There are two views, as with any conflict or issue, on the reasons and reactions of the major players in the Cuban Missile Crisis that took place at the end of October 1962. The crisis pitted two world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, against each other in what many describe as the closest the world has come to World War III and a nuclear holocaust.
In order to understand the Crisis, it is important to first understand the events leading up to the crisis. This paper examines the background of the crisis from the Cuban/Soviet point-of-view in depth. Toward the end of the paper, the United States' perspective of the crisis is discussed with regard to what is described previously from the perspective of supporters of the Castro regime and the now collapsed Soviet Union.
After the devastation that the bombs left in Japan at the end of World War II, the Japanese vowed to never become a nuclear state. However, because the United States occupied Japan, it is able to secretly stockpile atomic bombs on the Japanese island of Okinawa as early as July of 1954. The reason for the move is not to use the bombs against Japan, but to use them against the Soviet Union, whose mainland is less than 400 miles away. In 1956 the United States begins stockpiling nuclear bombs and sending ballistic missiles to other Japanese islands. The reason is that in the event of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, Okinawa would be an obvious target. In the same year, the United States deploys nuclear bombs to the Puerto Rico, 150 miles from Cuba.
During this time, the Soviet Union is also stockpiling nuclear missiles. The trend continues as the United States begins placing intermediate nuclear bombs, capable of reaching the Soviet Union's major Western cities, in the Philippines, Greenland France and Turkey, which borders the Soviet Union, Korea and Taiwan. The year is 1959 and the United States government lies to the people and the United Nations, denying accusations that the United States is deploying nuclear weapons worldwide. At this point the Soviet Union is surrounded on all borders.
In 1959 the Soviet Union deploys the missile that they intend to send to Cuba. During the same time frame it deploys the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile has sufficient range to be launched in northern Russia and reach the northern United States.
Upheaval in Cuba - the Bay of Pigs
On New Year's Day 1959, the revolutionary Fidel Castro leads his soldiers into a Santiago de Cuba barracks. The 5,000 soldiers surrender without Castro's soldiers firing a shot. General Fulgencio Batista, a man who had murdered over 20,000 workers and peasants, flees Cuba, leading his supporters to Miami, Florida, while Cubans imprisoned and deported by Batista are welcomed back home. Construction on a new Cuban state begins aimed at providing better rights for peasants and workers, yet it is not a declared socialist state. The new state is also committed to agrarian reform. With this, the United States and Cuba establish diplomatic relations; however two Congressmen attack the new Cuban government for its trying and executing of war criminals. By January 21, 1959 Castro takes to the streets condemning U.S. policy and its financial support and political non-interference with General Batista, Cuba's now ex-dictator. Castro accuses the United States of supporting a campaign against the people of Cuba, who want economic and political freedom. Castro vows to cancel the foreign monopolies brought into the country by Batista. By February 1959, Castro becomes the Prime Minister of Cuba. In March, Castro makes good on his promise to rid Cuba of monopolies and nationalizes the Cuban Telephone Company, an affiliate of ITT. Within two days, Cuba demands that the United States leave its military base at Guantanomo. The United States refuses and forcibly leases the 116-square-kilometer piece of land for $2,000. Meanwhile, Castro reduces rates on rent, phone service and medicine, making life easier for Cubans.
In April 1959, Castro visits the United States on behalf of the new Cuban Republic with the intent of meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower refuses; however Vice President Richard M. Nixon meets with Castro. After the meeting Nixon reports that he believes that Castro is a Communist. In spite of reports, the United States Senate and the majority of the public believe that Castro is good for Cuba and signs an agreement offering technical cooperation for Castro's goal of reforming its agrarian sector. Castro quickly removes foreign landowners, turning over the land to the Cubans who would otherwise not be able to own land. Other countries' landowners agree to settlements while the American landowners refuse any negotiations.
In July 1959, amidst diplomatic chaos the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) puts a contract on Castro's life. Though Castro is aware of this, he continues to attempt to come to a peaceful settlement with the United States. In October of the same year, three United States covert raids attack sugar mills in the Pinar del Rio and Camguey provinces. Cuba attempts to buy airplanes to use to defend itself. At first, Britain agrees, but withdraws the offer once the United States discovers the agreement and warns Britain against it.
The following year in January, Cuba takes back 70,000 acres of land that U.S. sugar companies own. The United States responds with military bombers camouflaged as counterrevolutionary Cuban aircraft. The bombers drop napalm bombs on oil refineries and sugar cane fields, followed by bombings on Havana. The damage to the fields and to Havana is intense. The bombings go on as Castro and Soviet Deputy Prime Minster Anastas Mikoyan sign trade and loan agreements and Cuban authorities continue to seek peaceful solutions with the United States. The United States refuses to enter negotiations. Instead the United States plans to invade and overthrow the Cuban government
In May of 1960, Cuba and the Soviet Union re-establish normal diplomatic relations, a relationship severed after General Batista's coup in 1952. Part of the trade agreement included oil from the Soviet Union; however when the first shipment arrives the Soviet Union finds that all of the oil refineries are owned by U.S. companies and under orders not to process Soviet oil. The act paralyzes Cuba. In addition, the U.S. Congress has terminated selling America's oil to Cuba as well as eliminating Cuba's sugar quota. In response, Cuba nationalizes the Texaco, Esso and Shell refineries and all American business and commercial property. President Eisenhower threatens military action. The Soviet Union not only agrees to defend Cuba, but agrees to buy the sugar that the United States has cut off. China agrees to help Cuba and later Czechoslovakia sends help.
In the meantime, the new Cuban government has converted army barracks into more than 10,000 new schools and a program of urban reform guarantees Cuban workers home ownership. In addition, the Cubans have universally armed all workers, including women, to defend the country. Rumors of an impending American attack on Cuba are rampant and denials by the Eisenhower administration are rampant as well. The assassination attempts against Castro continue as President John F. Kennedy takes office.
A white paper is issued, declaring Cuba a Soviet satellite. Should Cuba break off ties with the Soviet Union, the United States promises to aid Cuba's "free" government.
The invasion of Cuba began in April 1961 in direct violation of a Charter issued by the United Nations, Charter of the Organization of American States and the Rio Treaty. Though the invasion was obvious, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk gave an emphatic "no" to the question of whether the United States was or had plans to attack Cuba.
On April 18, Kennedy receives a letter from the Soviet Khrushchev advising that it was not too late to avoid the irreparable and that the Soviet Union's position was that it would render Cubans all the help necessary. Kennedy calls off the attack, while still denying involvement.
Following the Bay-of-Pigs incident and Cuba's victory, Castro again attempted to make peace with America to no avail. In the meantime, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union are strained over American and Soviet-occupied city of Berlin.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
On New Year's day 1962, Cuba provides U.S. intelligence with reliable information on the extent of Soviet defense deliveries. The missiles that the United States has deployed to Turkey become operational. The fatality projections for each missile are one million civilians. Khrushchev realizes that the missiles are pointed at the Soviet Union. To keep the United States at bay, he considers deploying nuclear weapons to Cuba. Khrushchev discusses the idea of sending missiles to Cuba and is met with opposition, yet he sends a mission to Cuba to ascertain whether Castro would agree.
Throughout May 1962, the United States military began an exercise designed to intimidate and to practice for a full military invasion of Cuba.…