Thesis: Cuban Missile Crisis Policy Advice

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Cuban Missile Crisis

Policy Advice in the Midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cold War places us in an unenviable position. As the men and women charged with the tasks of keeping the United States secure, protecting the world from the spread of Stalinism and to promote democratic reform wherever possible. The current situation in Cuba reflects significant setbacks in all of these areas. As we stand in the thick of a crisis that brings us to the brink of nuclear war, it is upon us to determine how best to proceed that we may protect these goals without compromising our ability to demonstrate strength, decisiveness and sound judgment. As President Kennedy looks to address the mounting threat being posed by Russia on our own hemisphere, it is clear that action is required but with the utmost balance of sensitive and resolution. With that stated, we proceed to a discussion of the immediate threat, the need for a response and the high stakes that are here reflected.

First, we consider the nature of the crisis, which requires us to reflect on Cuba's role in the region and its relationship to world affairs. A brief history demonstrates the proximity of its current though likely temporal relationship to the Soviet Union. We know that by 1958, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were already dangerously high as political hostility began to erupt as outright violence in the various developing sphere theatres of conflict to which nation-building strategies had been dispatched. But when in earlier 1958 the revolutionary socialist parties of Fidel Castro began their uprising in a Cuba long partnered to the American government, the Cold War had achieved a new proximity to mainland America. In many ways, this would redefine the scope and strategic conditions of the Cold War, with the events in this small island nation bearing significant on the warring superpowers.

A consideration of its history, its current geopolitical context and its prospective outlook suggest that Cuba's revolution, begun in 1958 and realized fully with the 1959 instatement of Fidel Castro, would become a considerable bargaining chip for the Soviets and always intended as such. Cuba's recent history begins amidst the chaotic transitional period of the 1950s. With the splintering horrors of World War II now behind the global community, its ideological identity was forced into either one of two camps. The Cold War had initiated an international system of political patronage in which the United States and the Soviet Union attempted to establish evidence that their respective nation-building strategies of free-market capitalism and Marxist-Leninist Communism were superior to one another. In the battle between these two superpowers over a historically colonized and yet independently prone island nation, Cuba would ultimately be driven to choose its forms of economy and government by virtue of the conditions contextualizing it.

As a political science writer and Cuban nationalist Juan Valdez Paz explained in a 1996 journal article regarding the nation's political identity, "the Cuban political system has evolved both as part of a global process of revolution and as a response to the conditions during each stage." (Paz, 93) Indeed, not just Cuba, but the whole of Latin America and indeed many of the developing nations throughout the world, were in the midst of a struggle to define themselves in an era both of blossoming independence and of intensifying external pressure toward alignment with global forces. For Cuba, there existed a long-standing and inflating problem of inequality. Massive governmental corruption, the instability of central leadership and resentment toward the United States had rendered by the mid-1950's, a Cuba roiled in contest. The rural, minority and poverty stricken parts of the nation had come to identify with revolutionary reformists, led by such increasingly prominent figures as Communist rebel Che Guevara and Cuban populist Fidel Castro.

In 1958, the militant figures gained significant support as they mounted a full-scale reclamation of Cuba, striking out against the U.S. backed regime of President Fulgencio Batista. The whole of 1958 would be occupied by conflict, with the rebels succeeding by spring in occupying much of rural Cuba and beginning its assault on Havana. Though Batista would launch a counteroffensive by summer, the rebel forces commanded his resignation and flight from Cuba by New Year's Eve of that year. The start of 1959 would see Castro's assumption of power. His new government declared its embrace of "an economy regulated by a central plan, public ownership of the means of production, highly developed productive forces, suppression of the ruling classes, a new political system based on the broadest kind of participatory democracy, foreign relations that would foster a new global economic and political order, and a new culture and ideology under which new values, norms, and social relations could be expressed." (Paz, 92)

Castro's policy, allegedly directed toward improving widespread inequality in his country, was directly hostile to American global interests, provoking the United States to adhere "after 1961 to a hard line, including non-recognition of the Castro government, rejection of official bilateral relationships, an economic embargo on all trade and investment with the island nation and an active anti-Castro propaganda campaign." (Randall, 2) The dual effect which this would have would lead us to our present crisis. It was at this juncture that Cuba was both pushed into the waiting arms of Soviet Russia, which greatly desired a close ally in the U.S. sphere of Western influence, and was forced into economic and geographical isolation to the extent that many of its liberalizing ambitions become fully impossible to pursue.

With the start of the current administration and our redoubled interest in preventing the spread of Soviet ideology and governance, efforts have remained strategically important to undermine the government of Fidel Castro and reduce the presence of the Soviet Union in the hemisphere. But the Bay of Pigs event of last year altered the course of circumstances in two problematic ways; its failure has emboldened the Russians where Cuba is concerned and the determination demonstrated by the United States provided Castro and Khrushchev with shared interests in their common enemy. And as Dobbs contributes to our understanding of this situation for Kennedy after the quagmire at the Bay of Pigs, "the perception of an inexperienced leader with no guts was one that he had been struggling to reverse ever since." (Dobbs, 7) This imposes another element upon our consideration, insofar as we must also battle the political impressions that make our president appear to be vulnerable.

This helps to put into perspective the motives which bring the Russians to Cuba today. Our reconnaissance tells us that Khrushchev views the missile "scheme as a means of protecting Cuba from another United States-sponsored invasion, such as the failed attempt at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. After obtaining Fidel Castro's approval, the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build missile installations in Cuba." (Global Security, 1)

This quick effort is a considerable gamble on the part of the Soviets and we expect that it will backfire on them. Though we are dangerously close at this juncture to a confrontation into which we surely do not want to enter, we must proceed with the view that we do have the upper hand. This move is one conducted on the part of the Soviet's as a way to move closer to us in the arms race both in terms of threat level and geographical proximity. To be sure, we are in a place of peril at this juncture. All indications are that we are closer than we've ever been at this exact juncture to a nuclear confrontation with the Russians. According to that which we have been able to ascertain, "the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Kennedy immediately organized the EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis." (ThinkQuest Team, 1)

We are among those and thus it falls upon us to determine the proper steps by which to defuse a crisis that threatens nothing less than the total destruction of our way of life. Our research refers to this scenario as "brinksmanship . . . where one small misstep can lead to total destruction." (Divine, 8) In the face of possible nuclear war, these are the stakes before us. That said, and understanding that this scenario also applies to the situation facing the Soviets, we consider this as much a cause to take comfort in the unlikelihood of reach military confrontation as we consider it a sobering threat.

According to the research proceeds, we can see that the imperatives facing the U.S. And the Soviet Union are somewhat different. The crisis on Cuba represents a new sense of vulnerability to Soviet capabilities for us. But for the Soviets, it represents and opportunity to pull astride of us in presenting a threat level. Indeed, we have been able… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Cuban Missile Crisis Policy Advice."  Essaytown.com.  December 14, 2009.  Accessed August 17, 2019.
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