Cuban missile crisis.

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Beau Bulman

Cuban Missile Crisis Coursework

  1. What can you learn from this source about President Kennedy’s reaction to the photographs taken by the U-2 spy plane?

This source tells us a good deal about Kennedy’s reaction to the photographs, firstly because of the obvious urgency and importance of the photographs, as Kennedy calls his brother and adviser Robert at the earliest time possible, and requests his personal presence. This in itself demonstrates how important Kennedy believes the matter to be. Kennedy is obviously nervous about the situation, and was feeling extremely vulnerable as the missiles were so close (on Cuba) to the USA – ‘he said that we were facing great trouble.’ This shows how serious he believed the situation to be. He was also convinced that the Soviet Union was behind the missiles, and shows an obvious resentment and paranoia of the Russians. Kennedy is sure that something is going on; ‘he was convinced that Russia was placing missiles and atomic weapons on Cuba.’

He wants to resolve the situation as soon as possible and wants to start formulating a plan as soon as he can. This is why he calls his adviser so early.

  1. Use the sources, and your own knowledge to explain why Kennedy decided to blockade Cuba.

Source B is a map showing the area of the crisis, the range of the missiles, the position of the blockade, and other details.

It highlights a reason why Kennedy blockaded Cuba; the Soviets could hit most major American cities. The USA could have been destroyed in minutes. The Americans panicked; they wanted the missiles removed. Although the Americans did not like the constant threat of nuclear attack, they had no qualms with doing the same to the Russians, who had to face American missiles over the border in Turkey for much longer.

Source C is an extract from Robert Kennedy’s book 13 Days. It explains more reasons for the blockade, including valuable insights as to what went on behind the scenes, because Robert Kennedy was the Presidents adviser as well as his brother.

This source also goes some way to showing the urgency and tension at this time, as it explains the military action prepared; “Missile crews were placed on maximum alert. Troops were moved into Florida.”

It shows even more urgency as it tells us an estimate that 80 million Americans would have perished should the missiles have been launched. It also hits home just how close we were to nuclear war; “The B-52 bomber force was ordered into the air fully loaded with atomic weapons.”

Kennedy decided to blockade Cuba for many reasons, not all apparent in the sources. He knew something must be done to remove the nuclear threat to the USA, but there are both national and personal reasons for what he did.

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The nation was worried about the missiles on Cuba and Kennedy did not want to appear weak in the public eye. He needed to make a stand, as he had only been in office 18 months, and had suffered humiliation and embarrassment over the Bay of Pigs fiasco. There were other problems during his early presidency, including the completion of the Berlin Wall, the Russian achievements in the space race and the shooting down over Cuba (by Soviet missiles) of an American U-2 spy plane.

The President did not want more countries to become communist or under Soviet influence, ...

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