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Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

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Introduction

The Cuban Missile Crisis The origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be found in 1959, when Fidel Castro's supporters finally overthrew Batista's military dictatorship, which had been in power since 1953. Within a year Castro had introduced reforms, such as nationalisation (state ownership) of various companies, and of land, which was redistributed to the peasants. He also brought communists into the government and relations with the USA steadily worsened. Why did America oppose Castro? 1 Batista was a corrupt dictator, but he had been careful to stay friendly with America and, up until 1959, most of Cuba's trade in sugar and cigars was with America. 2 Though Castro was not officially known to be a communist in 1959, the Americans suspected this from the start. His policies, such as nationalisation, seemed to confirm their fears and what made it worse was the fact that some of the companies, and land, taken over by Castro's government, belonged to American citizens. 3 As a result Eisenhower refused to meet Castro, when he visited America in 1959, and he refused loans and economic aid. When Castro turned to the USSR for help, the USA banned all trade with Cuba. ...read more.

Middle

17 October Kennedy got Khrushchev's assurance that he had no intentions of installing missiles in Cuba 20 October: Having decided against a full scale invasion, or an air strike, both of which would cause Soviet casualties and likely lead to war, Kennedy decided on a naval blockade around Cuba. This would prevent Soviet ships, known to be carrying missiles, from reaching Cuba. It also forced Khrushchev to make-the next move. 22 October: Kennedy addressed the nation on television, announcing the discovery of the missile sites and his decision to impose a blockade. The news stunned the world. 23 October: A blockade zone around Cuba was established. Americans waited for the Soviet response. 24 October: To everyone's relief the Soviet ships stopped before reaching the blockade. Those thought to be carrying nuclear warheads turned back. However the missiles in Cuba still had to be removed and there was no guarantee that nuclear warheads had not got through already. 26 October: Kennedy received the first letter from Khrushchev in which he said he would remove the missiles, if Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba. 27 October: A second letter arrived. This took a tougher line and demanded that US missiles in Turkey be removed as well. ...read more.

Conclusion

5 The crisis demonstrated the dangers of forcing leaders to act under pressure of circumstance, without having time to reflect upon their decisions. It showed how both superpowers needed to avoid direct conflict, and how communications between them needed to be improved. This led to the hot-line - a direct telephone link established between the White House and the Kremlin in 1963. 6 Having recognised that their possession of nuclear weapons led to stalemate between them in Cuba, the way was paved for better East-West relations. Nuclear weapons as a deterrent, became the main focus of the arms race after 1962. The Cuban missile crisis led to arms control, firstly by the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which forbade atmospheric and underwater testing, though not underground tests. Later, in 1969, the superpowers agreed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The threat of a nuclear war in 1962 was frightening enough, but recent revelations show that, to some extent, the threat was avoided as much through good luck as sound judgement. As Robert Mc Namara said in 1992: "The actions of all three parties were shaped by misjudgment, miscalculations, and misinformation." The crisis may have contributed to Khrushchev's downfall in 1964, but it also promoted 'peaceful co-existence' and prepared the way for d�tente. ...read more.

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