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The Cuban Missile Crisis

  • Date Submitted: 04/01/2010 08:16 AM
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History Essay : « To what extent was the Cuban Missile Crisis a turning point in the Cold War?”

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States, Russia and Cuba in October 1962, during the Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis ranks as one of the major confrontations of the cold War and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came the closest to a nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and the Soviets in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Luckily, thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, war was averted.
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 anywhere in the Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the U.S. Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Castro felt a second attack was inevitable. Consequently, he approved of Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island. During the summer of 1962, the Soviet Union worked secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba.

For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when photographs revealed Soviet missiles in construction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John F. Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Kennedy immediately organized the EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis. After seven days of intense debate within the government, Kennedy concluded to...

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