Missile Crisis Essay

This essay has a total of 1490 words and 6 pages.

Missile Crisis



The Cold War produced many confrontations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Korea
and Vietnam were confrontations between the superpowers in an indirect way because each
was supporting a country. Not until 1962 did they really come face to face with one
another. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crises, although over Cuba, pitted the U.S. directly
against Russia. The decisions between October 14 and 17, 1962 could easily have started
WWIII or everyone’s fear at the time, nuclear war. But, calmer heads prevailed while both
powers were able to claim victory.

The road to this crises began back in the 1930’s. The U.S. had economic and political
interest in Cuba, thus not allowing a government to take control that represented the
Cuban people. From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Dwight D. Eisenhower the U.S. controlled
Cuba in a round about way. When the Cuban military dictatorship of Batista was filled
with corruption and looked badly upon, the U.S. was associated with it. When guerrilla
warfare broke out in Cuba, the U.S. stopped supporting Batista. Although the U.S. did not
openly support a rebellion by Fidel Castro, the U.S. newspapers were reporting Castro’s
ideas and his democratic plans. No one could have guessed what Castro’s real plans were
once he was in office. Once his military dictatorship was in power, he looked not to the
U.S. for support, but to the Soviet Union. From 1959 to 1961 the Soviet Union sent
military and economic aid to support Castro’s communist regime and in July 1960,
threatened the U.S. with a nuclear attack if it interfered with Cuba.

1960 was a presidential year for the U.S., so as you can imagine, the Cuban issue was a
major factor. The Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy attacked Eisenhower and the
democrats by saying that his defense policy was to soft and that there would be a “missile
gap” during the early 60’s giving the Soviet Union an edge in the nuclear race.
Eisenhower could disprove this theory but didn’t because of security reasons. Eisenhower
was also blamed for the loss of Cuba, and there was already an air of uneasiness because
of the Soviet Union’s launching of sputnik, the first earth satellite. Richard Nixon, the
vice president and republican nominee, had to defend Eisenhower without divulging secret
information, so the cards were stacked against him.

Under Eisenhower the CIA had been training Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro and his
Regime. Once Kennedy was elected he continued this training and on April 15, 1961 bombing
took place and on the 17, the invasion. Kennedy would only allow use of a few older U.S.
B-52 bombers and help getting the exiles to Cuba. He did not want the Soviet Union
accusing the U.S. of aggression towards Cuba and getting support from ally countries.
From the beginning this invasion (The Bay of Pigs) was helpless. The air attack did not
destroy all of its targets and a scheduled second bombing was cancelled crippling the
landing force, which was captured soon after reaching the beach. The CIA meanwhile was
covering up any leads that would show U.S. involvement with the invasion. Castro though
knew differently and together with the Soviet Union began charging the U.S. as an
aggressor. The Bay of Pigs gave Castro an even stronger hold on Cuba, but Kennedy said
that he would not let Cuba fall to communism.

So as the division between the U.S. and Cuba increased, the Soviet Union gave all that was
needed to Castro. By the end of July and through August 1962, the U.S. knew that there
was an arms build up by the Cubans, but that no major offensive weapons were found. On
September 4th Kennedy told the American people that there was, ”no significant offensive
capability by Cuba or directed by the Soviet Union. Were it to be otherwise, the gravest
issues would arise”. This was a reassurance to America and a warning to the Soviet Union.

On October 14,1962 Kennedy was given pictures taken by an U.S. U-2 surveillance plane that
missile bases were under construction in Cuba. This was the first time the Soviet Union
attempted to set up missile sites outside of soviet soil. The previous weapons brought no
words out of the U.S., but now Cuba had the capability to reach most of the U.S. as well
as Central and parts of South America with nuclear ability.

On the 16th, a group that was to become known as the Executive Committee of the National
Security Council or ExCom. This group, comprised of intelligence, Defense and State
Departments officials, along with Vice President Johnson, Attorney General Robert Kennedy
(President Kennedy’s brother), Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon, and Ted Sorenson
(Robert Kennedy and Ted Sorenson being two of President Kennedy’s two most trusted
advisors). It was concluded that if they did nothing the U.S. would lose face to the rest
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