What are some causes and effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

The overall cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. The main effect of this crisis was to scare both sides into being more cautious. Both sides realized that they had come very close to war over the issue, and they realized that such a war had to be avoided.

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The long-term cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis had to do with the distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Although they had fought as allies, when the war was over, the two countries were hostile towards each other. The United States feared worldwide communist domination, and the USSR resented the US approach to foreign relations, which it perceived as interventionist.

This conflict became known as the Cold War. In the years following World War II, especially after 1949 when the Soviets first tested an atomic bomb, it turned into an arms race. Each feared the other might initiate nuclear warfare, and so each developed larger and larger arsenals of nuclear weapons.

In 1959, Fidel Castro became the leader of Cuba and aligned the Caribbean island nation with the Soviet Union. The Soviets began supplying Cuba with economic and military aid. The Americans had already installed nuclear weapons with the ability to reach the Soviet Union in Western Europe and in Turkey, so Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev decided to counter this move by installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. The United States had already launched one failed invasion of Cuba, and Khrushchev reasoned that missiles on the island would deter future attacks.

An American spy plane flying over Cuba on October 14, 1962, took a photograph of the construction of a ballistic missile installation, and President John F. Kennedy and his advisors went on high alert. Several plans were proposed, including an invasion of Cuba. However, Kennedy took the more moderate approach of a naval blockade or quarantine of the island. On October 22, 1962, he informed the American people about what was happening. He warned that the United States would use military force to prevent any ships bearing weapons from reaching Cuba.

The subsequent days were filled with apprehension. Many people feared that this impasse was going to lead to nuclear war. Kennedy and Khrushchev sent messages back and forth trying to put an end to the crisis. Khrushchev finally agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba in exchange for Kennedy's promise that the United States would not attack Cuba. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove the US missiles from Turkey.

As a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union took certain steps to ensure that the world would never again come as close as it did to nuclear war. A telephone communication link that became known as the Hot Line was installed between the White House and the Kremlin. The two countries initiated negotiations that eventually resulted in nuclear test ban treaties. On the downside, the Soviets increased their research into intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be capable of reaching the United States from the Soviet Union.

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The primary cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the strategic realities that were in place as of 1962. Keep in mind, strategically speaking, that the positions of the United States and the Soviet Union were not actually equal. Quite on the contrary, from the Soviet perspective, they were at a very real disadvantage vis-a-vis the United States.

What you need to remember about the Cuban Missile Crisis is this: before the Soviets tried to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, the United States already had nuclear weapons in Turkey and Italy, from which the Americans could potentially strike at key Soviet population centers in Eastern Europe. From the perspective of the Soviet Union, basing missiles in Cuba would allow the Soviets to apply counter-pressure, as they would be able to similarly threaten the American population centers on the East Coast. Naturally, given the stakes, the United States could not afford to stand by passively and allow the Soviet Union to proceed unchallenged.

What resulted was an incident that came frighteningly close to starting Nuclear War. It served as a wake-up call to both sides, who acted decisively to ensure that a similar incident would not occur in the future. It was in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, that the hotline was installed—a direct line of communication between Washington and Moscow—allowing the leaders of the two countries to communicate directly with one another. In addition, both countries signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

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The overall cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union.  There are other causes, but they all stem from this cause.  The main effect of the crisis was to make the two countries more cautious about coming into conflict.

During the Cold War, the US and the USSR were in competition to dominate the world.  The US was capitalistic and democratic and thought that communism was evil and aggressive.  The USSR was communist and thought that A) communism would inevitably take over the world and B) the US was out to destroy it.  These attitudes brought the Cuban Missile Crisis about.

Because the US feared the USSR, it placed nuclear missiles in Europe that could hit the Soviet Union.  Because the Soviets feared the US, they tried to put nuclear missiles in Cuba so that they could threaten the US as well.  Because the Americans feared and distrusted the Soviets, they worried that the USSR would actually use the missiles in Cuba.  Because the US feared the Soviets and though they were out to take over the world, they felt that the USSR would start to try to take more and more if the US did not stop them in Cuba.  For all of these reasons, the Cuban Missile Crisis happened.

The main effect of this crisis was to scare both sides.  Both sides realized that they had come very close to war over the issue and they realized that such a war had to be avoided.  This encouraged them to compromise with each other, to set up direct communications for use in times of crisis, and to be somewhat less aggressive so that they did not come into direct conflict.  These were the main effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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