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Missile Crisis - Essay Example

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The action might have centred around Cuba, but the Missile Crisis was one which could have changed forever the shape and future of the world as we know it. It was the closest the world had ever come to an all-out nuclear war!
After World War II, the strained alliance between the US and the Soviet Union developed into a Cold War, which lasted until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991…
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Missile Crisis
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Download file to see previous pages But though major powers were not directly involved, they armed or funded surrogates, lessening direct impact on the populations of their own countries, but increasing conflict and tension between millions of civilians around the world.
One of the 'hot spots' in the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the then US President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev were practically eyeball to eyeball, each with a finger on the trigger. One wrong move and this would have escalated to a nuclear confrontation, and ccompletely changed the course of history.
For the Americans, the countdown began on Monday, October 15, 1962, when a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft revealed several Soviet nuclear missile installations in Cuba. They promptly swung into action and the subsequent 13 days has been recorded for posterity and popular consumption in a typical American good-guys-verses-the-bad-guys movie "Thirteen Days," where the good guys were, of course, the Americans.
Who knows when it began for the Russians Perhaps the insecurity of being on the defensive started after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the use of nuclear weapons is seen by some historians as a warning to the Soviet Union. According to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs, he conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba to counter an emerging lead of the United States in developing and deploying strategic missiles.

At this point of time, MAD, or "mutually assured destruction" was a prominent feature of the nuclear arms race, supported in particular by the deployment of nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The idea was that the two super-powers would not attack each other because both sides had nuclear weapons to decimate each other, and worse, to make the entire planet uninhabitable. So, since launching an attack would be suicidal for either party, neither would attempt it. (Wikipedia)

For the Soviet Union, what brought things to a head was the presence of U.S. missile sites in Turkey, which directly threatened cities in the western sections of the Soviet Union, tilting the balance of terror in favour of the U.S.

As for the Cubans, ever since the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, when the United States armed and funded Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro's government, the Cubans lived under the shadow of fear of more reprisals from the United States. It was to protect themselves from another such United States-sponsored invasion, that Fidel Castro gave the Soviet Union approval to build missile installations in Cuba.

The differences in their view-points are reflected in how they subsequently remember the incident. The Cubans know it as the October Crisis, just one of the many run-ins with the Americans. The Soviets refer to it as the Carribean Missile Crisis, where the Cubans are merely instrumental in yet another confrontation with the Americans in the Cold War, while the Americans call it the Cuban Missile Crisis.

However they saw it, the thirteen-day countdown (Timeline of the Cuban Missile Crisis, n.d.) was it was considered one of the tensest and most perilous moments in history. Starting with the American discovery of the SS-4 nuclear missiles in Cuba, when President Kennedy immediately convened his Executive Committee to consider America's options, which ranged from doing ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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