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Unformatted text preview: At the Cuban Brink
At It is impossible to comprehend the Cold War outside the context of the atom bomb. In previous history, rivalries between military powers had never carried the fate of civilization in their balance. With nuclear weapons a threshold was crossed where superpowers eventually reached the capability of destroying all life on the planet. The Cuban Missile Crisis represents the climax of the Cold War where the world stepped to the brink of nuclear annihilation.
Congratulations, you are the children of October, the generation that might never have been if cooler heads had not prevailed during the thirteen days of October. Lecture Objective:
Lecture We will study the Cuban Missile Crisis in detail not only to understand a critical episode in human history but to gain a critical insight into the essence of the Cold War struggle. Lecture Outline
I. Cold War Mentalities II. Background to the CMC III. The Cuban Revolution IV. 13 Days in October V. Outcomes Cold War Mentalities
Cold Perhaps the best way to get into the mindset of the Cold War is to get into the situation room during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the discovery of Soviet missile silos on Cuba, how did America’s top generals and statesmen react? What were the facts, what were their assumptions and to what extent was their appraisal of the situation valid? II. Background to the CMC
II. We will be looking at the CMC because in so many ways this exemplifies the Cold War struggle, but it is important to understand that this took place against a climate of mistrust and years of rising tension. In many ways 1957
1962 represents the climax of the Cold War not only because of its emotional intensity but because we never came closer to a superpower conflict and nuclear exchange. Similarly, the lessons from the CMC would have a lasting impact on the Cold War and change the way both parties resolved their grievances. A. Preceding Events
1. 1957 Sputnik Launch
Taiwan Straits Crisis 1958
Khrushchev at UN
3. Second Berlin Crisis 196061 In 1957 Sputnik was launched and marked the first man made object placed into orbit. The event had been staged to demonstrate Soviet power, but Khrushchev’s intent to convince the West to end the arm’s race backfired as US paranoia concerning a nonexistent ‘missile gap’ sparked a new space and ICBM race. B. Cuban Revolution
1. 2. PreRevolutionary Cuba 1950s a.
d. Colonial Economy
US business Interests
Batista’s opposition a.
e. 1953 Capture
1956 Landing Objectives
Sierra Maesta Mountains
1957 Student Assault of Presidental Palace
1958 Fall of Santa Clara Castro’s Band B. Cuban Revolution
3. Revolution in Cuba Jan, 1959
3. -Batista Flees
-Show Trials and Terror
Agrarian Reform Law 1957
Nationalization August 6, 1960
4. US Foreign Policy: Latin America
Monroe Doctrine 1823
Post 1898 Dollar Diplomacy The Cuban Revolution drew force from wide popular disgruntlement against the brutal Batista regime. During the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion the USA covertly armed, trained, and shipped Cuban exiles to their native country conspiring to foment a popular rebellion to oust Castro and reverse his communist reforms. The operation was a unmitigated disaster in which the exile army was slaughtered, but Cuban and American hardliners came away embittered which contributed to the subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Revolution
5. Castroto USA “I know what the world thinks of us, we are Communists, and of course I have said very clearly that we are not Communists; very clearly. “
6. US Embargo
7. Soviet Support
8.. Bay of Pigs (April, 1961)
9. Castro’s Havana Declaration 1962 Snapshots of the Cuban
Revolution The popularity of Castro inside Cuba can be inferred both from the rapidity of Batista’s demise and the lack of support for the expats who landed at the Bay of Pigs. Immediately following Batista’s removal US reaction to Castro was relatively mild, but after he sought to nationalize US corporations he was quickly seen to embody all the worst qualities of a Third World Nationalist leader: a fiery, communist revolutionary and agent of the Soviet Union bent upon exporting communism in Latin America. Castro was a devoted revolutionary committed to undermining US colonialism in Latin America, but his turn towards the Soviets came after the Bay of Pigs invasion and repeated attempts to assassinate him. The demand for a nuclear shield represented a logical request given the impossibility of resisting a seemingly imminent US invasion. Exploring the CMC
Exploring Three Narratives: The CMC was framed by three perspectives: the US version, Castro’s version, and the Soviet version. Each saw the Cuban revolution from a different angle, and each presented a story to its people to justify their actions during the 13 days of October. What was the Cuban Missile Crisis about?
What The US Version: Might be deconstructed from his address to the nation, included in your reader.
The Soviet Version: The most complicated to deconstruct from Khrushchev’s statements and actions.
The Castro’s Version: His view of the US foreign policy is evident in the Havana Declaration. C. Pressures on Khrushchev
Honecker and East Germany
Rivalry with China
Pressure from Hardliner Generals
Turkish Nuclear Deployment By 1960 so many talented and educated East Germans were fleeing for the ‘decadent’ West that something had to be done. Eventually, Honecker resolved upon a novel solution: let’s lock our proletariat in!
Khrushchev was passionately frustrated by US policy and in public venues he was not adverse to sharing his biting criticisms of US hypocrisy, but he was also cautious of setting off an arms race he could not win. Khrushchev felt a strong moral obligation to protect the socialist revolution in Cuba and also the intense fear that this dispute could lead to catastrophe. D. Pressures on Kennedy
Popular fear of communism
Soviet deployment a strategic threat
Khrushchev inscrutable Curtis LeMay In the mind of US generals secret deployment of medium range nukes in Cuba represented not only a strategic threat but a a shift in Soviet policy to a first strike option. Castro was a nuisance that should be removed, but the missiles had to go no matter what. E. Pressures on Castro
US assassination attempts
Bay of Pigs Invasion
US Mobilization for Military invasion
The USA resorted to multiple tactics to remove him from power and invasion seemed imminent. Cuba was isolated in the Western Hemisphere and the USSR had limited naval and air power. The only defense that seemed to offer security was to put Cuba under a nuclear shield. F. 13 Days in October 1962
(16-28) i. USAF Reconnaissance (Oct 16) ii. Lemay’s Invasion Option (Oct. 17) iii. The “Quarantine” Compromise (Oct 21)
iv. Kennedy’s Address to the nation F. 13 Days in October (cont)
v. Critical Unknown: Operational Nukes
vi. Stephenson at the UN
vii. Khrushchev’s Two Cables (oct. 23, 24) (6:52)
viii. Thompson Intervention
ix. Depth Charges on Soviet Submarine/U2 Oct. 27
x. Fomin Negotiation
Fomin Negotiation: The CMC was resolved through back channel diplomacy when Fomin, a war comrade of Khrushchev’s and current KGB chief in Washington contacted Scali a journalist close to RFK. The opening of this back door channel eventually led to a secret deal where both sides stepped back from the nuclear brink and resolved the Cuban crisis. G. Secret Accord (Oct 28)
G. a. No Invasion Guarantee
b. Soviet Removal of Missiles c. Secret Turkey Nukes Deal Pursuant to the back door Fomin negotiations, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove Jupiter missiles deployed in Turkey on the condition that Khrushchev never reveal this compromise. Kennedy already knew that these missiles were obsolete and slated for eventual removal. Conclusions
Conclusions Cuban Brink: For thirteen days in October the world stood at the brink of a nuclear war. In fact, secret documents have revealed how close we came to a nuclear exchange, how rash Kennedy and Khrushchev both were in the lead up to the conflict, and how calmly they worked under pressure to step back from the brink. In this way, the CMC sheds light on the essential nature of the Cold War and how irrationality was a central driver of this conflict. Conclusions
Conclusions Turning Point: The Cuban Missile Crisis was in many ways a turning point in the Cold War. Although the USA and USSR remained enemies, and fought bitterly in the Third World, the nuclear option was for all intent and purposes taken off the table while both sides tacitly accepted the other’s right to exist, while subsequently their view of the enemy was more rooted in a real politik rather than myths and caricatures. The stark reality of nuclear exchange forced both the Russians and Americans to reexamine their myths about each other. They came to see their enemy in more human, realistic terms, as a rival, with tangible interests, who could be dealt with in a rational way. Outcomes
Outcomes Détente: Successful resolution of the CMC dispute laid the groundwork for détente, an easing of Cold War tensions, eventual cultural exchanges, arms limitations treaties, limited diplomatic cooperation, and tacit acceptance of the other’s right to exist. After the CMC, both sides installed the famous direct line between White House and Kremlin, and more in directly the rapport developed during the October crisis prevented either side from nudging towards the nuclear brink again. Outcomes
Outcomes Bloody Chapter of World History: Ironically, successful resolution of the Third World nuclear issue gave the Superpowers a more free reign to pursue their interests inside the Third World. For this reason the post 1960s was arguably the most destructive epoch of Cold War history for people living in the Third World. Successful resolution of the Third World nuclear issue gave the Superpowers a more free reign to pursue their interests inside the Third World. For this reason the post 1960s was arguably the most destructive epoch of Cold War history for people living in the ThirdWorld. ...
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