Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

Submitted By Schen21
Words: 1799
Pages: 8

Nuclear missiles threatened to devastate the world; all it took was the push of a button by the two superpowers of the world at that time. By the 1960s the tension and mutual distrust between the countries had reached an all time high, leading to an event that could spell the end. This was the Cuban Missile Crisis; it was a twelve day ordeal where the world was on the brink of nuclear destruction. In those twelve days, JFK took a stand for the ideal of Democracy in the climate of fear. From the peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the shores of Maine, no family was immune. Children rarely ventured outside of their homes and in school, duck and cover drills were jammed into the daily schedule. Tension and stress swept across our nation as Robert McNamara, the defense secretary wondered if we “would live to see another Saturday night”2. The Russians were also afraid as well, few Russians really wanted an all out war with the other superpower. In addition, the United States possessed more missiles than the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis helped shape America’s foreign policy. The Cuban Missile Crisis stemmed from Russian insecurity and Cuba’s sense of distrust toward Americans. Since Kennedy was elected, Nikita Khrushchev knew that the USSR was losing the arms race. He also knew that none of the Russian missiles themselves where close enough to hurt America itself. However, the U.S had missiles in Turkey, just 150 miles from Russia ready to strike at a moment’s notice. In April 1961; the U.S government funded an attempted overthrow of Cuban communist leaders known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. Even though the invasion had failed, Castro was now afraid of another invasion from the United States and wanted protection. These causes ultimately lead to the Cuban missile Crisis; Khrushchev used Cuba, just 90 miles from the coast as a missile site to counter the missile site in Turkey, 150 miles from Russia, he proclaimed that the 60 mi difference is “nothing for a missile”3. Khrushchev saw this as self preservation; he wanted to prevent the U.S from getting the first strike and also to gain some a bargaining chip. Simultaneously, the Cubans saw the Russians as the much needed protection against an American funded invasion. Castro was initially hesitant about the proposed plan, but decided that it is better to risk American retaliation with weapons than wait for an American invasion without any defenses. So in July 1962 Russia began its deployment of missiles to Cuba. The U.S began to get suspicious of the increased activity in Cuba, rumors were starting. To placate the public, JFK ordered a U-2 to fly on a recon mission over Cuba. There the plane found several missile sites on Cuba, but Russia assured that they were used for defensive purposes only. A few weeks later, however the first of many Russian medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) arrived. Under increasing pressure, John F. Kennedy ordered another U-2 flight over the supposed sites. The plane revealed several more air defense missiles, and six, much larger nuclear missiles, “If there was ever a time in my life I want to be right in my life, this is it”4 replied Director of photographic interpretation center Arthur C. Lundahl, upon analyzing the photographs taken by the U-2. The next day, President was notified “Mr. President there is now hard photographic evidence that the Russians have offensive missiles in Cuba,”5 it was clear now that the Russians have deceived him for over a month. The President then assembled a group of his most trusted govt. officials, known as Executive Committee of the National Security Council, also known as EX-COMM. So began the 12 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the first meeting of EX-COMM, the group decided that the missiles are not fully operational yet: “our people estimate that these could be fully operational within two weeks” 6 and the goal were to prevent the nuclear warheads from reaching Cuba. Robert McNamara outlined