Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis happened for a couple of reasons. The United States
was extremely unhappy with the new President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, new
policies. The U.S. was on the verge of waging a war against Cuba. The United
States had placed an embargo on all export to Cuba, except for food and
medicine, and by January of 1961 the United States had broken all diplomatic
ties with Cuba. By April of 1961, the CIA’s plan to invade Cuba was finalized
during the U.S. Bay of the Pigs. The outcome of the invasion was not what the
United States hoped and tension between the U.S. and Cuba increased. The
incidents that occurred between the U.S. and Cuba prior to 1962 were extremely
crucial to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of the cold
war, battling for arms control. The U.S. had already positioned the intermediate
range ballistic missile, IRBM, Jupiter, in Turkey. During one of President
Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, it was revealed that the U.S. was a head in the arms
race. The Soviet’s only had approximately 50 missiles that could hit the U.S,
while the U.S. had over 500 missiles positioned for the Soviet Union. The Soviet’s
were also believed that the U.S. was planning to build up its strategic forces
for a possible strike at the Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader,
knew about the tension between Cuba and the U.S. and felt that the tension could
be used to convince Castro that it would be in his interest to allow the Soviet’s
to position their IRBMs to Cuba. By the beginning of 1962, Khrushchev and Castro
had arranged for several missile sites to be built in Cuba.

It was during the end of the summer of ’62 that the U.S. discovered that
the missiles were being placed in Cuba. When the Soviet’s were confronted
about the missiles being in Cuba, they claimed they were there for defensive
purposes. The U.S. felt that there were too many there and that secrecy placing
the missiles in Cuba and so close to the U.S. could only be to for a planned
nuclear attack.

President Kennedy formed a special committee from the members of his
executive cabinet. The committee, which became known as ExComm, was setup for
the purpose of handling the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. ExComm began to
immediately strategize and lay out their options to the crisis. It must have
been one of the scariest moments in time. Not to know if WWIII was a push of a
button a way. The committee had only a few options to choose from. An air
strike, quarantine Cuba, or do nothing. It was decided that the only real choice
was to use a naval blockade against Cuba. The crisis and breathtaking tension
lasted for 13 days. Khrushchev told President Kennedy that if he removed the
Jupiter missiles from Turkey and would not make any further attempts to invade
Cuba, he would remove his missiles from Cuba. The U.S. won on this one, as
President Kennedy had already ordered the removal of the Jupiter missiles from
Turkey prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Category: History