HIS344Y1 Lecture Notes - Fidel Castro, La Coubre Explosion, Nikita Khrushchev

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choice of 3/4 essay questions, pick one and answer
every single issue is major issue
no minor/obscure issues
evolution of international relations – 1945-1960
expansion of communist ideology – wherever Latin American revolutionaries wanted to
improve their own state's social structure Washington always saw the threat of communism
taking hold
given circumstances, revolution could not be held back, takes place in Cuba
Cuba becomes major battleground
hawks: traditional historians said Khrushchev personally is responsible – only one objective
and that is to take communism across the ocean and bring communism into Latin America,
infiltrate and spread communism, undermine capitalism and US, challenge American
doves: revisionists said that Americans threatened Castro, brought it upon themselves
owls: combination of mistakes by both states, Khrushchev was as much responsible for the
crisis as Kennedy
first and most important because it was played out in the open, the way it unfolded made it even
more important and dramatic
Americans pulled it off, seen as major American victory
from October 1962 it was seen as the greatest example of American crisis solution
a great deal of myth emerged, associated with the president as well (Kennedy was well-
helped to establish legend and several myths
myths of Cuban Missile Crisis
epitome of how a crisis should be solved – how an individual should handle a situation that
could have led to WWIII
nothing was further from the truth – the whole crisis unfolded from such a way that no
government was fully aware of what was happening, all individuals were groping in the
dark, miracle was that the crisis didn't go further
Americans had no clue how many Russians were in Cuba – 50000 Russian troops
if they had invaded Cuba it would for sure have resulted in WWIII
Soviets had permission to use tactical nuclear weapons – if there was an invasion would
definitely have fired the missiles
Soviets had four submarines there, had nuclear torpedoes
Soviet mistakes
October 27, Russians shot down an American reconnaissance plane, could have given
the Americans impression that Russians were there for hostile reasons
why were missiles there – Khrushchev used the missiles to gain the upper hand on BOP,
use it to scare Americans into giving in on important issues
Americans used quid pro quo in exchange for Soviet decision to remove the missiles –
not a complete diplomatic success
both sides blinked, threat of nuclear war was so close that both sides gave in
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