Cuban missile crisis


Historical Events and Influences

            On October 15, 1962, the United States intelligence agencies uncovered a build up of nuclear-missile launch sites in Cuba that was secretly being conducted by the Soviet Union. This astonishing news emerged after a highflying spy plane entered Cuban air space undetected and spotted the sites. It later emerged that this started in July after a visit by Raul Castro to Moscow[1]. The United States and the Soviet Union had emerged as the world’s super powers after the Second World War where they came together under the banner of the Allied Forces and subdued the Axis of Evil led by the Nazi.

Nevertheless, bitter rivalry developed between the two, which led them to their great competition for military power, overseas allies and space territory. In their possession were large military capabilities in the form of tanks, war ships and thermo-nuclear weapons capable of destroying the entire world in a matter of a few seconds. Both were aware each other’s military capabilities and this went a long way in preventing them from engaging in full-blown war thereby sticking only to threats and sideshows of power.

These confrontations and threats led to what was termed as a cold war between the two; named so since it was characterized by cold rivalry and confrontations that did not translate into full-blown war. The source of the conflict was attributed to the German crisis where West Germany was allied to the US and NATO whereas the East Germany was allied to the U.S.S.R and Warsaw pact. The Soviet Union insisted on building the Berlin war a physical line dividing the east and the West Germany and it was highly indicative that the two superpowers were going to fight over Germany[2]. In the earlier months, the United States was suspicious of mass movement of weapons between the Soviet Union and Cuba. However, this was presumed to be defensive in nature. The US president had warned of the dire consequences of the Soviet Union using Cuba to set up its offensive weaponry against the USA and her Western allies.

The USA had had s good relationship with Cuba for the better part of the century where she exercised considerable influence in the governance of the country. This was the case until the 1950s when Fidel Castro took power and began issuing decrees and policies that saw the gradual decline of U.S. influence over Cuba’s internal affairs Castro, a strong believer in socialist ideals, embarked on a massive nationalization program, which included repossession of American owned businesses and properties.

The U.S. however could not just sit back and watch socialism take root in its backyard. This was perceived as a sign of waning U.S. influence with her allies ditching her for the Soviet Union. In a bid to contain the situation, the American government courted militant groups opposed to Castro’s rule and led a revolt that turned soar in what was referred to as the Bay of Pigs. The USA had not fully reached a decision to invade Cuba but due to its large-scale military exercises in the Caribbean during the time, it was easy to launch an attack in the Cuban Island at short notice[3].

In light of this, the USA put an economic embargo on the island. The USSR came in handy and bought these products seeing the vast improvement in the relations between the two countries. Initially Castro was very careful in expressively confirming his relations with the USSR, fearing the USA might invade the island. However, with time it became evident that the USA was going to invade the island no matter what. This led him to nesting in the USSR and its allies to get assistance in form of weaponry. Nothing could have been more appealing to the soviets in light of the fact that the USA had allies all around the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe with turkey a neighbor of the Soviet Union being a member of NATO. It was not much of a secret of the presence of nuclear weapons in the Turkish soil that were directly poised for strike to Soviet Union. The opportunity to set weapons at a striking distance near the USA was to a great extend invaluable.

On the realization of the missiles presence in wet Cuba, San Cristobal to be more precise, the president held a meeting at noon in the White house Cabinet room. The committee was known as the EXCOMM, a group of experts to advise pertaining to the situation, consisting of members from the administration and outside the administration who were well versed in soviet relations. At first, the president and other members of the EXCOMM tried to keep to their regular schedules to avoid raising suspicion in the media. At the first meeting, the most viable idea produced was bombing the missile field to destroy the warheads but the consequences that followed were critical in that there was a possibility of the soviet warplanes attacking other southern eastern cities of America. George Ball who at the time was the undersecretary of state was advising against such a move for it would appear offensive to the rest of the world who did not know about the missiles and there was a likely possibility it would trigger a nuclear war. Secretary of defense Robert McNamara suggests a naval blockage as opposed to the then CIA director call for immediate air strikes.

As the president continued in his campaign trail, with a purpose of keeping the matter discrete, the EXCOMM continued meeting daily. They were discussing amidst the possible options that included doing nothing, to increasing diplomatic pressure, approaching Castro secretly, initiating indirect military action by use of blockage, using an air strike to destroy the nuclear heads and finally launching a full-scale invasion. On further deliberations with the president announced on October 22, the naval blockage in which every ship heading to Cuba at whatever nation and port if found to be possessing weaponry was to be turned back. He went further and called for emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and the organization of American states. It was in the same note of address that the president issued a directive to increased surveillance on the Cuba Island in addition to raising the alertness of the USA armed forces. The Soviet Union stated that such action would be taken as military aggression ensiling an attack and its ships would ignore the blockage. This was one of the international consequences of the crisis that saw the blockage extending into international waters.

The president’s chief concern was the political balance the missile crisis created in the world in that the presence of missile in the western atmosphere was provocative in undermining the status quo in existence. There was a strategic balance to be kept that made the USA president J F Kennedy object the unanimous decision by the joint of staff to launch air raids in that they would result in the loss of Berlin to the disappointment of USA allies. On October 23, a message was sent to the Turkey and NATO’s ambassadors notifying them of the USA intentions to remove the missile bases in turkey and Italy in exchange to the soviet removing the missile base in Cuba.

The letter had been preceded by on to the soviet president advising him to secretly dismantle the Cuba project in exchange of non-attack and invasion to Cuba. Later the same day a cable letter would be received in which Khrushchev would indicate the USSR intention to accept the demands of dismantling the missiles in subject to the US fulfilling its promises. In this case they were; the US not invading Cuba and removing the missile stations in turkey. America with the purpose of increasing the military pressure sent messages that could be intercepted by the Soviet Union directing the army to be in the state of DEFACON 2. To follow this, President Kennedy sent a letter to Khrushchev explaining that the reaction was on intrigued by the learning of the soviet’s deception in offensive weaponry supply to Cuba. This was a reply to the earlier letter by Khrushchev.

As the crisis deepened, it was noted that the missile setup was still active. This prompted president Kennedy to order the war planes to be loaded with nuclear weapons since he had come to a conclusion that there was no other option expect an invasion. However, he was still buying time. October 27th saw the confirmation of six missile launch sites being operational and the soviet president offering new terms of only the removal of the USA missile sites from turkey being the requisite for dismantling of the Cuba missiles. The same day saw, seemingly, the darkest hour with an US warplane being shot down though the general who ordered was acting on independently. Most importantly, was when a soviet submarine carrying operational nuclear warheads was surrounded by us warships and signaled to hole through the use of explosives, luckily a disagreement in the officials inside as to whether to launch the missiles saved the day with no missiles being launched. Oct 28th saw the deal that ended the one-week face-off agreed where the publicized deal comprised of the USA agreeing not to invade Cuba while the Soviet Union dismantled the missile station. However, under a secret agreement Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed fort the USA to remove its missile stations in Turkey.

The deal saw Castro strengthen his grip on Cuba ruler ship having a guarantee of no invasion. Due to the discrete nature of the second part of the agreement the soviet was deemed as the looser and the president was subject to reducing popularity while the president Kennedy witnessed an a iconic perspective from the world and the American country.













































Munton, Don & Welch, David A. The Cuban Missile Crisis: a concise history, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


[1] Munton, Don & Welch, David A. The Cuban Missile Crisis: a concise history, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


[2] Munton, Don & Welch, David A. The Cuban Missile Crisis: a concise history, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


[3] Munton, Don & Welch, David A. The Cuban Missile Crisis: a concise history, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF