Cuban Missile Crisis

The lesson we learn from the Cuban Missile Crisis

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A worldwide panic aroused after John F Kennedy shocked the world in the televised address dated Oct 22, 1962, over the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba. He said “ It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launch from Cuba against the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

But why does the installation of Nuclear Missile in Cuba would havoc suspicion and fear in the White House? Let’s find out

In order to understand the context, we need to go back into the past and understand what had been going in Cuban Politics. But before that, we also need to understand Why Cuba is strategically important for the United States of America.     

Timeline of Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

In order to understand the whole event, let’s move back from where the whole event had started. Also, there is a need to understand the Cuban revolution, the rise of Fidel Castro, and the event which led to the whole controversy.

Cuba is situated in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico meet together. In North we can see US states Florida and The Bahamas, in the west of Cuba, Mexico is present.

Cuba got independence from Spanish rule and became independent under US protection after the treaty made in 1899.  It suppressed yellow fever and attracted many US investments. Platt agreement was done between the two countries that allowed the US to intervene in the matters of Cuba.

The relationship between Cuba and the USA turned into a bitter phase when a young leader Fidel Castro in his 30’s overthrew the regime of US-backed Fulgencio Balista in 1959 which is popularly known as the Cuban Revolution.

When Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, the USA had recognized that but the USA had begun imposing economic penalties as Castro was getting closer to USSR. Castro, after coming to power nationalized the American-owned companies and hiked taxes on US imports, on the other hand, the USA had deducted Cuban Sugar imports and ban on all US exports to Cuba.

In 1961 USA with the help of the CIA tried to overthrow Fidel Castro from his regime, but got humiliating defeat. This event is known as the Bay of Pigs. When the USA was planning for Operation Mongoose, meanwhile in July 1962, Cuba and USSR had a secret deal of placing Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to stop the further invasion of the USA.

Later the USA got some proof that there is Soviet arms build-up in Cuba which comprises of IL-28 bombs on September 4, 1962. Oct 14, US U-2 aircraft took the pictures which showed the picture of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (under Construction in Cuba). 

Role of President in the Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

After becoming aware of the situation President Kennedy had done series of secret discussions with his advisors, after listening to both sides who were suggesting a strike on one hand and to choose the diplomatic way on the other hand. He then put a naval blockade around Cuba so that more equipment from USSR did not come here.

In the letter to Khrushchev, Kennedy mentioned that the USA won’t allow any offensive weapon to Cuba, also he said Soviets have to dismantle their bases completed or incompleted.

After that, his speech on Oct 22 1962 he gave a warning to Soviet nations which I mentioned at the beginning aroused panic in the world politics.No one knew the consequence of that speech, how the Soviet Union is going to react and if the cold war was getting heated up and there might be the possibility of war.

Khrushchev mentioned that blockade from the US side is indeed the aggression of war. Nevertheless, many Soviet ships returned some were blocked by the US Navy but later it was allowed when it was confirmed that there are no offensive weapons.

On the other hand, USA nuclear missiles were also present in Turkey which was close to USSR. So that was also strategic fear for Soviet nations as well. So understanding the deep and devastating consequences of the probable nuclear war both leader of the USA and USSR that is Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to choose a diplomatic path. In order to have the conversation, a hotline was established and both leaders agreed to remove the nuclear missile installation from both Turkey and Cuba respectively.

The whole event how it unfolds it is available here.

Significance of the Cuban Missile Crisis

There are three nations that had participated in the entire episode USA, USSR and Cuba. Each country has its own point of view.

According to the USA, Cuba is located near to the USA, the influence of the USSR on Cuba was worrying from the point of view of national security, as the cold war was going on. After Fidel came to power the relationship between the two nations had degraded.

Cuba after getting a new dynamic leader Fidel Castro was not happy with the interference of the USA. He then broke all ties with the USA and established a relationship with USSR.

USSR on the other hand had the view that if USA can install their nuclear missile in Turkey why can’t they install in Cuba.

It is indeed an undeniable fact that the USA was trying to bully a small country because the new leader was not agreeing with her. This was started as the fight of ego but while it ended with a great lesson for history.

This crisis actually showed us the role that leaders of the country do play in either making or breaking the peace. When the situation is demanding for war from the perspective of National Security it is wise to stick to the peace and try to avoid the war as far as possible. It is hence important to negotiate by that at least both parties have a win-win situation. The diplomatic talks between Khrushchev and Kennedy had helped out in moving the nuclear missiles from other countries.

The mature step taken by both the leaders had avoided the possible nuclear war which could kill more people in both the world war and it could have its dire consequences.

Conclusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis

I mentioned in my previous blog while writing Indo-US relationship that because of the Cuban Crisis both the USA and the USSR did not pay much attention when China was at our doorstep. Hence it is important to know the event.

It is quite impressive to see how Kennedy was true to his people and he had informed about the crisis which the country was going through. Also, he made people updated about the situation.

When such a crisis comes, I believe that the citizen of the country should be informed about it. This is a good strategy it brings people, opposition to the side of the government. This helps to unite as a country when there is a threat to the nation.

I do not agree with the policy of the USA that how it tried to intervene and attempted to overthrow Castro by his failed mission but yes the manner in which Kennedy resolved the whole crisis is really appreciable.

The crisis also made us realize that human civilization is very fragile and if the corrective steps are not taken at the right time, it can certainly slip into the destructive path.

Sources

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/historic-speeches/address-during-the-cuban-missile-crisis

https://microsites.jfklibrary.org/cmc/

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