The Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1962, Fidel Castro was the leader of Cuba when the Soviet Union began to install nuclear missiles in the country. The United States did not want this to happen because Cuba is located just 485 miles south of Florida. The U.S. believed this was a dangerous and aggressive move by the Soviet Union (today's Russia).
The movement of the missiles in Cuba began thirteen days of secret negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Eventually, the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles, but it was the closest the two countries had ever come to a nuclear war during the Cold War years.
Everything that happened prior to the crisis began when the United States attempted to overthrow Castro and the government of the Communist country. This took place during the Bay of Pigs invasion, but it failed to overthrow Castro. However, it did serve as a warning to him and the U.S. also installed nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey, which were close enough to strike Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union, which was also a Communist country and an ally of Cuba.
The placement resulted in the Soviet Union placing missiles close to the U.S. Cuba was ideal, plus the Cuban government wanted protection from the U.S. and they counted on the Soviet Union. Things began to get very tense and stressful for the U.S. government and the Soviet Union's leader, Chairman Nikita Khrushchev.
On October 14, 1962, pictures of the missile sites were taken by a U.S. spy plane. Experts learned the missiles could reach nearly any point in the country and result in mass destruction and the deaths of many people. The U.S. had a couple of options, either invade Cuba or use diplomacy. President John Kennedy believed an invasion would start World War III, so he chose a third option, a naval blockade.
The blockade on October 22, 1962 prevented Cuba from receiving weapons, and Kennedy also stated that if Cuba chose to invade the U.S., it would be considered an act of war from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union said they were not giving in and two days later the U.S. was thinking about invading Cuba.
The secret negotiations, however, were beginning even as the Soviet Union publicly made comments against the U.S. Ultimately, the two sides made peace and the Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end. The missiles would be removed from Cuba and the United States agreed never to invade Cuba again. The U.S. secretly removed their missiles from Italy and Turkey too.
President Kennedy's role during the crisis was called his greatest moment. Previously, his leadership was questioned during the Bay of Pigs invasion and in events related to the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union and other world leaders had viewed Kennedy as a weak leader. However, the world once again looked to the U.S. with confidence again.
Following the incident, a special hotline was set up between the U.S. and the leader of the Soviet Union. Some people in the U.S., though, were not happy with the resolution. Some believed the United States suffered a loss to the Soviet Union. Later, it was learned that Khrushchev had written a personal letter to Kennedy asking they come to an agreement to avoid a war.
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