The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, war was averted.(Fourteen days)
In 1962 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev launched plans to supply Cuba with medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles that would put the eastern United States within range of nuclear missile attack. Khrushchev mistakenly assumed that the United States would take no action and when questioned denied that any missiles were being supplied to Cuba. The Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to potential against the Soviet Union.
Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island from an attack by the U.S. Ever since the Bay of Pigs in 1961, Castro felt a second attack was inevitable.(Hershberg) He approved of Khrushechev’s plan to place missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba.
For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. The next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Kennedy immediately organized the Executive Committee, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis. After seven days of intense debate within the upper offices of government, Kennedy imposed a navel quarantine around Cuba. He was trying to prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island. On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island. He then proclaimed that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as...