Cuban Missile Crisis From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Download 58.6 Kb.
Size58.6 Kb.
Cuban Missile Crisis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba in October 1962, during the Cold War. In Russia, former Eastern Bloc, and communist countries (i.e. China and North Korea), it is termed the "Caribbean Crisis" (Russian: Карибский кризис, Karibskiy krizis), while in Cuba it is called the "October Crisis" (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre). In September 1962, the Cuban and Soviet governments placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. When United States intelligence discovered the weapons, the U.S. government sought to do all it could to ensure the removal of the missiles. The crisis ranks with the Berlin Blockade as one of the major confrontations of the Cold War, and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to a nuclear war.[1]

The tensions were at their height from October 8th, 1962, which was known as "Black Saturday". On October 14th, United States reconnaissance observed missile bases being built in Cuba. The crisis ended two weeks later on October 28th, 1962, when the President John F. Kennedy and the United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with the Soviets to dismantle the missiles in exchange for a no-invasion agreement. In his negotiations with the Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy informally proposed that the Jupiter missiles in Turkey would be removed "within a short time after this crisis was over"[2]. The last missiles were taken down by April 24th, 1963, and were flown out of Turkey soon after.[3]


The Americans feared the Soviet expansion of Stalinism, but for a Latin American country to ally openly with the USSR was regarded as unacceptable, given the Russo-American enmity since the end of the Second World War in 1945. Such an involvement would also directly defy America's Monroe Doctrine, which held that European powers should not get involved in American matters.

The United States had been embarrassed publicly in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, which had been launched by the CIA under President John F. Kennedy. Afterwards, former President Eisenhower told Kennedy that "The failure of the Bay of Pigs will embolden the Soviets to do something that they would otherwise not do."[4] The halfhearted invasion left Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and his advisers with the impression that Kennedy was indecisive and, as one Soviet adviser wrote, "too young, intellectual, not prepared well for decision making in crisis situations ... too intelligent and too weak."[4] Covert operations continued in 1961 in the unsuccessful Operation Mongoose.[5] Publicly, in February 1962, the United States launched an economic embargo against Cuba.[6]

The United States considered covert action again and inserted CIA paramilitary officers from their Special Activities Division. [7] Air Force General Curtis LeMay presented to Kennedy a pre-invasion bombing plan in September, while spy flights and minor military harassment from the United States Guantanamo Naval Base were the subject of continual Cuban diplomatic complaints to the U.S. government.

In September 1962, the Cuban government saw what it perceived to be significant evidence that the U.S. would invade, including a joint U.S. Congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force in Cuba if American interests were threatened,[8] and the announcement of a U.S. military exercise in the Caribbean planned for the following month (Operation Ortsac).

Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro agreed to place strategic nuclear missiles secretly in Cuba. Like Castro, Khrushchev felt that a U.S. invasion of Cuba was imminent, and that to lose Cuba would do great harm to the communist cause, especially in Latin America. He said he wanted to confront the Americans "with more than words...the logical answer was missiles."[9] The Soviet leadership believed that Kennedy would avoid confrontation and accept the missiles as a fait accompli, based on Kennedy's perceived lack of confidence during the Bay of Pigs invasion.[10] The Soviet missiles in Cuba could also been seen as a counter to the US Jupiter IRBMs in Turkey.

It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.[11]

This speech included another key policy: To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation and port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.

Kennedy ordered intensified surveillance, and cited cooperation from the foreign ministers of the Organization of American States (OAS). Kennedy "directed the Armed Forces to prepare for any eventualities; and I trust that in the interest of both the Cuban people and the Soviet technicians at the sites, the hazards to all concerned of continuing the threat will be recognized." He called for emergency meetings of the OAS and United Nations Security Council to deal with the matter.[11]

U-2 reconnaissance photograph of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Shown are the transports and tents for fuelling and maintenance.The first consignment of SS-3 MRBMs (medium range ballistic missiles) arrived on the night of September 8, followed by a second on September 16. The Soviets were building nine sites — six for SS-4s and three for SS-5s with a 4,000 kilometer-range (2,400 statute miles). The planned arsenal was forty launchers, a 70% increase in first strike capacity. The Cuban populace readily noticed it, with over one thousand reports reaching Miami, which U.S. intelligence considered spurious.[12]

On October 7th, Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticós (1959-1976) spoke at the U.N. General Assembly: "If ... we are attacked, we will defend ourselves. I repeat, we have sufficient means with which to defend ourselves; we have indeed our inevitable weapons, the weapons, which we would have preferred not to acquire, and which we do not wish to employ". Several unrelated problems meant the missiles were not discovered by the U.S. until an October 14th Lockheed U-2 flight showed the construction of an SS-4 site at San Cristóbal, Pinar del Río Province, in western Cuba.

Planning an American Response

When President Kennedy saw the photographs on October 16th,[13] he assembled the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM), fourteen key officials and his brother Robert, at 9.00 a.m. The U.S. had no plan for dealing with such a threat, because U.S. intelligence was convinced that the Soviets would not install nuclear missiles in Cuba. The EXCOMM quickly discussed five possible courses of action:

  1. Do nothing.

  2. Use diplomatic pressure to get the Soviet Union to remove the missiles.

  3. An air attack on the missiles.

  4. A full military invasion.

  5. The naval blockade of Cuba, which was redefined as a more restrictive quarantine.[14]

Unanimously, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution. They agreed that the Soviets would not act to stop the U.S. from conquering Cuba; Kennedy was sceptical, saying:

They, no more than we, can let these things go by without doing something. They can't, after all their statements, permit us to take out their missiles, kill a lot of Russians, and then do nothing. If they don't take action in Cuba, they certainly will in Berlin.[15]

Kennedy concluded that attacking by air would signal the Soviets to presume "a clear line" to conquer Berlin. Adding that in taking such an action, the United States' allies would think of the U.S. as "trigger-happy cowboys" who lost Berlin because they could not peacefully resolve the Cuban situation.

President Kennedy and Secretary of Defense McNamara in an EXCOMM meeting.The EXCOMM then discussed the effect on the strategic balance. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believed that the missiles would seriously alter the balance, but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara disagreed. He was convinced that the missiles would not affect the strategic balance at all. An extra forty, he reasoned, would make little difference to the overall strategic balance. The US already had circa 5,000 strategic warheads, whilst the Soviet Union only had 300. He concluded that the Soviets having 340 would not therefore substantially alter the strategic balance. In 1990 he reiterated that "it made no difference...The military balance wasn't changed. I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now."[16]

The EXCOMM did agree, however, that the missiles would affect the political balance. First, Kennedy had explicitly promised the American people less than a month before the crisis that "if Cuba should possess a capacity to carry out offensive actions against the United States...the United States would act"[17]. Second, U.S. credibility amongst their allies, and amongst the American people, would have been damaged if they had allowed the Soviet Union to appear to redress the strategic balance by placing missiles in Cuba. Kennedy explained after the crisis that "it would have politically changed the balance of power. It would have appeared to, and appearances contribute to reality."[18]

A full-scale invasion was not the first option, but something had to be done. Robert McNamara supported the naval blockade as a strong but limited military action that left the U.S. in control. According to international law a blockade is an act of war, but the Kennedy administration did not feel itself limited, thinking that the USSR would not be provoked to attack by a mere blockade.[citation needed]

By October 19th, frequent U-2 spy flights showed four operational sites. As part of the blockade, the US military was put on high alert to enforce the blockade and to be ready to invade Cuba at a moment's notice. The 1st Armored Division was sent to Georgia, and five army divisions were alerted for maximal action. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) distributed its shorter-ranged B-47 Stratojet medium bombers to civilian airports and sent aloft its B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers.


A U.S. Navy P-2 of VP-18 flying over a Soviet freighter.In customary international practice, a blockade stops all shipments into the blockaded area, and is considered an act of war. Quarantines are more selective, as, in this case, being limited to offensive weapons. While the original U.S. Navy paper did use the term "blockade,"

This initially was to involve a naval blockade against offensive weapons within the framework of the Organization of American States and the Rio Treaty. Such a blockade might be expanded to cover all types of goods and air transport. The action was to be backed up by surveillance of Cuba. The CNO's scenario was followed closely in later implementing the quarantine.

Kennedy made an address to the Nation in which he said "To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated." "1962 Year In Review: Cuban Missile Crisis"

Admiral Anderson's paper, by differentiating between the quarantine of offensive weapons and all materials, indicated that a classic blockade was not the original intention. Since it would take place in international waters, President Kennedy obtained the approval of the OAS for military action under the hemispheric defense provisions of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (i.e., the Rio Treaty).

Latin American participation in the quarantine now involved two Argentine destroyers which were to report to the U.S. Commander South Atlantic [COMSOLANT] at Trinidad on November 9th. An Argentine submarine and a Marine battalion with lift were available if required. In addition, two Venezuelan destroyers and one submarine had reported to COMSOLANT, ready for sea by November 2. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago offered the use of Chaguaramas Naval Base to warships of any OAS nation for the duration of the quarantine. The Dominican Republic had made available one escort ship. Colombia was reported ready to furnish units and had sent military officers to the U.S. to discuss this assistance. The Argentine Air Force informally offered three SA-16 aircraft in addition to forces already committed to the quarantine operation.[19]

President Kennedy signs the Proclamation for Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba at the Oval Office on October 23, 1962.At 7 p.m., on October 22nd, President Kennedy delivered a televised radio address announcing the discovery of the missiles. As part of the context of the speech a directive went out to all US forces worldwide placing them on DEFCON 4. The world wide US Forces DEFCON 4 status was returned to DEFCON 5 on November 20th, 1962.

Crisis deepens

Only an hour later, at 11:24 a.m. a cable drafted by George Ball to the U.S. Ambassador in Turkey and the U.S. Ambassador to NATO notified them that they were considering making an offer to withdraw missiles from Turkey in exchange for a withdrawal from Cuba. Later, on the morning of October 25th, journalist Walter Lippman proposed the same thing in his syndicated column. For many years, this has been interpreted as a trial balloon floated by the Kennedy administration, although the historical record suggests this is not the case.[citation needed]

At the time the crisis continued unabated, and that evening TASS[citation needed] reported on an exchange of telegrams between Khrushchev and Bertrand Russell, where Khrushchev warned that the United States' "pirate action" would lead to war. However, this was followed at 9:24 p.m. by a telegram from Khrushchev to Kennedy which was received at 10:52 p.m., in which Khrushchev stated that "if you coolly weigh the situation which has developed, not giving way to passions, you will understand that the Soviet Union cannot fail to reject the arbitrary demands of the United States", and that the Soviet Union views the blockade as "an act of aggression" and their ships will be instructed to ignore it.

On the night of October 23rd, the Joint Chiefs of Staff instructed Strategic Air Command to go to DEFCON 2, for the only confirmed time in history. The message, and the response, were deliberately transmitted uncoded, unencrypted, in order to allow Soviet intelligence to intercept them.[5] Operation Falling Leaves quickly set up three radar bases to watch for missile launches from Cuba.[clarification needed] The radars were experimental models ahead of their time. Each base was connected with a hotline to NORAD control.

At 1:45 a.m., on October 25th, Kennedy responded to Khrushchev's telegram, stating that the U.S. was forced into action after receiving repeated assurances that no offensive missiles were being placed in Cuba, and that when these assurances proved to be false, the deployment "required the responses I have announced... I hope that your government will take necessary action to permit a restoration of the earlier situation."

A recently declassified map used by the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet showing the position of American and Soviet ships at the height of the crisis.At 7:15 a.m., the USS Essex and USS Gearing attempted to intercept the Bucharest but failed to do so. Fairly certain the tanker did not contain any military material, it was allowed through the blockade. Later that day, at 5:43 p.m., the commander of the blockade effort ordered the USS Kennedy to intercept and board the Lebanese freighter Marcula. This took place the next day, and the Marcula was cleared through the blockade after its cargo was checked.

At 5:00 p.m., William Clements announced that the missiles in Cuba were still actively being worked on. This report was later verified by a CIA report that suggested there had been no slow-down at all. In response, Kennedy issued Security Action Memorandum 199, authorizing the loading of nuclear weapons onto aircraft under the command of SACEUR (which had the duty of carrying out the first air strikes on the Soviet Union).

The next morning, Kennedy informed the executive committee that he believed only an invasion would remove the missiles from Cuba. However, he was persuaded to give the matter time and continue with both military and diplomatic pressure. He agreed and ordered the low-level flights over the island to be increased from two per day to once every two hours. He also ordered a crash program to institute a new civil government in Cuba if an invasion went ahead.

At this point, the crisis was ostensibly at a stalemate. The USSR had shown no indication that they would back down and had made several comments to the contrary. The U.S. had no reason to believe otherwise and was in the early stages of preparing for an invasion, along with a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in case it responded militarily, which was assumed.[20]

Secret negotiations

This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2009)

At 1:00 p.m., John A. Scali of ABC News had lunch with Aleksandr Fomin at Fomin's request. Fomin noted that "war seems about to break out" and asked Scali to use his contacts to talk to his "high-level friends" at the State Department to see if the U.S. would be interested in a diplomatic solution. He suggested that the language of the deal would contain an assurance from the Soviet Union to remove the weapons under UN supervision and that Castro would publicly announce that he would not accept such weapons in the future, in exchange for a public statement by the U.S. that it would never invade Cuba. The U.S. responded by asking the Brazilian government to pass a message to Castro that the U.S. would be "unlikely to invade" if the missiles were removed.

At 6:00 p.m., the State Department started receiving a message that appeared to be written personally by Khrushchev. Robert Kennedy described the letter as "very long and emotional." Khrushchev reiterated the basic outline that had been stated to John Scali earlier in the day, "I propose: we, for our part, will declare that our ships bound for Cuba are not carrying any armaments. You will declare that the United States will not invade Cuba with its troops and will not support any other forces which might intend to invade Cuba. Then the necessity of the presence of our military specialists in Cuba will disappear." At 6:45pm, news of Fomin's offer to Scali was finally heard and was interpreted as a "set up" for the arrival of Khrushchev's letter. The letter was then considered official and accurate, although it was later learned that Fomin was almost certainly operating of his own accord without official backing. Additional study of the letter was ordered and continued into the night. Canada, the NORAD ally of the United States, was not consulted in these negotiations.

Crisis continues

“ Direct aggression against Cuba would mean nuclear war. The Americans speak about such aggression as if they did not know or did not want to accept this fact. I have no doubt they would lose such a war. ”

— Ernesto "Che" Guevara, October 1962[21]

S-75 Dvina with V-750V 1D missile on a launcher. An installation similar to this one shot down Major Anderson's U-2 over Cuba.Castro, on the other hand, was convinced that an invasion was soon at hand, and he dictated a letter to Khrushchev which appeared to call for a preemptive strike on the U.S. He also ordered all anti-aircraft weapons in Cuba to fire on any U.S. aircraft, whereas in the past they had been ordered only to fire on groups of two or more. At 6:00 a.m., on October 27th, the CIA delivered a memo reporting that three of the four missile sites at San Cristobal and the two sites at Sagua la Grande appeared to be fully operational. They also noted that the Cuban military continued to organize for action, although they were under order not to initiate action unless attacked.

At 9 a.m., Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. Contrary to the letter of the night before, the message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiters from Turkey. Throughout the crisis, Turkey had repeatedly stated that it would be upset if the Jupiter missiles were removed. At 10 a.m., the executive committee met again to discuss the situation and came to the conclusion that the change in the message was due to internal debate between Khrushchev and other party officials in the Kremlin.[22] McNamara noted that another tanker, the Grozny, was about 600 miles (970 km) out and should be intercepted. He also noted that they had not made the USSR aware of the quarantine line and suggested relaying this information to them via U Thant at the UN.

Air Force U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft of the type shot down over Cuba. The aircraft in 1962 was painted overall gray.While the meeting progressed, at 11:03 a.m. a new message began to arrive from Khrushchev. The message stated, in part, "You are disturbed over Cuba. You say that this disturbs you because it is ninety miles by sea from the coast of the United States of America. But... you have placed destructive missile weapons, which you call offensive, in Turkey, literally next to us... I therefore make this proposal: We are willing to remove from Cuba the means which you regard as offensive... Your representatives will make a declaration to the effect that the United States ... will remove its analogous means from Turkey ... and after that, persons entrusted by the United Nations Security Council could inspect on the spot the fulfillment of the pledges made." The executive committee continued to meet through the day.

The engine of the Lockheed U-2 shot down over Cuba on display at Museum of the Revolution in Havana.That morning, a U-2 piloted by USAF Major Rudolf Anderson, departed its forward operating location at McCoy AFB, Florida, and at approximately 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, he was shot down and killed by an S-75 Dvina (NATO designation SA-2 Guideline) SAM launched from an emplacement in Cuba. The stress in negotiations between the USSR and the U.S. intensified, and only later was it learned that the decision to fire was made locally by an undetermined Soviet commander acting on his own authority. Later that day, at about 3:41 p.m., several U.S. Navy RF-8A Crusader reconnaissance aircraft on low-level photo reconnaissance missions were fired upon, and one was hit by a 37 mm shell but managed to return to base. At 4 p.m., Kennedy recalled the executive committee to the White House and ordered that a message immediately be sent to U Thant asking if the Soviets would "suspend" work on the missiles while negotiations were carried out. During this meeting, Maxwell Taylor delivered the news that the U-2 had been shot down. Kennedy had earlier claimed he would order an attack on such sites if fired upon, but he decided to leave the matter unless another attack was made. In an interview 40 years later, McNamara remembers (Note that he dates, from memory, the shooting down of the U-2 to Friday, October 26):

We had to send a U-2 over to gain reconnaissance information on whether the Soviet missiles were becoming operational. We believed that if the U-2 was shot down that—the Cubans didn't have capabilities to shoot it down, the Soviets did—we believed if it was shot down, it would be shot down by a Soviet surface-to-air-missile unit, and that it would represent a decision by the Soviets to escalate the conflict. And therefore, before we sent the U-2 out, we agreed that if it was shot down we wouldn't meet, we'd simply attack. It was shot down on Friday [...]. Fortunately, we changed our mind, we thought "Well, it might have been an accident, we won't attack." Later we learned that Khrushchev had reasoned just as we did: we send over the U-2, if it was shot down, he reasoned we would believe it was an intentional escalation. And therefore, he issued orders to Pliyev, the Soviet commander in Cuba, to instruct all of his batteries not to shoot down the U-2.[23]

Drafting the response

Emissaries sent by both Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev agreed to meet at the Yenching Palace Chinese restaurant in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington D.C.[24] Kennedy suggested that they take Khrushchev's offer to trade away the missiles. Unknown to most members of the EXCOMM, Robert Kennedy had been meeting with the USSR Ambassador in Washington to discover whether these intentions were genuine. The EXCOMM was generally against the proposal because it would undermine NATO, and the Turkish government had repeatedly stated it was against any such trade.

As the meeting progressed, a new plan emerged and Kennedy was slowly persuaded. The new plan called for the President to ignore the latest message and instead to return to Khrushchev's earlier one. Kennedy was initially hesitant, feeling that Khrushchev would no longer accept the deal because a new one had been offered, but Llewellyn Thompson argued that he might accept it anyway. White House Special Counsel and Advisor Ted Sorensen and Robert Kennedy left the meeting and returned 45 minutes later with a draft letter to this effect. The President made several changes, had it typed, and sent it. After the EXCOMM meeting, a smaller meeting continued in the Oval Office. The group argued that the letter should be underscored with an oral message to Ambassador Dobrynin stating that if the missiles were not withdrawn, military action would be used to remove them. Dean Rusk added one proviso, that no part of the language of the deal would mention Turkey, but there would be an understanding that the missiles would be removed "voluntarily" in the immediate aftermath. The President agreed, and the message was sent.

An EXCOMM meeting during the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy, Secretary of State Rusk, and Secretary of Defense McNamara, in the White House Cabinet Room.At Juan Brito's request, Fomin and Scali met again. Scali asked why the two letters from Khrushchev were so different, and Fomin claimed it was because of "poor communications". Scali replied that the claim was not credible and shouted that he thought it was a "stinking double cross". He went on to claim that an invasion was only hours away, at which point Fomin stated that a response to the U.S. message was expected from Khrushchev shortly, and he urged Scali to tell the State Department that no treachery was intended. Scali said that he did not think anyone would believe him, but he agreed to deliver the message. The two went their separate ways, and Scali immediately typed out a memo for the EXCOMM.

Within the U.S. establishment, it was well understood that ignoring the second offer and returning to the first put Khrushchev in a terrible position. Military preparations continued, and all active duty Air Force personnel were recalled to base for possible action. Robert Kennedy later recalled the mood, "We had not abandoned all hope, but what hope there was now rested with Khrushchev's revising his course within the next few hours. It was a hope, not an expectation. The expectation was military confrontation by Tuesday, and possibly tomorrow..."

At 8:05 p.m., the letter drafted earlier in the day was delivered. The message read, "As I read your letter, the key elements of your proposals—which seem generally acceptable as I understand them—are as follows: 1) You would agree to remove these weapons systems from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision; and undertake, with suitable safe-guards, to halt the further introduction of such weapon systems into Cuba. 2) We, on our part, would agree—upon the establishment of adequate arrangements through the United Nations, to ensure the carrying out and continuation of these commitments (a) to remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect and (b) to give assurances against the invasion of Cuba." The letter was also released directly to the press to ensure it could not be "delayed."

With the letter delivered, a deal was on the table. However, as Robert Kennedy noted, there was little expectation it would be accepted. At 9 p.m., the EXCOMM met again to review the actions for the following day. Plans were drawn up for air strikes on the missile sites as well as other economic targets, notably petroleum storage. McNamara stated that they had to "have two things ready: a government for Cuba, because we're going to need one; and secondly, plans for how to respond to the Soviet Union in Europe, because sure as hell they're going to do something there".

At 12:12 a.m., on October 27th, the U.S. informed its NATO allies that "the situation is growing shorter... the United States may find it necessary within a very short time in its interest and that of its fellow nations in the Western Hemisphere to take whatever military action may be necessary." To add to the concern, at 6 a.m. the CIA reported that all missiles in Cuba were ready for action.

On October 27th, the US Navy dropped a series of "signaling depth charges" (explosives designed to signal submarines) on a Soviet submarine (B-59) at the quarantine line, unaware that it was armed with a nuclear-tipped torpedo with orders that allowed it to be used if the submarine was "hulled" (hole in the hull from depth charges or surface fire).[25]

Ending the crisis of 1962

After much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy's cabinet, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in Turkey on the border of the Soviet Union in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba.

At 9 a.m., on October 28th, a new message from Khrushchev was broadcast on Radio Moscow. Khrushchev stated that, "the Soviet government, in addition to previously issued instructions on the cessation of further work at the building sites for the weapons, has issued a new order on the dismantling of the weapons which you describe as 'offensive' and their crating and return to the Soviet Union."

Kennedy immediately responded, issuing a statement calling the letter "an important and constructive contribution to peace". He continued this with a formal letter: "I consider my letter to you of October twenty-seventh and your reply of today as firm undertakings on the part of both our governments which should be promptly carried out... The U.S. will make a statement in the framework of the Security Council in reference to Cuba as follows: it will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other countries neighbouring to Cuba."[26]

The practical effect of this Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact was that it effectively strengthened Castro's position in Cuba in that he would not be invaded by the United States. It is possible that Khrushchev only placed the missiles in Cuba to get Kennedy to remove the missiles from Turkey and that the Soviets had no intention of resorting to nuclear war if they were out-gunned by the Americans. However, because the withdrawals from Turkey were not made public at the time, Khrushchev appeared to have lost the conflict and become weakened. The perception was that Kennedy had won the contest between the superpowers and Khrushchev had been humiliated. However, this is not entirely the case as both Kennedy and Khrushchev took every step to avoid full conflict despite the pressures of their governments. Khrushchev held power for another two years.[26]


The compromise was a particularly sharp embarrassment for Khrushchev and the Soviet Union because the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey was not made public—it was a secret deal between Kennedy and Khrushchev. The Russians were seen as retreating from circumstances that they had started — though if played well, it could have looked just the opposite. Khrushchev's fall from power two years later can be partially linked to Politburo embarrassment at both Khrushchev's eventual concessions to the U.S. and his ineptitude in precipitating the crisis in the first place. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis was not solely responsible for the fall of Khrushchev. The main reason was that rival politicians such as Leonid Brezhnev believed that Khrushchev did not have enough "power" to handle international crises[citation needed].

For Cuba, it was a partial betrayal by the Soviets, given that decisions on how to resolve the crisis had been made exclusively by Kennedy and Khrushchev, and certain issues of interest to Cuba, such as the status of Guantanamo, were not addressed. This caused deteriorated Cuban-Soviet relations for years to come.[27] On the other hand, Cuba continued to be protected from invasion.

One U.S. military commander was not happy with the result either. General LeMay told the President that it was "the greatest defeat in our history" and that the U.S. should invade immediately.

The Cuban Missile Crisis spurred the Hotline Agreement, which created the Moscow-Washington hot line, a direct communications link between Moscow and Washington, D.C. The purpose was to have a way that the leaders of the two Cold War countries could communicate directly to solve such a crisis.

Various commentators (Melman, 1988; Hersh, 1997) also suggest that the Cuban Missile Crisis encouraged U.S. use of military means, such as in the Vietnam War.

This Russo-American confrontation was synchronous with the Sino-Indian War, dating from the U.S.'s military quarantine of Cuba; historians speculate that the Chinese attack against India for disputed land was meant to coincide with the Cuban Missile Crisis.[28]

Historical notes

Adlai Stevenson shows aerial photos of Cuban missiles to the United Nations in November 1962.Arthur Schlesinger, historian and adviser to John F. Kennedy, on National Public Radio on October 16, 2002, concluded that Castro had not wanted the missiles but that Khrushchev had forced them upon Cuba in a bit of political arm-twisting and "socialist solidarity." However, Castro has said that although he was not completely happy about the idea of the missiles in Cuba, the Cuban National Directorate of the Revolution accepted them to protect Cuba against U.S. attack, and to aid its ally, the Soviet Union.[29] Schlesinger believed that, having accepted the missiles, Castro was angrier with Khrushchev than he was with Kennedy when the missiles were withdrawn, because Khrushchev had not consulted Castro before deciding to remove them from Cuba.[30]

In early 1992, it was confirmed that Soviet forces in Cuba had, by the time the crisis broke, received tactical nuclear warheads for their artillery rockets and IL-28 bombers,[31] though General Anatoly Gribkov, part of the Soviet staff responsible for the operation, stated that the local Soviet commander, General Issa Pliyev, had predelegated authority to use them if the U.S. had mounted a full-scale invasion of Cuba. Gribkov misspoke: the Kremlin's authorization remained unsigned and undelivered.[citation needed] (Other accounts show that Pliyev was given permission to use tactical nuclear warheads but only in the most extreme case of a U.S. invasion during which contact with Moscow was lost. However, when U.S. forces seemed to be readying for an attack (after the U-2 photos, but before Kennedy's television address), Khrushchev rescinded his earlier permission for Pliyev to use the tactical nuclear weapons, even under the most extreme conditions.)

Castro has stated that he knew during the crisis that the warheads had indeed reached Cuba, and that he would have recommended their use in the event of invasion, despite being sure that Cuba would be completely destroyed should nuclear war break out.[31]

In October 1997, The John F. Kennedy Library released a set of tape recordings documenting the crisis for the period October 18 to October 26, 1962. These recordings were made in the Oval Office. They include President Kennedy's personal recollections of discussions, conversations with his advisers, meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the president's executive committee.

Arguably the most dangerous moment in the crisis was unrecognized until the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference in October 2002, attended by many of the veterans of the crisis, at which it was learned that on October 26, 1962 the USS Beale had tracked and dropped signalling depth charges on the B-39, a Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine which was armed with a nuclear torpedo. Running out of air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and desperately needed to surface. An argument broke out among three officers on the B-39, including submarine captain Valentin Savitsky, political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and chief of staff of the submarine flotilla, Commander Vasiliy Arkhipov. An exhausted Savitsky became furious and ordered that the nuclear torpedo on board be made combat ready. Accounts differ about whether Commander Arkhipov convinced Savitsky not to make the attack, or whether Savitsky himself finally concluded that the only reasonable choice left open to him was to come to the surface.[32]

At the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference, Robert McNamara admitted that nuclear war had come much closer than people had thought. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said that "a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."

[edit] See also

Cuba portal

Central Intelligence Agency

International crisis

Cold War


Bomber gap

Missile gap

Dino Brugioni

Cuba – United States relations

Cuba–Soviet Union relations

Stanislav Petrov

Sino-Indian War

Able Archer 83

Norwegian rocket incident

[edit] Media

Missiles of October, a dramatization

Thirteen Days (book)

Thirteen Days (film)

The Fog of War, a film biography of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath, a videogame set in this period

The World Next Door, a novel set in this period

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, features a parody known as the Newfoundland Missile Crisis[33]

[edit] Notes

^ B. Gregory Marfleet, ‘The Operational Code of John F. Kennedy During the Cuban Missile Crisis: A Comparison of Public and Private Rhetoric’, Political Psychology, 21/3, p 545.

^ Glover, Jonathan (2000). Humanity: a moral history of the twentieth century. Yale University Press. p. 222. ISBN 0300087004. Retrieved July 2, 2009.

^ Schlesinger, Arthur (2002). Robert Kennedy and his times. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 523. ISBN 0618219285. Retrieved July 2, 2009.

^ a b Mind-Sets and Missiles: A First Hand Account of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kenneth Michael Absher, Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College, 2009, p. 10.

^ a b Franklin, Jane, [excerpts from The Cuban Missile Crisis - An In-Depth Chronology],

^ The American Presidency Project. "Proclamation 3447—Embargo on all trade with Cuba".

^ Shadow Warrior: The CIA Hero of 100 unknown battles, Felix Rodriguez and John Weisman, Publisher: Simon & Schuster, October 1989, ISBN 9780671667214

^ Cuban resolution,october U.S. Public Law 87-733, S.J. Res. 230

^ quote in Weldes, J. - "Constructing National Interests: The United States and the Cuban Missile Crisis" University of Minnesota Press, 1999 p.29

^ Absher, p. 1.

^ a b Kennedy, John F. (October 22, 1962) ([dead link] – Scholar search), Speech on the Cuban Missile Crisis,

^ Interview with Sidney Graybeal - 29.1.98, George Washington University National Security Archive,

^ Revelations from the Russian Archives

^ Allison, Graham (1999). Essence of Decision. Pearson Education. pp. 111–116. ISBN 0-321-01349-2.

^ Kennedy, Robert (1971). Thirteen Days: A memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 14. ISBN 0-393-09896-6.

^ Blight, J. & Welch, D. - 'On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis' Noonday Press, 1990

^ Kennedy, J. - 'The President's News Conference of September 13, 1962', In 'Public Papers of the Presidents: John F Kennedy, 1962' pp. 674-681. Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1963

^ Kennedy, J. - 'After Two Years: A conversation with the president' Television and radio interview, December 17 1962. In 'Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962' pp.889-904. Washington, DC. Government Printing Office 1963

^ Anderson, George Whelan Jr. (Chief of Naval Operations), "The Naval Quarantine of Cuba, 1962: Abeyance and Negotiation, 31 October -13 November", The Naval Quarantine of Cuba, 1962, U.S. Naval Historical Center, Report on the Naval Quarantine of Cuba, Operational Archives Branch, Post 46 Command File, Box 10, Washington, DC,

^ Helms, Richard (Deputy Director for Plans, CIA) (19 January 1962), Memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence: Meeting with the Attorney General of the United States concerning Cuba, George Washington University National Security Archives,

^ Attack us at your Peril, Cocky Cuba Warns US by Henry Brandon, The Sunday Times, October 28, 1962

^ For the President's Eyes Only, pg. 300

^ Interview with Robert McNamara by Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, bundled as a DVD special feature of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

^ Frey, Jennifer (January 14, 2007). "At Yenching Palace, Five Decades of History to Go". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-27.

^ "The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: Press Release, 11 October 2002, 5:00 PM". George Washington University. 2002-10-11. Retrieved 2008-10-26.

^ a b Faria p. 103

^ Ramonet, Ignacio, Fidel Castro: My Life. Penguin Books: 2007, p. 278. ISBN 978-0-1410-2626-8

^ Frontier India India-China Section Note alleged connections to Cuban Missile Crisis

^ Ramonet, Ignacio, ibid, p. 272

^ In his biography, Castro does not compare his feelings for either leader at that moment, however he makes it clear that he was angry with Khrushchev for lack of consultation. See Ramonet, Ignacio, Fidel Castro: My Life. Penguin Books: 2007, pp. 284-5. ISBN 978-0-1410-2626-8

^ a b Arms Control Association: Arms Control Today

^ Dobbs, Michael, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008; p. 303, 317. ISBN 978-1-4000-4358-3.


[edit] References

The short time span of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the extensive documentation of the decision-making processes on both sides makes it an excellent case study for analysis of state decision-making. In the Essence of Decision, Graham T. Allison and Philip D. Zelikow use the crisis to illustrate multiple approaches to analysing the actions of the state.

It was also a substantial focus of the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, which won an Oscar.

Allison, Graham and Zelikow, P. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis; New York: Longman, 1999.

Blight, James G., and David A. Welch. On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis; New York: Hill and Wang, 1989.

Chayes, Abram. The Cuban Missile Crisis, International Crisis and the Role of Law; Oxford University Press, 1974; 2nd ed., 1987.

Diez Acosta, Tomás, October 1962: The 'Missile' Crisis As Seen From Cuba; Pathfinder Press, New York, 2002.

Divine, Robert A. The Cuban Missile Crisis; New York: M. Wiener Pub.,1988.

Dobbs, Michael. One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008; ISBN 978-1-4000-4358-3.

Faria, Miguel, Cuba in Revolution—Escape from a Lost Paradise(2002); Hacienda Publishing, Macon, Georgia, ISBN 0-9641077-3-2.

Frankel, Max, High Noon in the Cold War; Ballantine Books, 2004; Presidio Press (reprint), 2005; ISBN 0-345-46671-3.

Fursenko, Aleksandr, and Naftali, Timothy; One Hell of a Gamble - Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy 1958-1964; W.W. Norton (New York 1998)

Fursenko, Aleksandr; Night Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee, 22-23 October; Naval War College Review, vol. 59, no. 3 (Summer 2006).

George, Alice L. (2006). Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807828289.

Gonzalez, Servando The Nuclear Deception: Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis; IntelliBooks, 2002; ISBN 0-971-1391-5-6.

Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis; ISBN 0-393-31834-6.

Khrushchev, Sergei, How my father and President Kennedy saved the world; American Heritage magazine, October 2002 issue.

May, Ernest R. (editor); Zelikow, Philip D. (editor), The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis; Belknap Press, 1997; ISBN 0-674-17926-9.

Polmar, Norman and Gresham, John D. (foreword by Clancy, Tom) DEFCON – 2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis; Wiley, 2006; ISBN 0-471-67022-7.

Pope, Ronald R., Soviet Views on the Cuban Missile Crisis: Myth and Reality in Foreign Policy Analysis; University Press of America, 1982.

Pressman, Jeremy. "September Statements, October Missiles, November Elections: Domestic Politics, Foreign-Policy Making, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Security Studies 10, no. 3 (Spring, 2001), pages 80–114.

Stern, Sheldon M., Averting the Final Failure: John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings; Stanford University Press, 2003; ISBN 0-804-74846-2

Stern, Sheldon M. (2005). The Week The World Stood Still: Inside The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis (Stanford Nuclear Age Series). Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804750777.

The Cuban Missile Crisis: Declassified (Television Program)

[edit] External links

The CWIHP at the Wilson Center for International Scholars Document Collection on the Cuban Missile Crisis

New Photos (2009) of the Missile Sites of the Cuban Missile Crisis

IV. Chronology of Submarine. Contact During the Cuban Missile Crisis. October 1, 1962 - November 14, 1962. Prepared by Jeremy Robinson-Leon and William Burr.

CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962(.pdf, 354 pgs.) U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, McAuliffe, M. ed., CIA History Staff, 1992.

Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath, 1961 - 1963, Volume XI of the Kennedy Administration in the Foreign Relations of the United States series, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Keefer, E., Sampson, C., & Smith, L., Eds., U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1996. The official U.S. documentary historical record.

Declassified Documents, etc. - Provided by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University.

Declassified "Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense" on "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba," from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., March 13, 1962, html text from Cryptome .pdf from National Security Archive, at The George Washington University.

Transcripts and Audio of EXCOMM meetings - Provided by the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program, University of Virginia.

Tapes of debates between JFK and his advisors during the crisis

President Kennedy's Address to the Nation on the Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba

The World On the Brink: John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis

14 Days in October: The Cuban Missile Crisis - a site geared toward high-school students

Nuclear Introduction, timeline and articles regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuba Havana Documentary Bye Bye Havana is a documentary revealing what Cubans are thinking about today

Annotated bibliography on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the Alsos Digital Library.

October, 1962: DEFCON 4, DEFCON 3

Spartacus Educational(UK): Cuban Missile Crisis

Latin American Task Force

What the President didn't know

Document - Britain's Cuban

The Cuban Missile War: an alternate history timeline

No Time to Talk: The Cuban Missile Crisis

S.Isaev. The 32nd Guards Air Fighter Regiment in Cuba (1962-1963)

Retrieved from ""

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page