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The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

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Introduction

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (a) The relations between the United States and Cuba got steadily worse ever since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, after a guerrilla campaign, overthrowing the American-backed dictator Batista. From 1959 to 1961 the relations between Cuba and the Americans were bitter, but without any direct confrontation. In the summer of 1960 the USA realised that the Soviet Union was sending arms to Cuba, therefore in January 1961 the USA broke off diplomatic relations with this country. In April 1961 John Kennedy supplied 1400 anti-Castro exiles with arms, equipment and transport to overthrow him. The Bay of Pigs invasion, however, was a total disaster. It further tensed the relations between Cuba and the US. After the invasion, the Soviet Union announced that it would supply Cuba with arms. By September 1962 Cuba had the best army in Latin America, with tanks, jets and missiles. The USA was very alarmed at this, and in September Kennedy warned the USSR not to put a nuclear missile base in Cuba. ...read more.

Middle

Any tiny misunderstanding or mistake, or even a poor decision, could trigger it. (c) The Cuban Missile Crisis mainly concerned the Soviet Union and the United States. Their leaders, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, might have felt forced to do what was best for their country. In Kennedy's case, the Americans wanted to get rid of the missiles and, if possible, get rid of Fidel Castro and eliminate Communism from Cuba. Khrushchev and the Soviets wanted to test the USA and prove that the USSR was stronger, but he also wished other countries to feel attracted to socialism. Kennedy was able to act responsibly and sensibly, although in some occasions he showed how weak he was. First of all, he tried to ignore the advice he received from the army, navy and air force commanders, telling him to invade Cuba, because he knew what the Soviet Union would do if he attacked. Therefore, he delayed war as much as possible, something very brave to do since doing this might have given the impression that the country was not ready or was not strong enough to invade. ...read more.

Conclusion

Khrushchev took advantage of Kennedy's insecurity and inexperience at the end of the crisis, by setting conditions to the removal of the missiles. This was an excellent strategy since he was able to start the peace discussions and, at the same time, squeeze everything he could out of the USA (by making them remove their missiles on Turkey). However, after the second letter he sent to Kennedy, he was forced to back down since Kennedy had promised to do everything he had asked for and he threatened him to attack if the Soviet Union did not withdraw. Both leaders achieved part of their objectives. The missiles were withdrawn from Cuba and the USSR was able to keep a Communist Cuba right next to the United States. However, Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis better than Khrushchev, because, although he was insecure, he managed to face a very complicated situation which endangered the world's future. Khrushchev also acted cleverly and was the first to talk about peace, but the fact that he never had to make any big decisions as Kennedy had, does not highlight his handling of the crisis. ...read more.

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