The Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis

Overview of the cuban missile crisis

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  • Created by: SG
  • Created on: 02-06-12 18:18


  • Cuba is a large island 160km from florida, it had long been seen as in America's back yard & an ally
  • Since 1952 it had been ruled by Batista, a ruthless & corrupt dictator- he allowed American businesses & the mafia to make huge profits when most people lived in poverty
  • In 1953 rebel Fidel Castro attempted to overthrow Batista but was defeated & exiled
  • In 1956 Castro began a guerrilla war & successfully defeated the government in 1959
  • Castro nationalised American businesses & sugar mills
  • The US was unhappy so stopped importing sugar- a huge blow
  • This lead to Castro turning to Krushchev for support; they became allies & Russia began importing cuban sugar
  • This angered America...
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The Bay of Pigs

  • America was no longer prepared to tolerate a soviet satalite in it's own sphere of influence
  • So, President Kennedy decided to supply arms, equipment, transport & training for 1400 anti-Castro Cuban exiles so they could invade Cuba & overthrow him
  • In April 1961, the CIA- trained exiles landed in the bay of pigs but they weren't given US air support as promised
  • They were met by 20000 Cuban troops armed with tanks & modern weapons
  • Needless to say, the invasion was a disaster & all exiles were captured or killed within days
  • This had the effect of humiliating Kennedy- it suggested that he was unwilling to get directly involved & was weak
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Events of the October Crisis

Soviet arms began flooding into Cuba. America was alarmed, but accepted them. Krushchev assured Kennedy that he had no need or intention for nuclear missiles in Cuba. But, on 14th October 1962 a U2 spy plane took detailed photos of nuclear weapons.

More photos were taken to confirm the presence of nuclear missiles. Spy planes said soviet ships were on their way to Cuba with missiles. There were 5 possible reasons Russia did this: To bargain with america, to test america, to trap america, to defend Cuba or to get the upper hand in the arms race.

Kennedy had 5 options: do nothing, air attack, invade, negotiate or blockade. On 22nd October he announced the blockade, & Krushchev said the ships wouldn't observe this. On the 26th Kennedy recieved a letter saying the ships will turn around if the USA promises to not attack Cuba. A second letter is then recieved saying the missiles will be removed from Cuba if America's missiles are removed from Turkey.

Kennedy responds only to the first letter, accepting the terms. Krushchev replies saying the missiles in Cuba will be removed & the ships have turned around. For 10 days, the world had been on the brink of nuclear war.

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Consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • For Cuba, the consequences were it stayed communist & armed, and it remained an important base for communist supporters. Castro was upset by the deal and the missiles were removed.
  • Kennedy's reputation improved as he had stood up to Krushchev & made him back down. He had proved the critics of containment wrong but had to remove missiles from Turkey which NATO didn't like. He also had to accept Cuba would remain communist.
  • Krushchev was shown as a peacemaker and kept Cuba as a valuable ally. He had to keep it secret that the missiles had been taken from Turkeky. His army had been humiliated & there was still the problem of the missile gap. In 1964, Krushchev was forced from power.
  • Relations thawed & both sides moved away from brinkmanship. They were both prepared to reduce the risk of nuclear war & signed a nuclear test ban treaty in 1964. A hotline was set up between Moscow & Washington & both sides would now fight through their allies.
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Really informative, thank you :D

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