Presentation on theme: "Cuban Missile Crisis Andrew Wood and Dave Ryan. A Brief Chronology May, 1962: Khrushchev makes veiled references to a plot (How would the U.S. feel."— Presentation transcript:
A Brief Chronology May, 1962: Khrushchev makes veiled references to a plot (How would the U.S. feel to have missiles pointing at them, as they have missiles pointed at us?) September: JFK and Congress issue warnings to USSR that US will deal harshly with any threats to national security October 14: U2 recon. flight over Cuba spots sites installing nuclear missiles October 15: Presence of missiles is confirmed
Chronology, Continued October 16: President Kennedy notified October 16-22: Secret deliberations on what should be done October 22: Kennedy tells nation his plan for blockade and quarantine October 23: OAS endorses naval quarantine October 24: Naval quarantine begins and successfully changes course of many Soviet ships
Chronology, Continued October 25: One Soviet ship challenges naval quarantine; Kennedy lets it pass October 25: At the UN, Adlai Stevenson directly challenges the Soviet ambassador to admit to the existence of missiles, when the ambassador refuses, Stevenson wheels out pictures of the missile sites October 26: Soviets raise possibility for a deal: if we withdraw missiles will America promise not to invade Cuba?
Chronology, Continued October 27: Soviets demand that Americans also withdraw missiles from Turkey; Major Anderson’s plane is missing over Cuba, presumably shot down; U.S. recon plane strays over Soviet airspace…high tensions Kennedy tells Khrushchev that he will accept the proposal of the 26 th, Kennedy tells his brother to tell the Soviet Ambassador that though the Turkey missiles would not be part of the bargain, they would be removed in time October 28: USSR agrees to withdraw missiles
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
Soviet Decisions, Continued Inability to use the missiles If fired a missile, repercussions would be severe
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 No U.S. invasion of Cuba U.S. missiles withdrawn from Turkey
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 1 - Air Strike On October 17 th, President Kennedy “made the flat statement that there would definitely be an air strike, at least against the missile sites, and perhaps against wider targets” (Bundy 394) Reservations from others, airstrike may be using a “sledgehammer” to kill a “fly Later that day Robert McNamara suggests policy in between diplomacy and an air strike
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, on Sunday Kennedy accepted their plan as the course of action
Could America have acted differently? Could we have used the crisis to remove Castro? Our warnings all along had been against offensive weapons so once that warning is tested if we use it to attack Castro are we sticking to our word? Could we have tried diplomacy before resorting to the quarantine? If we didn’t keep secrecy, Khrushchev could have proclaimed defiance, or denounced quarantine…then both countries would be in positions where they’re heading straight for each other and can’t just turn back
Castro’s Role No real role in decision making Apparently out of touch with the situation Oct. 26: “Aggression imminent/imperialists disregarding world opinion”—Clearly not the case Khrushchev plays along to some extent but it is clear he disagrees with him (“your suggestion would have started a thermonuclear world war”)
Questions Do you feel Major Anderson’s death justified more aggressive action? Seeing as how our options in the crisis were somewhat dictated by the warnings we issued in September…should we have issued those warnings? Robert Kennedy likened an air strike to Pearl Harbor (Bundy 394), was that a fair analogy? If the missiles in Cuba were conventional, and neither the Soviet Union nor the U.S. possessed any nuclear weapons, would the crisis have been avoided?