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Introduction and research question
International relations have been tense since the beginning of human civilization. The world’s most powerful nations have been fighting for dominance and power over the less powerful countries. One big way of showing dominance is through war and possession of weapons of mass destruction that would create fear to a nation’s real and imagined rivals.
In 1962, Cuba became a hub for the Soviet missile launch due to its proximity to the United States, as well as the conflict that existed between President Fidel Castro of Russia and President John F. Kennedy of the US.
Consequently, the conflict made Castro vulnerable to the influences of President Nikita Khrushchev of Russia, who needed to set up sites for nuclear missiles near the United States.
Consequently, the Cold War became more intense due to the vulnerability of the Cuban president to the Russians, who came in to protect Cuba against the US military attack, in exchange of offering Russia a space for their nuclear missiles.
However, in 2002, forty years after the events of the Cold War between Russia and the US, Fidel Castro admitted to have been fooled by Khrushchev, who did not care much about the welfare of Cubans, but rather the interests of Russia to invade the United States.1
Apparently, Fidel Castro realized, albeit belatedly, that his country was being used to aid Russians’ mission more than Cuban citizens. The research question for this paper is why Cuba was willing to deploy Soviet missile from its territory. This paper seeks to answer this research question by drawing information from primary sources on the issue.
Why Cuba was willing to deploy Soviet missile from its territory
Economic vulnerability and deteriorated international relations pushed Cuba to be willing to deploy Soviet missile from its territory. International relations form a crucial element of economic growth and development in every country across the world.
Good international relationships enhance trade between a country and others in the international phenomenon. During the events of the Cold War in 1962, Cuba experienced rough relationship with the United States over the relationship between Castro and Khrushchev, which to the United States was a threat to international security.
The United States was aware that Cuba would fall into the Soviet’s communism trap where it could have been used to attack the United States.2 Cuba’s relations with the United States were at stake due to the continued disagreements between Kennedy and Castro’s administration, which led to the invasion of Cuba by the American military combat.
Cuba formed a strategic place for the Soviet mission against the United States, and hence the ill-fated relationship between the United States and Cuba, which presented a great opportunity for the Soviets to court Cuba in the pretext of offering protection against the invasion by the United States3.
The Cold War had reached an intense state where it could have easily broke into a nuclear war and both the United States and Russia, which were at loggerheads, were busy finding strategic positions where attacking each other would cause massive destruction.
Fidel Castro was a dictator in the eyes of the United States, as his administration seemed to conform to communism for government controlled everything, thus denying its citizens the freedom to carry out trade freely like in other capitalist nations.
The rough international relations between the two countries nearly put the United States at the receiving end as the Soviets were at an advantage of attacking the United States from a nearby territory. All other nations across the larger American continent were against the Soviets, which had made it hard for the Russians to get closer to the United States.
In addition, the United States’ allies were ready to offer their military support in case a war broke out between the two countries.4 The United States was against any world regime that seemed to overcome the authority of its people due to its support for capitalism.
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Russia was against capitalism and it supported communism whereby the government and the entire state owned all forms of production activities in the economy5. Both regimes were going around the world using political influences to win other countries and influence them to adopt either form of the political regime.
However, Cuba was already a capitalist nation, just like both Caribbean and American countries, but the dictatorship of Castro’s regime put the country at risk of becoming a communist state as the government seemed to demand to control all forms of production in the economy, thus denying private ownership in trading activities.6
Cuba did not have a strong military force that could have engaged the military combat of the United States into a meaningful battle. However, the effort by the United States to overthrow Castro’s regime in 1962 failed due to various factors, which included the fear of killing innocent citizens that the government had held hostage.
On the other hand, Castro needed to protect his regime against the efforts of the United States to overthrow him. He knew that no capitalist nation would have helped in any way to restructure his relationship with the United States.
Hence, the only available option was to enter an agreement with the Soviets, which was done in October 19627, whereby the Russians agreed to protect Cuba against invasion by the United States, and Cuba would allow Russians to the set up nuclear missile sites.
In addition, the aggression of Castro’s administration against the United States seemed to have played a major role in his decision to agree with Khrushchev that Russia would set up nuclear missile sites in Cuba.
Aggression crowded Castro’s decision-making capacity and thus he failed to calculate the risks that his country was being exposed to by making an agreement with the Russians, as his sole intention was to have his regime survive the oppression of the United States.
This assertion holds as after the withdrawal of Soviet mission in Cuba, some nuclear missiles were left behind and Castro suggested that they be fired against the United States, but some Russian officials disagreed.8
In 2002, Castro said it could have been disastrous if they succeeded to fire against the United States, but he admitted that it could have been of no use to take such an action, as it would have destroyed the entire world.
Cuba agreed to deploy the Soviet nuclear missile from its territory due to economic inferiority and the need to be protected form the United States’ aggression. The most influential world nations have flourished economies and they are capable of adopting most advanced technologies that would defend them from rivals’ invasion.
Cuba found itself in the middle of both communism and capitalist war as the United States had demanded the end of Castro’s regime, which seemed oppressive to capitalism.
On the other hand, communist Soviets took advantage of the deteriorated international relations to promise protection against future invasion by Americans to the Castro’s regime, while it took the advantage of setting up nuclear missile sites near the United States.
In addition, deteriorated international relations between Cuba and the United States also contributed to the acceptance of Cuba to have Soviet nuclear missiles sites in its territory.
Furthermore, during the Cold War era, the world seemed not to have believed so much in democracy like it is in the contemporary times. The world had not yet healed from the events of the World War II, and thus the tension was still high in international relations.
This aspect made one country aggressive against any other that seemed to interfere with its internal affairs. The United States was afraid that Soviets took advantage of the world’s tense moment to influence other small countries to embrace communism.
Hence, President Castro’s administration saw the interference of the United States as an effort to show authority over world economies, and hence it had to adopt mechanisms that would have countered the United States’ aggression.
The readily available mechanism was to denounce the influence of Americans and instead get into an agreement with Russia, which had the means to counter any form of aggression from the United States.
Castro’s move association with the Russians was symbiotic, whereby Cuba would receive protection while Russia would get missile launching space in Cuba, which is close to the United States.
Barrett, David, and Max Holland. Blind over Cuba: the photo gap and the missile crisis. College Station, TX: A & M University Press, 2012.
Dobbs, Michael. One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. New York: Knopf, 2008.
Gibson, David. Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2012.
Stern, Sheldon. The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.
Trahair, Richard, and Robert Miller. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. New York: Enigma Books, 2008.
1Richard Trahair and Robert Miller, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations (New York: Enigma Books, 2008), 127.
2David Gibson, Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2012), 106.
4Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (New York: Knopf, 2008), 88.
6David Barrett and Max Holland, Blind Over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis (College Station, TX: A & M University Press, 2012), 71.
8Sheldon Stern, The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), 94).