The Cuban Missile Crisis
John F. Kennedy's greatest triumph as President of the United States came in 1962, as the world's two largest superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, edged closer and closer to nuclear war. The Soviet premier of Russia was caught arming Fidel Castro with nuclear weapons. The confrontation left the world in fear for thirteen long days, with the life of the world on the line. In 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union, employed a daring gambit. He secretly ordered the placement of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba. Earlier the Soviet premier had promised Soviet protection to Cuba ("Cuban" 774). This was the first time any such weapons had been placed outside of Eurasia (Hersh 345).
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Offensive missiles in Cuba, they argued, were therefore unnecessary for an offensive base(Mills 234). Furthermore, the United States had over 3,000 nuclear warheads and nearly 300 missile launchers, opposed to the Soviet Union's 250 warheads and 24 to 44 missile launchers (Hersh 343). Still, John Kennedy thought that Cuba could become a base for military operations at any given moment. The United States had to be prepared to face it (Mills 234). At this point in the crisis, John McCone, the CIA director, was regularly sending President Kennedy reports of missiles capable of launching a nuclear warhead being sent to Cuba. According to McCone, medium-range ballistic missiles(MRBMs) would be next (Hersh 348). U-2's were sent to scout the west end of Cuba. On October 14, the CIA reported that construction had begun for MRBMs (Mills 235). Despite the increased state of readiness in the US, many people did not realize that the Soviet Union had done nothing on its home territory during the crisis. Its fleet of ICBM launchers were not mobilized and neither were Soviet reserves. There were not even any threats against Berlin (Hersh 343). Regardless of what the Soviets said, the United States was still far ahead in the nuclear arms race. ICBM's were expensive to build and the Soviet Union did not have an abundance of money. Installing the smaller missiles in Cuba was much cheaper than