Eyeball to Eyeball: America, Cuba and The Soviet Union
America and The Soviets again using other countries for their own warfareExcitement was high for Cuba, when Fidel Castro overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in January 1959. With a heady mixture of nationalism and left wing ideologies US became very cautious for its southern comrades Central and Southern America and perhaps herself. When Castro took over Cuba, the US lost valuable investments in the sugar and tobacco crops of Cuba.
Fearing the spread of communism into Americas backyard the US Government imposed a strict economic blockade hoping to starve Castro into US policies.
In desperation Castro turned to the soviets for balance of powers to weigh up the balance of communism ideologies.
In February 1960, Castro signed a trade pact with the Soviets, which eventually led to close diplomatic relations.
At this time the US Government became more worried that a communist superpower had ventured so close to her borders. By authority of Eisenhower, Cuban Exiles that were in the US at the time were given aid. At the same time the CIA began to train selected groups of the exiles to re enter their homeland and over – throw Castros Government.
When Kennedy was sworn into parliament in 1961 he took over the proceedings with hesitation for his states security. He advised a plan to invade Cuba once again after Eisenhowers two other invasions failed. This invasion was known well as the Bay of Pigs. In April Kennedy received reports that the invasion failed which boosted Castros prestige and embarrassed Kennedy of his new presidency.
When the Bay of Bigs disastrously ended it built up confidence for the soviets and Castro and lowered Kennedy into a worriment of whats to happen next.
Early 1962 Khrushchev was convinced of Kennedys weakness after the capture of Gary Powers and that they had ceased to carry out U-2 reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union for the capture.
A while after the Vienna Summit the Soviets formed yet another policy with Cuba of Brinkmanship seeing how far the Americans could be pushed before reacting. Although this strategy was a dangerous one the Soviets were thinking of the opportunities that could arise from this. One was the advantage of an east West balance that the Soviets could start to infiltrate the Americas with their ideologies. The second and most important advantage was the stationing of nuclear missiles close to the United States.
Being only 140 Kilometres away from the US coast of Florida it seemed to be the most obvious base for the Soviets.
Disturbing reports were received in July of 1962 by the US that showed disturbing Soviet activities on the island. A U-2 in August showed pictures of anti-aircraft facilities around Havana and in October Soviet aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons were spotted on the island. But the most worrying evidence of all came in the 14 of October, when another u-2 spotted what appeared to be launch sites for medium range missiles which could reach most US cities.
Tow days later Kennedy was informed by his intelligence chiefs that there was no doubt about Soviet intentions. So the president immediately convened a special Executive Committee of his closest advisers to decide on policy moves. One of his closest advisors Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara gave three possibilities the president could take:
The first was a political course of action of openly approaching Castro, Khrushchev and U.S. Allies in a gambit to resolve the crisis diplomatically. One of which McNamara and others considered unlikely to succeed.
The second was a course of action that would involve declaration of open surveillance coupled with a blockade against offensive weapons entering Cuba and military action directed against Cuba, starting an air attack against the missiles.
From the proceedings Kennedy decided to initiate a naval blockade against Soviet Ships carrying missile equipment. On the 22 October Kennedy addressed the nation of what was to happen, which was a quarantine around Cuba, where no ships carrying offensive military equipment were allowed to pass. During the quarantine all American forces were to be placed on alert and that any missile attacks from Cuba would be taken as a deliberate Soviet attack and would be responded to accordingly.
All eyes were fixed on Cuba and America aware that the slightest naval incident could trigger a nuclear holocaust. On the day of the 25th of October, the US navy intercepted the first of 25 Soviet chartered vessels known to be on their way to Cuba, but did not board her. The Marcula was the next to be stopped and searched the next morning. No offensive weapons were found on the Marcula and were allowed to proceed. A the day progressed the US Navy received reports that the other Soviet ships had halted and that they had turned back.
The day after an ultimatum was received from Khrushchev that he would only withdraw his missiles if the US promised not to invade Cuba. The US was short relieved from this news for Khrushchev sent another message stating that the Americans also had to dismantle their missile sites in Turkey and withdraw nuclear weapons from both Britain an Italy, all of which were causing anxiety to the Soviets.
Kennedy refused and the crisis yet again seemed to flare up when a U-2 was shot down over Cuba and another, on a routine flight over Alaska, somehow strayed into Soviet airspace.
US government was once again put on alert and had to devise a plan to avoid war. So they decided to assumingly ignore the second letter and reply to the first, promising not to invade Cuba.
A the end of the 13 day crisis, the Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba as soon as the US agreed to demobilize the invasion forces gathered in Florida. Quickly Kennedy agreed and the level of tension decreased.
Three decades later a conference was held in Havana, Cuba attended by former Kennedy Administration members, Soviet participants in the crisis, and a Cuban delegation led by Fidel Castro. It was there that the Soviets, Cubans, and Americans learned how close the world had come to a nuclear holocaust. Soviet General Anatoly Gribkov informed participants that, in addition to their intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the Soviets had deployed nine tactical missiles in Cuba to be used against any US invasion force. Even more significantly, General Gribkov stated, Soviet field commanders in Cuba had the authority to fire those tactical nuclear weapons without further direction from the Kremlin.
What might of happened had the US invaded Cuba? We can predict the results with certainty, former secretary of defence McNamara answers, then adds, No one should believe that US troops could have been attacked by tactical nuclear warheads without the US responding with nuclear warheads.
I presume the delegates in that conference room was thankful that their leaders did the right thing.