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1. Why do you think that Kennedy continued on the campaign trail during the early days of the
If Kennedy had cancelled the remainder of the campaign trail, it would have aroused suspicion.
Kennedy was keen to keep the American public ignorant of the crisis going on in Cuba because of the
sheer amount of panic it would cause. As a result, it was important that he continued to behave as he
normally would to avoid suspicion, especially from the press.
2. Kennedy described Wednesday 24th October and Saturday 27th October as the darkest days
of the crisis. Explain why you think this was the case.
On Wednesday 24th October the Soviet ships carrying questionable cargo arrived at the 500 mile
blockade zone. This was important because it was the first test of whether the blockade would work
in resolving the Cuban missile crisis, or if the Soviets would start a war. This could be considered one
of the darkest days of the crisis as the two super powers came very close to an all out war.
The 27th could also be considered one of the darkest days of the crisis because the second letter
from Khrushchev suggested that he no longer had as much control over the Soviets. This was
particularly significant as the Americans were reluctant to agree to the conditions in the second letter
of withdrawing their missiles from Turkey. Instead, they wanted to agree to never invade Cuba, as
was suggested by Khrushchev in his first letter.
3. Why did Kennedy act as he did in the Cuban Missile Crisis?
The most probable reason why Kennedy sent a poorly equipped mercenary army to invade Cuba
instead of risking a full-scale invasion is that he was afraid the latter might have caused a nuclear
war with the Soviets, if they felt threatened or challenged. Kennedy was escalating the conflict
by invading Cuba. However, he chose the less risky option in escalating.
20 October 1962
Kennedy ordered a quarantine to prevent Soviet missiles arriving in Cuba because a blockade is
an act of war. It was necessary for the safety of the American public for the missiles to be
removed. However, Kennedy didn't want to be the first to make an act of war when the missiles
were posing such a threat to the US. Kennedy was attempting to de-escalate the conflict
through trying to find an alternative, non military solution to the crisis.
27 October 1962
Kennedy attempted to prevent the conflict escalating through delaying the air attack on Cuba as
this was bound to cause the Soviets to retaliate. This was the less risky option as it avoided
direct conflict and meant he could find an alternative solution.
28 October 1962
Kennedy's decision to trust Khrushchev was arguably the most important of the decisions he
made during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Whatever his reasons for trusting Khrushchev, if he had not
chosen to do so, it is likely the situation in Cuba would have escalated out of control. It is possible
that Kennedy chose to trust Khrushchev because they were both in a stressful and dangerous
situation that they didn't want to fight their way out of.