly, it was largely his doing that the two powers came closer to clashing than they had ever come before, and it was largely in spite of him that this clash never took place. Instead, what followed was a detente, which, while still filled with suspicion and mistrust of one another, never again came so close to a boiling point as during the early days of Castro’s regime in Cuba.