What were the immediate and long-term effects and consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In October of 1962, President Kennedy announced to the American public that the Soviets had installed medium-range missiles on Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of Florida. He imposed a naval blockade around Cuba and threatened to invade the island. For thirteen tense days, Americans believed that their country was on the brink of nuclear war, until the Soviet leader, Khrushchev, agreed to remove the missiles in return for the American agreement not to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove American missiles from Turkey.

Therefore, the immediate consequence of the crisis were the removal of American missiles from Turkey and the supervised removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. The Americans also agreed not to invade Cuba unless the U.S. was directly provoked into doing so. In addition, Americans (and people around the world) endured the experience of believing that the world was on the brink of a nuclear war, causing great stress. In the long run, the Americans and Soviets decided to open up some avenues of communication as a result of the standoff. For example, the Soviets and Americans established the Moscow-Washington Hotline, a direct communications link so that future misunderstandings could be discussed between them. In addition, the Americans and Soviets signed two treaties to regulate nuclear weapons. Some historians argue that as a result of the crisis, Americans developed a more aggressive foreign policy that led to the Vietnam War. 

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a serious event that had both short-term and long-term consequences. Once the United States discovered that the Soviet Union was building missile sites in Cuba and placing missiles there, we responded to this threat.

In the short term, the consequences were significant. We put our military on high alert. We imposed a naval blockade around Cuba and indicated that the Soviet ships would not be allowed to pass through the blockade. We also demanded they remove the missiles from Cuba and dismantle the missile sites. The world anxiously watched events unfold in what had the potential to be a nuclear confrontation. Fortunately, a compromise was reached, and disaster was avoided.

In the long run, the Cuban Missile Crisis had several effects. Both the United States and the Soviet Union realized how close they came to a major confrontation that could have involved the use of nuclear weapons. Both sides agreed in 1963 to ban the aboveground testing of nuclear weapons. Both countries agreed to establish a telephone hotline so the leaders of both countries could talk if a crisis developed. In 1968, both countries signed an agreement, called the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, where each side agreed not to give other countries nuclear technology.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a serious event that had both short-term and long-term impacts.

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