What were the causes and effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

The causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis were the overall Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Cuban Revolution, and both sides placing nuclear weapons in countries close to their adversaries. Effects include the temporary cooling of tensions and better communication between Moscow and Washington.

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Looking at the bigger picture, the overall cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the geopolitical rivalry of the Cold War. The United States and its allies were vying for global influence against the Soviet Union and its allies. Part of this was the nuclear arms race. By strategically placing...

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Looking at the bigger picture, the overall cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the geopolitical rivalry of the Cold War. The United States and its allies were vying for global influence against the Soviet Union and its allies. Part of this was the nuclear arms race. By strategically placing nuclear weapons around the globe, each side hoped to stave off an attack by their opponent should the Cold War turn hot. The United States had already stationed nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy. The Soviet Union felt that this was too much of a threat and responded by secretly placing its own nuclear weapons in Cuba. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Cuba was the Soviet Union's only ally in close proximity to the United States.

An American spy plane found evidence of these missile installations in October 1962. The United States could not afford to allow such a large threat to exist so close by. Although some of President Kennedy's advisors urged an invasion of Cuba, Kennedy felt a more tactful approach was best. A naval blockade of Cuba commenced to "quarantine" the island and prevent more nuclear materials from arriving there.

For several days, tensions ran high as the United States and the Soviets nearly came to blows over the issue. The Soviets eventually agreed to withdraw their missiles from Cuba as long as the United States did the same in Turkey.

A major effect of this incident was that it was made clear to both sides exactly how close they could come to nuclear war. Cold War rhetoric cooled down somewhat for a time afterward. To prevent such an event from happening again, better communication between Russia and the United States was fostered. In fact, a direct phone line between the Kremlin and the Pentagon was established. The two countries entered into a series of nuclear de-escalation pacts as well, namely the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

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