The Origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Uploaded by Kerrytom on Aug 11, 2012
The Cuban Missile Crisis originated because of a number of different issues, stemming from the ongoing struggle between The United States of America and The Soviet Union and between Capitalism and Communism. There were various events and circumstances which caused this standoff. Firstly, the decision to place missiles on Cuban soil was taken by the Soviets as a means to offset their strategic inferiority. The second main cause was the fact that America felt threatened by a Castro lead Communist Cuba. Their continued efforts to oust Castro, was a significant factor in creating a very real fear in Castro of a US invasion of Cuba. This led him to form strong bonds with the Soviets and subsequently allowing them to place missiles in Cuba. We also look at Americas failed attempt to remove Castro with their ‘Bay of Pigs’, invasion of Cuba, in 1961. A final factor in the cause of the crisis is the possibility of the Soviets using the missiles as a means of strengthening their power, with regards to negotiating with America in matters outside of Cuba.
The first aspect to look at when dealing with this question is Soviet insecurity and strategic inferiority with the US. The Soviets had many reasons to feel insecure or threatened in the period directly preceding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Khrushchev had long known that the Soviets had a disproportionally lower amount of missiles than the Americans, however it was not until after events surrounding the building of the Berlin Wall, that Kennedy, who had long publicly maintained that the Soviets had the advantage of the missile gap, made it known that it was in fact the Americans who had the numerical advantage.
“the United States had a growing missile gap in its favour and the USSR lacked sufficient intercontinental missiles to offset the American advantage.”
Because the missile gap was publicly revealed to be in America’s favour, the Soviets needed to find a way to repair the imbalance of strategic power.
Khrushchev was also very perturbed by the existence of American missiles in Turkey and Italy, which were capable of strikes on the Soviet Union. The missiles in Turkey were just ninety miles off the Soviet coast, and Khrushchev feared because the US had the clear advantage in first strike capabilities.