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To what extent was the Cuban missile crisis the climax of the Cold War ?

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To what extent was the Cuban missile crisis the climax of the Cold War ?


SOURCE 1 – map to represent diferent installations, reliable because based on historical datas

SOURCE 2 – extract of a kennedy speech released on october 22, 1962, reliable

CONTEXT -1952 :

In 1952, the dictator Batista came to power. Thanks to a use of corruption and violence it establishes an authoritarian regime in Cuba. He also created a military base on its capital Havana.

Cuba had two faces : one with night clubs and in the center with people who lived thanks to agriculture especially sugar. People lived in poverty and had to work without machinery. Americans had a huge influence on Cuba with the Guantanamo Bay.

Due to Batista government there were many deaths so Fidel Castro lead a revolution. At first itw as a disaster. However, more and more guerillas and support group were set up. In january 1959, Batista was overthrown after two years of fight. The first measures of Castro were punish guilties and allowed Cuba economic indépendance from foreign exploitations. It’s led to the departure of Americans.


As consecuencies, sugar were not sell to Americans. After the departure of a main part of the American population, Russia decided to signed a treaty with Cuba. They bought more than a million tons per year of sugar and gave them a loan for 12 years. On January 1961, Kennedy became president of America. In April 1961, he organised the Bay of pigs Invasion in Cuba. During it, more than 1,400 cubans helped by americans try to overthrow Castro but they failed. After this coup d’Etat, Kennedy had to assume the consecuencies of this attack.

At the same time, Khurushchev developed the peaceful coexistence. As a symbol of this desire to live in peace, he visited America in 1959.

However, there were still tensions between America and USSR. This idea of peaceful coexistence didn’t persist and at the ONU conference, Khrushchev maintained that America and their allies are dangers. At the same time, Kennedy expanded armed forces.

On August 1961, a new stage was crossed in the Berlin crisis. A wall was built to stop people who tried to pass to the west side. For Americans, it was a new occasion to accussed the Soviets. In Cuba, Castro got closer to Khrushchev for military and economic aim.

The trigger of the Cuban civil crisis was on 14 October 1962.  An American spy plane discovered that nuclear bombs and rockets where installed by soviets in Cuba. The power (medium and intermediate range missiles) and position of the ramping spears would allow them to reach the United States. From that moment a threat of nuclear attack was imminen. In this ambiance of insecurity, Americans had only two options : attack or block.

On the 22 october 1962, Kennedy delivered a speech on which he eplained to the population the nuclear threat this missiles represented. He explained what happened, the new discoveries and accused USSR for that attempt at world stability. From that date the danger stepped up. Concurrently, the USA started a quarantine to avoid the soviets from approaching Cuba. They also confronted USSR in front of ONU.

On 28 October 1962, they reached an agreement : USSR destroyed missiles and USA stopped the blocus.


To conclude, the Cuban missile crisis is the Climax of the Cold War because itw as the last stage of a succession of crisis : all the tensions and revolutions with Castro 🡪 the Berlin crisis 🡪 close to a new world war with nuclear attacks

After that crisis, tensions reduced and itw as the beginning of a calming time : the Détente. There was also the installation of the red phone between Moscou and Washington since 1963. The 10th June of the same year, Kennedy delivered a speech for peace in which he denounced the disaster that a nuclear war can caused.


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