Cuban Missile Crisis


    In News

    • 60 years were recently completed to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    More about the Cuban Missile Crisis

    • About:
      • The October of 1962 saw the Cold War hit its height, when the two great superpowers, the Soviet Union and the US, teetered on the brink of nuclear warfare for 13 days. 
      • The standoff, known as the Cuban missile crisis, was resolved and disaster was narrowly averted. 
      • This is accredited to timely negotiations between Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F Kennedy.
    • Precursor :
      • An important precursor of the Cuban missile crisis was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.
        • In this, US-backed Cuban counter-revolutionaries attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime in the country and establish a non-communist government friendly to the US.
        • After successfully fending off the operation, Castro turned increasingly towards the USSR and its premier Khrushchev, to deter any future invasion by the US
    • Course of events:
      • USSR’s missile installation in Cuba:
        • Having promised to defend Cuba with Soviet arms, the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev initiated the installation of Soviet medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba
        • Such missiles could hit much of the eastern United States within a few minutes if launched from Cuba. 
        • Khrushchev also wanted to place nuclear weapons in Cuba to counter the urgent threat of US missiles close to its own borders.
      • US action & naval “quarantine”:
        • Kennedy announced that U.S. forces would seize “offensive weapons and associated matériel” that Soviet vessels might attempt to deliver to Cuba.
        • Kennedy ordered a naval “quarantine” of Cuba
          • In this, US destroyers and submarines were placed around Cuba in order to prevent military supplies being brought to the island.
    • Standoff:
      • As the two superpowers hovered close to the brink of nuclear war, On October 28 Khrushchev capitulated, informing Kennedy that 
        • Work on the missile sites would be halted and  
        • The missiles already in Cuba would be returned to the Soviet Union. 
      • In return, Kennedy committed the United States to never invading Cuba.
      • Both superpowers began to fulfil their promises over the coming weeks, and the crisis was over by late November.

    Significance of Cuban Missile crisis in World History

    • U.S.-Soviet relations:
      • The Cuban missile crisis marked the climax of an acutely antagonistic period in U.S.-Soviet relations.
      • After the Cuban missile crisis, the two superpowers created the Moscow-Washington hotline, so that their leaders could have a direct communication link and prevent such tensions. 
    • Fall of Khrushchev:
      • It is generally believed that the Soviets’ humiliation in Cuba played an important part in Khrushchev’s fall from power in October 1964 and in the Soviet Union’s determination to achieve, at the least, a nuclear parity with the United States.
    • Closest to nuclear war:
      • The crisis also marked the closest point that the world had ever come to global nuclear war.
    • No end for cold war:
      • While nuclear warfare was thankfully averted, the Cuban missile crisis did not mark the resolution of the Cold War, nor the culmination of the ever-growing arms race.

    Cold war

    • Origin:
      • Post World War II (1945), the world got divided into two power blocs dominated by two superpowers, the US and Soviet Union.
        • The period is generally considered to span from the announcement of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
    • About:
      • The Cold War referred to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the US and Soviet Union.
      • It was not simply a matter of power rivalries, of military alliances and of the balance of power.
    • The ‘cold’ war:
      • The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars
    • Ideological conflict:
      • These were accompanied by a real ideological conflict between communism and capitalism.
        • The western alliance, headed by the US, represented the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism.
        • The eastern alliance, headed by the Soviet Union, was committed to the ideology of socialism and communism.
      • There was a difference over the best and the most appropriate way of organising political, economic and social life all over the world.


    • It is a sociopolitical, philosophical, and economic ideology and is current within the socialist movement.
    • Its goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order centered around common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange—allocating products to everyone in the society.
    • It also involves the absence of social classes, money and the state.

    Soviet Union

    • About:
      • Officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
      • A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of Twenty-one republics.
      • In practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. 
      • It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
    • Dissolution of the Soviet Union
      • The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the process of internal disintegration within the Soviet Union (USSR) which took place in 1991.

    Source: TH