After the World War II the former allies in anti-Hitler coalition entered into unprecedented confrontation with the arms race, mutually hostile military blocks and putting the world under the threat of the global nuclear conflict. The dangerous epicenters of tension emerged in various parts of the world exposing the world community to the threat of the global nuclear catastrophe. The USSR and the USA possessed enough nuclear weapons to eliminate both countries, their allies and the entire humanity.
One of such conflicts was the confrontation known as Cuban missile crisis which thank to the wisdom of the President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev did not burst out into the nuclear catastrophe. The background of the US – Cuban confrontation goes back to 1959 when Castro took power after the Cuban Revolution. Immediately after Fidel Castro took the power he began the political and economic actions contradicting the interests of the United States. Thus the United States got the center of tension in its close neighborhood.
The political doctrine of Castro was directed to establishing the close relations with the Soviet Union. Such situation was extremely favorable for the USSR because the United States got the center of Soviet influence within the short distance from the USA. It was completely in general line with the meaningless doctrine of the Cold War. That was the time of the crazy nuclear pressure of both opponents. Havana was concerned about the possible invasion by the United States and Fidel Castro took certain political actions to approach the Soviet leadership.
The first test for the Cuban revolution was an attempt of the Cuban exiles trained by the CIA to land at the Bay of Pigs. This attempt though was suppressed, intensified the tension and made Cuba pay special attention to its defense. After the attempt of invasion Castro declared the Socialist way of the Cuba’s development. The political confrontation in Europe where the United States displaced the nuclear warheads in United Kingdom, Italy, and, ultimately most significantly, Turkey was transferred to Cuba and the world faced the threat of the new devastating nuclear war.
The period from October 16, 1962 till October 28, 1962 was the period of the utmost nuclear confrontation. Twelve days became famous because the entire humanity lived these twelve days under the threat of the global nuclear conflict. “The Cuban Missile Crisis is often regarded as the moment when the Cold War came closest to escalating into a nuclear war. Russians refer to the event as the “Caribbean Crisis,” while Cubans refer to it as the “October Crisis. ” (Wikipedia, 2006). The United States had significant advantage over the USSR in the balance of the nuclear weapon.
From the point of view of strategy the Soviet Union got a good opportunity for nuclear respond to the American intercontinental ballistic missiles. The displacement of the short range nuclear missiles in Cuba brought the threat to the United States adequate to that of the long range American nuclear weapon. In 1961, the U. S. started deploying 15 Jupiter IRBM (intermediate-range ballistic missiles) nuclear missiles near Izmir, Turkey, which directly threatened cities in the western sections of the Soviet Union.
These missiles were regarded by President Kennedy as being of questionable strategic value; an SSBN (ballistic submarine) was capable of providing the same cover with both stealth and superior firepower. (Wikipedia, 2006). At the beginning of September, 1962 American U2 spy plane discovered that the Soviet Union was building surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch sites. There was also an increase in the number of Soviet ships arriving to Cuba which the United States government feared were carrying new supplies of weapons. President John F. Kennedy complained to the Soviet Union about these developments and warned them that the United States would not accept offensive weapons (SAMs were considered to be defensive) in Cuba.
The political position of President Kennedy in the United States was the worst since his elections. The public opinion polls showed that his own ratings had fallen to their lowest point since he became the President. The Congressional combination of the Republicans and conservative southern Democrats blocked the most of the presidential legislative proposals.
The unsuccessful attempt at the Bay of Pigs undermined the rating of the President. It was clear that Republicans would use the political failures of Kennedy in the forthcoming election campaign. Surface – to – air missiles were direct threat for the U2 spy planes and Kennedy realizing that possible shot of the spy plane would bring more political problems for his administration ordered to restrict the flies over Cuba.
By the end of September 1962 CIA acquired information that Soviet Union was placing the long range missiles in Cuba. These missiles were direct threat to the entire Caribbean and major US cities including Washington. The newly formed Executive Committee of the National Security Council headed by Secretary of State for Defense Robert McNamara suggested several strategies to deal with the Soviet nuclear presence in Cuba. There were six possible solutions. They included following.