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9/24/08Kennedy vs. KhrushchevIn the minor classic,Thirteen Days,Robert Kennedy analyzes the thirteen mostdangerous days of the Cold War, the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.Thesethirteen days represent the world’s closest encounter to the ultimate catastrophe, a nuclear war.When Kennedy’s greatest enemy, Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba, turned to the Soviet Union formilitary aid, the Soviet Union’s leader, Nikita Khrushchev ensured protection by deliveringnuclear missiles.Despite Khrushchev’s attempt to conceal this “military aid,” PresidentKennedy immediately identified the existence of the missiles in Cuba.A political imbalancenow shaped the world as the Soviet Union strengthened America’s neighbors with socialism andnuclear weapons.So, President Kennedy’s goal to stabilize the world power equilibrium beganwith ceasing the delivery of missiles through a naval quarantine of Cuba and ended withremoving the missiles currently in Cuba.Kennedy and the Excomm took a calm and rationalapproach towards the crisis when they responded with the quarantine followed by twocontradicting letters from Khrushchev presenting his compromise.Both leaders aimed toprevent a nuclear war, while they simultaneously strived to maintain their country’spower; as Kennedy consistently presented a calm attitude, Khrushchev ultimatelyacquiesced to compromise in an unstable state.The Soviet Union had the legal right to support Cuba with military aid, though this“justified arming” coincidentally strengthened Soviet power in the Cold War, as well.With theintentions of creating a democratic government in Cuba under U.S direction, the United Statesled a failed attack on Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Reasonably, Castro turned to fellowcommunist, the Soviet Union, for protection.“Cuba had a right to self-defense and the USSR
was aiding in that right.”(International Law and the Cuban Crisis, 39)The Soviet Union hadevery legal right to support Cuba in this time of need; they were merely aiding a vulnerablecountry, they were not provoking a war.In fact, in a letter to President Kennedy, Khrushchevorders him to mitigate the hostility towards Cuba and goes on to say that the “military armamentand the world political situation are such at this time that any so-called "little war" can touch offachainreactioninallpartsoftheglobe.”()Though Khrushchev advocatespeace, he ironically delivers Castro nuclear missiles, the most danger of all war weapons.By