Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

During the administration of United States

President John F. Kennedy, the Cold War reached its most dangerous state,
and the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
came to the edge of nuclear war in what was known as the Cuban Missile

Crisis. What was the Cold War? What started the tensions between the United

States and the USSR? What actions were taken and how were the problems
resolved? All of these questions and more shall be answered in this paper.

The Cold War was a struggle between the

United States and its allies and the Soviet Union. Although direct military
conflict never took place, diplomatic and economic struggles occurred.

The Cold War began when Joseph Stalin, leader of the Communist Party, used
the Red Army to take control of most of the countries of Eastern Europe.

The United States as well as Western European countries were greatly concerned.

In response to Stalin’s military movements, President Harry Truman issued
the Truman Doctrine in 1947. In his address to Congress, President

Truman asked that the United States would aid any country that asked for
help in resisting communism. The Truman Doctrine became known as
the basis for containment, the policy to keep communism from spreading
to other countries. After the Truman Doctrine, George Catlett Marshall,

Secretary of State, proposed the Marshall Plan, the European Recovery Program
through which the United States provided aid to Western Europe after World

War 2, in June 1947. The Marshall Plan was offered to all European
countries, but Stalin would not let the countries his military was occupying
take part. In April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
was formed. The countries involved in this pact were the United States,

Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. The NATO agreement said that "an
armed attack against one or more of its members in Europe and America shall
be considered an attack against them all." To ward off aggressors, American
forces and nuclear weapons were to be kept in Western Europe. In response
to NATO, the Soviet Union formed a similar pact between seven Eastern European
countries called the Warsaw Treaty Organization, or Warsaw Pact. The countries
involved along with the Soviet Union were Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia,

East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

While these pacts were forming, the United

States and the Soviet Union were in an arms race. They were building lots
of nuclear weapons, trying to outproduce each other so that neither dare
attack. This policy is called deterrence. By 1952, the United States tested
a hydrogen bomb, a bomb more powerful than an atomic bomb. A year later,
the Soviet Union also tested a hydrogen bomb. Both countries developed
rockets that had nuclear warheads. By 1957, the Soviet Union had developed
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s). ICBM’s could reach targets
all over the world.

While arms were building up, the Soviet

Union went through a major change in power. In 1953, Joseph Stalin, leader
of the Communist Party, died. After Stalin’s death, Nikita Khrushchev took
over the Communist Party. Khrushchev made things different. He said that
the Soviet Union would follow a policy of "peaceful coexistence" with the

West. This "peace" was to continue until the early sixties, when
new conflicts surfaced.

In the early 1960’s, new tensions arose
between the United States and the USSR when Fidel Castro openly embraced
communism and allied with the Soviet Union. Anastas Mikoyan, the

Soviet First Deputy Prime Minister, negotiated this alliance. Increasing
friction between the United States and the Soviet Union caused President

Dwight D. Eisenhower to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba. This was
the unofficial beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Before the ties were
severed, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been training Cuban
exiles for a possible invasion of Cuba. Newly inaugurated President John

F. Kennedy approved this invasion on April 12, 1961. On April 14, 1961,
a group of B-26 bombers, which were piloted by Cuban exiles, attacked air
bases in Cuba. This raid was designed to destroy most of Castro’s air power
before the land invasion was to take place. On April 17, 1961, the land
invasion of Cuba took place at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion forces consisted
of about 1400 Cuban exiles. Not much was achieved, though. Cuban ground
forces quickly stopped the invasion. Of the 1400 Cuban exiles, 114 were
killed and 1,189 were captured.

After the invasion in Cuba took place,
more tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union surfaced.

In August 1961, the East German government, which was occupied by the Soviet

Union, built the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was a