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

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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. However, on 30th August, 1961, Khrushchev broke the 3 year agreement and started testing nuclear weapons. John F. Kennedy responded with his own controlled nuclear tests both underground and in the atmosphere.

Source A2 shows a nuclear-powered submarine. Just one indication that the arms race was quickly getting out of hand.

The two super-powers realised this, as stated in the S.R. Gibbons book ‘The Cold War’. Gibbons wrote “Their main concern could only be prevention of nuclear war”. This is a secondary source and it is not quite clear whether it is opinion or fact.

At the same time in Cuba, a socialist revolution was taking place. It was led by Fidel Castro. Source A3 shows extracts from many speeches made by Castro in the ‘50s.

America didn’t pay much attention to Castro but as the map (left) shows, Cuba is very close to them.

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Source A4, an extract from a 1980s book, states that Castro (left) was virtually unknown in America and thought of as little or no threat, when however, Castro was extremely successful in over throwing Bapista in 1951.

Bapista was a capitalist and America and Cuba were trading partners, America bought Cuban sugar, and although Bapista was corrupt, the Americans didn’t mind him remaining in power due to his governing policies.

Upon realising that a Marxist was now ruling Cuba, America tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961. The attempt was an embarrassment ...

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