Cuban Missile Crisis

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  • Created on: 27-05-15 09:16
Trying to contain Communism and stop it from spreading.
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USA Allies
USSR was powerful and so the USA needed allies, NATO in 1949, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) in 1954 and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) in 1955. USA gave them money and practical support
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USSR Allies
Responded by starting its own alliance, felt threatened and surrounded by the USA. In 1955 started the Warsaw Treat Organisation (Warsaw Pact), contained all east European countries except Yugoslavia
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USA Arms
Built up a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons and strengthened their conventional forces, kept soldiers and weapons ready for action, American Strategic Air Command had a fleet of 12 bombers in the air 24 hours a day.
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Soviet Union responded by building up their nuclear weapons and conventional forces.
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Nuclear Arms Race
USA and USSR built up nuclear weapons in 1950s, Soviets took the lead when on 15 Mary 1957 they tested the first inter-continental Ballistic Missile, silenced people who doubted Khrushchev
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The Missile Gap
US public was scared that the USSR had more missiles than them, it was a myth but Khrushchev couldn't admit it without seeming weak and the American Commanders said nothing as it got them funding, Eisenhower knew in 1960s couldn't say his spy
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The Batista Regime
Cuba is 160 km from Florida and was an American ally. Genera Batista was a dictator, corrupt and unpopular but the Americans provided military and economic support because he was opposed to Communism
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Fidel Castro
In 1959 after a three year guerrilla campaign, Castro overthrew Batista. Castro was charming, clever and ruthless and a good at propaganda
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The USA Responds
The USA recognised Castro as the leader, thousands of Cuban exiles fled and were a pressure group, Castro took over American businesses, June 1960 they investigated ways to get rid of Castro
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Castro's Response to the USA
Castro assured Americans living in Cuba that they were safe, but in summer 1960 he allied Cuba with the Soviet Union and Khrushchev signed a trade agreement giving Cuba $100 million and arms
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The Bays of Pigs
Kennedy supplied arms, equipment and transport for 1,400 anti-Castro exiles to invade Cuba. They were met by 20,000 Cuban troops. Failed disastrously. Castro captured or killed them all within days
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Impact of Invasion
The half-hearted invasion suggests to Cuba and the USSR that the USA was unwilling to get directly involved in Cuba.
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Cuban Missiles
May 1962 USSR announced it was putting arms on Cuba, by September it had thousands of missiles, jet bombers, 5000 technicians etc, September 11 Kennedy warned Khrushchev not to put nuclear arms there and Khrushchev said he had no need
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The October Crisis
Sunday 14 October 1962, American spy plane took photos of missile sites, could be ready to launch missiles in seven days
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Why Did Khrushchev Put Missiles on Cuba
First Soviet missiles outside USSR, Missile gap - USA had long-range missiles and missile in West Europe and Turkey, Hoped it would strengthen his position, Wanted to protect Cuba in spring 1962 USA did a practice invasion of Cuba with 40,000 Marines
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Tuesday 16 October
Kennedy is informed and forms advisers in a group called the Ex Comm
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Kennedy's Options
Do nothing, Surgical Air Attack, Invasion, Diplomatic Pressure, Blockade
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Do Nothing
Americans had greater nuclear weapons, could destroy the Soviet Union. USSR lied about Cuban missiles, would be a sign of weakness
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Surgical Air Attack
Would destroy the missiles before they could be used. Destruction of all sites could not be guaranteed, Attack would kill Soviets and USSR would respond, An attack without without warning was immoral
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Would get rid of missiles and Castro, American forces were trained. Would guarantee a response, either to protect Cuba or in Soviet Sphere of influence (a takeover of Berlin)
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Diplomatic Pressure
To get UN to intervene and negotiate. Would avoid conflict. If the USA had to back down it would seem weak
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Would show the USA was serious without being a direct act of war, would put the burden on Khrushchev. Would not solve the actual problem, Soviet Union could respond by blockading Berlin
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Saturday 20 October
Kennedy decides on a blockade
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Monday 22 October
Kennedy announces the blockade and calls on Khrushchev to withdraw the missiles
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Tuesday 23 October
Kennedy receives a letter from Khrushchev saying they will not observe the blockade, does not admit the presence of nuclear missiles on Cuba
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Wednesday 24 October
Blockade begins, first missile carrying ships approach the 500 mile blockade zone. At 10.32 am they stop or turn around
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Friday 26 October
Khrushchev sends Kennedy a letter saying the missiles are defensive and that if the USA promises it will not attack then they could withdraw the missiles
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Saturday 27 October
Khrushchev sends a second letter saying the conditions for removing Cuba is the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey, an American plane is shot down and the pilot is killed. Kennedy delays an attack and accepts the first terms
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Sunday 28 October
Khrushchev agrees to remove the weapons
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Outcomes for USA
Kennedy had proved himself and was seen to have made Khrushchev back down, stood up to people in his own government. Had to remove missiles from Turkey - was NATO's decision, Had to accept that Cuba was Communist
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Outcomes for USSR
Khrushchev said he was a peacemaker, Cuba was safe, The missiles were withdrawn from Turkey, The allies criticised the USA. Khrushchev was forced to back down, Made no difference to the missile gap, 1964 Khrushchev forced from power
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Outcomes for Cuba
Stay Communist and heavily armed, Kept control of American companies and other economic resources. Was upset by the agreement but needed USSR support
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Outcomes for Cold War
Helped thaw relations, both leaders saw how close they'd got to a nuclear war and a phone link was set up. In 1963 they signed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which limited tests, It was clear that the USSR could not match the USA but it did not need to
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


USA Allies


USSR was powerful and so the USA needed allies, NATO in 1949, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) in 1954 and the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) in 1955. USA gave them money and practical support

Card 3


USSR Allies


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


USA Arms


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5




Preview of the front of card 5
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