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The Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

2716 words - 11 pages

For thirteen days in October of 1962, the two most powerful nations in the world at that time were staring each other down "eyeball to eyeball" in one of the most dangerous crises the world has ever seen. On October 14th, 1962, American U2 planes caught sight of Soviet missile sites being built in Cuba. For the next thirteen days, the world held its breath as President J.F Kennedy and his advisors deliberated on how to react to Premier Mikhail Khrushchev's actions, and decided on blockading Cuba in order to prevent missiles from reaching their intended destinations. The Cuban Missile Crisis made its mark on the history of the Cold War by becoming one of the most important landmarks in the history of the tensions between the US and the USSR because of it being the closest to nuclear war the world has ever come, the effects it had on Kennedy's image, the damage it did to Khrushchev's reputation, and the effects it had on negotiations between the two superpowers.The Cuban Missile Crisis was made so memorable because of the frighteningly near possibility of the start of the world's first ever nuclear war. It was and is the nearest the world has ever come to nuclear war, having the possibility of multiple sides employing the use of nuclear weaponry. The US at the time of the Crisis had missiles positioned in areas including Turkey, Italy, and Britain, the closest missiles to the Soviet Union being 150 miles away , meaning the US had a clear first-strike capability over the Soviets. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought a greater sense of equality in terms of military force, since before the installation of Cuban missiles the Soviets had no missiles capable of striking any parts of the US. The building of missile sites in Cuba leveled the field between the two superpowers, as the US was compelled to deal with the Soviets with a greater degree of caution and wariness as they recognized the capability of the Soviets to attack their own soil. This meant that the Soviets were in a position to negotiate in terms of arms control because of their elevated status due to the Crisis. However, the US was still clearly ahead of the Soviets in weapons in terms of quantity, so after the withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba by the Soviets, the missile gap again prevailed, with Khrushchev's main ambition of closing the missile gap failing. At the time of the crisis, the US had 8 times as many nuclear weapons as the Soviet Union, with 27,297 warheads to the USSR's 3,332 . In this way, the Crisis had no effect on the long-term nuclear parity between the US and the USSR; however during the Crisis the Soviets had succeeded in reaching more of a military equanimity because of the fact that they had installed missiles capable of striking the US. The near-parity of the two countries' nuclear capability meant that nuclear war was an even greater possibility, as previously, second-strike capacity for the USSR was not great enough to begin a nuclear war--however with the addition of...

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