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Were contemporaries correct in regarding President Kennedy as the saviour of the western world after the Cuban Missile Crisis?

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Introduction

Assignment 1. Were contemporaries correct in regarding President Kennedy as the saviour of the western world after the Cuban Missile Crisis? Section A - Background The Cuban Missile Crisis was believed to be the closest the world has ever been to a nuclear outbreak. At the end of the Second World War, the two super-powers, America and Russia, were gradually turning against each other. A feeling of distrust existed over a number of things. The main difference between the two was their governing systems. The USA were capitalists and the USSR were communists. The USA had ended the Second World War by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. This was a sign to the rest of the world showing their strength. As far as Russia were concerned, America were ahead in the arms race but they believed that America wouldn't use the atomic bomb again because of its overwhelming power. America believed that it would take Russia 20 years to develop the atomic bomb, in reality it only took them 4 years. So by 1949 the Russians had levelled the playing field. This worried the USA as they only had short-range missiles. If the USSR attacked, they would need to have a missile base closer to the Russians in order to retaliate. This feeling of anxiety led to the creation of several US Missile bases in Britain, Italy and Russian neighbours, Turkey. Source A1 shows the devastating results of nuclear explosions. The USA and USSR had a moratorium on the tests of nuclear weapons. ...read more.

Middle

Here he expresses his concerns about the "offensive" missiles based in Cuba. He states that he will not unnecessarily start a nuclear war, but if the threat increased to America that he wouldn't back down. He told the nation that a partial blockade on Cuba would be initiated and that unlike the Soviet's blockade on Berlin, the US were prepared to let the necessities in to Cuba and would only stop Soviet Missiles entering. He stated that the armed forces were ready for "any eventuality" and that this was not only for the good of America, but for that of the entire western hemisphere. Source B5(i) is part of a letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy explaining how the Soviets were prepared to "cease further work on the weapon-construction sites...dismantle...crate them...and return them back to the Soviet Union". This was the first letter Khrushchev sent and the one that Kennedy chose to reply to as there was nothing that the Americans had to do in return. We now understand that secret negotiations took place in which the USA agreed to dismantle and return their missile sites in Russia's neighbour, Turkey. Source B5 (ii) shows USS Barry inspecting a USSR Freighter carrying missiles removed from Cuba, so Khrushchev was doing as Kennedy had asked. To the Americans it had appeared as if Khrushchev had backed down to the USA and Kennedy was a saviour. Section C - The Cuban and Soviet Point of View Fidel Castro spoke out at the funeral of Cuban's killed during the Bay of Pigs operation in April 1961, shown in Source C1. ...read more.

Conclusion

This cartoon is a US cartoon so was the artist really meaning for the two men to be working as equals? Source D5 is a secondary source which contains fact and opinion. It states that Kennedy seemed to come out of the Cuban missile crisis with an improved reputation and public appearance. He gained respect by controlling the 'hot-heads' in his own country who pressed for nuclear strikes on Cuba. On the outside it appeared that he had stood up to Russia, demanded something and got it. But Cuba was still ruled by a Marxist and still relying on a communist Russia. The whole event made the USA, Russia and Britain realise just how close to a nuclear disaster they actually came. This led to a ban on all nuclear weapon testing, except controlled tests underground. However Kennedy was still intent on stopping the spread of communism. The whole problem was started by the US trying to overthrow Castro because they didn't want a communist in their 'back yard'. Kennedy looked weak after the Bay of Pigs and when confronted again by the Cuban Missile Crisis, he would not back down and appear weak again. America pushed Cuba into the arms of Russia as Cuba needed another trading partner. So was Kennedy the saviour of the western world? In my opinion I believe Khrushchev was. If he hadn't have seen the dangers of nuclear war and withdrawn from Cuba, it is very likely that Kennedy would have called for a nuclear attack. However, Khrushchev appeared cowardly and therefore wasn't re-elected. Even though he acted wisely he was mostly responsible for preventing a nuclear outbreak. 2 1 John Trickett ...read more.

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