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Overview of the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Problems was a period of extreme anxiety and conflict between the USA and Cuba and the USSR in Oct 1962; it was seen as a decisions made by both John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. It had been a 13 day event which started as a result of the USSR placing nuclear weapons in Cuba in an attempt to stop future harassment of Cuba following a failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The Cuban Missile Problems was by far the closest that the united states and USSR emerged to using nuclear weapons in warfare, and it was only by tactile decision making in an emergency that catastrophe was averted. A crisis is characterised by dangers to major ideals, time urgency, ambiguity or uncertainty and wonder or uniqueness, by these characteristics, the Cuban Missile Turmoil was one of the biggest problems of the 20th century.

The crisis started out when carrying out a getting together with between Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev agreed to hold nuclear missiles in Cuba. This was in response to several threats on Cuba from the united states. The Bay of Pigs invasion, though failing viewed the USAs negative motives to the Cuban regime and therefore Castro argued that a nuclear deterrent was the only choice for the long-term protection of Cuba. This is also a part of the USSRs response to the presence of American Jupiter missiles in both Turkey and Italy, that have been firmly in selection of Moscow. Pursuing Khrushchev granting Cuba missiles, development of the missile launch facilities were only available in the summertime of 1962. The deployment of the missiles only arrived to light following photos considered by a US Air Make U-2 Spy aircraft. The plane had taken photographs which clearly revealed both medium and intermediate range nuclear missile facilities. The photos were proven to President Kennedy on Oct 16th and he quickly organised a gathering of the Country wide Security Council to discuss what options of response the united states experienced (JFK library, 1962). This is an example of decision making, where in fact the decision made will have a large and irreversible impact. There have been numerous decisions and options reviewed from using diplomatic programs to pressure the Cubans to eliminate the weapons, launch a full scale invasion of Cuba, Air strikes or a blockage (Allison & Zeilkow, 1999). As the US acquired the military functions to invade and overthrow Cuba, they feared the Soviet response. Additionally it is important to consider the fact that it was an election time in america, and JFK had already come under hearth by Republicans for a seemingly weak lines against Cuba plus they did not want to appear weak or fearful of the combined threat of Cuba and the Soviets. This experienced led to Chief executive Kennedy saying before gaining the knowledge of weapons in Cuba that "if Cuba should possess a capacity to handle offensive actions against the United States. . . the United States would respond' (Peters & Wooley, 1962). This had in place already compelled his arm; he didn't want to seem to back off from his pledges. In the long run the US decided to execute a naval blockade against Cuba, one of the primary known reasons for this decision was it made the US appear strong, without forcing the Soviets side or seemingly excessively intense. Another key aspect in this is the legal ramifications of a blockade. Under international legislation, a blockade of another country is considered to be an act of warfare, however legal professionals at the Justice and State Department found a loophole that avoided the united states from issuing a potentially contentious declaration of war. While using the Rio treaty an answer from the business of American states allowed the united states from needing to declare war after Cuba, that your Soviets could have objected to (Allison and Zelikow, 1999). The 'blockade' was instead termed as a quarantine of offensive weapons. (May, 2012).

President Kennedy formally announced the blockade on 22 Oct in which he stated 'It shall be the policy of this nation to consider any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any country in the Traditional western Hemisphere as an assault by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a complete retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union' (United Press, 2010).

The international response was frustrating with the earth realising that that they had never been closer to the utilization of nuclear weapons, and if indeed they were deployedby both the US and the Soviets, there would be worldwide devastation never seen before on such a scale. During this time period it is reported not only was there a Cuban invasion drive stationed and ready in Florida but also 145 intercontinental ballistic missiles ready to remove, and the fleet of b-52 bombers were on ongoing airborne alert, the united states it is clear was finding your way through a full level conflict on a scale not seen because the end of WW2 (Kamps, 2007).

On October 24 Soviet boats that were headed for Cuba brought on anxiety when they neared the type of US ships that have been positively enforcing the Cuban blockade. However the Soviet ships quit just lacking the blockade, demanding no action from the US. If they had attempted to breach the blockade, it could have easily led to a military confrontation. A further increase in the crisis was on Oct 27, when an American spy airplane was shot down over Cuba.

Despite this overpowering pressure which seemed to give no signal of slowing or de-escalating a way was discovered of the problems which prevented a military discord between your US and Soviets. Through the entire problems Kennedy and Khrushchev had been communicating so when the turmoil was near breaking point, the united states informed the Brazilian federal government to spread a message to Cuba that it might be unlikely that the US would invade Cuba if they removed the missiles (National Security Archive, 2011). What implemented was a personal letter from Khrushchev written on 26th October which offered a way out of the stalemate, if the united states declared they'll not invade Cuba then your Soviets would leave and take away the missiles. However the next day Khrushchev dispatched another letter which stated they will take away the missile bases in Cuba only if the united states removed missiles from both Turkey and Italy's As both offers differed President Kennedy said he would admit the first one, this would also be much more favourable his acceptance in the US. What followed were intense discussions between both US and Soviet dignitaries in Washington.

Eventually a deal was come to and the Soviets decided to take away the missiles from Cuba also to take them back to Russia whilst Kennedy secretly agreed to dismantle weapons bases in both Italy and Turkey. The crisis was over.

What the Cuban Missile Problems is, is an example is of control and decision making in a crisis. It was a period of extreme stress, the wrong decision may lead to nuclear warfare, yet a headed and logical decision still needed to be made. The decisions that Leader Kennedy made were made only after taking a look at the effects both on the earth stage and also back in the US. It had been a senate election calendar year and Leader Kennedy couldn't let any decision he made weakenhis position in the mind of the electorate. Yet he also had to way up the potential damaging impact if the turmoil escalated because he wished to appear strong against the Cuban and Soviet threat. Kennedy got already come under pressure from Republicans, for having a supposedly poor stance on Cuba, so attaining any form of bargain was unthinkable to the Cuban hawks in the Republicans. What this obviously shows is the sheer complexness of the world that Kennedy were required to make his decision in. He had to de-escalate the issue, which required bargain on his part, whilst showing strong and not to give into the Soviet danger. That he managed to do that, and was considered by many at the time to have 'earned' the problems is extraordinary.

We can analyse several of the decisions created by Kennedy, how to react to the hazard and how to deal with the de-escalation of the problems.

When deciding how to respond to the problems Kennedy and his advisors was required to think about several key and critical indicators. As previously mentioned there have been several ideas and options to choose from when giving an answer to the initial finding of missiles in this early level in the turmoil of mounting tension. If the united states did nothing at all, as it was high unlikely that Cuba would use them unprovoked considering the Soviets knew they did not have the same firepower or amount of nuclear warheads as the US, then the crisis would potentially fade away without necessitating a armed service response. However several Republicans possessed already been criticising Kennedy to be too lenient to Cuba, if it arrived general public that Kennedy do nothing whenever a nuclear weapon was found 90 kilometers of the shoreline of Florida he would appear weak and his control credibility would be in tatters.

The other extreme would be an escalation of the problems, either an air-strike or full range military invasion. While this might certainly gain him support back home, it is highly improbable that the Soviets would not also respond with force, thus starting war between the US and the Soviets. Also Chief executive Kennedys allies in the united kingdom, France and in the wider international community would feel that the US proceeded to go into war too quickly when there is a diplomatic way out of the crisis, thus it could cost him support from his allies. Therefore we can easily see that the blockade was a good proper decision for Kennedy for taking. It made the US appear strong, getting together with the crisis head on, without looking brash and escalating the turmoil. Further as previously mentioned there was a legal precedent for this. Thus it is clear this was a great decision for taking under the circumstances and time pressure. Kennedy possessed analysed the impact his decision would have in the US, to the Soviets and Cuba as well as the wider international community. The blockade made the united states look strong but not overly competitive and moreover it put the impetus on Khrushchev to help make the next decision to escalate or de-escalate the crisis.

Another exemplory case of good decision making in the Cuban missile turmoil was Kennedy's decision to simply accept the removal of missiles in Cuba consumer, whilst keeping the US withdrawal of missiles in Turkey and Italy secret. He effectively judged what lengths Khrushchev would stretch out diplomatically and calculated that he could create a finish to the turmoil whilst appearing to own stood firm when confronted with Soviet aggression and have forced Khrushchev back down from the US. This was a choice he needed after weighing up your options and potential positives and negatives. Kennedy therefore could make a definite decision despite threats to major values, large scale doubt and a lack of time for you to concretely analyse every potential end result of the decision. What undoubtedly stopped this turmoil from escalating into conflict while other similar crises have finished in warfare is the ability and can of both Soviets and the united states to bargain.

In summary, we can see that scheduled to decision making a crisis that can have easily finished up in nuclear warfare, ended up with a diplomatic solution. Really the only reason warfare was averted was the logical decision making abilities of a few key players. Leader Kennedy were required to de-escalate an emergency whilst still maintaning control of the problem. That he was able to do this and appear successful both on the planet stage and back home is commendable and right down to his potential to explain and calculated desicions under great pressure. The US relished the press coverage of an victorious nation and in the senate election that used the Democrats gained three seating, so we can easily see this as a vote of self-assurance in the Democrats and Kennedy following the missile problems. What becomes clear from learning the Cuban Missile Problems is how important seeking the right strategy when wanting to de-escalate a crisis and the necessity for crisis managers to take logical decisions in face of extreme pressure. Here the pressure or implications could not have been higher, yet disaster was avoided by the actions and decision making capabilities of crisis managers.


Allison, Graham; Zelikow, Philip. (1999). Essence of Decision: Describing the Cuban Missile Turmoil. NY: Addison Wesley Longman.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Collection and Museum. (1962). Off the Record Meeting on Cuba: The White House. Washington D. C.

Kamps, Charles. (2007). The Cuban Missile Crisis. Air & Space Power, (3), 88.

May, Ernest. (2012, February 7). John F Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Retrieved from http://www. bbc. co. uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/kennedy_cuban_missile_01. shtml#three

National Security Archive. (2011). October 26, 1962 to November 15, 1962. The Cuban Missile Problems. Author.

Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John. (1962). John F Kennedy. 378-The Presidents Media Conference. Santa Barbara, CA: The American Presidency Project. College or university of Californa.

United Press International. (2010, Apr 22). Cuban Missile Turmoil - 1962 Calendar year In Review. Retrieved from http://www. upi. com/Archives/Audio/Events-of-1962/Cuban-Missile-Crisis

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