The Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

2332 words - 10 pages

Thirteen days in October of 1962 changed the course of the World in the nuclear age forever. The Cuban Missile Crisis represents the closest brink of mutual nuclear destruction the World has ever been close to reaching. The leadership in place throughout the crisis is critical to the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Three men dominated the nations involved in the crisis and captivated citizens of all corners of the world. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy of the United States, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro dominated the airwaves and news circuits leading up to the infamous crisis, which put the three leaders and nations in a cold silence of misperceptions, miscommunications, and unprecedented intentions.
Comparable to no other moment in history, the Cuban Missile Crisis shaped a generation entering the nuclear age with unease and tension. Decisions ultimately were made by the leaders of the nations which were undoubtedly shaped and influenced from voices far exceeding the three men’s own ideologies. The opinions and beliefs of those closest to the leaders with large vested interest in the Crisis dictated monumental moments throughout the thirteen-day standoff. The issue arouse on the morning of October 16th when National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy awoke President Kennedy with startling photographs taken by U-2 aircraft over Cuba’s mainland. The photos proved that there were Soviet Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles on the island, which is only 90 miles from American shoreline. Long before the Cuban Missile Crisis, as noted by the JFK Presidential Library, “Kennedy warned of the Soviet's growing arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles and pledged to revitalize American nuclear forces.” The threat of the nuclear capabilities of the Soviet Union and their unclear intentions aroused immediate panic along with reactionary aggression among the Joint Chief’s, which caused the initial intercommunication difficulties of the infamous crisis.
Fifty years later it is simple to analyze and critique the deliberations that took place during the Executive Committee meetings. Each meeting among the Executive Committee members was essential to the case and had a great impact on the final outcome. President Kennedy deliberately composed the group of men with various positions and alternate viewpoints. The President’s intended to receive as many options and counter-arguments as possible before making a catastrophically uninformed decision again, referring to the Bay of Pigs debacle. Instead of a public relations defeat and loss of life among Cuban exiles, complete nuclear annihilation was on the table, which upped the ante of this decision enormously. President Kennedy relied heavily on the opinions of his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, whom adamantly supported the blockade option of which President Kennedy ultimately aligned with.
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