The Cuban Missile Crisis
Before the Cuban Missile Crisis
Fidel Castro assumed power of Cuba after the Cuban Revolutionon January 1, 1959, and he later aligned Cuba with the Soviet Union in 1960. The United States, an enemy of the USSR at the time, decided to initiate an attack against the Cuban government and it's leader Fidel Castro. The CIA began to train Cuban exiles that would help lead the revolt, and could initiate rebel groups within Cuba itself to help with the rebellion. Their thought was that if they defeated the government, they could spark a wide-spread rebellion against Castro and that would in turn gain US recognition. On a deeper level, the American authorities desired to end all communism in the world, and to do that they had to defeat the USSR, and the countries they were converting to communism. The issue with this plan was that Cuban residents were content with there situations at the moment, and didnt want to be involved in violent conflict.

Captured Exiles
Captured Exiles
Bay of Pigs Invasion:
When John F Kennedy became president, he had the decision of whether or not to launch this rebellion
. Because he feared animosity with the Cuban exiles, he decided to continue with the attack. His first move was an air strike, but Castro had anticipated this threat and had placed hidden planes to shoot it down. Multiple Cuban planes were shot down by the American/Cuban exile forces, but if this strike hadnt been anticipated the whole Cuban air force could have been destroyed. Following this air strike, the Cuban exiles began to attack by sea. Two key American ships were sunk and therefore these Cuban exiles did not continue to receive supplies, and many were taken as prisioner.

Events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis: With all of this growing tension, Castro announced that if the US were to attack Cuba, then a World War would begin with the USSR aiding Cuba. Because of the threat from the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Castro was seeking more help from Russia, and Russia devised a plan to deploy missiles in Cuba, just in case the US were to attack. This was beneficial to Russia because they had felt threatened by the US's placement of missiles in Turkey, a country very close to them, and could finally threaten the US equally. Kenneth Keating, a US senator at the time, warned Kennedy that missiles were being constructed in Cuba and that if the US attacked, the USSR would launch these weapons. Kennedy, wanting to find actual evidence, sent a U-2 plane to Cuba to attempt to find this weaponry. After seeing the photo evidence that the plane discovered, Kennedy called for a meeting with a group later known to be the EX-COMM, and they discussed possible actions to take. Kennedy decided to start a Quarantine of Cuba, and at the same time reinforced the US's army base at Guantanamo Bay
. He gave a speech to the nation, as seen below.

John F Kennedy
John F Kennedy

JFKs speech

Desicions Leading Up to the Crisis: Kennedy essentially had three options: he could directly attack through the air or sea(something that had failed earlier during the Bay of Pigs Invasion), he could blockade Cuba from dangerous weapons, or he could approach the matter diplomatically by confronting Castro. He eventually decided to “quarantine”, or blockade, Cuba. Kennedy, fearing that a Nuclear War would be initiated by a direct attack, and fearing that confronting Castro and the USSR would fail, decided to "Quarantine" Cuba. This blockade attempted to stop all dangerous weapons from getting to Cuba from Europe. Along with a blockade, Kennedy requested that the bases be taken down. On October 28, the USSR finally conceded to these US requests and took down the missile bases. In return, Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba.

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The Actual Crisis: was averted!! Because of Kennedy's strategy to blockade Cuba, no nuclear war was initiated, and many lives were saved. People in America no longer feared for their lives, and many tensions were restored. This was the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear war.

Significance of the Cuban Missile Crisis: After the Crisis, Khrushchev, the Russian leader, had been unsuccessful and therefore lost all of his prestige. Kennedy, on the other hand, gained a lot of public recognition. People viewed him as the person who finally stood up to the powerful USSR. A telephone "hotline" from Moscow, Russia to Washington DC, United States was created for quick communication between the two countries in case of future conflicts. To make an attempt at peace, they created the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in October 1963, meaning just what it is called. The United States, Russia, and the United Nations agreed that nuclear testing should be banned except for underground. This was developed to stop the arms race that was developing, because arms races generally lead to some sort of struggle for power. On a more sentimental note, Russia and the United State's government's recognized that they had been on the verge of a nuclear war, which may have been disatrous, and decided on this more peaceful approach. They realized how vulnerable the world was, and discovered how fast a minor dispute could turn into a World War. Kennedy then also stated that the Cold War should end, so he removed some of the missiles from Turkey without telling the public. Essentially the crisis with Cuba was the beginning of the end of the cold war. Although Cuba remained Communist, America decided not to intervene, keeping the US's promise written out by the Monroe Doctrine.

Fun Facts:
external image 600px-Smiley.svg.png1. One US Navy Commander, unbeknownced as to what was going on, asked the man in charge why they were going to Cuba. His superior told him that the information was confidential and he was not allowed to know. He then asked which way he should go after clearing the East Coast harbor point, and his captain plainly said, "Turn Right." This proves how clueless the American commanders were as to what was really going on.
2. It is estimated that the Missiles stationed in Cuba could have reached Washington State!
3. The Soviet General and Army Chief of Operations said, "Nuclear Catastrophe was hanging by a thread... and we weren't counting days or hours, but minutes." This just proves that everyone was scared for there lives.

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4.This picture was drawn by Herblock for the Washington Post. The sentence written is, "Let's get a lock for this thing." The box says Nuclear War and a big, strong monster appears to be coming out of the box. The two men in this cartoon are Kennedy and Khrushchev, and they are working together to repress and contain the Nuclear War that is on the horizon.



Clare, John D. "Cuban Missile Crisis." Greenfield History Site. (accessed May 23, 2010)

"JFK Speech on Cuban Missiles." Miller Center. May 23, 2010)

"The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 18-29, 1962." History Out Loud. (accessed May 23, 2010)

"Cuban Missile Crisis: You Are the President." Teaching American History. (accessed May 23, 2010)

"Cuban Missile Crisis." Mary Ferrell Foundation. (accessed May 23, 2010)

links: (not used, but very good primary sources)