The Cuban Missile Crisis Essay Example
The Cold War refers to the state of political conflict between the democratic United States and the communist Soviet Union over opposing views of the economy and the government. Throughout the mid-1940s to early 1960s, there were multiple disagreements between communist and non-communist countries including the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, and the Berlin Airlift. It was these disagreements between the opposing economies that were the catalyst for the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis was initiated when the Soviet Union secretly placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, within range of the United States and without American knowledge. This event was a catalyst for nuclear warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union due to the strategic placement of nuclear missiles by both sides, the practice of brinkmanship, and the ongoing tense negotiations and miscommunications between both countries.
One reason why the Cuban Missile Crisis was a catalyst for probable nuclear warfare was because of the strategic placement of nuclear missiles by both the United States and the Soviet Union that were a threat to the opposing side. When the Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, the peace and security of the United States was at risk, as Cuba was only 90 miles from Florida. These missiles were capable of traveling great distances (Doc. C & G) and affected the security of countries across North America, Central America, and South America (Doc. A). The impact that these nuclear weapons had on the United States was clearly evident in a speech made by President Kennedy where he referred to the weapons as a “sudden mass destruction” (Doc. B).
Kennedy wanted the missiles to be removed from Cuba but Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, would not listen to Kennedy’s requests. This was because the United States had Jupiter missiles stationed in Turkey that were a threat to the Soviet Union (Doc. D). Overall, the placement of nuclear missiles by the United States and the Soviet Union in close proximity of the opposing side threatened the safety of both countries all while heightening conflict between these two superpowers.
When the United States and the Soviet Union placed hazardous nuclear weapons within close proximity of each other, they put each other on the edge of warfare. This was an example of brinkmanship, or the political push of engaging in dangerous or risky events in attempt to gain an advantage in the end. When both countries found out about the nuclear weapons, they both responded with different reactions. The United States responded to the missiles in Cuba by constructing a quarantine around the island, while the Soviets responded to the missiles in Turkey by being dishonest toward the United States.
Khrushchev promised to Kennedy that Soviet weapons would be eliminated from Cuba as long as the United States followed three requests. This included removing the blockade from around the island, not invading Cuba, and withdrawing American missiles from Turkey. However, Khrushchev never followed through with his promise and instead initiated the shooting of an American reconnaissance ship in Cuba by the Soviet military which put the United States on the edge of warfare (Doc F). It was the decisions made by both countries to engage in dangerous events in hopes of being advantageous that put them on the brink of nuclear war.
The push of dangerous actions by the United States and the Soviet Union were responsible for the ongoing tense negotiations and miscommunications between these two nations. Throughout the duration of this crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev sent multiple letters back and forth that put their countries on the edge of nuclear war. One of these letters was a speech where Kennedy discussed how the nuclear weapons situated in Cuba were a “threat to the peace and security of all Americans” (Doc. B). Although Kennedy found the missiles in Cuba to be dangerous to the United States, Khrushchev would not remove them from the island, as he “claimed” to be assisting Cuba. Khrushchev and Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, had just recently created an alliance (Doc. E) and both wanted to have the ability to retaliate against the United States.
This was clearly evident in one of Khrushchev’s letters where he threatened Kennedy with “dangerous consequences” if the United States invaded Cuban airspace (Doc. H). Following his warning, a United States reconnaissance plane was shot at in Cuba, which put Americans on edge. The United States, who had been a pacifistic and isolationistic country throughout World War I and World War II, now had the desire to bomb Cuba due to ongoing frustrations with the Soviet Union (Doc. F). Fortunately, this never ended up happening, as the United States and Soviet Union were eventually able to come to an agreement. The miscommunications and negotiations between the White House and the Kremlin helped to shape controversy all while putting these two countries on the brink of conflict.
The strategic placement of nuclear weapons on each other’s side, the practice of brinkmanship, and the ongoing tense negotiations and miscommunications between the United States and the Soviet Union were the catalysts that put these two countries on the edge of nuclear warfare. Missiles were stationed in Cuba and Turkey, which threatened the peace and security of the Americans, as well as the Soviets. The placement of nuclear weapons along with the many political decisions made led to the brinkmanship practiced by the United States and the Soviet Union. The miscommunications and tense negotiations that occurred between Kennedy and Khrushchev brought about conflict that was unavoidable. Although the United States and the Soviet Union never engaged in war, they were the closest that two countries had ever come to a nuclear conflict.
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