Cuban Missile Crisis

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2001

16 Pages, Grade: 12

Free online reading

I. Index

I. Introduction

II. Situation on Cuba before 1962

III. The fourteen days

IV. Soviet ambitions for missile deployment on Cuba

V. Estimation of Cuba’s threat

VI. Why did the crisis nearly escalate?

VII. How close was the war

VIII. Why would an escalation probably have led to a 3rd world war?

IX. Follow up

X. Our own Opinion-Conclusions

XI. Additional Information

XII. Sources

XIII. Judgement of sources

I. Introduction

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The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted from October 15th, 1962 to October the 28th, 1962. It is often described as the climax of the Cold War and almost brought the world to a third world war. In this report, we will first sum up the historical events of the fourteen days and then have a closer look at possible explanations.

II. Situation in Cuba before 1962

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Since Fidel Castro and Che Guevara organised a putsch and removed the old dictator Batista on Cuba by the year of 1957, the island in the Mexican gulf was ruled by a socialist system. Geographically seen this was the closest communist satellite to USA ever since.

The Soviet Union gained more and more influence in the isolated country and supported it.

The USA always wanted to remove the socialist system from Cuba (from their backyard, as some people said), but they were not sure how to do so. They had the ideas of an open invasion or covert operations.

However President Kennedy, who was elected president in 1961 (and assassinated in 1963), decided to make the CIA organise an invasion by exile Cubans on Cuba. The invasion was carried out on the 15 April 1961 at the “Bay of Pigs”. But the exile Cuban mercenaries were discovered early by the Cubans. Kennedy refused to give support by the Air-Force and so 1100 out of 1300 mercenaries were imprisoned.

It was discovered early that the Soviet Union supplied Cuba with defensive material, like radar or anti-aircraft missiles. President Kennedy warned the Soviet Union in September 1962 not to place offensive ground-to-ground-missiles on Cuba. The Premier of the Soviet Union at that time was Nikita Khrushchev, who was in office from 1958 up to 1964.

III. Fourteen Days

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15. October 1962

On a reconnaissance flight over Cuba, an U-21 aircraft took photos of the ground and discovered, that the Soviets had shipped some SS4(see III) middle range missiles onto the island. These had a range of about 1100 miles and were not completely installed yet.

16. October 1962

The next morning, the President was informed about the discovery. Instantly he arranged two meetings.

The first one was to have a look at the photos himself. For the second one, he hand- picked a group of trusted government officials, who are later referred to as the “EX- COMM” 2. They agreed on three major directions, how the conflict could be solved:

1. "The political course of action." Try to achieve a diplomatic victory over the Russians, so they would take their missiles back.
2. “Open surveillance" of the Russian offensive weapons entering Cuba combined with a blockade against new deliveries of missiles to the island.
3. "Military action directed against Cuba, starting with an air attack against the missiles," which would then be followed by an invasion.

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The American government also learned that more ships with more missiles were on their way to Cuba, too.

17. October 1962

If the whole problem had become public, a panic would have been very probable. That’s why Kennedy followed his planned schedule and visited Connecticut, to maintain secrecy.

When he returned, he was informed about the outcome of that day’s EX-COMM discussions. They had discovered SS5 (see IV) missiles, that had even a wider range than the SS4s. The army chiefs recommended a surprising attack against the missiles, that could be followed by an invasion. But Kennedy could not agree to that solution until then.

18. October 1962

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Kennedy met with Soviet foreign minister “Andrie Gromyko”. That meeting was long-planned. This meeting was a strange one, because the Americans did not know, if Gromyko knew, that they had discovered the missiles and so they did not ask him about them. Kennedy just reminded

Gromyko one more time, that he would not accept offensive weapons in Cuba.

In the evening the EX-COMM members met again and were more and more convinced by the idea of a blockade instead of air-strikes. The blockade could only stop new missiles from arriving and would give the USA some diplomatic advantage, but they were still to deal with the missiles already there.

Before the day was over, Kennedy ordered two speeches for the 22nd of October.

One for the case of a blockade, the other one in case of an attack.

19. October 1962

Kennedy’s Joint Chiefs still recommended an Air-Strike, but Kennedy was still not convinced and went on a trip to the Mid-West, to prevent a panic within the population.

20. October 1962

The EX-COMM agreed to the two speeches, that were prepared. Kennedy had to return earlier from his trip, because a final decision between quarantine or air-strike had to be made. Kennedy preferred the blockade, because it would start in a minor category than the air-strikes.

21. October 1962

Kennedy met again with his top advisors and asked them if all missiles could be destroyed by an air-strike. But the chiefs couldn’t guarantee this and the calculated casualties were very high too.

It was decided, that Kennedy would use the word quarantine instead of blockade in his speech, because a blockade implements a military action. So the Americans would have their blockade with a legal touch.

Also the press started learning about the situation in Cuba, but Kennedy told them to remain still for one more day, as he would talk to the public on the following evening.

22. October 1962

During the day, many actions were taken to prepare the speech of the president in the evening. Also all American allies were informed and about 300 Navy ships were sent on their way to create a 800 miles quarantine zone around Cuba.

Military alert was raised to DEFCON 33 and instructions were given to be ready to

launch missiles immediately.

At 7.00 pm Kennedy gave his TV speech, but before that, he had sent a copy to Khrushchev, who replied and warned Americans that they were endangering world peace.

16 of 16 pages


Cuban Missile Crisis
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Cuban, Missile, Crisis
Quote paper
Björn Franke (Author), 2001, Cuban Missile Crisis, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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