An ongoing rivalry between the USA and the USSR played a fair part in the taking place of the crisis in Cuba in 1962. The ideological differences between the countries often led to conflicts, like the Korean War. There was a mutual fear of each other; America had always feared Communism and the USSR remained in terror of the capabilities of weapons in the USA. The arms race had left both countries fearing the damage the opposing country could impose upon them. This arms race was an example of the fierce rivalry between the Super Powers. It is this competition that sees the countries going head to head at various times. The Cuban missile crisis seems just another excuse for these rival countries to challenge one another once again.
The battle to surpass each other extends to positions of influence. America had control of missile bases in Turkey, which is positioned very close to the USSR. Khruschev’s eagerness to assist Castro may have been to ensure Soviet weapons were positioned near to America: a ploy to let the USA know that the USSR was as powerful a country as them. The fact that both America and the USSR influences were extending meant the two countries grew even closer; so the Cuban missile crisis is the result of the two countries desire to expand.
The revolution leading to Castro’s rule in 1959, combined with his Communist type policies led to America distancing itself from Cuba, which in turn was a major cause of the Cuban missile crisis. The Cuban revolution was quite an important instalment in history because it resulted in Castro coming to power which was the main reason the USA distanced itself from the country. The USA was very hostile to Castro; in response to his leadership, America ceased much of its trade with the country imposing a trade embargo. This distancing forced Castro to turn to a different country for economic aid: Russia. This was a big cause of the crisis because it was this action by America that forced Cuba to turn to another country for help. This was quite a major cause of the crisis because Castro was not a true Communism without this hostile action from the USA it seems unlikely that Castro would have sought after Communist allies.
It was not only the USA’s actions in the economic area that helped cause the crisis but also the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. This failed invasion not only justified Castro’s decision to turn to the USSR for help, but gave Khruschev the excuse to plant missiles there as a form of defence. This failure also boosted Khruschev’s confidence supporting the idea of Kennedy’s weakness, and therefore inclining Khruschev to take the risk of building missile bases in Cuba.
Castro’s policies were America’s reason for isolating themselves from the country. Kennedy felt Castro’s acts of national reforms and nationalism over trade were an act of Communism. Castro tended to feel that America’s interests in Cuba were undue and attacked the levels of attention America gave the country. It were these combined reasons which provoked America to discontinue trading with the country, resenting the implications that America may have an ulterior motive. This distrust of America was a cause of America ending trade with the small country and therefore a cause of the Cuban missile crisis.
The questionable agenda of the USSR in placing missiles on Cuba is undoubtedly the most significant cause of the Cuban missile crisis. Khruschev’s desire to extend Communist influence into the Western atmosphere seems clear; as it is unlikely, Khruschev would come to Cuba’s aid without an alternative agenda. Castro may have some ‘un-American policies’ but he is not a true Communist, which suggests Khruschev did have an ulterior motive other than to prevent America invading Cuba. It seems most likely that the Soviet leader saw Cuba as a foothold in the Western hemisphere, at this time it was the only acknowldeged Communist outpost in the Western side. The fact that there were USSR missiles based in Cuba is obviously the biggest cause of the crisis merely because without these, there could not have been a Cuban missile crisis.
Although it seems logical, as it was called the Cuban missile crisis, that the crisis should mainly involve Cuba, it is more accurate to say that it was a collision between the two Super Powers; the Soviet Union and the USA. It was after all the American decision to cease trade with Cuba that was the most important trigger to the incident and it was the Russian missiles based in Cuba that caused the actual crisis. It appears that this crisis is yet another run in between a country with Communist ideas and a country with Capitalist beliefs. In conclusion, it seems that the difference in ideologies between these two main Super Powers has been the cause of many casualties and the Cuban missile crisis seems to be exactly the same, the two powers struggling with a peaceful co-existence.
Erin Baker Page