During the Cold War, the relationship between the United States of America and the USSR were not “friendly” at all. In fact, as this episode was going on, the relations between both countries were not improving. During this same period of time, another conflict took place between those two “superpowers”; this one was even more serious and worrying. In October 1962, the USSR decided to install nuclear equipments and weapons in Cuba, in order to increase their power (strategic positioning of rockets), which has been perceived, by the U.S.A., as an offensive against them; this particular episode is called the “Cuban Crisis”. Cuba, which did not have the resources at the time to buy armament, needed to be protected from the United States because they (Cuba) were faithful of another invasion against them, similar as “The Bay of Pigs Operation” assault in April 1961. At the same time, the Soviets needed to extend their military operation, because they were not able to buy intercontinental missiles, in case of a war. Therefore, Cuba was the ideal place to install weapons (for the Soviets); but the worst to ameliorate relationships between the Soviets and the Americans.
Following this strategic positioning of nuclear weapons by the Soviets, the American response was imminent. This response could have been only verbal, because of the Manroe Doctrine which protects the South Americans from any American aggressions. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the U.S.A. at this time, and Nikita S. Krouchtchev, Prime Minister of the USSR at the moment, were both convinced that if no pacific resolutions have been taken, the end of the world would have been near. Therefore, the decisions of both leaders have been primordial, and both governments have played a major role in the “Cuban Crisis”. In order to situate and explain the conflict, I will first discuss about the “techniques” used by the U.S.A. in order to discover the nuclear arsenal, and about the choice of Cuba as the site of implantation for those weapons. Then, I will cite and explain the two “possible” actions that could have been taken by the Americans in order to resolve the crisis. Finally, I will discuss about the resolution of the conflict and the specific effects on American’s politics.
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First of all, it is important to understand what really lead to the discovery of nuclear arsenal in Cuba, and what was the relation between the three principal countries or Republics (U.S.A., USSR and Cuba) implied in this crisis, at this period of time. In the early morning of October 14, 1962, an American spy aircraft flied over Cuba, looking for secret information and detailed Cuban’s military strategies. But what the aircraft pilot found and pictured was something of higher preoccupation: he found 66 nuclear weapons (not ready to be used) (Anatoli 28-29).
The Americans had the knowledge that Cuba was not powerful enough to have all those armaments; the only “nation” capable of having such artillery, at this epoch, was the USSR. But why the USSR would have placed their own weapons in Cuba? In 1962 (at the end of the Cold War), the Soviets were a powerful nation and were able to control everything they wished. But the soviet government did not have enough money to buy new armament; they only had only short and mid-range missiles, which was not convenient in a “supposed” period of war. Therefore, knowing that Cuba was scared of another attack from the U.S.A., Nikita S. Krouchtchev proposed Fidel Castro (leader of Cuba) to install missiles in his “country”; Castro accepted the proposal, therefore protecting themselves (Cubans) from eventual attacks, and offering the Soviets a chance to be as powerful as other countries (such as U.S.A., Germany, Turkey…) in term of nuclear armament. This implantation of missiles is the event that started the “Cuban Crisis”.
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The “Cuban Crisis” is a very complex and difficult situation to understand clearly and completely. We can debate about which of the three countries or republics was right; hence giving a point of view and judging two of the nations implied in the crisis. Without talking about the ideologies of those nations, we can simply talk about the possible actions that could have been taken by the Americans, without evaluating or judging any of the perspectives. Although the possibilities were really limited, the Americans did not have much choices of action plan. They could have invaded Cuba or find a pacific way of resolving the conflict (what they did) (Fursenko 21).
But before arriving to this end, the President Kennedy has been influenced by many counsellors inside his government. The army and those related to it, wanted to attack Cuba because they thought it was the only way of solving the problem, and it was also the good occasion to revenge their military failure during “The Bay of Pig” episode. In order to conclude a final decision, President Kennedy decided to put the Island of Cuba in quarantine because he wanted no more Soviets boats (charged with arsenal) to enter the “country”. He used his power over Cuba and USSR to block the access to the island. By doing so, he made sure that the situation will not go worst than it already was. Also, it permits both “sides” (U.S.S.R. and U.S.A.) to discuss (event though the U.S.A. were not interested in discussing) about the solutions (solutions to the conflict) to consider. Both sides were ready to make concessions even if those compromises were against them. This allowed the Americans and the Soviets to discuss the topic with their government and their counselor, using a mediate on both Soviets and Americans. This mediate was charged to bring to the “opponent” what has been previously discussed by the President (or the Prime Minister) and the members of his association.
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After about thirteen days of discussion and intense debate, the Soviets and the Americans came to a unanimous decision; none of the nations wanted to attack (war), and both of them wanted to resolve the crisis in a pacific way. The “Cuban Crisis” finally ends on October 30th, 1962, when the Soviets convinced the USA to take off their missiles from Turkey (what they never did), because they felt insecure. On another hand, the Soviets promised the U.S.A. to took off any armaments from Cuba and to bring all their soldiers back to the country (USSR).
This was well accepted by both countries even if the U.S.A. never took off their missiles from Turkey, without any reprisals from the Soviets (maybe recognizing they were not right).
Both countries were winners in this Crisis even if nothing has been gain. Cuba, on its side, had lost the protection of a powerful nation. Because they accepted to receive the missiles (arsenals) in their “country”, the Cuban were guarantee to receive help from USSR in important conflict (Blight 61).
But the Soviets never respected what they promised; Cuba was the “loser” in this crisis involving two of the biggest nations at the time. Today, the effect of this crisis can be feel by the fact that Cuba and USSR (now separated into big countries, including Russia) are not associated together in everyday life. The fact that the Soviets never kept their promises is the only reason to this “cold” between both nations. But the relations between the Americans and the Soviets increase since this major crisis. In fact, they are allies together and constitute an important group of powerful nations.
This crisis was one of the major events happening in the 20th century. We can say that it is the conflict that came the nearest of a nuclear war; therefore the end of the world if every countries would have collaborate. We retain that the power is the turning plate of the crisis management, even if power is expressed in different degrees. In this crisis, the Soviets wanted to gain more power, by “assuring” the protection of Cuba, and by gaining a new territory. But a more powerful nation was already seeking for this same power, and was feared of its “identity”, and of losing its supremacy. This crisis really came near to be the 3rd World War, because a lot of countries and nations had a direct implication in the “Cuban Crisis”. As many other crisis, the “Cuban Crisis” was also provoked by the will to gain power, and to have a better scope on world’s population. In our century, we should be aware of this type of crisis because it can happen every time, when we expected the less. And for sure, it will happen again.
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