Cuban Missile Crisis – Cold War
On October 22, 1962, 100 million American citizens were shocked to learn that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear weapons in Cuba, about 200 kilometers from the Florida coast.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, which occurred at the height of the Cold War, brought the world to the verge of nuclear war.
However, even before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the environment between Cuba and the United States was tense. Following the American-Spanish War in 1898, Cuba became completely reliant on the United States. Cuba has been a sugar exporter to the United States for decades. In January 1959, however, revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara gained control of Cuba.
At first, Washington hoped that the new rulers would allow it to keep its property. They had already done the math without Castro and Co.: property owned by US residents in Cuba was expropriated, communist ties were formed, and the first economic deals and diplomatic links with the Soviet Union were created.
The United States retaliated with a trade embargo before terminating diplomatic relations. They planned an attack using Cuban exiles trained in Guatemala after none of this worked. It was, however, ill-prepared and ended before it had even began.
In April 1961, the invaders were meant to secure a temporary airfield until a government-in-exile created in the United States could fly in and request assistance from a large neighboring country. However, against the highly determined Cuban fighters, the assault failed, and the invasion became known as the “Bay of Pigs catastrophe.”
The situation began in October 1962.
Then, on October 14, 1962, a United States reconnaissance plane discovered Soviet missiles in Cuba. John F. Kennedy told the public a few days later and organized a special advisory council made up of two camps: military hardliners in the Department of Defense (hawks) and moderates in the State Department (doves). The “hawks” lobbied straight for air strikes, whereas the “doves” favored a naval blockade at first.
The naval blockade was Kennedy’s choice. Despite this, military authorities upped the Strategic Air Command’s alert level without Kennedy’s knowledge. Because they sent the command in an unencrypted format, the Soviets were notified right away.
Tensions were at an all-time high when the first Soviet ships approached the blockading ring encircling Cuba. Is it possible that the Soviets will cave in? The relieving news came after two ships had already passed through the blockade without incident: the Soviet freighters were turning away. For a brief moment, the entire planet sighed a sigh of relief.
On the edge of a cliff
Meanwhile, a crisis erupted in the Security Council of the United Nations (UN). The Soviet diplomat continued to deny that Soviet missiles were stationed in Cuba. The hardliners in the US military were enraged, and they pressed ahead with military preparations.
Moscow was persuaded that the US was plotting a military invasion of Cuba. In this situation, Soviet Party and Government leader Nikita C. Khrushchev backed down—but only until he discovered that Kennedy, too, was hesitant to launch war.
In light of this, Khrushchev raised his demands, which he broadcast over Radio Moscow. He would only agree to leave any weapons in Cuba if the United States removed its medium-range missiles from Turkey in exchange. A condition that the “hawks” refused to accept. They urged Kennedy to go on the offensive.
The crisis has reached a nadir.
In this circumstance, Kennedy requested his brother Robert to make a proposal to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on the evening of October 27, 1962: the US would not intervene in Cuba provided Khrushchev withdrew the missiles. Furthermore, the US sought to decommission its missile stations in Turkey, but this would not be part of the official accords and would have to be done in secret.
The Soviets agreed to the American plan a day later, and the threat of a nuclear Third World War was averted for the time being. In the view of the international community, Kennedy emerged victorious from the Cuban crisis. We now know that this is not totally correct.
The Cuban missile crisis, on the other hand, had already demonstrated that a nuclear war must be avoided at all costs. The Cuban missile crisis resulted in the development of a direct crisis link between the Kremlin and the White House, dubbed the “hot wire,” and the start of the détente strategy.