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Cuban Missile Crisis

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Essay title: Cuban Missile Crisis

By most historical accounts, the closest the United States has ever come to the brink of the nuclear holocaust occurred during a tense thirteen-day standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States in October 1962 known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.   The U.S. was able to avoid nuclear disaster through a show of military power and tense negotiation.

 

By the spring of 1945, two world superpowers emerged from the rubble of the Second World War: the United States and Soviet Union. Within a year of the end of the war these two allies had become advisories. During the 1950’s, under Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union (USSR) was actively trying to establish a foothold in the Western Hemisphere closer to its enemy, the USA. On New Years Day in 1959 they got their perfect opportunity in Cuba, by way of a revolution led by a young guerilla fighter named Fidel Castro. Within a year of the revolution, the Castro government fearing invasion from the USA turned to the Soviets for military and financial aid. By the early 1960’s, Cuba was a communist state with a growing presence of Soviet military advisors throughout the country. 

 

During this time, high above Cuba, the U. S. Air Force had been routinely conducting U-2 spy plane flights collecting reconnaissance photos. These pictures showed Soviet soldiers assembling apparent missile launch sites(May). On October 16, 1962 President John F. Kennedy was informed that flights had conformed the presence of intermediate range missile sites in Cuba, with potential nuclear capabilities with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (Nathan Xxiv). On October 20, the President in an effort to show military power, orders a naval quarantine to stop further shipments to Cuba (Rubel 173).

 

On October 22, The President in an historical televised speech addressed the nation saying: “It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”(CMC) At the time of the President’s speech, a fleet of Soviet freighters with naval escorts was enroute to Cuba (Nathan Xxiiv). As the crisis developed, the U.S. military had several secret plans that included a massive invasion and heavy bombing of Cuba(Nathan 1180). The US. Navy blockade around Cuba was now in place, and the Soviet ships were heading right for them. The stage was set for a showdown. As the Soviet fleet neared the blockade, they simply turned around, and the world breathed a sign of relief(Rubel 173).

Resolution of the crisis relied on an exchange of secret negotiations over a period of several days. Because the missiles were being delivered

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