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Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis. The Missiles: One Site. A Brief Chronology. May, 1962: Khrushchev makes veiled references to a plot (How would the U.S. feel to have missiles pointing at them, as they have missiles pointed at us?)

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Cuban Missile Crisis

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  1. Cuban Missile Crisis

  2. The Missiles: One Site

  3. A Brief Chronology • May, 1962: Khrushchev makes veiled references to a plot (How would the U.S. feel to have missiles pointing at them, as they have missiles pointed at us?) • September: JFK and Congress issue warnings to USSR that US will deal harshly with any threats to national security • October 14: U2 recon. flight over Cuba spots sites installing nuclear missiles • October 15: Presence of missiles is confirmed

  4. Chronology, Continued • October 16: President Kennedy notified • October 16-22: Secret deliberations on what should be done • October 22: Kennedy tells nation his plan for blockade and quarantine • October 23: OAS endorses naval quarantine • October 24: Naval quarantine begins and successfully changes course of many Soviet ships

  5. Chronology, Continued • October 25: One Soviet ship challenges naval quarantine; Kennedy lets it pass • October 25: At the UN, Adlai Stevenson directly challenges the Soviet ambassador to admit to the existence of missiles, when the ambassador refuses, Stevenson wheels out pictures of the missile sites • October 26: Soviets raise possibility for a deal: if we withdraw missiles will America promise not to invade Cuba?

  6. Chronology, Continued • October 27: Soviets demand that Americans also withdraw missiles from Turkey; Major Anderson’s plane is missing over Cuba, presumably shot down; U.S. recon plane strays over Soviet airspace…high tensions • Kennedy tells Khrushchev that he will accept the proposal of the 26th, Kennedy tells his brother to tell the Soviet Ambassador that though the Turkey missiles would not be part of the bargain, they would be removed in time • October 28: USSR agrees to withdraw missiles

  7. Soviet Decisions • Motivations • Close the missile gap—Currently far behind U.S. in terms of number of missiles • Verbal threats no longer effective with overwhelming evidence of U.S. superiority • Protect Cuba • Reciprocity: The U.S. has missiles pointing at us, let’s see how they feel nowInability to use the missiles • If fired a missile, repercussions would be severe

  8. Why Khrushchev Settled • Effectiveness of naval quarantine • Conventional inferiority in the Caribbean • No possible countermove • Overwhelming world support for the U.S. • Other possible reasons • Got what he wanted? • No U.S. invasion of Cuba • U.S. missiles withdrawn from Turkey

  9. The American Decision • Option 1 - Air Strike • On October 17th, President Kennedy “made the flat statement that there would definitely be an air strike, at least against the missile sites, and perhaps against wider targets” (Bundy 394) • Reservations from others, airstrike may be using a “sledgehammer” to kill a “fly • Later that day Robert McNamara suggests policy in between diplomacy and an air strike

  10. The American Decision cont. • Option 2 – Blockade • Advocated early on by McNamara and Robert Kennedy, blockade would not require instant killing, but critics feared it would not remove the missiles and would allow Soviets time to complete what they already had in Cuba • Douglas Dillon strengthened blockade argument by suggesting that it would only be a first step, that if Khrushchev did not remove the missiles to lift it, then more could be done • By Friday the 19th, the committee working on the blockade adapted it into a quarantine, on Sunday Kennedy accepted their plan as the course of action

  11. Castro’s Role • No real role in decision making • Apparently out of touch with the situation • Oct. 26: “Aggression imminent/imperialists disregarding world opinion”—Clearly not the case • Khrushchev plays along to some extent but it is clear he disagrees with him (“your suggestion would have started a thermonuclear world war”)

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