Source B shows that there were a number of lines of action that the US government could of taken to try and resolve the crisis. They could of done nothing, and immediate air strike to destroy the nuclear bases, an all out invasion of Cuba, get the United Nations involved to intervene and negotiate or blockade Cuba. All these options had a major element of risk and they would either risk retaliation from the Soviets that would lead to war, or portray the US as weak. Except blockading Cuba, this would not solve the main problem of the missiles already on Cuba, but it would stop all other supplies coming into Cuba, and being an island it had very few other ways of obtaining supplies.
A blockade could also have been the chosen action to take, as it needed the least preparation time when an action had to be taken to show the Soviets that the Americans weren’t going to let them do what they want. An air attack would need many planes readied and armed, an invasion would need a lot of planning if it were to be carried out by air and sea, to involve the United Nations would need much organisation and communication which would take up a lot of time as long distance phone calls weren’t available at that time, but a blockade would need very little planning and have the least risk factors of all the options available. It could also of been chosen to show that the USA were serious, it was not a direct act of war so there was less chance of the Soviets taking serious action and retaliating. It would of also put the burden on Khrushchev to act next. And finally the USA had a strong navy and if this option failed, all the other possibilities could still be used.
Also Kennedy would of wanted to look strong by taking control of the situation by enforcing a blockade because he was seen as being weak because of his invasion of the Bay of Pigs failed. And because of the missiles being placed just off the coast of Florida. Also America had begun to fall behind in the arms race. The Americans would also be seen as weak because of the Soviets shooting down the
U-2 spy plane in Soviet airspace, and the Eisenhower lied about it and was caught out because Khrushchev already had the pictures taken by the spy plane.
I think that the most important reason is that immediate action had to be taken to show the Soviets that the Americans weren’t going to sit back and watch what was going on. This drew the Americans into making a decision quickly and trying to take control of the situation.
3) There are a number of things that can be learnt from sources D and E about why there was conflict between the USA and the USSR.
From source D we can learn that President Kennedy was treating this very seriously as the tone of the source was very stern and meaningful. We can also see that he is blaming Khrushchev for the start of the crisis when he addresses Khrushchev on a national broadcast to “halt this reckless and provocative treat to world peace.” It is also evident that it was decided to blockade Cuba as President Kennedy announces that “All ships bound for Cuba will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.” We can infer that President Kennedy was treating this very seriously due to the tone of the source, and by the fact it was a national broadcast announcing to the nation that there are weapons placed on Cuba by the Soviets. We could also infer that Kennedy was very worried about this and wanted to take control of the situation to look strong when he mentions “Any missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the western hemisphere will be regarded as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.” This is also a threat of war if any missile is launched by the Soviets. Source D was a national broadcast from an American point of view, so it is going to be slightly bias, so it will try and make it look like Khrushchev and the Soviets are in the wrong. Although this source doesn’t say why there is conflict between the two counties, it just outlines what action will be taken with the blockade enforced and if any missiles are launched from Cuba.
From source B we can see that it is going to be from a Soviet point of view as Gromyko, the soviet foreign minister at the time of the crisis, writes it, but there is a direct statement from President Kennedy defending the US by saying the current regime in Cuba doesn’t suit the USA. This source was published in 1989, about 21 years after the crisis, so there may have some elements of hindsight. It also states that the American side had conducted an unrestrained anti-Cuban propaganda campaign. This shows why there was conflict because of the propaganda campaign, also because Cuba was communist so this did not suit the USA, and Gromyko calls the Americans imperialist’s, but not directly. The tone of the source seems to also be fairly stern and serious although it was taken after the event. This may be because Gromyko is still putting the blame onto the Americans.
4) Sources D and E support sources B and C to a certain extent. The sources agree, and disagree with each other.
The content of B and C are very similar as they are both passing the blame onto the Soviets for the start of the crisis by placing the missiles on Cuba, and an estimated 80 million Americans would be dead within a few minutes of them being fired. This provoked the American government to take some sort of action to prevent this. Source D agrees with sources B and C as it also blames the crisis in Cuba on the Soviets. This is evident in the language President Kennedy uses when addressing Khrushchev on a national television broadcast – “offensive weapons” and how this was “reckless and provocative threat to world peace” Source D also agrees with the others saying that America is not to blame for the start of the crisis when President Kennedy says “the present regime in Cuba does not suit the USA.” Although he is referring more to the fact that Cuba is communist than to the missiles being placed there.
The sources also agree in a number of different ways. The tone of sources B, C and E are all fairly relaxed and slow as they were all recorded and written down a number of years after the crisis had subsided. Whereas source D is very stern and serious as it was a national broadcast to the whole of the American nation and it was taken at the time of the crisis so there was more panic in the air and a lot more tension. Source E also disagrees with the other sources about who should be blamed for the start of the affair. It says it’s America’s fault as America was running an unrestrained anti-Cuban propaganda campaign that could lead to serious consequences for the whole of mankind. We can also infer that Gromyko, the Soviet foreign minister at the time of the crisis called the Americans imperialists about how they treated the goings on in Cuba before the missiles were placed there.
Overall sources B, C and D do support each other as they give the same point of view about who was to blame for the start of the crisis. Whereas source E disagrees with them as it is from the Soviet point of view over how the crisis started in Cuba in the first place, and these don’t necsercerelly all agree with each other fully.
5) The sources F and G both give slightly different views and reasons for the end of the crisis in Cuba.
We can see from what President Kennedy says in source F that he is very glad and relieved to hear of an end to the crisis as he welcomed Khrushchev’s letter with great care and welcome. We can also see from this that he is already saying straight away that it was Khrushchev’s idea and decision to reach a prompt solution to the problem. The tone of the source is very relaxed, welcoming and polite as there is no longer any need for the urgency as there was before with the crisis going on around them. The source is also from an American viewpoint so it is trying to make the US the stronger by making it seem as though it was the Soviets that backed down and were weaker. President Kennedy would of needed to look stronger to the rest of the US nation after he was beginning to seem weak due to the failure of his invasion on the Bay of Pigs, America falling behind in the continuous arms race and the missiles being placed just 90 miles away from the US mainland. There is also a sign of compromise as President Kennedy would agree to remove the blockade measures in force around Cuba and gives assurance against an invasion of Cuba if the Soviets would remove the weapon systems and halt any further introduction of weapons into Cuba.
In source G we can see that it is from a Soviet point of view as Khrushchev writes it to President Kennedy. We can also see that the two leaders seem to be beginning to trust each other as Khrushchev says that he trusts and respects that there will be no attack or invasion of Cuba, which is why Khrushchev has agreed to stop building missile facilities and are starting to dismantle them and return the to the Soviet Union. We can also see from this statement that Khrushchev is passing the buck onto President Kennedy for the start of the crisis and making it seem as if all President Kennedy had to do was give confirmation of no attack on Cuba before the missiles and weapons would be removed. The tone of this source is also very relaxed and polite as before there is no need for the urgency that there was before. There is also another sign of compromise as Khrushchev says he wants a détente between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries and that he would also like to start talks over the prohibition of atomic and nuclear weapons, general disarmament and other problems. This is making Khrushchev look stronger as he is making the first step to stopping the arms race and peace between the two countries.
Sources A, B, C, D and F all support the American view about the ending of the crisis. And to support the American viewpoint of the crisis as a whole. They also all show why President Kennedy was so concerned about the situation and will all back-up source F. Sources E and G will all help to explain the Soviet viewpoint on the crisis and source E will support source G in the soviet view on the ending of the crisis.