Cuban Missle Crisis

The October Crisis or Caribbean Crisis

13 Days of Television

All eyes and cameras were on Cuba from October 16–28, 1962, when a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union sprang up, debating the installation of Soviet ballistic missiles deployed in Cuba.

The Soviet Union Acts

In 1961 the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion which was a project undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 intending to overthrow the growing communist government in Cuba. Though this action failed, it still caused some unrest in other communist countries. On top of that, the US had installed Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, in range of Moscow. With this ever growing threat, the Soviet Union decided to put in place their own missiles in Cuba with the permission of the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, for it would deter future harassment against the country.

France and the Soviet Union

With the strained relationship between France and the Soviet Union that sprang up after WWII, when the French successfully created their own nuclear bomb in 1960, it put even more pressure on the Soviets to put in place their own nuclear warheads. Through the ages, France and Russia had naturally been allies, but when France joined NATO, the relationship broke down. This atomic bomb created by the French was tested in the Saharan desert and put them as the worlds fourth nuclear power and a growing threat for the Soviet Union and communist countries.

Construction

With permission and supplies, Nikita Khrushchev the Soviet leader, began building multiple missile launch facilities. Even though the main purpose of the missiles was supposedly for Cuba's gain, Khrushchev had plans to use against the US in case a problem arose.

The US Response

Because of the election going on in the United States, the Republican charges about the dangerous Soviet missiles 90 miles away from Florida went unnoticed and disclaimed. However, when an Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear images of the construction and the missiles, the US military established a blockade against any future missiles or offensive weapons from entering Cuba.

Negotiations

After a long period of time with tense negotiations between Kennedy and Khrushchev, the outcome that was publicly announced was that the Soviet Union had to publicly dismantle and return the missile parts and facilities back to the Soviet Union, subject to the United Nations verification though. In return the U.S. had to issue a public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba without direct provocation. In secret however, the US would dismantle all Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey deployed against the Soviet Union. This was alll up in wraps for the public did not know of the construction of these warheads.

Germany, Korea, and Vietnam

During the crisis and afterward, the Vietnam war was going on in Southeast Asia. The American involvement intensified during the 1960's, especially in 1962 increasing the amount of troops in Vietnam from around 800 to 9,000. Some people speculate that the increase in troops was due to the growth of communism, and the show of Soviet power the Cuban Missile Crisis gave, the image of communism reaching everywhere, from Cuba to Vietnam. Though most tension from Korea and Germany, Berlin as well, had mostly faded away, it was still a reminder to the public, governments, and the world about the conflict between the two superpowers.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that some people eventually found out about US missiles in Italy and Turkey? How long after the Cuban Missile Crisis?

2. Would the dismantlement of these missiles on both sides stopped them from installing them elsewhere? What about the creation of the? Would it have stopped you?

3. Imagine that you are the leader of a communist country, so you have strong allies such as the Soviets but you also don't want to anger any democratic capitalist countries for they have nuclear warheads and you are virtually undefended with none. In your position would you continue to support the Soviets and their actions or try to remain neutral? (Think about this as if it were happening today AND back then.)