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JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited

Cuban Missile Crisis: Revisited

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Find out more about the developments of the October Crisis [Video by Ted-Ed]

Vienna Summit of 1961
After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, Khrushchev and Kennedy met during the Vienna Summit on 4 June 1961. Earlier in February, Kennedy expressed his desire to meet the Soviet leader even though his advisors disagreed, given his lack of experience. Khrushchev perceived Kennedy as a young and inept American leader, given the latter’s failure in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Operation Anadyr
Also in June 1961, Turkey and the USA agreed to deploy fifteen nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey. Soviet Minister of Defence Rodion Malinovsky had a conversation with Khrushchev, discussing the capabilities of the Soviet and American missiles.

Malinovsky drew Khrushchev’s attention to the installation of American missiles just over the horizon of the Black Sea in Turkey. He told Khrushchev that the American missiles in Turkey could strike the Soviet Union in ten minutes, whereas Soviet missiles needed twenty-five minutes to hit the United States. Khrushchev then mused on whether the Soviet Union shouldn’t do the same thing in Cuba, just over the horizon from the United States.

Excerpt from “Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Raymond L. Garthoff.

In 1962, the Soviets launched Operation ANADYR which involved the delivery of medium-range and intermediate-range missiles and nuclear missiles to Cuba. Interestingly, “Anadyr” refers to the name of a river flowing into the Bering Sea. On the surface, the operation was described as a strategic exercise conducted in the north of the U.S.S.R.

now they would know just what it feels like to have enemy missiles pointing at you, we’d be doing nothing more than giving them a little taste of their own medicine. And it was high time… America has never had to fight a war on her own soil, at least not in the past fifty years. She’s sent troops abroad to fight in two World Wars – and made a fortune as a result.

Excerpt by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev from “Kennedy” by Hugh Brogan

A Naval Quarantine
After the U-2 spy plane discovered the missile bases in Cuba that were identified as Soviet-operated, Kennedy made a public address to the American citizens on 22 October 1962. It was intentionally described as a “quarantine” so as to avoid provocations to the Soviets.

…I have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately:

First: To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.

An excerpt by American President John F. Kennedy’s Address on the Naval Quarantine, 22 October 1962.

De-escalation: Bilateral exchanges
After the Soviet vessel turned back, Khrushchev wrote a letter on 26 October, offering to remove the missile bases in Cuba only if Kennedy agreed not to invade Cuba. On the same day, Castro sent a letter to the Soviet leader, proposing an attack on the USA.

Given the analysis of the situation and the reports which have reached us, [I] consider an attack to be almost imminent–within the next 24 to 72 hours…

If the second variant takes place and the imperialists invade Cuba with the aim of occupying it, the dangers of their aggressive policy are so great that after such an invasion the Soviet Union must never allow circumstances in which the imperialists could carry out a nuclear first strike against it.

An excerpt from Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s letter to Khrushchev, 26 October 1962.

On 28 October, Radio Moscow announced that the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles in Cuba in exchange for the US government’s pledge not to invade Cuba. As such, the Cuban Missile Crisis had finally come to an end.

Evidently, the private arrangements had angered the Cuban leader as he wrote to Khrushchev with much dismay.

I do not see how you can state that we were consulted in the decision you took

The imperialists are talking once again of invading our country, which is proof of how ephemeral and untrustworthy their promises are. Our people, however, maintain their indestructible will to resist the aggressors and perhaps more than ever need to trust in themselves and in that will to struggle.

An excerpt from Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s letter to Khrushchev, 31 October 1962.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a superpower conflict?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cuban Missile Crisis. We also cover other Cold War topics, such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, to prepare students for the GCE A Level History examination. Online learning programmes include thematic discussion and class practices to refine writing techniques for source based case study questions and essay questions.

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JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis - What happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion

What happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Find out more about the Bay of Pigs invasion [Video by Weird History]

Historical Context: Castro’s Rise
After Castro’s successful victory against the US-backed military dictator Fulgencio Bastista on 1 January 1959, he became the Prime Minister of Cuba on 16 February. Two months later, the new Cuban leader received an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors to visit the United States. Although American President Dwight Eisenhower refused to meet Castro, Vice President Richard Nixon had a short discussion with him.

He seems to be sincere. He is either incredibly naive about Communism or under Communist discipline—my guess is the former, and as I have already implied his ideas as to how to run a government or an economy are less developed than those of almost any world figure I have met in fifty countries.

But because he has the power to lead to which I have referred, we have no choice but at least to try to orient him in the right direction.

An excerpt by Vice President Richard Nixon on Castro, during Castro’s visit to Washington, 19 April 1960.

A diplomatic relationship gone sour: Nationalization
In view of the previous administration’s cooperation with the US that led to the perceived economic exploitation of Cuban resources, Castro’s government embarked on a series of nationalization policies to restore domestic control.

Public utilities, electricity and telephone services all belonged to the United States monopolies. A major portion of the banking business, of the importing business and the oil refineries, the greater part of the sugar production, the best land in Cuba, and the most important industries in all fields belonged to American companies. The balance of payments in the last ten years, from 1950 to 1960, had been favorable to the United States with regard to Cuba to the extent of one thousand million dollars.

An excerpt from Fidel Castro’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, 26 September 1960.

As observed from his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (Interestingly, Castro’s speech is recognised as the longest ever made at the United Nations – 269 minutes) revealed his motives to pursue nationalization.

An anti-Castro rhetoric: The Bay of Pigs invasion
In retaliation, the Eisenhower administration severed diplomatic relations with Cuba on 3 January 1961. The Americans feared that Communism had taken root in the Latin American region. Subsequently, the US government planned to remove Castro from power, starting with Eisenhower’s allocation of $13 million to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to support Cuban counter-revolutionary forces (known as Brigade 2506). Before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on 20 January 1961, he was made aware of the anti-Castro CIA plans.

However, the invasion was a disaster. On 17 April 1961, Brigade 2506 arrived at the Bay of Pigs and came under heavy fire. Castro commanded nearly 20,000 troops to storm the beach. Over the next 24 hours, nearly 1200 members surrendered and more than 100 were killed.

Deterioration of Cuban-U.S. relations
Following the humiliating defeat at the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy remained steadfast and launched Operation Mongoose. The main aim of the operation was to destablize the Cuban government. However, these acts of aggression convinced Castro that Soviet military support was necessary, thus bringing the world closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

Still the strategies used under Operation Mongoose were the brainchild of two men, Air Force General Edward Lansdale , representing the Department of Defense, and William King Harvey of the CIA.

…Some of these plans were in the psychological operations realm, such as propaganda campaigns, and other plans were designed to denigrate the image of Castro among the Cuban people. Some involved acts designed to either disrupt or sabotage the Cuban government and economy, such as the destruction of Cuba’s sugar crop and mining of Cuba habors.

An excerpt taken from “Encyclopedia of U.S. – Latin American Relations” by Thomas Leonard, Jurgen Buchenau, Kyle Longley, Graeme Mount

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Bay of Pigs invasion was the result of Castro’s nationalist policies?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as other Cold War topics. We provide summary notes and practices to ensure that you are ready to ace the GCE A Level History examinations. Our online classes are available for those taking either H1 History or H2 History.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Singapore - Cuban Missile Crisis Cold War Case Studies - Source Based Case Study Skills

Cuban Missile Crisis – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be analyzing these political cartoons to understand the different visual interpretations of the Cuban Missile Crisis. By examining these visual texts and recognising their contexts, you will be more familiar with the interpretations to answer the source based case study questions effectively. We will be focusing on the second part: A World Divided by the Cold War – Cuban Missile Crisis.

By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman [31 August 1961]
The cartoon portrays Castro as a towering figure over two petite looking persons representing Cuba and Brazil. Castro persuades Brazil to lead a communist revolution like his. Yet, Brazil looks bewildered as Cuba is in a poor state.
In late August 1961, Cuba was facing food shortages, whereas Brazil was in debt. The cartoon was possibly meant to depict Brazil’s skepticism towards Castro’s revolution.
By British Magazine, Punch [1962]
The cartoon depicts both superpower leaders (Kennedy and Khrushchev) feeling annoyed over their neighbour’s tree branch(es) extended into their own territory.
The intended audiences are possibly the citizens of USA and USSR in depicting superpower involvement, seen in terms of their bases in other countries (e.g. Cuba and Turkey)
By German cartoonist Herbert Kolfhaus [30 September 1962]
Below the cartoon, the caption reads ‘What do you mean, a threat? Surely it’s all right to go fishing, isn’t it?’
The cartoonist depicts an ironic illustration of Moscow’s true motives on Cuba. In Sept 1962, an agreement was signed between Cuba and USSR for the construction of a port in the Bay of Havana, which Castro claimed to be a base for the Soviet fishing fleet in the Atlantic.
By Die Vaderland [1961]
The cartoon depicts a miniature-sized Castro targeting the Soviet missile at a terrified ‘Uncle Sam’ (USA), while Khrushchev looks on from afar in delight.
By Welsh political cartoonist Leslie G. Illingworth – published in British newspaper, The Daily Mail [29 October 1962]
The cartoon illustrates both Kennedy and Khrushchev taking part in an arm wrestling match that neither side was likely to win. They are seated on missiles that could go off anytime.
The cartoonist is trying to depict the unpredictability of the world as the crisis may lead to ‘mutually assured destruction’.
By Hungarian-British cartoonist Victor Weisz (‘Vicky’) – published in London News [24 October 1962]
The cartoon illustrates Kennedy in The White House and Khrushchev in the Kremlin facing each other with nuclear missiles placed outside their buildings. In context, the cartoon depicts Kennedy as being hypocritical as he questioned Khrushchev about the missiles in Cuba, since there were twice as many American missiles as there are than the Russians.
By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman [30 October 1962]
The cartoon depicts Khrushchev as a dentist extracting Castro’s teeth, which is illustrated as missiles.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy announced that US would impose a ‘naval quarantine’ to prevent the delivery of Soviet missiles to Cuba. Khrushchev eventually backed down and agreed to remove the missiles.

How do I use these sources to ace the Source Based Case Study questions?
First, be familiar with the main perspectives of Cuba, USA and USSR in explaining their involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Refer to the aforementioned article for more information.

Second, examine these cartoons and attempt to answer the following question: How far do these sources support the view that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a superpower conflict?

Third, pay attention to the date of publication and the source origin (i.e. who published it?) to consider the motive. This section will be important when you attempt to derive the provenance of each source.

If you are looking for additional help, why not join our JC History Tuition as we will teach you to organise the content and improve your answering skills. Additionally, we offer other JC tuition programmes, like GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we have Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to join right away.