Part 5 of the Core Content: International Relations, 1918 – c.1989 is entitled How efficaciously did the USA contain the spread of Communism? The course of study says this Key Question will be explored through instance surveies of American engagement in Vietnam and America and events in Cuba, 1959 to 1962.

The Cuban revolution, 1959

Cuba in the 1950s was governed by a corrupt absolutism under Batista. Most Cubans lived in poorness, working as laborers in the sugar and baccy plantations. Many of these were owned by American companies. The capital, Havana, was a resort area for American tourers: casinos and harlotry provided net incomes for many. The authorities did nil for the bulk and treated oppositions viciously.

Castro and a surprisingly little ground forces of revolutionists fought the authorities and defeated it in 1959, utilizing guerilla warfare. In a recent Television series this type of warfare was called the ‘war of the flea ‘ . Guerrillas tend to hold limited, light arms to contend against authorities ground forcess in their ain state. They fight by concealment, assailing and concealing once more, e.g. ambuscade. They are frequently contending for a popular cause among the ordinary people, who allow them to conceal and give them basic supplies. The Cuban revolutionists were popular because they promised land reform. That means, land will be taken from rich landholders and divided up between the laborers who have no land. Castro was a socialist. The Americans did non like Batista much, but shortly they would detest Castro far more.

The new authorities began to take over concerns in Cuba, such as plantations and mills. The USA was the chief market for Cuban sugar, but the American authorities opposed Castro by censoring trade with Cuba. So Cuba took over even more American concerns and belongings. It turned to the USSR and its Alliess for aid. The Soviets were speedy to do a trade with Castro, seeing a opportunity to derive an ally near to the USA. They agreed to purchase Cuban sugar and sell Cuba oil. Castro built a Communist province in Cuba. Would America be able to halt him and incorporate communism in its ain ‘backyard ‘ ?

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American resistance to the new Cuban authorities.

The USA took in expatriates from Cuba, people who had done good under Batista and lost money when Castro came to power. They tried to carry the American authorities to subvert Castro. The United States was still extremely anti-communist and many people were acute to assist them. It was unacceptable to hold a communist province so deep in America ‘s domain of influence. They thought it would be easy to subvert Castro: the Americans were used to act uponing authoritiess in the Caribbean and Central America in the yesteryear.

How did the USA oppose the new authorities in Cuba?

In April 1961 a little ground forces of Cuban expatriates invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs but were rapidly defeated by the Cuban ground forces. The expatriates had been trained and armed by the CIA and helped to make Cuba by the US Navy, with air screen provided by the US Air Force. The onslaught failed to acquire beyond the beach. The US authorities did non acknowledge engagement. Privately the Kennedy disposal blamed the Eisenhower presidential term. The invasion effort was planned by the CIA under Eisenhower. Kennedy was faced with pick of cancelling or traveling in front. He made the error of traveling in front with a strategy that took excessively much for granted. In April 1961 Kennedy had been president for merely 3 months.

The US authorities besides tried to barricade trade with Cuba, non merely US-Cuba trade but trade between other states and Cuba. The CIA tried to assassinate Castro by assorted agencies, neglecting every clip. They even tried – and failed – to do his celebrated face fungus autumn out.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962

After the Bay of Pigs invasion effort Soviet weaponries were provided to Cuba, doing it the best equipt ground forces in Latin America by July 1962. The USA seems to hold reluctantly accepted the weaponries build-up every bit long as atomic arms were non included.

What options did Kennedy hold?

Make nil – USA had more atomic missiles than the USSR and menace of revenge against USSR would forestall Soviet missiles of all time being fired from Cuba. Overreacting would jeopardize universe peace. But, this option looked weak, the Soviets had altered the balance of power and lied about their purposes.

Air work stoppage – Destroy the missiles. Cuba an easy mark. U2 reconnaissance was detailed. But, could non vouch devastation of every missile, so revenge against American metropoliss possible. It would be more merely to warn the other side foremost. Soviets on Cuba might be killed – could get down war with USSR.

Diplomatic force per unit area – Avoid war. Work through UN. Keep the moral high land. But, might neglect to do advancement and expression weak. Khrushchev already believed Kennedy was weak because of the Bay of Pigs failure. The Soviets would hold assumed they could acquire away with anything.

Invasion of Cuba – Destroy Castro authorities every bit good as missiles. Would hold appeared truly tough. But, unsafe, as with air work stoppage. Soviets might hold tried to support Cuba by endangering USA or Western Europe. Could have escalated to full war with USSR.

Blockade – Street fighter, but non straight-out aggression. Would purchase clip and do Soviets take the following move. But, missiles already on Cuba could hold been used shortly. A naval confrontation could intensify to war.


Why did the Soviets put atomic missiles on Cuba? This is an of import inquiry because it was a high hazard scheme. It is non easy to reply. It has led to much survey of Soviet determination doing under Khrushchev. No theory seems to hold become dominant yet. This is partially because the Soviet authorities at the clip was even more close than most. There is likely to be documental grounds in Russia that has non yet been released. Some theories:

Khrushchev wanted the missiles as a bargaining counter to pull out grants from the Americans.

The missiles were designed to prove the will of the USA and of Kennedy in peculiar, the immature president who had seemed so weak over the Bay of Pigs. If he had backed down the Soviets might hold taken advantage elsewhere in the universe.

Khrushchev was so concerned about the American advantage in atomic arms, he would seek anything to shut the spread.

Khrushchev ‘s place in the Soviet was under menace. He needed a bold success to raise his prestigiousness.

The missiles were truly meant to support Cuba. ( ? ? ? ) This was surely the ground Khrushchev gave in his memoirs ( Khrushchev Remembers, 1971 ) . However, most memoirs serve as a justification of the author ‘s calling. In Khrushchev ‘s instance there is even uncertainty they are echt! ( They were published when he died ) .

They were a trap. Khrushchev wanted the Americans to be drawn into war. ( ? ? ? ? ? )


Both sides claimed success. The USSR claimed it had acted to continue peace. Kennedy claimed the same. What do you believe? Which side did most to jeopardize / continue the universe from atomic devastation?

Both sides – and the people everyplace – believed civilization was at interest. The world powers were by this clip armed to a great extent plenty to kill 100s of 1000000s in a twenty-four hours if a struggle escalated to full usage of the atomic armories. People knew such a war would likely kill virtually everyone finally, through radiation illness from ‘fallout ‘ and so from famishment.

In fact, Kennedy gained more recognition for moving tough without firing a shooting nor endorsing down. Khrushchev got recognition in the Communist universe for guaranting Cuba ‘s endurance and moving as conciliator. ( Do you hold? )

However, he was deposed in 1964. The Cuban crisis likely helped to weaken him in the politburo.

The crisis seems to hold altered the class of the Cold War and reduced the tenseness. The two authoritiess, every bit good as their Alliess and peoples, became more sensitive to the hazard of atomic war. The crisis had been really unsafe and it was of import to avoid another 1. A lasting ‘hot line ‘ telephone nexus between Soviet leader and US president was set up.

It besides showed neither side was prepared to step over the threshold. The theory that war would non go on because of ‘mutually assured devastation ‘ gained credibleness. The crisis seemed to demo ‘MAD ‘ made sense for both sides, so the outlook of war declined. Each became more confident it could discourage the other. The weaponries race continued, but it was less frenetic than earlier. In 1963 a atomic Test Ban Treaty was signed, an understanding non to prove atomic payloads in the ambiance. The purpose was to cut pollution, but it besides showed a new willingness to co-operate alternatively of demoing off the latest monolithic device.


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