Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union." (ThinkQuest Team, 1) This provides us with an imperative to undermine Khrushchev's conceptions either that we are indecisive or that we are unwilling to make the sacrifices implicated by a full-scale confrontation with the Soviets.
On the other hand, we must also strike a balance whereby these sacrifices are not necessary. Ultimately, it is our full understanding that the distinctions in the arms race between our tactical long-term abilities and superior stock of weapons and the Soviet Union's decidedly less capable and smaller stock do not constitute a significant enough difference to prevent a realization of the total destruction scenario. We know from our own interactions with him that President Kennedy takes the threat of this scenario quite seriously. Moreover, we know him to be thoughtful on this issue and unwilling to present either weakness or irrational aggression. With respect to the dangers before us, we consider the words of the president himself, who worried that "ever since the longbow . . . when man had developed new weapons and stockpiled them, somebody has come along and used them. I don't know how we escape it with nuclear weapons. Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us." (Stern, 35)
The reality of these sentiments is now frighteningly close to us and as I stand here to deliver a recommendation for the strategy of confrontation, I do so with great confidence that we are yet too civil on both sides of this ideological chasm to not desire a withdrawal from that which nuclear confrontation would mean. Please take this to indicate that war is not an option even as we must prepare for its possibility. The only possibility is peace, a drawdown of tensions and a resolution which does not simply reduce the immediate dangers before us but which also creates new assurances to prevent us from again reaching such heights.
Ultimately, we must be driven by the understanding that military confrontation is a last resort and a scenario which we would like to avoid at all costs. We must demonstrate that we will not tolerate these provocative actions by expressing a preparedness for invasion, armed confrontation and the certainty of a nuclear response. If we are not prepared to face these realities, than we have already lost. And yet, there is no condition by which this would be the preferable outcome. Victory in a nuclear war would be a victory of proportions to great to contemplate. And therefore, the resolution here is twofold, with the blockade serving as a show of willingness to act and negotiations functioning as the true path to resolution.
We must be prepared to make reasonable and tolerable concessions in order to produce an outcome that does not result in the unreasonable concession of life. Therefore, I am submitting the recommendation to Secretary of State Kennedy that though we must prepare for war, taken all necessary preparations for follow-through on the threat of invasion and institute a blockade to immediately cease the influx of materials intended to continue the development of the Cuban missile program. And as these preparations go into place, we must tirelessly work toward the negotiation of a reduction in tensions. From our perspective, there is no alternative to an outcome which sees to the immediate dismantling and removal of missiles form Cuba, however, there are a number of ways to see to this outcome.
Engaging in a quid pro quo negotiation where some acceptable concessions are made is a reasonable goal and any losses such as strategic positioning related to the stationing of our own missiles in Europe would be tolerable in the face of the larger threat here reflected. Ultimately, we refer back to the understanding that Khrushchev is not in as strong a position as he has postured himself to be. To the contrary, the Soviets are equally award of the likely consequences of a direct confrontation and will not rationally desire to see this conflagration reach such a pitch. I am confident that a process of negotiation backed by firm demonstration of a willingness to act will produce concessions on the part of the Soviets and demands that we can consider making.
A positive offshoot of this is that we are in a position to appear as the stronger of both parties in any matter of compromise. When we succeed in negotiating the dismantling of the missiles in question, the reversal of Khrushchev's actions will be perceived as an acquiescence on his part. Even where we proceed to make concessions regarding the sovereignty of Cuba and the removal of our missiles in such contexts as Turkey and Italy, this will have been an offensive designed by the Soviets and a threat mitigated by American resolve. Additionally, we may be said to benefit from any scenario which forces the Soviets to remove themselves from Cuba in a military capacity. Thereafter, Cuba's socialist orientation will register as significantly less of a threat to American security. Castro will become an isolated figure in the region and the United States will have benefited in the offshoot from the tension of the current standoff. This demonstrates that through tough but rational negotiation with the Soviets, we may actually turn this crisis into an opportunity for the improvement of security in the Western Hemisphere.
Divine, R.A. (1988). The Cuban Missile Crisis. Markus Wiener Publishers.
Dobbs, M. (2008). One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Bring of Nuclear War. Random House.
Global Security (GS). (2008). Cuban Missile Crisis. Globalsecurity.org.
Paz, J.V. (1995). The Socialist Transition in Cuba: Continuity and Change in the 1990s. Social Justice, 22.
Randall, S.J. (1998). Not So Magnificence Obsession: The United States, Cuba and Canada From Revolution to the Helms Burton Law. Canadian-American Public Policy, 36.
Stern, S. (2003). Averting 'the final failure': John F. Kennedy and the…