Causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis
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A crisis in Cuba developed after American spies discovered the USSR was supplying nuclear weapons to Cuba. This was not the beginning of a crisis in Cuba though. A crisis had been brewing gradually ever since the Russians had become involved in Cuba and had brought Cuba into the middle of Cold War relations. The crisis in Cuba was as a result of an increasingly tense arms race between the US and USSR and there was a huge tension after the events in Berlin. So the crisis did not start in '62 but it came to its pinnacle. This tension had been brewing ever since 1959 when Fidel Castro over threw the American backed dictator Batista. Castro was pro-Communist and therefore this was testing America's policy of containment. Castro took over all American based businesses and from 1960 he was receiving arms from the Soviet Union and American spies knew this. Cuba was important to America because it was an American ally.
The invasion failed disastrously. Castro captured or killed them all within days. To Cuba and the Soviet Union the failed invasion suggested that the USA was unwilling to get directly involved in Cuba. The Soviet leader Khrushchev was scornful of Kennedy's pathetic attempt to oust Communism from Cuba. The build up in tension increased after the Bay of Pigs as it encouraged the spread of Communism. Khrushchev felt he could do more than what he did in Berlin, as he knew what kind of response he would get from Kennedy, and that had failed so it boosted Khrushchev's confidence in what he was doing. The Soviets flooded arms into Cuba. In May 1962 the Soviet Union announced publicly for the first time that it was supplying Cuba with arms, and by September Cuba had thousands of Soviet missiles and patrol boats, tanks, radar vans, missile erectors, jet bombers, jet fighters and 5000 Soviet technicians to help maintain the weapons. The USA did little to stop this build up of weapons, as they seemed ready to tolerate Cuba being supplied with conventional arms, but it was whether or not the Soviets would dare to put nuclear missiles on Cuba.
Many conclusions could be derived from this such as maybe the USSR were planning an attack on the US. It was worrying because as it says in Robert Kennedy's book 13 days, "The photographs indicated that missiles were directed at certain cities. The estimate was that within a few minutes of their being fired 80 million Americans would be dead" This needed an immediate response from JFK because the USA was not expecting this to happen and it seemed as if the missiles were there to form an attack on the USA. The experts said that the most developed of the sites could be ready to launch missiles within 7 days, not leaving much time for JFK to take action. This pushed Cuba in to the middle of arms race fears and tensions as the USSRS missiles were now extremely close to the USA and a lot more threatening as the USSR had reassured they would not our nuclear missiles onto Cuba making it extremely suspicious, therefore increasing the tension. Why did a crisis develop in 1962 about Cuba? Louise Davidson
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