What was the background to the events in Cuba? Cuba, small island, 160 km from coast of Florida US ally, US businesses & US military base (Guantanamo) 1959, Fidel Castro overthrows Battista (US-backed dictator), establishing Communist government. Why was Cuba so important to the Americans?
The CIA and Covert Operations Created by the National Security Act of 1947 During the Cold War CIA covert operations became the “hidden hand”of U.S. foreign policy. (Containment) Covert Operations: military or political activity performed in secrecy that would break specific laws or compromise policy in another country. Covert operations are almost always illegal in the target state and are sometimes in violation of the laws of the country that perpetrates them. The main reason: The Cold War & nuclear balance limited direct military actions Covert operations during the cold war created significant resentment towards the United States in 3rd world countries.
Paris, 1961 Khrushchev & JFK meet to discuss Berlin and nuclear proliferation. Khrushchev thinks that JFK is young, inexperienced, and can be rolled.
How successful were early attempts at ‘containment’? Castro takes over US businesses January 1961, US breaks off diplomatic relations April, 1961, Bay of Pigs – 1,400 anti-Cuban exiles attempted to overthrow Castro Autumn 1962, Cuba has received 1000s of USSR missiles, jets, boats & personnel The US committed $100 million to overthrowing Castro, the CIA tried to sabotage the economy, they even planned to send him an exploding cigar! Why did they go to such lengths after April 1961?
Why was the USSR interested in helping Cuba? Cuba was a new Communist state Cuba provided a launch base for USSR inter-continental missiles (ICMs) Khrushchev wanted to test strength of new US president, JFK Khrushchev wanted to force JFK into bargaining over US missile in Europe
What happened during the October Crisis? 14 October 1962, US U2 spy plane takes photos of suspected USSR missile sites on Cuba Sites nearing completion, experts believe they could be ready in 7 days US spy planes identify 20 Soviet ships bound for Cuba carrying missiles
What happened during the October Crisis? 20 October, Kennedy decides to blockade Cuba 22 October, Kennedy publicly calls on Khrushchev to remove weapons
What happened during the October Crisis? 23 October Khrushchev refuses to acknowledge blockade or presence of Soviet missiles on Cuba 24 October, 1 st Soviet ships (accompanied by submarine) approach 800 km exclusion zone
What happened during the October Crisis? 24 October, 10:32 am, Soviet ships stop and turn round 25 October, aerial photos show continued construction of missile sites 26 October, Kennedy receives another letter offering to negotiate over missiles in Cuba with removal of blockade and US invasion threat 27 October, Kennedy receives second letter calling for withdrawal of US missiles in Turkey too
What happened during the October Crisis? 27 October, US U2 plane shot down over Cuba & pilot killed.Kennedy decides to ignore second letter, but accepts terms of 1 st letter 28 October, Khrushchev agrees to dismantle Soviet missiles in Cuba
Soviet Decisions Motivations Close the missile gap—Currently far behind U.S. in terms of number of missiles ○ Verbal threats no longer effective with overwhelming evidence of U.S. superiority Protect Cuba Reciprocity: The U.S. has missiles pointing at us, let’s see how they feel now Inability to use the missiles ○ If fired a missile, repercussions would be severe
The American Decision In September Kennedy had stated and Congress had passed a resolution saying that if the Soviet Union placed offensive weapons in Cuba we would not tolerate it. Could we then rely solely on diplomacy? Kennedys thought John could be “impeached” if he didn’t act in accordance with his prior warnings Determined in first 48 hours of crisis that the removal of missiles was the primary objective This objective effectively ruled out isolated diplomacy, and left two options…
The American Decision cont. Option 2 – Blockade Advocated early on by McNamara and Robert Kennedy, blockade would not require instant killing, but critics feared it would not remove the missiles and would allow Soviets time to complete what they already had in Cuba Douglas Dillon strengthened blockade argument by suggesting that it would only be a first step, that if Khrushchev did not remove the missiles to lift it, then more could be done By Friday the 19 th, the committee working on the blockade adapted it into a “quarantine” (blockade is an act of war), on Sunday Kennedy accepted their plan as the course of action
Why Khrushchev Settled Effectiveness of naval quarantine Conventional inferiority in the Caribbean No possible countermove Overwhelming world support for the U.S. Other possible reasons Got what he wanted? ○ No U.S. invasion of Cuba ○ U.S. missiles withdrawn from Turkey
What was the outcome of the crisis? Cuba remained Communist & heavily armed (without nuclear missiles) Both leaders didn’t lose face and came away with concessions Helped renew the thaw – world saw the futility of M.A.D. Permanent hotline between White House & Kremlin set up Supported theory of containment & co- existence because alternatives unimaginable