• Home
  • History
  • What were the real reasons behind the Cuban Missile crises? Did the US really ‘stare’ down the USSR and ‘win’? (Compare Cuban, Russian and American perspectives.)

What were the real reasons behind the Cuban Missile crises? Did the US really ‘stare’ down the USSR and ‘win’? (Compare Cuban, Russian and American perspectives.)

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:


Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis came as a pivotal instant during the Cold War. About 50 year before, the United States together with the Soviet Union encountered one of the most brutal battles than at every other instance in history (Kramps and Tustin, 2007, p.88). In the year 1962, in the month of October, President John Kennedy informed Americans about the missiles and further clarified his move to ordain a naval blockade all over Cuba’s perimeter and clarified that the United States were ready to utilize its military in order to counteract the supposed threat to their national security (Buffet et al., 2010). Large numbers of people were afraid that the world was heading towards a nuclear war.

Although, this disaster was evaded when the United States agreed to the Soviet Union’s leader to get rid of the Cuban missiles in exchange for the United States promising to not conquer Cuba (Leonard, 2004). In addition, President John F. Kennedy also agreed to get rid of their missiles from Turkey. This literature review will highlight the reasons that brought about the occurrence of the Cuban missile crisis. Furthermore, it will discuss the whether the United States stared down the Soviet Union and win and finally the different perspectives of Cuba, Russia as well as the United States.

Reasons behind the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was aroused by the construction of the missile bases in Cuba by the Soviet Union although there existed prior actions by both the U.S as well as the Soviet Union that almost resulted to the occurrence of a nuclear conflict (Falaster, 2014). It may occur as a war of nerves especially from current point of view though the world was approaching a nuclear war that has never been experienced before in history. This was primarily because of the following reasons: missiles bases discovery in Cuba; Cuban revolution and Kennedy’s policy towards Fidel Castro (Faria and Miguel, 2002).

Missile Bases Discovery in Cuba

The Cuban Missile Crisis came as the most serious conflict in history between the United States and the Soviet Union during the period of the Cold War and almost brought the two nations to a nuclear conflict (Garthoff and Raymond, 2004). One of the causes of the crisis occurred when photos were leaked about missile bases in Cuba that were supposed to be initiated by the Soviet Union. These photos were captured by spy planes in 22nd October, 1962 (Trahair, Richard and Miller, 2009). The United States acted by barricading Cuba particularly when the Soviet’s ships were on their course to the Island due to threats to its national security.

Cuban Revolution

The chain of instances that sparked the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis commenced with the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the year 1959 by Fidel Castro (The Cuban Missile Crisis, 2016, p.53). Once Castro was in power, he nationalized various American companies within the nation which resulted to an outrage in the U.S. the United States retaliated by with an embargo against Cuba which directly turned Fidel Castro towards the Soviet Union where he had an agreement with them regarding the purchase of 1 million tons of sugar per year from Cuba (Feklisov, Alexander and Kostin, 2005).

Kennedy’s Policy towards Fidel Castro

After winning the presidential elections, President Kennedy had an aim of removing Fidel Castro and cease the spread of communism within Latin America. In addition, President Kennedy authorized another operation that was against Castro once his attempt of invading Castro (Garthoff and Raymond, 2004). This pushed the Cuban leader closer to his Soviet allies introducing the idea of coming up with an intermediate-range nuclear missiles within the island.

Comparison of the Cuban, Russian and American Perspectives

Regarding the crisis, the three nations involved had completely different perspectives with regards to the crisis.

United States Perspective

The United States perspective involved the lack of strategy portrayed by the Soviet Union capability in constructing the missile bases in Cuba which could only hit European countries thus making the U.S the world superpower (Munton and Welch, 2007, p.4). Their strategic analysis involved balance of forces where Soviet’s motive was ideally to distort the balance of forces within the globe in order for the Soviet Union to challenge the U.S. freely. In addition, the credibility of the U.S. was in question since the motive of the Soviet Union was to embarrass the United States by placing missiles in their backyard, Cuba. Also, United States’ perspective of the crisis involved the attack of Berlin since the Soviet Union would have found an excuse of attacking U.S. outposts closer to them (Munton and Welch, 2007, p.4 ).

Cuban Perspective

The Cuban revolution happened without any assistance from the Soviet Union. From the Cuban perspective, the crisis was tripartite since it involved three countries and every party involved had the capability of impacting the outcome (Blight et al., 2002, p.6). In addition, Cuba was alone since it couldn’t rely on the Soviet Union and at the same time it was threatened by the United States. Furthermore, Cuba wanted to hold back Soviet bombers after the crisis thus defending themselves from any future United States attacks (Blight et al., 2002, p.6).

Russia’s Perspective

The Soviet Union perspective on this crisis was the attack against the Soviet Union. Which emphasized on the U.S. superiority where Kennedy’s administration acknowledged publicly that the actual missile gap contradicted with what Kennedy had charged (Stern, 2005, p.5). Furthermore, the Soviet analysts believed that the United States military buildup was a preparation for a nuclear attack directed towards the Soviet Union as well as an effort to coerce the Soviet Union.


To sum up, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a pivotal instant during the Cold War. It involved three nations which included the United States, Cuba and the Soviet Union. These crisis was identified when the United States sent spy planes over Cuba and took photos of missile bases being set up by the Soviet Union resulting them to barricade Cuba. The reasons that led to the occurrence of the crisis includes: missiles bases discovery in Cuba; Cuban revolution and Kennedy’s policy towards Fidel Castro. Furthermore, the crisis had various perspectives especially from the nations involved. United States perspective involved strategies such as balancing forces, their credibility and the attack of their outposts. On the other hand, Cuba’s perspective was that the crisis was a tripartite that involved three nations.


Primary Sources

Blight, James G.; Bruce J. Allyn and David A. Welch 2002, Cuba on the Brink (paperback ed.). Lanham, Maryland, Rowmand and Littlefield Publishers.

Kramps, Tustin C 2007, «The Cuban Missile Crisis», Air & Space Power Journal, AU Press, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Volume XXI, Number 3, page 88.

Munton D. and Welch D 2007, The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Concise History, Oxford University Press.

Stern, S 2005m, The Week The World Stood Still: Inside The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis, Stanford U Press.

The Cuban Missile Crisis 2016, Choice Reviews Online, 53(09), 53-3783-53-3783. http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/choice.195445

Secondary Sources (Journals)

Falaster, C 2014, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. RIAE, 13(04), pp. 136-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.5585/riae.v13i4.2181

Garthoff, R 2004, «Foreign Intelligence and the Historiography of the Cold War,» Journal of Cold War Studies – 6(2), pp. 21–56.

Leonard, V 2004, October 1962: The "Missile" Crisis as Seen from Cuba (review). Cuban Studies, 35(1), pp. 152-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/cub.2005.0013

Secondary Sources (Books)

Faria, Miguel 2002, Cuba in Revolution—Escape from a Lost Paradise, Macon, Georgia, Hacienda Publishing.

Feklisov, Alexander and Kostin S 2005, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs, Enigma Books.

Trahair, Richard C & Miller R 2009, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, Enigma Books.

Secondary Sources (Others)

Buffet, Cyril & Touze, Vincent 2010, «Germany, between Cuba and Berlin» (http:/ / www. cubacrisis. net/ angl/ pages/ aubord_rfa11. html). The Cuban Missile Crisis exhibition. The Caen Mémorial.