Since the reconstruction period, many developments have unfolded in the United States. There have been periods of tranquility, war, diplomatic tension, and so on. In particular, the 1960s marked a time of heightened hostility between the Soviet Union and the United States, especially with respect to nuclear development (Tindall and Shi 11). The period came to be popularly known as the Cold War era.
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Due to the belligerence between the two hegemonies, the Soviet Union’s nuclear programs posed a great danger not only to the U.S. but also to the world at large. In 1962, the world’s attention was drawn by the crisis that surrounded the building of a Soviet Union nuclear facility in Cuba.
Missiles launched from the facility would have the capacity to reach almost every part of the U.S. and other parts the world. This development created so much tension that the world was on the threshold of one more war. This brief discourse examines this crisis through the lenses of the documentary, Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men go to War.
The documentary depicts the crisis as being so threatening that many people thought humanity would be annihilated (Cuban Missile Crisis). The events that took place during this time in history were quite intense, bringing the world to a literal standstill. The crisis started when U.S. U-2 planes captured images of a Soviet missile placement in Cuba (Tindall and Shi 56).
As already noted, the missiles were capable of reaching almost every part of the U.S., and as such, they posed a direct threat to the U.S. and the whole world. In fact, one of the Russian nuclear bombs was over seventy times more powerful than the two nuclear bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WW II.
Apparently, Fidel Castro wanted the Soviet facility to be in an open place, but his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev, insisted on making it clandestine. The latter believed that after its completion, the U.S. could do nothing to harm the facility.
However, the missile facility was discovered prior to its completion. The discovery forced President Kennedy to start launching a preventive attack, which would have inevitably caused a retaliatory action by the Soviet Union. Moreover, since the Soviet Union was equipped with nuclear weapons, it would certainly employ them in retaliation. The possibility of such attacks threatened the whole world.
The missile facility was discovered on October 15, 1962, and the thirteen days that followed that day were some of the most anxious and fear-filled days in the history of the world. The standoff ended on October 27, the same year, a day is known as “Black Saturday.” The name resulted from the shooting down of a U.S. military plane sent to check the situation in Cuba (Tindall and Shi 60). As illustrated by the documentary, the three leaders, Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, and John F. Kennedy, were under intense pressure.
The fate of humanity depended on their decisions (Allison and Zelikow 51). In essence, one may conclude that the fear of a possible full-scale nuclear conflict ultimately saved the day. Had any of the two world leaders started a war, human civilization would have suffered massively (Allison and Zelikow 28). To a significant extent, it is arguable that today’s world, as it is, is owed to Kennedy and Khrushchev.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the Cold War was a period of complete mistrust between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As such, thee two states developed sophisticated weapons and placed them strategically in anticipation of possible attacks. The crisis made the world face a risk of new war. Fortunately, the diplomatic resolution was finally reached (Allison and Zelikow 32). Were it not for the peaceful resolution, the world would still have been recovering from the nuclear conflict.
Allison, Graham, and Philip Zelikow. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Longman, 1999. Print.
Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men go to War. KPBS TV, Canada, 2012. Web.
Tindall, George, and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print.