The Cuban Missile Crisis: the penultimate climax of the Cold War
After both the US and the USSR have reached a point, they both realize that a bomb
would be too much.
I. Cold War Mentalities
a. Preceding Events
i. 1957 Sputnik Launch
1. First satellite into space
2. Kruschev forced it onto the Americans
3. Represented a threat in 2 ways
a. Wide fear that soviet science is more advanced than American
science; the fear that North America is now vulnerable to missiles
ii. Taiwan straits crisis 1958
1. The us had to intervene
2. Fear in the west that the soviet was taking a more aggressive posture in
the 3rd wold
iii. Khrushchev at UN
1. Had a charisma to the soviets but had very boar-ish behavior to the
2. Took the war to the US; attacked the US: "you say you're for democracy
but you support colonialism"
3. By challenging the west: he had a habit of always referring to nuclear
4. By 1960: the west was starting to become very afraid
iv. Second berlin crisis 1960-61
1. 3.5 million east germans had moved to the west (the best and brightest)
2. Embarassing for soviets that they would be fleeing this soviet paradise
3. Kruschev needed a solution: went to the west and asked them to help
establish security. Gave the west an ultimatum but the west ignored it,
and he began to threaten nuclear war.
II. Background to the CMC
a. Pre-revolutionary cuba 1950s
i. Batista: increasingly unpopular in Cuba. Despite the wealth, Cuba was poor
1. A dictator.
2. 1950s: opposition grew. Biggest groups of the opposition were students,
b. Castro's Band
i. Given a 2nd chance unlike most revolutionaries
ii. He was captured and almost blown up, ended up in Mexico
iii. Plans to go back to Cuba, but captured by Cuban troops
iv. 1957: democratic opposition to Batista launched a major uprising.
1. Very disorganized and not enough support from the army. The coup
failed and the iron fist landed on the democratic opposition.
v. 1958: major battle at Santa Clara
1. Defeated by Castro's band; fled at the first sign of struggle
2. When santa clara failed it sealed Batista's seat c. Revolution in Cuba, Jan 1959
i. Batista flees
ii. Most people in cuba not communist. Castro himself displayed himself as a
iii. Agrarian Reform Law
1. Got land from rich landowners. Gave them money for some of it and
distributed this land among the poorer people. This helped him gain
2. The US was worried, but Castro said he was not communist
3. August 6, 1960: Nationalization. US declares Cuba communist and places
an embargo on Cuba.
d. US foreign policy: Latin America
i. US initially had sympathy towards Castro; when he didn’t wa