It can be denoted that about twenty-fiveyears have passed since the end of the cold war era. Currently, it can be easy to forget the binary structure that dominated international relations in the world and the disagreements and conflicts generated in the period.The Cuban missile crisis was a hard pill to swallow for the John F. Kennedy administration, and can be argued to be the epitome of conflict between Russia and the United States- superpowers. The craze was instigated by political games and military showmanship between the two superpowers that led to economic strain and other consequences. The inevitability of the situation and headlocking being nuclear warfare would have turned the world into a nuclear abyss. In this period, the nuclear military action was not a far-fetched ideology. The paper analyzes the dynamics –political- of the Cuban missile crisis that put the world on the brink of nuclear Armageddon and the magnitude of its influence, towards the downfall of the United States Economy.
In October of 1962, an American U-2 plane spying in the Cuban airspace showed photographic evidence of nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the Island of Cuba. It was the onset of the 13-day conflict between the U.S and Russian governments. After the discovery, president John F. Kennedy placed a naval blockade to prevent further military supplies to Cuba by the Russsian governments. It presented a precarious situation for the Americans because not only was Cuba a long-standing enemy of the U.S government; it is geographically placed at about 90-miles off the Coast of Florida, and this presented an enormous and potential threat to the country.John F. Kennedy announced the new stressed International relations between Russia and America in a televised broadcast.Martin Hellman denotes the little-known events of the crisis that include American destroyers unknowingly attacking Soviet submarines armed with nuclear torpedoes(Hellman 3). The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommendation to sinking an American ship in Guantanamo Bay and putting the blame on Fidel Castro to incite the American people about a possible invasion of Cuba(Hellman 3). They also included the Soviet’s deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons to deter an invasionof Cuba(Hellman 3). It is evident that this was a political nuclear game engaged to establish power and control by both parties.
The involvement in the crisis can be accrued to three perspectives as regards the countries involved. Nikita Khrushchev- president of Russia- was after a political shift in favor of the Soviet Union. It led to reactionary action towards the implementation and establishment of military resources that included missiles in Europe- especially Turkey- that had provoked Russian security and peace of mind. A strategic analysis of the missile conflict could denote objectives such as a move to reduce the credibility of the United States as a superpower and also give the Russians the right to attack the United States military outposts in Europe if they were to do the same in Cuba.It would also prevent an aggressive attack by the U.S and deter the country from invading Cuba. Psychoanalysis into the event would denote that the Kremlin had the desire to test the strength of John F. Kennedy, who they believed was weak, and if he had caved in, it would have meant more aggressive actions by the Russians elsewhere such as Berlin(Thompson 5).The U.S government showing weakness will have resulted in a falling out of its partners and hampered its trade relations and economic ideals in favor of Russia and hence, a shift in power.
Fidel Castro, the then president of Cuba, was aligned to the Soviet Union and dependent on them for political and economic goodwill. Therefore, if an agreement to prevent war was to be reached, it would have been between the two presidents (Kennedy and Nikita). The U.S government threatened military action against Cuba which was not news as it had happened before- Bay pigs Invasion(Thompson 5). Fidel Castro was after protecting his regime from further attacks by the U.S government which had a hardline endeavor to topple his government through yet another attack- operation Mongoose.The operation involved industrial espionage, trade embargoes and assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.Therefore, the Soviet arms build-up in Cuba was an action by the Cuban government to augment its defenses against the United States in an endeavor to assume economic freedom from foreign domination.
The incidence of the missile crisis can be said to have been provoked by the Unites States objective to augment the ‘missile gap’ and the Kennedy’s administration stance and the option of utilizing nuclear weapons against the Russian government among other motives.The United States influence and involvements in the Cuba missile crisis are evident and cannot be denied. Despite the fact that the United States had many missiles than the Soviet Union, Kennedy announced that he would increase the number of nuclear warheads that could be utilized against the Russians. The United States also interfered with the internal affairs of the Cuban government and attacks against the country was a show of superiority and undermining of Soviet power and will. The U.S attacked the nation- Cuba- with the notion that it would reduce the credibility of the Russian apparatus and Communist ideals. The Russian government had heightened its relations with Cuba through trade and military interventions. Involvement of the U.S in Cuba was as a result of nationalization of American companies by the Cuban government that also denounced American capitalist ideologies to the unpopular Russian communist notions. It was more political than economic.
The quagmire was dire, dramatic and unique to say the least as it involved calculations and miscalculations direct and secret communications and miscommunications between the two factions(Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs 1). The conflict did not engage any bureaucracies and was played out at the White house and the Kremlin level(Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs 1).The political stalemate cannot be downplayed as both presidents realized the devastating effect a nuclear conflict would mean for both countries. Infact, inspite the agreements reached after the conflict, the United States suffered in a myriad of ways. Partaking in an arms race is not a cheap affair. The resource allocations of the United States are characterized by a huge chunk of their dollars being directed to the military and other national security departments.
The Cuban Crisis hurt relations between the United States and its trade partners. In particular, Cuba was handed trade embargoes by the United States after the nationalization of American companies in the country. The interventions taken by the United States on the small country were not popular with most of its partners. Canada, a long-time military and economic ally of America cried foul and was apprehensive about the American’s use of forceful interventions in a country seeking to free itself from foreign domination(Ghent 159).Infact, it viewed Cuba as a satellite of the American economy and considered altercations between the U.S and Cuba due to differences in ideology mediocre and insignificant(Ghent 160).The Latin American fraternity also did not support the actions perpetrated by the U.S on Cuba. The atrocities committed to the small economy by the foreign power forced their hand to their partnering with the Russian government that was the advent ofthe Cuban missile crisis. The crisis also affected the European-American relations. It changed the perceptions of European governments on the American foreign policy on two fronts. One is that the United States will not go to war when the Europeans want it to, and second is that the U.S will go to war when Europeans do not want it to(Miller 14).
In a democracy, public support is essential as viewed by the televised broadcast of the crisis by the president JFK. However, the action and involvement in the conflict were done without the consultation of stakeholders in the powerful sectors of the U.S economy such as Agriculture. The announcement led to a panic that resulted in theclearing shelves of water and food in preparation of a nuclear holocaust. The government also directed spending towards building “nuclear-safe” shelters in an endeavor to protect its population(George 67). The notion of an attack on U.S soil by the Russian government shaped the spending and policies of the U.S government after the Cuban missile crisis. The anti-communist slogan echoed at every corner of the country. Its citizens were scared and hence, massive budgets aimed at preparing the United States citizens, an arms race, and the Cuban crisis being a catalyst to the Cold War era period(George 67). The substitution of resource allocations to primary and traditional sectors of the economy, in favor of the military, can be said to be the onset of the path towards the fall of the U.S economy.
The 1960s was a period characterized by political instability due to the Cuban crisis conflict. The proceeding years led to increased military, security and preparation expenditure as aforementioned. According to Korb, Conley, and Rothman, the spending of the United States on the military continues to escalate such that ithas led to massive deficits in the United States economy(Korb, Conley and Rothman 1). The authors indicate that the American government borrows forty-three cents for every dollar ituses(Korb, Conley and Rothman 1). The direct effect of the Cuban crisis on the economy of America can be accrued to the spending involved in the mobilizations of the navy (through the blockade), army and air forces in preparation for war (along the coastline of Florida). It can also be attributed to increased spending on more nuclear warheads. However, the trickle-down effect and indirect consequence of the conflict can be linked to the current vast U.S debt and military spending that can be said to be higher than that experienced in the secondworld war. The spending by the U.S government to strengthen strategic relations is another form of expenditure that is utilized by the American to strengthen world-power military wise than servicing their disabled economy.
The decisions and expenditure policies made by the American government henceforth can be termed as directed towards maintaining its hold as a super power and avoiding a shift as demanded forcefully by the Russian government during the 13-day October 1962 conundrum. It was common practice and the American way during the post-war era to engage in cold war and the strategy of containment(Thompson 3).A study done by Nincic and Cusack denote the controversy that has befallen the subject of military expenditure in the political and academic circles. In their model, founded on political-business identified that if one would remove the effects of war-time mobilization costs, It is implicit that the driving force in the U.S military spending dynamics was:- Perceived utility of the spending in stabilizing aggregate demand, political or electoral value of the perceived economic effects and the pressures of institutional and constituency demands(Nincic and Cusack 102).
The Cuban missile crisis also led to non-economic consequences.It created an impetus to the arms race(Shalom 83). The Soviet Union swore to reach parity in terms of nuclear weaponry and a decade later the Kremlin had over a thousand warheads. Currently, there are millions of tons of highly enriched Uranium in developing countries such as India and China. The agreement between Russia and America seen as a decision towards the reduction of nuclear arms and yet achieving the converse of its intended purpose.However, due to the Cuban missile predicament, there was a decline in the probability of full-scale war between the two superpowers(Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs 1).
The foreign policies of the United states were transformed after the conflict. The superpower engaged “firm” authority on its interests on third-world developing countries and continued to sponsor assassinations, military and the police in those countries.However, a direct change foreign policywas the “hotline” created by Moscow and Washington DC that was meant to remain open always. The two countries signed a treaty that banned the testing of nuclear weapons under water, atmosphere and in space. The Cuban crisis brought about a status quo between the two countries that deterred antagonizing actions between the nations. However, the backing out of Nikita Khrushchev saw him lose on the sino-Soviet relations with allies such as China(Roeschley 5). The Chinese republic cut all trade and agreements between it and the USSR. Two years later, Nikita lost his position as the premier of the Russian government as he was viewed as weak.
The effect of the Cuban military crisis can be acclaimed to have been diverse. One of the issues that come to mind even in the current is the condition that the United States can carry out any actions without repercussions and resonates the precedent of the Cuban crisis- America is allowed to do things that other countries should not(Roeschley 6). One of the positives that can be taken from the Cuban missile crisis is that even after the downfall of the Soviet Union, Cuba still remains strong under communist ideals(Roeschley 7). The trade embargoes between the country and the United States exist to date with citizens asking for normalization. However, the American government continues to be adamant regardless of the non-significance it wields in this day and age.
In conclusion, the Cuban missile crisis is significant in history as it shaped economic, International relations and foreign policies in America and the rest of the world. Nikita and Kennedy nearly scarred the world in a political game aimed at changing the shift in power for the former and creating a gap in superiority for the latter. Nikita can be viewed as world hero from backing down and re-negotiating his position to what would have become the end if not the near end of the world. However, the Cuban nuclear crisis had a multiplicity of effects. Other than affecting internal relations and foreign policies of the United States, it played a large part in the deterioration of the American economy. It was the impetus to the arms race that was characterized by vast expenditure on the military and foreign policies to enhance and re-affirm their position as a superpower in the world.
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