Were contemporaries correct in regarding President Kennedy as the saviour of the Western World after the Cuban missile crisis?
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Were contemporaries correct in regarding President Kennedy as the saviour of the Western World after the Cuban missile crisis? Between the years of 1945 and 1990 there was a period we now call the 'Cold War'. This 'war' was between the two 'Superpowers' namely the USA and the USSR. These two countries were involved in various confrontations, very few of which were deadly. An atmosphere of tension and mistrust lay between them, as each country wanted power over the other, whether it is through weapons of mass destruction or through space travel. The two countries were involved in a 'space race' where each country tried to be the first into space, and on the moon. The USSR were successful in carrying the first man into space in 1961, but the USA were the first to carry man to the moon, some eight years later, in 1969. There was also a more deadly race between the two countries, called the 'arms race'. This was a race to see who could produce the most destructive nuclear weapons. Both countries tried to keep an eye on each other by using a network of spies. One incident involving spies was in 1960 where an American pilot, Gary Powers, was caught taking aerial photographs of Russian military sites in a U2 spy plane.
Cuba needed the money from the sugar trade. This is where the USSR comes into the equation. They stepped forward and offered to trade with Cuba. They also gave Castro financial support. One of Castro's promises was that Cuba would have a better standard of living once he was in power. Castro was not communist, but he was fast introducing communist ideas into the country of Cuba. The new president of America, President Kennedy, was not pleased with the fast growing communist Cuba. But what could he do? There was a plan to get rid of Castro that Kennedy had inherited when he took over the role of president. It involved an invasion of Cuba. It was t be known as 'The Bay of Pigs' invasion and it was a complete failure. There were heavy US casualties and Kennedy and the US government were made to look fools. Meanwhile, Castro and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev were becoming even friendlier. These bonds between Castro and the USSR were arousing major suspicion over in America. So much so that Kennedy ordered U2 spy planes to fly over the island of Cuba and take photographs of the area. Kennedy was told that the Soviets were building nuclear missile bases on Cuba.
This one said, 'You are worried about Cuba...because it is 90 miles from America, but Turkey is next to us. I therefore make this proposal. We agree to remove from Cuba those means, which you regard as offensive. The United States will for its part remove its means from Turkey.' What would Kennedy do now? It was actually Kennedy's brother, Robert, who came up with the idea of replying to the first letter and to pretend that they had not received the second letter. It had seemed that Khrushchev had written the first letter by himself, without the advice of his associates. His associates must have seen his letter after he had sent it, and had said that he could have got more out of this bargain, and that he had come away with nothing. So another letter had been produced. Kennedy written a letter saying that if the Soviet bases were removed from Cuba then the US blockade of the island would be lifted and no invasion of Cuba would occur. He also said that if there were no reply by October 29th there would be a war. The reply to that letter came on the 28th. Khrushchev had accepted the American offer and removed the missile bases from Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis was now over.
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