What was John F. Kennedy's speech on the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Expert Answers
stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, a little background history. Fidel Castro became the premier of a new Cuban government on January 1, 1959, and announced Cuba's conversion to Communism in 1960. As he organized the governmental takeover of privately owned businesses and signed treaties of cooperation with the Soviet Union, many Cubans fled and came to the United States. The exiles, with the support of the United States, formed a guerrilla army with plans to invade and take control of Cuba, but the invasion at the Bay of Pigs was a disaster.

After this failed effort, Castro asked the Soviet Union for nuclear missiles with which Cuba could protect itself from another United States-led invasion attempt. Soviet Premier Nikita Khurshchev agreed and Soviet missiles were shipped to Cuba and installed in missile sites built with Soviet assistance. Aerial reconnaissance photographs taken on October 14, 1962 gave visual proof of the construction of the sites and installation of missiles aimed at the United States.

On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy, in a nationally televised speech, informed the American public and the world of the situation. He explained the visible evidence that the arms were being installed for offensive purposes, listed the historic treaties and agreements that were being violated by the Soviet-sponsored build-up of attack weaponry, and established the United States's position that such actions were unacceptable.

He described the seven steps he had immediately ordered to deal with the crisis, ranging from "First: To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated" to

Seventh and finally: I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations.

With the help of a compromise suggested by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the Soviet Union agreed to remove all nuclear missiles from Cuba in return for United States agreement to remove missiles stationed in Turkey after the Cuban missiles were gone. Premier Khrushchev agreed to this arrangement, with an announcement on October 28 that the Cuban missile site would be disabled.