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Kennedy's True Initiative in Times of Crisis: The Cuban Missile Crisis

Essay by review  •  December 17, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,187 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,112 Views

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Introduction:

ЎҐKhrushchev must not be certain that, where its vital interests are threatened, the US will never strike first. As Kennedy says, ÐŽ§In some circumstances we might have to take the initiative.ЎЁЎ¦ These words, readily published in 1962, became the verification to both Khrushchev and Kennedy that the Soviet Union and the United States would be preparing for a nuclear war. One could simply take KennedyÐŽ¦s threat at face value. The United States in 1962 was a growing empire whose military credentials outmanoeuvred that of the Soviet Union by a decade. Here, outlined, are two factors which prove that President Kennedy was technically able to initiate a nuclear war while, also discussed, are two factors that would prove to be a likely source of negativity towards such an initiative. Thus, proving that regardless of the military advantage that the United States had over the Soviet Union, President Kennedy did not wish to initiate a nuclear war.

Strong-Point/Introductory, Key Argument #1:

Militaristically, the U.S. was in a significantly advantageous situation over Russia. If he wished to, Kennedy would have been capable of striking the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles.

„« In 1962, the U.S. had an estimated 5 100 nuclear weapons while the Soviet Union had only approximately 300.

„« The SovietÐŽ¦s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMÐŽ¦s) were 10 years behind what the Americans were producing.

„« The Americans had stealth spy capabilities far greater than the Soviets

o U.S spy satellites were focused on the Soviet.

„X In 1962, Daniel Ellsberg, part of the Rand Corporation and later publishing the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam, commented that to show the Russians the U.S. supremacy, ÐŽ§it would be simpler to send Khrushchev the precise geographical coordinates of the Soviet ICBM bases at plesetsk, or even copies of the photographs taken by US satellites.ЎЁ

o U-2 spy flights were constantly monitoring the progress of the Soviets in order to ensure accurate US Strategic Military planning.

„« The U.S. had posted military bases surrounding the Soviet Union where until utilising Cuba, the RussianÐŽ¦s were isolated to posting bases only in the Soviet Union.

o In 1963, there were approximately one million US servicemen stationed in 203 bases in the United States and in 1 040 bases overseas.

o Due to the NATO alliance and US foreign assistance programmes, there were another 3.5 million troops bordering the Soviet Union.

Body, Key Argument #2:

To eliminate the possibility that Kennedy may have wanted to initiate a nuclear war, and was influenced not to, KennedyÐŽ¦s personal advisors (his closest being finance and military) were pressuring him to initiate a nuclear war.

„« If Kennedy wished to have a nuclear war or merely considered it, he would be swayed by his assistants positively.

o The biographer and historiographer of Assistant Defence Secretary Paul Nitze explained, ÐŽ§Paul Nitze was leading the charge of the hawks. I didnÐŽ¦t believe the President would consent to an ÐŽK strike on the missile bases in Cuba, but I was scared to death that Nitze, [Treasury Secretary Douglas] Dillon and General Maxwell Taylor would wear the president down.ЎЁ

„« The Joint Chiefs of Staff were desperately urging a grand amphibious attack as well as an air strike on Cuba, having already gathered 42,000 men.

o ÐŽ§An American invasion, still being urged by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would almost certainly have provoked a nuclear attack upon the beachhead and the naval force [The United States of America]ЎЁ, General Lyman Lemnitzer, member of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

„« The head of the Strategic Air Command, General Tommy Powers was amongst KennedyÐŽ¦s other assistants. He would publicly laugh off the effects of the radiation of a nuclear bomb (genetic mutation) while seriously applying pressure to KennedyÐŽ¦s decision to initiate a nuclear war.

o ÐŽ§The whole idea is to kill the bastards ÐŽK At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.ЎЁ

Body, Key Argument #3:

The Deterrence Theory can be applied to help explain why Kennedy did not wish to initiate a nuclear war.

„« The Deterrence Theory

o The Deterrence Theory is when there is an aggressive arms race to the point that both powers in question are afraid to attack each other in fear of retaliation.

„« In the heat of the crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev had conversed twice, privately through telegrams in hope of reaching an alternate solution maintaining peace in both the US and the Soviet Union. Both letters describe the deterring attitude Kennedy

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