Cuban Missile Crisis - Causes

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The bay of pigs invasion and Operation Mongoose 1961

The bay of pigs plan had been initiated by the Eisenhower administration and Kennedy who inherited it.Plan enable 1500 castro exiles to land on cuba and carry out a military coup to remove him. It was an umitigated disaster for Kennedy and a profound humiliation for Kennedy; it also confirmed SU's and Castro's fears about the USA intentions for Cuba. The affair also ensured Castro's power in Cuba was affirmed and consolidated. He had protected Cuba from an american imperialist assualt. 

On 30th November 1961 Kennedy authorised Operation Mongoose whose aim was to help Cuba overthrow from a communist regime. The plan included the option of using military force but the primary methodology was the use of covert operations within Cuba to destablise the regime and facilitate an anti-castro revolt from within. 

Operation Mongoose prospects were slim. Kennedy's military advisers developed an air strike plan known as OPLAN 312 and a land-based invasion plan known as OPLAN 314. The SU had been supplying Castro with arms shipments for some time but the USA did not intervene because no suggestion that arms could or would threaten the USA. In March 1962 operation quick kick in the carribean. It was a show of military might and it made Khr defence minister conclude that in the face of a determined US attack, Cuba would stand no more than a week. Khr adopted a new stance, he decided to deploy nuclear missiles on Cuba in 1962. 

The soviet decision to deploy missiles

The code name 'Anadyr' used for the soviet decision to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba because it was the name of a river in north USSR. Soviets wanted to heighten security by selecting a name which might suggest the operation was connected to action in the artic rather than carribean. They sent 36 R-12 MRBMs and 24 R-14 IRBMs. 

Khr decision to deploy missiles was to have profound consequences. Primarily in defence of cuba, Khr restated the obj of protecting Cuba as his primary reason for deploying missiles in his memoirs published in 1971. There was overwhelming evidence of hostility of the US govt towards Cuba and a determination to translate that hostility into direct action. 

Some historians regard the nuclear option as comparable to using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. If defence was Khr sole or primary motive he could have opted for something far less provocative to the USA and infinitley less risky in terms of world peace. They argue that Khr could have used a protective force of conventional soviet forces configured purely for defence purposes. The USA would have no legitimate reason to present to the international community to suggest that America's vital national interests were under threat. No one would of been threatened by such a deployment on the soviet's part. The fact that Khr opted for a nuclear deployment rather than a conventional defence system may suggest that he had some other motive…


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