The Cuban Missile Crisis
October 14-28, 1962, the world never came so close to nuclear war. For 13 days, the world sat on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. In the end, rationality didn’t prevail; it was all but for a bit of luck that kept this hair's breadth of a situation from escalating. The crisis exemplified the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, which would come to define the rest of the Cold War. It also showed how fragile diplomacy can be when addressing the issue of preventing global annihilation. This conflict was not simply between the United States and Soviet Union. As written in Decolonizing the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mark Laffey and Jutta Weldes document the Cuban perspective on the situation that they argue is often overlooked. In addition, Castro’s role is also overlooked. In One Minute to Midnight, Michael Dobbs examines Castro’s influence on the crisis and how he helped to hold the world hostage.
From 1947-1991, the Cold War was a time in which there was protracted military, political, and economic tensions between the United States and its allies in the Western Bloc/NATO, and the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact. Although no direct military conflict ever erupted between the two sides, proxy wars were fought. The doctrine of mutually assured destruction, the manufacturing of large nuclear arsenals, military buildups and deployment, spying, and competitions like the Space Race also characterized the Cold War. With the battle lines drawn, it was only a matter of time before something like the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.
The origins of the Cuban Missile crisis stemmed from the U.S. installing nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey pointed towards Moscow. Additionally, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion to depose the communist regime in Cuba contributed to the crisis as well. In response to the American-backed Bay of Pigs, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev expressed the desire to install nuclear missiles in Cuba in an attempt to dissuade the U.S. from attempting another future invasion. As such, Castro agreed to the construction of several nuclear missile locations. Following his decision, it didn't take long for the Defense Intelligence Agency to take notice as revealed by photos from a U-2 spy plane. The DFI reported they had evidence that medium and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were in Cuba. Consequently, the U.S. began to contemplate its options. At first, there was a proposal to attack Cuba by air and sea. However, a military blockade was decided upon instead. The U.S. ordered the U.S.S.R. to remove their weapons and stated that they wouldn't allow offensive weapons to reach Cuba. President Kennedy and his administration knew there was a slim chance that the Soviets would agree to their ultimatums, although there were private communications taking place between Kennedy and Khrushchev in an attempt to attain a...