The Consequences Of The Cuban Missile Crisis History Essay

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. For 13 yearss in the month of October 1962, the universe stayed on changeless qui vive as President John F Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev tried to make a via media and avoid atomic war which would hold perchance caused the devastation of our planet[ 1 ]. In this essay the factors that brought about the Cuban missile crisis between the two most powerful provinces will be investigated and the extent to which this crisis was a triumph for the USA and a failure for the USSR will be discussed.

Background to the Crisis:

The beginning of the crisis started back in May 1962 when Khrushchev was believing about the missile state of affairs while he was sing Bulgaria. He was cognizant that in their adjacent state, Turkey, there were American military bases with atomic payloads ( known as the Jupiter ‘s ) that were capable of pass overing out in a affair of proceedingss the most of import metropoliss in the Soviet Union, such as Moscow, Kiev and Minsk[ 2 ]. He knew the menace his state was in and started sing the thought of giving the Americans the same menace by puting atomic missiles bases near their challenger. In a meeting with his advisors he asked “ Why non throw a porcupine at Uncle Sam ‘s bloomerss? ”[ 3 ], and it was so when his attending turned to Cuba ; a state with a new immature leader with leftist advisors by his side ( Che Gevara and Raul Castro ) .

Cuba provided a perfect site for Khrushchev ‘s “ Bold Idea. ”[ 4 ]The installings of Soviet missiles in Cuba would non merely endanger the USA, but besides protect the island from any onslaught ( as they had seen with the Bay of Pigs a twelvemonth before ) . So, by August 1962 after a long talk with his co-workers in the Presidium[ 5 ]in Moscow, the Soviet Union agreed with Castro to secretly ship constituents for the building of atomic missile sites in Cuba. Although many in the Presidium wanted to do it public, Khrushchev wanted the importing of the missiles to be top secret because he believed that by the clip the Americans spotted them, it would be excessively late for the USA to make anything about it, and in the instance the Americans attacked and destroyed some of the installings, at least a few missiles could still be fired at the USA. And with the new immature American President, John F. Kennedy, Khrushchev believed that if his “ Yankee ” challenger discovered the missiles one time they were operational, he would non seek to destruct them as “ the Soviets would react by establishing one of them. ”[ 6 ]

After the program was approved, Khrushchev mentioned “ the American Rockets in Turkey are aimed at us and frighten us. Our missiles will besides be aimed at the United States, even if we do n’t hold every bit many of them.[ 7 ]Butaˆ¦.they will be even more afraid ” .[ 8 ]

Reason ‘s for the arrangement of the Missiles:

The grounds why Khrushchev decided to site the missiles are non certain, nevertheless there are several possibilities. First, it would cut down the “ missile Gap ” between them and the USA. Khrushchev had ever known that the USA had more and more powerful missiles than the Soviet Union ; for illustration, the Americans had four times as many ICBMs[ 9 ]( Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles ) than the USSR and five times as many Intercontinental bombers. This “ fright of insecurity ” lead Khrushchev to believe that puting intermediate and average scope atomic missiles on Cuba, which is merely 90 stat mis off from the American East seashore, would significantly increase the USSR ‘s ability to endanger the USA.

Another ground why the Soviet Union placed the Nuclear arms in Cuba was likely to coerce a trade with the American authorities either over Berlin or the Jupiter missiles in Turkey.[ 10 ]Khrushchev believed that with their menace in Cuba, USA would retreat from West Berlin or take their missiles from Turkey in return for the remotion of the Soviet missiles in the Caribbean.[ 11 ]

The protection of Cuba was another of import factor. Ever since La Coubre incident ( 1960 )[ 12 ]and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion ( 1961 ) ,[ 13 ]the Soviets believed that the Americans were be aftering to subvert the new Extremist Leader at any chance they had. They were right, as Sam Halpern from the CIA admitted that their occupation was, after the failed invasion of Cuba,[ 14 ]“ to get down new programs to acquire rid of Castro and the Castro government. ”[ 15 ]Castro ‘s fright of an American invasion made him turn to the Soviets for aid[ 16 ]and his please inspired Khrushchev to do the dare offer of the installing of missile[ 17 ]sites, which by the terminal of the crisis the Soviets managed to derive a warrant from USA on ne’er to occupy ( at least militarily ) Cuba. However, despite this promise, plans to assassinate Castro by the CIA ( in Operation Mongoose )[ 18 ]remained, making at least eight blackwash efforts since 1962.[ 19 ]

Although in his autobiography, Khrushchev claims specifically that he merely wanted to protect Cuba from another American invasion, several people like Robert Kennedy[ 20 ]and Fidel Castro[ 21 ]disagree with him as they believe that his purposes in Cuba were merely for the benefit of the Soviet Union and their Red image. The Soviet leader mentioned that his state wanted Cuba to stay as a Communist province and puting the missiles would assist continue Castro in power. However, Bobby Kennedy believed that if Khrushchev truly wanted merely to protect Cuba from any menace of invasion, so the constitution of Soviet Troops would hold been plenty to protect it,[ 22 ]“ non atomic payloads. ”[ 23 ]

Although Castro disliked the thought of atomic missiles[ 24 ], he approved of Khrushchev ‘s program with the thought that it will reenforce the place of the full communist universe. By the summer of 1962, the Soviet Union worked rapidly and in secret to construct its missile installings in Cuba.

The 13 twenty-four hours Crisis

The whole crisis started back on October 16, 1962, when a U-2 ( American spy plane ) took exposure over Cuba. The snapshots revealed Soviet intermediate-range SS-4 and SS-5 atomic missiles. If these were launched from Cuba they could easy hit the chief metropoliss of the America, such as New York or Washington, which were both at a scope of 1,100 stat mis. ( See Appendix 1 )

In response to this secret menace, Kennedy established a particular executive commission, known as ExComm, to assist him reflect his options, which included at first an air foray on the missile installations, an invasion of Cuba, a atomic work stoppage or a encirclement of the island ( which is the option Kennedy chose ) .

By October the 22, Kennedy went on telecasting to state his civilians that he was telling a naval encirclement on Cuba and quarantine on all Soviet ships trying to dock in the island ports. His purpose with this encirclement and quarantine was to forestall extra military hardware from making Cuba while his commission analyzed the possible classs of action to extinguish the National menace.

On the 26 of October the crisis reached its flood tide point when an American U-2 undercover agent plane winging over Cuba was shot down by a S-75 ( Soviet Anti Aircraft gun ) . With the force per unit areas from the military and tensenesss between both states,[ 25 ]Kennedy ordered all American forces to be placed on DefCon Two.[ 26 ]

During the dialogues two points of possible understanding emerged. First, Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy that he would take the missiles in return for “ Kennedy ‘s pledge ” that America would non occupy Cuba ( which Kennedy agreed ) . Second, in secret dialogues, Robert Kennedy told Anatoly Dobrynin,[ 27 ]that in return for their remotion of the missiles in Cuba, the Americans would non merely vouch peace to Cuba, but besides take the intermediate-range Jupiter missiles targeted at the Soviets in Turkey, but merely provided if their remotion was kept secret from the populace.

By October the 28th, both states accepted this understanding the Cuban Missile crisis was resolved.

Consequences of Crisis:

The Crisis ended with the Americans pull offing to take the Soviet missile ‘s from Cuba while the USSR gained the promise of a non-American invasion of all time to go on in Cuba and the remotion of the Jupiter missile menace in Turkey. Both states besides benefited with a “ Hotline ” telephone,[ 28 ]as communicating during the Crisis had been slow which made dialogues hard and set both states in changeless qui vive.[ 29 ]This would assist debar similar crisis in the hereafter, such as an inadvertent atomic eruption caused by misfunctioning of electronic equipment.[ 30 ]

The Consequences of the Crisis for the Soviet union:

Many Russians claimed the result of the missile crisis in Cuba was a triumph, as they helped maintain Cuba a communist state until the present twenty-four hours and as they managed to take the threatening Thor and Jupiter missiles from Turkey by November 1962.FN Others nevertheless ( such as the Stalinists ) ,[ 31 ]did non see it that manner, as the trade over the missiles in Turkey was kept secret ( arousing a weak image to Communism ) and as their purpose to set up missile bases near the USA had failed. The job with covering if the USSR lost more in the crisis than the USA is due to the issue of why they even started the crisis in the first topographic point, which every bit mentioned earlier is non for certain. Did they want this crisis to develop in the first topographic point, and if so, what did they want to take out of it? Their chief purpose in the crisis is unknown. Khrushchev himself states in his autobiography that they started the whole crisis to protect Cuba, but this could be biased as he wanted history to look up at him favourably and we must besides retrieve that while discoursing the thought if puting the missiles, Khrushchev mentioned “ why non throw a porcupine at Uncle Sam ‘s bloomerss? ”[ 32 ], which seems more like a hostile action than a defensive 1. On the other manus, Stalinist and other political oppositions of Khrushchev, such as Leonid Brezhnev[ 33 ]believe that the Soviet purpose in the crisis was to give the Americans a atomic menace,[ 34 ]merely as the USA had done to the USSR in Turkey ( and Italy )[ 35 ]and merely as Khrushchev had ab initio proclaimed[ 36 ]. However, we must retrieve that this may besides be biased as they were Khrushchev political challengers and attacked him at every chance they had.

Since the beginning, Khrushchev knew that Cuba was in danger, as the Americans had been be aftering to subvert Castro from power since the failed Bay of Pigs and the funny La Coubre incident. The Americans feared Communist influence in the Americas and Khrushchev believe that losing Cuba would “ a awful blow, soberly decreasing Soviet influence throughout the Third World, particularly in Latin America. ”[ 37 ]He feared Cuba to be another piece for the American Domino theory[ 38 ]and he hence had to somehow protect Castro.

After the crisis, Khrushchev claims that he achieved what he set out to make, which was to procure Castro ‘s Cuba from the menace of invasion, “ though non quite the mode he intended. ”[ 39 ]And as a consequence of his success, he besides managed to take the missile menace out of Turkey[ 40 ]and an understanding with President Kennedy.[ 41 ]

Although many Stalinist claim Khrushchev actions against Kennedy as a licking ( as they had no other atomic menace to the USA ) , until the terminal of 1962, there were four Soviet Diesel onslaught pigboats which carried a gunman primed with a Nuclear Warhead. These were operating in US territorial Waterss without the cognition of the Americans.[ 42 ]Besides, as mentioned earlier, many historiographers claim the Soviets had, at the clip of the crisis, long-range missiles which could already make the USA from Russia.[ 43 ]Therefore, the missiles in Cuba did non truly present a new menace for the USA, hence Kennedy had traded their missiles in Turkey for a menace which either manner they would go on holding with or without the missiles in Cuba.

Many Russians believed that although they achieved the remotion of the American missiles and the freedom of Cuba, the Cuban Missile crisis ended as a failure, as their chief purpose was to set up a “ Soviet first-strike capacity against American Targets ” . They say that even the remotion of the American Thors[ 44 ]and Jupiters from Turkey meant nil, as the Americans had ballistic missiles which could be launched from pigboats from the eastern Mediterranean and hit the cardinal points in the USSR[ 45 ].

After the whole crisis, Communist China ( under Mao ) broke off dealingss with the USSR as they saw the Soviet place in the crisis as a weak state. Their dealingss with Cuba besides weakened, as the Cubans saw the concluding understanding of the two world powers “ a scandalous understanding ”[ 46 ]and a “ treachery ”[ 47 ]. This is because, even though the Cuba received a non invasion warrant, the concluding determinations on how to decide the crisis had been made by Kennedy and Khrushchev merely, and certain issues of involvement to Cuba, such as the Guantanamo concern, were non addressed. This made Castro believe that the Soviets were merely in Cuba for their ain intents, non Cubas, and hence caused deteriorated Cuban-Soviet dealingss for the old ages to come. After the crisis, the Soviets had no purpose of arousing another struggle with the USA in Central America, the USSR restrained Castro from transporting out his purpose of advancing revolution in Central America.[ 48 ]This “ unethical action to Socialism ”[ 49 ]and the remotion of the missiles made the Cubans see a moral licking of the USSR and led Castro to halt having the Soviet embassador. With that said, Soviet portions in Cuba went down alternatively of turning.[ 50 ]

Still, if the Soviets wanted merely to protect Socialist Cuba from the USA, so the demand of atomic payloads would n’t hold been necessary. As Castro had proposed to Khrushchev, a announcement, an confederation or the stationing of Soviet military personnels on the island would hold been plenty to protect the island[ 51 ]. Besides, if atomic arms were to be used, tactical arms would hold been easier to put in and harder for the Americans to observe[ 52 ]. In an interview with Herbert Matthews[ 53 ]in 1967, Castro states that “ Khrushchev was moving entirely in Russian involvement and non in Cuban involvement ” . The “ Yankee ” war against Castro ‘s government was hence non the cause of the Soviet effort to turn the island into a atomic missile base, or at least non the chief 1.[ 54 ]Robert Kennedy references that Khrushchev was “ in a province of acute defeat ” and had been urgently needed a alteration. With his government, the USSR had been blocked in Berlin, left severely by the excessive American missile construct up and stalled in the Third World.[ 55 ]They were besides sing national jobs with their agribusiness, industrial growing ( decelerating down ) and force per unit areas from Stalinist and military Generals ( who demanded a larger military budget ) .

Therefore, Robert Kennedy believed that Khrushchev purposes was to derive a Soviet first-strike capacity against American marks, and with the missiles in Cuba, Khrushchev would non merely derive the “ balance of power ” , but besides humiliate the Americans, while delivering Cuba ( which would be a good image for the remainder of Latin America ) and work against the force per unit areas he had in the Kremlin ( from Stalinist and generals ) . So if this was his existent purpose, which seems logical to Robert Kennedy as “ Khrushchev could derive prodigious wagess and merely medium hazards ” ,[ 56 ]so the Cuban missile Crisis was in fact a failure for the USSR as their first work stoppage capacity missiles where taken back to their state. However, we must retrieve that this position comes from Robert Kennedy and could be biased to do the Americans look winning.

The Consequences of the Crisis for the USA:

After the crisis the whole universe had the feeling that Khrushchev had lost because he had given in to the force per unit area of a strong president, after all Kennedy had managed to take the menace out of his state ‘s “ backyard ” . ( See Appendix 2 ) . As Khrushchev mentioned, the Soviet missiles in Cuba made the Americans more vulnerable than of all time before in history.[ 57 ]The Russians were so close they could strike without warning and take out all the major metropoliss ( in a scope of over 2,000 stat mis ) .[ 58 ]( See Appendix 1 )

However, today, many historiographers question whether the Cuban Missile Crisis was a triumph for the USA. Many positions say that although ;

“ Kennedy ‘s handling of the state of affairs was extremely praised in the sixties, he is to be criticized for leting the crisis to develop in the first topographic point, reasoning that since Soviet long-range missiles could already make the USA from Russia itself,[ 59 ]and the missiles in Cuba did non precisely present a new menace which could hold resulted in a Nuclear War ” .

However, whether the Soviet Union had missiles which could make the USA from their state does non be the menace the Americans had with the missiles in Cuba. First of wholly, the farther off the missiles are launched, the higher the possibilities where that it would n’t hit the mark or that the American ‘s could destruct it before it reached them. Cuba was merely 90 stat mis off from the Florida seashore, and it could hit about every metropolis with preciseness ( for illustration Washington which was at a scope of 1,100 stat mis from Cuba ) , and about 40 % of the American bases of Strategic Air Command. Futhermore, the “ long scope missiles ” were in Khrushchev words, “ limited in their capableness ”[ 60 ]even though

“ Khrushchev had boasted to the universe of Russia strength, but in world he knew merely how limited his long scope missiles force truly was ”[ 61 ].


Therefore there is no inquiry that the USA was in fact covering with a serious crisis and so the consequences demonstrate, at least in the short term, a clear triumph for the American side. It foremost prevented the menace of perchance the devastation of their state and armed forces[ 62 ]and it did n’t allow the USSR catch the USA in the weaponries race and hence did n’t contract the differences between the forces of both states.

Besides, it was of import for the USA to maintain its warrant of security to its NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organization ) Alliess by taking the Soviet missile site out of Cuba because as Robert McNamara[ 63 ]references “ If the US were non to react to Soviet misrepresentation, how would this act upon the attitude of our NATO Alliess? How would they see the US warrant of their security? And how would it act upon the hereafter behaviour of the Soviet Union. If they got by with misrepresentation one time could they make it once more? ” It was as many would advert “ a trial of strength ” , ( See Appendix 3 ) and Kennedy clearly demonstrated that he was n’t the weak president Khrushchev thought he could pull strings.

If Kennedy did nil about the crisis ( if he backed down ) so would the Soviet Union do something similar in the hereafter? Would Khrushchev take advantage of Kennedy and endanger him to make understandings over Berlin or any American missile sites in Europe ( like for illustration the missiles in Italy ) ? If Kennedy did n’t defy the force per unit areas of Khrushchev and allow the missiles become functional in Cuba, so the Soviet Union would hold threaten the USA with their missiles in Cuba.

The USA nevertheless proved to be weak in some facets. Although some beginnings province that the Americans had programs already to disenable the Jupiter missiles in Turkey,[ 64 ]the USA had traded their missiles in Turkey for the missiles in Cuba. Robert Kennedy claims that it was a “ just trade ” , as both states were demilitarizing their missiles from their challengers “ backyard ” . However, if this was the Soviet purpose from the beginning, so Khrushchev program had really worked by pull stringsing Kennedy to do the understanding and would hence make it once more in the hereafter. However, Khrushchev was dismissed shortly after the crisis had ended and there was ne’er any cogent evidence that this was their chief purpose in the crisis.

The Americans were besides be aftering to take out Castro from power ( Operation Mongoose ) , as Cuba was going more Communist and was every bit much as the USA feared, going a magnet of revolution and socialism that would “ pull other Latin American states to this signifier of authorities. ”[ 65 ]

Although, as McNamara and Adlai Stevenson[ 66 ]had argued in the first hebdomad of the crisis and John Kennedy had agreed that a trade with their Jupiter missiles in Turkey would be sensible, it is of import to state that for the USA determination to give the defence of a NATO ally ( Turkey since 1952 )[ 67 ]would intelligibly diss the Turks who might free assurance in NATO and upset other NATO members.

The military Generals ( or the hawks in Excomm ) , saw the consequences of the crisis as “ the biggest licking in history ” . Since the beginning of the crisis, they had believed that the invasion of Cuba would hold been the best option. However, the invasion of Cuba would hold, apart from giving the Americans a negative image to the universe, led to the immediate revenge of the Soviets, perchance doing the atomic war both states feared.[ 68 ]


The inquiry lies wholly on the ground why the Soviets placed the missiles in Cuba in the first topographic point. Be it to protect Cuba from the United States? Or was it to cut down the spread between the weaponries race and balance of power therefore endangering the USA with Soviet First Strike missile places? Or was it both? Depending on the purpose the Soviets had, which is at least non for certain as there are many positions, including the clear contradiction of Khrushchev himself about the purposes, so we can detect if the crisis had been a triumph for the USA and a failure for the USSR. However, one thing is for certain, both states and the whole universe won, as both were able to avoid a atomic war which could hold brought an terminal to mankind.

In the short term, we could most surely say that the USA won over this Caribbean Crisis, because they had accomplished what they had set out to make and hold besides obtained an image of strength. Kennedy had achieved entire triumph in the psychological, propaganda and media factors while the USSR entire licking ; They were seen as the attackers, had given in to America ( bad image for advancing communism ) and had redraw their missile sites back to their state, which non merely caused national jobs, but besides affected their International Relations with other states ( particularly China ) . The Russians were seen as withdrawing from fortunes that they had started. In a manner, they had received the penalty they wanted the USA to hold.

However, in the Long Term the consequences could hold looked merely the opposite. As mentioned before, many historiographers believe that Kennedy ‘s warrant of security to Cuba and their remotion of the Thor and Jupiter Missiles from Turkey was more of import ( and more of a forfeit ) than for the Soviets to take their missile sites in Cuba because “ Soviet long-range missiles could already make the USA from Russia itself, so the missiles in Cuba did non truly present a new national security menace. ”[ 69 ]On the other manus they praise Khrushchev for giving in the crisis and forestalling the atomic war Kennedy was ready to hold.

In any instance, the USA was able to extinguish this new national security menace, no affair what the purposes of the missiles truly were, and most significantly, they managed to take them off Cuba before they became operational. If they had come operational, no 1 knows what could hold happened. Large tensenesss and bad communications could hold caused one side to “ hit ” first ( for illustration, the invasion of Cuba ) and the revenge by the other, stoping with a complete war.