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The Cuban Missile Crisis 2 Essay, Research Paper

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 is the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. The Soviets had installed nuclear missile silos in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States. U.S. armed forces were put at their highest state of readiness. Soviet field commanders in Cuba were authorized to use nuclear weapons if invaded by the U.S. The fate of millions literally hinged on the ability of two men, John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, to reach a compromise.

In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe, but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. Missiles in Cuba would double the soviet strategic arsenal and discourage a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union.

For the U.S. the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when our planes spotted Soviet missile silos under construction. President Kennedy formed a group of key advisors called EX-COMM. We quarantined Cuba to stop delivery of more missiles.

Never before this incident was photo recconaisance as important. The Cubans and Soviets were denying having missiles in Cuba. U.S. airplanes with special cameras documented they did exist. President Kennedy had the Armed Forces on alert. On October 22, Kennedy addressed the nation. He told them the details. U.S. aircraft continuously watched the Cubans.

Kennedy announced that an attack by Cuba would be considered an attack by the Soviet Union. All missiles had to be removed. Readiness level was raised to DEFCON 2 and the quarantine line was pulled back on October 25th. Khrushchev proposed removing the Soviet missiles if the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba. On October 27 Cuba shot down a U-2 spy plane. On the same day Khrushchev sent a letter demanding removal of our nuclear missile in Turkey in exchange for the removal of their nuclear weapons in Cuba.

Khrushchev didn t have a team of advisors to help him. He had to make good decisions on his own.

Tensions began to ease when Khrushchev announced he would remove the missiles on October 28th. The U.S. had agreed to discuss removal of their missiles in Turkey only after the missiles were taken out of Cuba. The Soviets then withdrew the missiles and returned them to the Soviet Union

The key players in the Cuban missile crisis were John Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Nikita Khrushchev. John Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917, a descendent of Irish Catholics who had immigrated to America in the previous century. Fidel Castro was born in Mayari, Cuba in 1926. He received his law degree and became an attorney. Nikita Khrushchev was born in Kalinovka in 1894. He was Premier in 1958.

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