Cuban Missle Crisis Essay

760 words - 3 pages

Cuban Missle Crisis


On October 22, 1962, after reviewing newly acquired intelligence, President John F. Kennedy informed the world that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba, a mere 90 miles off the shores of Florida. After weighing such options as an armed invasion of Cuba and air strikes against the missiles, Kennedy decided on a less dangerous response. In addition to demanding that Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev remove all the missile bases and their deadly contents, Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine (blockade) of Cuba in order to prevent Russian ships from bringing additional missiles and construction materials to the island. In response to the American naval blockade, Premier Khrushchev authorized his Soviet field commanders in Cuba to launch their tactical nuclear weapons if invaded by U.S. forces. Deadlocked in this manner, the two leaders of the world's greatest nuclear superpowers stared each other down for seven days - until Khrushchev blinked. On October 28, thinking better of prolonging his challenge to the United States, the Russian Premier conceded to President Kennedy's demands by ordering all Soviet supply ships away from Cuban waters and agreeing to remove the missiles from Cuba's mainland. After several days of teetering on the brink of nuclear holocaust, the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Although it may seem that the events of the seven days between October 22 and 28 unfolded at a blinding pace, the entire incident -- which has come to be collectively known as the "Cuban missile crisis" -- was the culmination of a longer process. In June of 1961, while still in the early months of his presidency, Kennedy attended a summit with Premier Khrushchev in Vienna to discuss cold war confrontations between the east and west, in particular the situation in Berlin. The failure of the two leaders to resolve any of their differences during the summit led Khrushchev to view Kennedy as a weak president who lacked the power or support to negotiate any meaningful concessions in the arms race. Fueled by concerns that the U.S. had more nuclear missiles than the Soviet arsenal, and, more importantly, that some of the American missiles were based a mere 150 miles from its boarders, in Turkey, the Soviet leadership grew increasingly desperate to somehow tip the balance of power...

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