The cold war started in 1947 and ended in 1991. The cold war was a struggle between the two world superpowers the United States and the USSR or the Soviet Union. Before the cold war, in World War II the Soviet and the US fought together as they were allies but when the World War II was over, tensions between the two increased. By the time the cold war started, the Soviet Union and the US turned out to be enemies due to the fact that when Germany invaded the USSR, the Soviets joined or formed allies with the United States because it was the only way they could beat the Germans which caused distrust between the US and Stalin. The Cuban Missile Crisis started in October 16th of 1962 and it was a 13-day conflict or confrontation between the Soviets and the US over the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba which made the US furious. The USSR was to blame for the Cuban Missile crisis due to the fact that they were the ones that installed nuclear missiles in Cuba which in return made the United States overreact and think whether they should take action or not which created tension between the two world superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States.
Cuba and Fidel Castro who was the ruler of Cuba feared an American invasion after the failed attempt of the Bay of Pigs. As a result, this convinced Cuba to look for help to the USSR and Nikita Khrushchev who was the leader, who was happy to help. Nikita Khrushchev decided to install nuclear missiles in Cuba not only to protect the Island but also to respond to the threat that the US made which was that they installed nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey. The US ended up finding out and they were not happy at all as in the summer of 1962, the US intelligence obtained satellite images that showed the Soviets moving nuclear missiles to Cuba. “Photographs of the Soviet missile installation had been taken by an American U-2 spy plane… The plane had taken nearly 1000 photographs.” (Wagner4) In the 1000 photographs that were taken, antiaircraft missiles, jet bombers, and cruise missile boats were identified in the photographs. A meeting was later called in the white house, as John F. Kennedy wasn’t happy at all when was told about this horrific news for the US. The meeting was with a group of advisers called Excomm (Executive Committee of the national security council). During the meeting, the photos were being analyzed so they would make a decision on what to do and Arthur Lundahl (CIA’S chief photo interpreter) was right next to President Kennedy and explained it to him what the photos were really revealing. “Lundahl stood next to the president, equipped with a pointer. The images had been labeled; arrows pointed to various spots on the photos, where captions indicated ERECTOR LAUNCHER EQUIPMENT, MISSILE TRAILERS, and TENT AREAS.” (Wagner5) Kennedy was starting to get very worried about this whole situation especially when the US intelligence after showed that the surface to surface nuclear missiles that the USSR installed in Cuba, were just 161 km from American shores! The CIA had also indicated that the missiles had about a range of 1774 miles (1889 km), which meant that they could reach most of America’s eastern coast. “When the missiles were armed and ready to fire, it would take them only 13 minutes to strike and destroy Washington, D.C.” (Wagner5) The fact that it took almost no time for the missiles to destroy most of the US’S eastern coast put Kennedy and the Excomm in complete panic, just by knowing that they could be hit by the USSR at any time and they had to take action fast before they would get hit. Kennedy was later informed that the Soviet’s missiles in Cuba were still not ready to fire but it was only a matter of time until they would. “President Kennedy suggested that the group meet again later in the day.” (Wagner7) Basically, after the Soviets installed the nuclear missiles in Cuba, this was a huge threat to the US due to the fact that they were very close to American shores and they could destroy all of Washington D.C, so Kennedy started to call for a lot of meetings with Excomm in order for them to think about a solution that would work best as they had already in their head, the idea that they had to take action, they had to do something, they couldn’t just ignore what had just happened. “At an emergency meeting on October 16, 1962 military advisors urged an airstrike on missile sites and invasion of the Island.” (qtd. in TEDEd) The installment of the missiles in Cuba, started to make the US think about taking action and also as a result tensions started to grow as Kennedy wasn’t happy with what had just succeeded or happened with the Soviets as he called an emergency meeting right away.
As it was only a matter of time until the Soviets were ready to attack, Kennedy and the Excomm continued to schedule more meetings in which they discussed their options. “The Excomm discussion then focused on the possibility of a quick military strike, designed to take out the missiles before they became operational. This was deemed risky…” (Wagner6) The Excomm tried to convinced Kennedy a lot of times to do a quick military strike before the soviets could get their missiles ready but Kennedy wasn’t convinced since it was too risky because the USSR could use their surviving weapons or missiles and use them to attack back at the US. Kennedy decided that they had 3 good or viable options that the US could use to respond back at the Soviet Union. The first option that he had in mind was to launch a military strike on the three bases where the missiles were showed in the photographs taken by the U2 spy plane to be stored. The second option they had was a broader strike. The broader strike would be mostly to target airfields, air bases, or anything else that was be thought to be connected with the missiles. The broader strike was the Excomm’s favorite option since they could destroy the missiles sites that were built in Cuba and also destroy their nuclear missiles but the US couldn’t guarantee that they would destroy all the nuclear missiles meaning that there could be a chance of the Soviets having surviving weapons, therefore the US Air Force could only guarantee the destruction of 90 percent of the missiles that were being brought to Cuba, “…He asked the general to be specific about the percentage of missiles that he could guarantee to destroy. The answer: 90 percent of the known missiles” (Wagner37). Finally, the third option he had in mind was a broader attack and eventually a naval blockade or quarantine in Cuba. Kennedy’s brother, General Robert Kennedy had something else in mind and suggested a forth option which was an invasion of the United States on Cuba. “Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, offered a fourth option: an invasion of Cuba. He pointed out that without a US invasion of Cuba, the Soviets would simply send in more missiles or target US missile bases in Turkey.” (Wagner7) So, the US was worried that if they didn’t act fast, the Soviets would take advantage of that and think that they didn’t really care about what was happening in Cuba and that they were too weak to react and therefore install nuclear missiles also in Berlin and southeast Asia. On October 18th, the 3rd day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy was informed that more missiles were being brought to Cuba and also military experts that studied the new photographs that were taken, informed Kennedy that the missiles would be ready within a week causing alarm to the US and Kennedy. Kennedy was really frustrated because he didn’t know what to do and what action to take. The Excomm kept putting pressure on Kennedy and recommended him to do a military strike and also an air strike but Kennedy didn’t know what option to choose as it was the lives of millions of Americans that was on the line. He needed to decide really fast because as each day passed, time was running out and their lives were on line which made Kennedy so stressed that he even said “If Khrushchev wanted to start a war, he argued, why not just get into it and get over with?” (Wagner9) The fact that the Soviets were keeping bringing more and more missiles in Cuba, was putting the US and Kennedy both in panic and also very stressed due to the fact that they could fire at any time. This made Kennedy schedule various meetings with the Excomm in the White House and discuss with them their options, where the room was filled with stress and with the need to act and think fast as time was running out.
Eventually Kennedy made his decision and decided on having a naval blockade in Cuba. Although Kennedy decided on having a naval blockade in Cuba, 9 members of the Excomm had voted for an air strike and 7 members had voted or were in favor of the naval blockade. Even though there were more votes for the air strike, Kennedy wanted to make sure it was really the best option so he went to talk to General Walter which was the tactical air chief. He went to General Walter and asked him about how much percentage of the nuclear missiles he could guarantee to destroy, and General Walters said 90 percent of the known ones. “He would go with the naval quarantine first,” (Wagner37) after this conversation with General Walters, Kennedy decided after that the best option was to ignore the votes the Excomm made, and play safe and go for the naval blockade in Cuba. Later, John F. Kennedy reveals everything to the Americans in a tv and radio broadcast where he told them about the missiles that were installed in Cuba by the Soviets, and that he made the decision to impose a naval blockade in Cuba in which every ship would be inspected. “All ships destined for Cuba, if found to contain offensive weapons in their cargoes, would be turned back,” (Wagner44) basically they would send the Soviets ships back and wouldn’t let them pass if missiles were found in their ships as Kennedy ordered that no missiles could be brought more to Cuba. In case that a Soviet ship didn’t stop if ordered, the ships from the US would have permission to fire against the Soviets ships. Kennedy continued by saying that the US would continue to increase its close surveillance or would continue to keep an eye on Cuba and the military buildup occurring there. Kennedy ordered the reinforcement of the US military base in Cuba, Guantanamo Bay and also said that he would call for a resolution demanding that the Soviets took all of their missiles in Cuba. He ended his speech by leaving a message to Nikita Khrushchev saying that his missiles were a world threat and that they had to be removed. After the naval blockade had been imposed, Khrushchev and the USSR weren’t happy at all and were furious accusing Kennedy of doing that because he hated the Cubans and also warned Kennedy that this wouldn’t end like this and that they would take extreme measures. “Who asked you to do this? By what right did you do this? We will then be forced on our part to take the measures we consider necessary and adequate in order to protect our rights. We have everything necessary to do so.” (Wagner52) The Soviets, especially Nikita Khrushchev were angry and as a result they started to get ready for war and get all their weapons ready of a possible war coming. “The photos suggested that, in addition to the nuclear missiles targeting the United States from Cuba, the Soviet Union now had large numbers of combat troops stationed in Cuba, and they were equipped with short-range missiles (possibly nuclear tipped) that could be used to destroy an American invading force.” “The photos suggested that the Soviets were preparing for war in Cuba.” (Wagner58) After Kennedy imposed the naval blockade in Cuba, this made the USSR really angry because they couldn’t bring more missiles to Cuba so the Soviets saw that as a sign of war and started to prepare themselves for a possible war.
Even though the USSR was the one to most blame for the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States could also be the one to blame because of the Bay of Pigs invasion that happened in 1961. This invasion was led by the US government and when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, the relations between the United States and the Cubans got a lot worse. Castro accused the United States to have weakened his government and the US also later, stopped buying their sugar which also put Cuba really bad economically. Before Eisenhower was substituted by John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower had finished its relationship with Cuba. An invasion to Cuba was being planned by the CIA since Fidel Castro had come to power but it was first discussed with John Kennedy before they would take action. So, in 1971, 3 airplanes from the US bombed the Cuban air bases and days later, Cubans that were training and training with the United States using US equipment went to the Bay of Pigs. Castro’s troops were many so the Cubans that worked for the US were all captured making the invasion to the Bay of Pigs failing. The Bay of Pigs invasion was basically a failure from the US to finish or take Fidel Castro out of the government which later when the Soviets armed Cuba helping Fidel Castro, the US didn’t like that and was pretty frustrated. This made it impossible for them just to ignore that missiles were being brought to Cuba, so Cuba would be protected from future invasions which made the US overreact during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The USSR was to blame for the Cuban Missile crisis due to the fact that they were the ones that installed nuclear missiles in Cuba which in return made the United States overreact and think whether they should take action or not which created tension between the two world superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. Resuming, the installment of nuclear missiles in Cuba by the Soviets made the US very frustrated and overreact. As a result of that, the US felt the need to take action and therefore many meetings were called in the White House by John F. Kennedy to try and discuss their options to attack. After Kennedy decided to impose a naval blockade, the Soviets saw that as a state of war as they couldn’t bring more missiles to Cuba. During these 13-day period, the lives of millions of Americans were on the line and also the fact that if the Soviets used their nuclear missiles, it would take about just 13 minutes for it to reach Washington D.C and destroy all of it which also made the US panic. After all of these, Kennedy had decided that he had to do something about it and he wasn’t going to let the Soviets do whatever they wanted in Cuba or else they would see that the US was too weak to react. If they didn’t do anything, the USSR would just continue putting or installing nuclear missiles around the world like in Berlin or in Southeast Asia. Concluding, the installment of nuclear missiles made the US overreact as they were in panic and it forced them to take action which after the USSR didn’t like it, so it created tension between them during these 13-day period between the two world superpowers, the Soviet Union from Nikita Khrushchev and the United States from John F. Kennedy.