• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14

The Cuban Missile Crisis and the blockade

Extracts from this document...


Introduction The Cuban Missile Crisis was the pinnacle of the Cold War. While the Cold War continued for many years after the crisis, it was the closest the United States and Russia ever came to all-out nuclear war.i The crisis was started when a U-2 spy plane flying reconnaissance over Cuba, sighted various missile sites in different stages of completion. Upon further examination, it was found that the Soviets were constructing many Surface-to-Air Missile sites and a handful of Medium Range Ballistic Missile sites, giving the Soviets the power to launch nuclear missiles against any major city in the United States. Before this, there had been little worry of nuclear war, as Soviet missiles did not have the technology to be able to be launched from Russia and reach the United States, but with these new developments, the Cold War took a new horrifying turn.ii President John F. Kennedy was faced with a dilemma as to what he should do about the missile sites in Cuba. If he were to leave them be and do nothing, he would be seen as weak and afraid to take action, however if he were to attack, he would be seen as a tyrant attacking a small poor country by surprise.iii Eventually, he decided on a Naval blockade of Cuba and a demand that all missile sites be dismantled and sent back to Russia. Thankfully, this solution worked and nuclear war was avoided. But the question has always remained; why did Kennedy choose the blockade solution? Many historians disagree as to whether the blockade was the correct route to take in resolving the crisis in October of 1962. Some believe that Kennedy should have gone ahead with the air strike followed up by an invasion, simply to show the world that the United States was not a country to be fooled with.iv Others believed a more diplomatic solution was called for; one in which no aggressive action would have been taken, thus reducing the chance of retaliation.v ...read more.


Many felt that the air strike option seemed a bit too much like the attack the Japanese made against the United States in World War II at Pearl Harbour. The fact that it would be a surprise attack, that was mostly unwarranted, gave it a cowardly sort of feel that President Kennedy did not like one bit.xxix Some even argued that the United States would eventually lose all of Latin America, as other countries would follow Cuba's example, and team up with the Russians, or another power.xxx Another strong argument for the air strike was the issue of time. Each day that passed in inactivity, more missiles became operational and the danger became more and more real to the United States and it's people.xxxi However, if an air strike were ordered, the Russians might get nervous and launch a nuclear missile early. The main reason for not choosing the air strike was the fact that there was a large risk of an outbreak of general war if the air strike went ahead. President Kennedy could not bear the responsibility of being the first to start a nuclear war. The consequences of this would be of an unimaginable horror.xxxii Another main reason that Kennedy did not like the idea of an air strike was that it would have to be followed up by an invasion. The problem with this was that Kennedy did not want to send so many men into battle, around a quarter of a million.xxxiii Another problem with the invasion was that it would mean the United States would control Cuba, and while this may sound like a good thing, at the time, it wasn't. President Kennedy simply did not know what to do with Cuba once he had control of it, he could either install a new leader and leave it, or put it under US control, neither of which he really wanted to do.xxxiv These were small decisions to make compared to Kennedy's main dilemma, whether to risk nuclear war just because the United States got scared when Russia did the same thing as them. ...read more.


At any given moment, people around the world were living in fear and anxiety, wondering if Russia or the United States would launch the first missile. Thankfully, neither did, and the crisis was resolved peacefully, a big step towards the ending of the Cold War. i Keith Eubank, The Missile Crisis in Cuba (Florida: Krieger Publishing Company, 2000), 5 ii Aleksandr Fursenko, One Hell of a Gamble (United States: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997), 12 iii Roger Hilsman, The Cuban Missile Crisis: Struggle Over Policy (United States: Praeger, 1996), 32 iv Dino A. Brugioni, Eyeball to Eyeball (New York: Random House, 1990), 23 v Robert Smith Thompson, The Missiles of October (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 29 vi Herbert S. Dinerstein, The Making of a Missile Crisis October 1962 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1976), 19 vii Brugioni, 37 viii Graham Allison, Essence of Decision (New York: Longman Publishing, 1999), 127 ix Carlos Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm (Australia: Ocean Press, 1995), 83 x Dinerstein, 26 xi Dinerstein, 30 xii Dinerstein, 35 xiii Brugioni, 52 xiv Dinerstein, 57 xv James A. Nathan, Anatomy of the Cuban Missile Crisis, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001), 28 xvi Mark J. White, The Cuban Missile Crisis (United States: MacMillan Press, 1996), 41 xvii White, 45 xviii Brugioni, 52 xix Dinerstein, 55 xx ibid, 51 xxi White, 49 xxii Laurence Chang, The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (New York: The New Press, 1992), 73 xxiii Brugioni, 33 xxiv ibid, 34 xxv Norman H. Finklestein, Thirteen Days / Ninety Miles: The Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 62 xxvi ibid, 68 xxvii Dinerstein, 72 xxviii ibid, 78 xxix Eubank, 28 xxx Ernest R. May, The Kennedy Tapes (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 44 xxxi Brugioni, 61 xxxii Hilsman, 38 xxxiii Chang, 79 xxxiv Allison, 134 xxxv May, 67 xxxvi Thompson, 31 xxxvii ibid, 35 xxxviii May, 71 xxxix Allison, 84 xl Brugioni, 69 xli Thompson, 40 xlii May, 61 xliii ibid, 64 xliv Brugioni, 68 xlv May, 83 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. The Cuban Missile Crisis

    on publicly denouncing Stalin, met with fiery opposition from within the Kremlin, and, by 1957, it had become apparent that he was losing control of the formerly centralized Communist world. With rebellions springing up across Eastern Europe, then, and China beginning to pursue a course independent of Khrushchev's support, it

  2. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    On the basis of his personal negotiations with the Russians, presidential aide Harry Hopkins shared the same confidence. The majority of well-informed Americans, however, endorsed the opposite position. It was folly, one newspaper correspondent wrote, "to prettify Stalin, whose internal homicide record is even longer than Hitler's."

  1. Paul Laurence Dunbar.

    In his poem, the "I" is a celebration of every colored man who "stretch[s] my hands imploring, cry aloud" yet "whose voice falls dead a foot from mine lips".

  2. American History.

    for manufactured goods, leading to higher prices, higher production, and speculation in land. When production surpassed demand, prices and wages fell, causing land and stock values to collapse. - Most felt that the B&B cycles were a way of weeding out unprofitable businesses, making the economy more efficient.

  1. The case-study which I have chosen to analyse in terms of problem solving and ...

    Moreover, NATO would perhaps be affected, and the chances that the United States would successfully create a multilateral nuclear force would be reduced. Added to this was the potential that other Castros could be 'created' or at least encouraged. At the very least, American power would be less impressive and

  2. In the context of the period 1905-2005, how far do you agree that Khrushchev ...

    Furthermore, tensions between the USSR and other western democratises during the office of Stalin, became so ripe it lead to the greater development of the Cold War. As Churchill claimed: ?an iron curtain? was drawn between the USSR and the rest of the world.[33] It?s the removal of this ?iron

  1. Free essay

    The Cold War did not become fully global until after the Cuban Missile Crisis ...

    The term 'fully' depicts the cold war as one hundred percent becoming global after 1962. These depictions were seen after the Cuban missile Crisis which extended the cold war into the Americas and shortly after Africa and the Middle East, where major confrontations took place.

  2. How far was the Cuban missile crisis the most significant event in the ...

    key turning point in international relations, since World War One was ignited by a murder in the Balkans which put Austria-Hungary and Russia on opposite sides of the conflict as they were allies of the two sides involved. Having weighed up the sources, it could be argued that the making

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work