Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. The crisis was a major confrontation between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The confrontation was caused by the Soviets putting missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States of America. The world was in the hands of President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khruchchev. These two men would have to reach a compromise or else the results would be fatal.
During the cold war John F. Kennedy and the Soviet premier met to discuss the was between the east and west but they resolved nothing and Khrushchev left thinking that Kennedy was a weak leader. The Soviets started to feel threatened because the US had more missiles and some of them were based in Turkey.
Ever since Cuban Premier Fidel Castro had come into power the US had been trying to kick him out of power. When Castro came into power the US stopped buying Cuban sugar and supplying oil. . Khrushchev on the other hand made friends with Castro. Therefore Castro turned to the Soviets for protection against US invasion. The Soviets were willing.
When a U-2 pilot, Richard Heyser, was flying over Cuba he noticed nuclear missles in Cuba. Kennedy was informed the the missiles that very same day and his advisors told him that they wanted an air strike followed by an invasion put up in Cuba. Kennedy knew that if the US invaded the Soviets would use their missiles.
On one of the following days, Kennedy asked if the Air Force could take out all of the missiles in Cuba. The Air Force then told the President that with that process there would be 10-20,000 civilian casualties. Kennedy then decided to set up a blockade around Cuba. US ships prepared for a quarantine. The press then learned about the nuclear missles and questioned them about it, the President asked the reporters not to reveal the news so he could announce it to the American people on TV. The Soviets had instrustion to launch the missiles within minutes of Kennedy’s speech. After Castro listened to the President’s speech he moblized all of Cuba’s military forces.
The Organization of American States approved the US quarantine of Cuba and by the end of the day the US ships were in line and were prepared to destroy and ship that failed to stop at that line. On Wednesday, October 24th the Soviets ships approached the quarantine line. Soviets ship stopped when they received a radio message from Moscow.
On Thursday, October 25th the Military alert was raised to DEFCON 2, the highest ever in US history. At any moment the US could launch an attack on Cuba or the Soviet Union. The US received a letter from Khrushchev in reply to Kennedy’s speech. The letter said that they would remove the missiles if Kennedy publicly guaranteed that the US would never invade Cuba. Another U-2 flew over Canada and saw that the Soviets were camoflauging the missiles. Khrushchev then sent another letter to Kennedy and raised the price of removing the missiles. The Soviets now wanted the US missiles removed from Turkey. Kennedy decided to ignore it and respond to the first letter only.
On October 28th, Khrushchev announced that the Soviets would dismantle the missiles in Cuba. The US did not remove their missiles from Turkey and by Khrushchev backing down he ruined his career but he prevented nuclear disaster.
Nine months after this crisis, President kennedy and Khrushchev signed an agreement to ban nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This was the beginning of a new communication. On November 22nd, 1963, President kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Eleven months later Premier Khrushchev was removed from office by Communitsts. The only one question left is, what would have happened if these two men stayed in power?