THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: “THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CRISIS IN ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE?” - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: “THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CRISIS IN ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE?” PowerPoint Presentation
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THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: “THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CRISIS IN ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE?”

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THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: “THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CRISIS IN ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE?”

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  1. THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS:“THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CRISIS IN ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE?”

  2. Cuba and Fidel Castro • 1898: U.S. took de facto control of Cuba • By 1956: Americans owned 80 percent of Cuba’s utilities, 40 percent of its sugar, 90 percent of its mining wealth, and its key strategic location of Guantanamo Bay • 1959: Fidel Castro took control of Cuba; he suppressed free speech and opposition parties, pushed for land reform and decreased dependence on U.S.; he confiscated American property and courted Cuban Communist Party; • Feb. 1960: Russians signed trade agreement to exchange Cuban sugar for Soviet oil, machinery, and technicians; American refineries refused to refine Soviet oil and Castro nationalized U.S. refineries • July 1960: U.S. cut Cuban sugar imports into U.S. and Castro seized more American property • Early 1961: Eisenhower approved a CIA plan for training Cuban exiles who desired to overthrow Castro • Was Castro a nationalist first and a communist second? [Sources: Castro’s Address at United Nations, Sept. 1960, How I Became A Communist]

  3. Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961) • April 17, 1961: JFK launched Bay of Pigs invasion; 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles waded ashore without projected American air cover; the supposedly secret invasion failed [Source: A. Schlesinger Jr. on Bay of Pigs] • American Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson was caught lying about U.S. support of the operation • Robert McNamara said later: “We were hysterical about Castro…” • Now we know: the Soviets and the Cubans knew about the planned attack, the CIA knew they knew—and still went ahead • JFK publicly accepted complete responsibility for Bay of Pigs; in private he appointed his brother Robert Kennedy to oversee a $100 million CIA plan, Operation Mongoose, to assassinate Castro and to sabotage the Cuban economy [Sources: Lansdale on Mongoose, Economic Embargo Against Cuba, and Church Committee Report] • Castro feared another American invasion and moved closer to the Soviets: Khrushchev sent Soviet troops to Cuba; Soviets secretly began to install nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba in summer of 1962 [Sources: CWIHP Virtual Archive: Cuba in the Cold War]

  4. The “Missile Gap” • As 1960 Democratic nominee JFK charged Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, with allowing a “missile gap” in the Soviets’ favor—it turned out to be in U.S. favor [Source: Campaign of 1960] • Oct. 14, 1962: U-2 plane filmed medium-range missiles (1,000 miles) on Cuban launching pads; a few days later it filmed intermediate missiles (2,000) under construction. • Khrushchev’s motives: to prevent U.S. invasion of Cuba; to surround U.S. with nuclear weapons (just as U.S. had done to S.U.); and to give Castro nuclear protection against U.S. • EXCOM: special committee of top administration officials met around the clock to advise JFK: Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Maxwell Taylor and Dean Acheson argued for an air strike; Undersecretary of State George Ball slowly won support for blockade; Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Special Counsel Theodore Sorensen doubted that missiles “significantly alter[ed] the balance of power.” • Oct. 22, 1962: JFK’s televised speech announcing the naval “quarantine” of Cuba, demanding the removal of the missiles, threatening a retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union, and appealing to remove missiles under UN supervision [Source: JFK's Radio and TV Address] • U.S. and Soviet nuclear forces went on full alert

  5. Whose 13 Days? • October 25, 1962: Russian ships did not challenge blockade • October 26, 1962: Khrushchev offered removal of the missiles in return for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba • October 27, 1962: Khrushchev demanded the dismantling of American short-range Jupiter missiles in Turkey; Soviet officer in Cuba shot down a U-2 plane; EXCOM began to plan for a military strike • In public, JFK accepted Khrushchev’s first offer (from Oct. 26) and in private, he consented to his second demand (to withdraw U.S. missiles in Turkey) [Source: RFK-Dobrynin Meeting] • October 28, 1962: Khrushchev accepted JFK’s offer; he knew U.S. was prepared to strike on October 30; but Castro refused to allow UN inspectors and refused to return Soviet long-range bombers • November 20, 1962: highest alert for U.S. forces ended as Castro returned the bombers

  6. The Berlin Connection • JFK stood firm when Khrushchev threatened to incorporate West Berlin in July 1961 • August 13, 1961: Khrushchev built Berlin Wall to seal off East Berlin (and East Germany) from the West; to stop emigration by East German skilled workers • Was JFK’s refusal to tear down the Berlin Wall “cowardice” or prudent statesmanship (to avoid a nuclear war in Europe)? • In JFK’s mind, Cuban Missile Crisis was about Berlin (E. May): U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons against S.U. was West Berlin’s only safeguard; if JFK had allowed missiles in Cuba, it would have threatened U.S. first-strike capability and may have forced JFK to surrender West Berlin or initiate global nuclear war • June 1963: JFK’s Berlin address: “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.” [Source:JFK in Berlin]

  7. A Victory for JFK? • Myth of Brinkmanship: Secretary of State Dean Rusk: "We're eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked." Until 1992, it was thought that Khrushchev surrendered unconditionally; JFK’s willingness to trade missiles in Cuba for missiles in Turkey was kept secret. • Near-Tragedy: EXCOM had planned an airstrike for October 30, 1962 to prevent Soviets from placing nuclear warheads on missiles in Cuba; Soviet officials revealed in 1991-1992 that 42 intermediate-range and 9 short-range nuclear missiles were in place during crisis. A stunned Robert McNamara commented in 1992: “This is horrifying. It meant that had a U.S. invasion been carried out … there was a 99 percent probability that nuclear war would have been initiated.” [Source: Declassified Documents] • Kennedy-Khrushchev correspondence, released in 1992, showed that on December 14, 1962 JFK maintained free reign to intervene in Cuba: “The other side of the coin, however, is that we do need to have adequate assurances that all offensive weapons are removed from Cuba and are not reintroduced, and that Cuba itself commits no aggressive acts against any of the nations of the Western Hemisphere.” [Source: Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges]

  8. Fallout • Republican Senator Barry Goldwater attacked JFK for selling out the Monroe Doctrine with his non-invasion pledge • JFK: “Domestic issues can only lose elections, but foreign policy issues can kill us all.” • McNamara: “… a missile is a missile … it makes no great difference whether you are killed by a missile from the Soviet Union or Cuba." • Rift in Western Alliance: Europeans had come “close to annihilation without representation”; De Gaulle built his own nuclear arsenal and rejected British entry into European Common Market • JFK began secret talks with Castro (cut short by assassination of JFK on Nov. 22, 1963) • Khrushchev was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev even though he had launched a massive military build-up in the Soviet Union • 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (prohibited aboveground nuclear testing): first arms-control pact in the midst of nuclear build-up • Hot-Line versus “rush into Vietnam”

  9. Historians Comment on “Thirteen Days,” Roger Donaldson’s Movie (2000) • Ernest May (Harvard historian, author of the Kennedy Tapes): -movie succeeds as thriller, mixed success as history -role of Kenneth O’Donnell overstated -JFK’s advisers do not resemble real-life men -role of military misrepresented -leaves out Cuban and Soviet angles -conveys truths of real crisis, JFK’s predicament (Berlin, not Cuba), and JFK’s statesmanship • Philip Brenner (Prof. of IR, American University): -movie fosters myth of U.S. as victim -movie’s time frame too narrow: leaves out Cuba, S.U. -movie leaves out causes of crisis: Soviets feared U.S. aggression against Cuba and U.S. first-strike against S.U. -contrary to movie, JFK did NOT know Soviets had deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba -movie credits American resolve for crisis resolution; in reality Soviets refrained from nuclear war and U.S. ignorance was most dangerous

  10. Recommended Readings • Cuban Missile Crisis 40th Anniversary Site, National Security Archive and George Washington University • Kennedy Administration Documents, U.S. Department of State • White House Tapes, Miller Center of Public Affairs • Laurence Chang, Peter Kornbluh, The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962—A National Security Archive Documents Reader (1992) • Aleksandr Fursenko, Timothy Naftali, “One Hell of a Gamble”: Khrushchev, Castro & Kennedy, 1958-1964 (1997) • Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days (1969) • Walter LaFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War: 1945-2006 10th ed. (2008) • Ernest May, Philip Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1997) • Don Munton, David Welch, The Cuban Missile Crisis (2007) • Philip Nash, The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957-1963 (1997) • James Nathan, ed., The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited (1992) • Sheldon Stern, The Week the World Stood Still (2005)