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Impacts of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Research Paper Example

Pages: 3

Words: 959

Research Paper

The Cold War arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union came to a head in 1962 when the Soviet Union installed nuclear weapons on Cuba: a measly 90 miles away from United States’ coastlines. After the discovery of the nuclear threat, a two week long naval standoff between the two superpowers sparked fear of a potential nuclear war. President Kennedy called for a marine barricade between Cuba and the United States; making it clear that he was ready to use military force to defuse the threat if necessary. At the same time, feelings of panic spread through the United States as citizens prepared for the worst: a nuclear bombing that could potentially wipe out entire cities. The international tension sparked by the Cuban Missile Crisis dragged the Cold War into perspective and resulted in peace talks the following year, but also had a lasting impact on the relationship between the United States and Cuba (“Cuban Missile Crisis”).

As a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world saw how easily an arms race like the Cold War could expand into a nuclear world war. The Crisis also resulted in widespread civilian panic in the United States. Families prepared bomb shelters and school children practiced hiding under desks in the event of a bombing. The hysteria the standoff caused prompted the nations to begin peace talks. President Kennedy demanded that the nuclear weapons be removed; in exchange, he promised that the United States would not invade Cuba again as it did in the Bay of Pigs Invasion (“Cuban Missile Crisis”). It was also later discovered that the United States also neutralized nuclear weapons in Turkey that posed a threat to the Soviet Union. In order to prevent a reoccurrence of the Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union established a “Hotline” between the two nations that allowed them to speak directly and begin peace talks. Kennedy and Khrushchev later agreed to a nuclear Limited Test Ban Treaty that eliminated nuclear testing on ground and under water; limiting nuclear tests solely to underground facilities (“The Cuban Missile Crisis”). The Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in both mass hysteria and the resolution of the Cold War.

While the Cuban Missile Crisis prompted the beginnings of reconciliation between the United States and the Soviet Union; it further complicated the situation between the United States and Cuba. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy imposed travel restrictions; stopping United States residents from traveling to Cuba and vice versa. A year before the Missile Crisis, the United States enacted an economic embargo on Cuba in opposition to their dictatorial system. The Missile Crisis strengthened this embargo; eliminating trade and economic exchange between the United States and Cuba. The United States lost all of its assets in Cuba and the Cuba lost any chance of a good relationship with its closest neighbor and one of the world’s superpowers (Swift). The United States announced that it would not prevent other countries from trading with Cuba, but the superpowers’ international influence deeply hurt Cuba’s economy. Cuba also lost its alliance with the Soviet Union, as Khrushchev betrayed Cuban allies in their treaty with the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis served to further poison the already rocky relationship between the United States and Cuba; resulting in economic and commerce problems for Cuba that persist today (“The Cuban Missile Crisis”).

The Cuban Missile Crisis acted as a wakeup call for the world. The two superpowers realized that they were headed down a dangerous road and agreed to limit nuclear activity to prevent sparking a third world war. Average citizens, particularly United States residents, experienced an environment of panic over the possibility of complete annihilation due to nuclear weapons (Swift). While the Crisis helped put out the wildfire of the Cold War, it had more detrimental consequences for Cuba. While the United States suffered a slight economic loss by maintaining the embargo against Cuba; Cuba truly suffered from the loss of the favor of both superpowers. Cuba’s economy suffered as a result of the loss of trade with the United States and the complete withdrawal of United States’ assets from the country. The Crisis also put a strain on the citizens of both countries; making it near impossible for travel between them. Although the Cuban Missile Crisis was a terrifying time for American Citizens, its effects were not all negative. Without a large nuclear threat, it is unclear when the Cold War would have ended and if it would have resulted in the actual use of nuclear weapons, instead of just the threat of bombs. The Crisis was one of the tipping points that prompted the two superpowers to reconcile and agree to stop testing nuclear weapons in such dangerous ways (“The Cuban Missile Crisis”). Although the Cuban Missile Crisis further poisoned the United States’ relationship with Cuba, it ended a longstanding arms race that posed a threat to the entire world.

References

“Cuban Missile Crisis.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. <http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cuban-missile-crisis>.

“The Cuban Missile Crisis.” U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian. N.p., 31 Oct. 2013. Web. <https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis>.

Swift, John. “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” History Today. N.p., Mar. 2007. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.historytoday.com%2Fjohn-swift%2Fcuban-missile-crisis>.

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