Cuban Missile Crisis
- In 1959, Fidel Castro's communist revolution took control of Cuba, leading to strained relations between the United States and the new Cuban government. The United States had supported the previous regime and feared the spread of communism in the Western Hemisphere. The US tried and failed to oust Castro with a CIA backed invasion by 1400 Cuban exiles, thus worsening relations.
- In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union, led by Premier Nikita Khrushchev, sought to strengthen its influence and position in the Cold War. To counterbalance American nuclear missiles in Turkey, the Soviets decided to deploy their missiles in Cuba, a move that would significantly enhance their strategic capabilities and create a deterrent against a potential U.S. invasion of Cuba.
- In October 1962, U.S. intelligence agencies discovered evidence of Soviet missile installations in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy was briefed on the situation and formed a group of advisors known as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExComm) to address the crisis.
- Kennedy and his advisors debated various options, including diplomatic negotiations, a military strike on the missile sites, or a full-scale invasion of Cuba. After tense deliberations, they settled on a strategy of quarantine, officially termed a "naval blockade," to prevent further Soviet shipments of military supplies to Cuba.
The Thirteen Days:
- From October 16 to October 28, 1962, the world watched as tensions escalated. Kennedy addressed the nation, revealing the existence of the missiles and demanding their removal. The United States military was placed on high alert, while negotiations took place through diplomatic channels.
- Behind the scenes, Kennedy's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, engaged in secret negotiations with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. Through these backchannel communications, a potential resolution began to emerge.
- After a tense period of negotiation, during which the world held its breath, the crisis was defused. On October 28, 1962, Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the missile sites in Cuba in exchange for a public commitment from the United States not to invade Cuba and a secret agreement to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.
- The resolution of the crisis marked a turning point in the Cold War. It highlighted the dangerous potential of nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union and led to a period of cautious détente between the two superpowers. The crisis also solidified the concept of "mutually assured destruction" and prompted efforts to establish direct communication channels between the two nations, such as the establishment of the "hotline" between Washington, D.C., and Moscow.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis was a perilous episode in world history that showcased the high stakes and potential catastrophic consequences of the Cold War. The crisis ultimately resulted in a diplomatic resolution that averted nuclear conflict and had long-lasting implications for the superpowers' approach to international relations.