50 Years of Cuban Missile Crisis


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 30, 2012           00.45 A.M.

Year 1962 in general and October 1962 in particular is permanently etched and engraved in my memory for two historical events . First is Chinese invasion of India and the second one is Cuban Missile Crisis .

I was 10 years old boy living in Deoria , Uttar Pradesh . My adolescent mind was getting awakened to the happenings of the world . I was curious . I was eager to gather knowledge . I was fascinated by the twists and turns of history . And these two epoch – making chapters of history opened in front of my eyes . I will write a separate blog about Chinese Invasion of India . Let me concentrate here on Cuban Missile Crisis .

 

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missi...

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missile sites on Cuba, taken from a Lockheed U-2 spy plane following the Cuban missile crisis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: CIA reference photograph of Soviet me...

CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two main protagonists of the drama are now gone . J. F. Kennedy , the then President of U.S.A. got assassinated and Nikita Khrushchev , the then Premier of U.S.S.R. was deposed and subsequently died a natural death . But Comrade Fidel Castro , the then President of Cuba is still alive . His brother Raul Castro , who held parley with Nikita Khrushchev , is now President of Cuba . Let me unveil the incidents of the crisis , which might have escalated into World War III .

 

English: John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita K...

John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room...

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 29, 1962. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Soviet Union sending nuclear warheads to Cuba followed the 1958 deployment by the United States of Thor IRBMs in the UK (Project Emily) and Jupiter IRBMs to Italy and Turkey in 1961 – more than 100 US-built missiles having the capability to strike Moscow with nuclear warheads. After provocative political moves and the failed US attempts to overthrow the Cuban regime (Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose), in May 1962 Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. During a meeting between Khrushchev and Raúl Castro that July, a secret agreement was reached and construction of several missile sites began in the late summer. These preparations were noticed, and on 14 October an US U-2 aircraft took several pictures clearly showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) under construction. These images were processed and presented on October 15, which marks the beginning of the 13-day crisis from the US perspective.

The United States considered attacking Cuba via air and sea, but decided on a military blockade instead, calling it a “quarantine” for legal and other reasons. The US announced that it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba, demanded that the Soviets dismantle the missile bases already under construction or completed, and return all offensive weapons to the USSR. The Kennedy administration held only a slim hope that the Kremlin would agree to their demands, and expected a military confrontation.

On the Soviet side, Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote in a letter from October 24, 1962 to President John F. Kennedy that his blockade of “navigation in international waters and air space” constituted “an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war”.However, in secret back-channel communications the President and Premier initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. While this was taking place, several Soviet ships attempted to run the blockade, increasing tensions to the point that orders to US Navy ships to fire warning shots and then open fire were sent out. On 27 October a U-2 was shot down by a Soviet missile crew, an action that could have resulted in immediate retaliation from the Kennedy crisis cabinet, according to Secretary of Defense McNamara‘s later testimony. However, in the event itself, Kennedy stayed his hand and the negotiations continued.

 

English: The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has ...

The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has been brought down above Cuba in Museum of the Revolution in Havana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: Nikita Kruschev letter to President K...

Nikita Kruschev letter to President Kennedy stating that the Cuban Missile Crisis quarantine “constitute[s] an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962,when Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for an US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey and Italy.

 

English: Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photo...

Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photos of Russian missiles in Cuba to the United Nations Security Council in the presence of USSR ambassador Valerian Zorin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am quoting the events of the crisis from Wikipedia . Because , though I vividly remember the crisis but day-to-day events in chronological order have been almost obfuscated from my memory .

While I was sitting in the office of my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , I suddenly remembered those fateful days and decided to write a blog on the topic in the night .

I still wonder , what would have been fate of the world in general and India in particular , had the crisis been not diffused in 1962 ?

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.kreatingcharakters.net

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

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