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Thirteen Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis

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Essay title: Thirteen Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis

For thirteen days, the United States held its breath, fearing the ultimate destruction

of the nation by nuclear weapons. This was the Cuban missile crisis, a struggle fought

between the world’s two largest superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union,

which nearly provoked a nuclear catastrophe on both sides from October 16, to October

28, in 1962. This crisis had been brewing for many years and was sparked by previous

issues between the two nations. The United States had been at odds with Communist

ideals for many years beginning with the onset of the Cold War. The direct stimulant for

the Cuban missile crisis, however, was due to the emergence of the Communist led regime

of Cuba, by Fidel Castro. Wanting to prevent Castro from gaining too much power,

President Kennedy, aided by the CIA, attempted to take control of Cuba. This failure,

known as the Bay of Pigs, only secured Castro’s as well as Cuba’s power. For fear of

further attacks, the Soviet Union provided protection by way of nuclear weapons, for

Cuba. This was the premises for the Cuban missile crisis during 1962. The United States

reached near destruction due to President Kennedy’s persistent refusal to tolerate

Communism, and therefore, he can not be lauded for his success in ending the crisis which

he himself started.

Cuba had been a large assent for the United States throughout the 1950s, prior to

President Eisenhower severing diplomatic relations with Cuba in the 1960s.1 After Fidel

Castro and his Revolutionaries took control of Cuba, they began to gain mass popularity

and power which upset Government officials in the United States. Eisenhower developed

a plan which the Kennedy Administration later followed through on, to overthrow Castro

and his Communist Regime. In 1961 “the CIA drafted the invasion plan, which was based

on the assumption that a U.S.-led invasion would trigger a popular uprising of the Cuban

people and bring down Castro.”2 Kennedy, a new and young President went along with

the plan of sending 1, 400 Cuban exiles who had been training for an invasion, into Cuba.

On April 17, the invaders along with members of the CIA, penetrated Cuban boarders at

the Bay of Pigs. The plan backfired however, when Castro’s army defeated the captured

the 1, 400 invaders. It was later revealed that Kennedy had chosen to abandon the aid of

Air Force coverage just before the attack was underway. The disaster may have been

prevented if Kennedy had given more support to the mission and investigated the situation

in Cuba further before attacking. “As much as the United States tried to undermine

Castro and his move to embrace Socialism in Cuba, the U.S. efforts only managed to

strengthen his grasp and increase the pace of his search for Soviet material assistance.” 3

Similarly, “the incident presented Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev with the opportunity

to realize an apparent validation of Russia’s nuclear credibility.”4 Hence it should have

been no surprise to Kennedy that a retaliatory measure from Cuba and the Soviet Union

was in order.

“Kennedy’s attitude toward Cuba after the Bay of Pigs fiasco became a matter of

personal dignity and honor, almost a vendetta”5 which lead him to persist in the fight to

end Castro’s rule in Cuba. With the help of Attorney General and brother, Robert F.

Kennedy, the President wished to seek new ways of restoring Americas confidence and


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