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     The entire world recognises the Cuban Missile crisis to havebeen one of the most dangerously fragile points in the history of conflictsbetween the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Surely after it wasover, after the US and USSR had realized they had nearly thrown the world intonuclear war, after an event that could ultimately have spelt the planets doom,changes were bound to be made in order to stop anything like the missile crisisfrom happening again in both the near and far future.So, what steps were taken by the superpowers that wouldensure the worlds safety from then on? And more importantly, can the eventsthat took place during October of 1962 on Cuba, be considered a turning pointin relations between the US and USSR, and if yes how and to what extent? Thereare a number of points that can be analysed in this topic that will showevidence of progress and in some cases contradictory evidence to theimprovement in the superpowers’ relations after the Cuban Missile crisis. In the days just after the crisis one of J.

F Kennedy’sadvisers said to the press, “Having come so close to the edge, we mustmake it our business not to pass this way again”. Though this was easiersaid than done. Kennedy and Khrushchev lay the situation down in front of themand decided what was the wisest thing to do first of all.

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One of the mainaspects of the crisis that made it particularly dangerous was the fact that communicationsbetween the White House and the Kremlin were extremely poor. Before and duringthe crisis messages were sent via letters or telegraphs. The danger of this wasthat so many important decisions were being made on behalf of these messagesand the fact is that it was taking too long for them to reach Kennedy orKhrushchev, meaning critical errors could be made in the time it took one sideto get a letter or telegraph across to the other. It was decided that atelephone hotline was required that would link the White House and the Kremlin;it was installed in August of 1963. It would enable leaders to discuss problemsbefore they reached a dangerous level. It had its other benefits as well, itshould not be forgotten that the two sides had only just avoided war andtherefore it was clear neither really trusted the other. The hotline would automaticallyallow leaders to tell each other’s moods and to an extent thought track,perhaps pick up where the other was possibly bluffing or enthusiastic about anidea. None of this could be drawn out of the letters that were sent in the timeof the missile crisis.

The introduction of the hotline in itself was a turningpoint in relations between the US and USSR for it had enabled the two leaders ofthe superpowers of the world, to talk to each other in a one to one conversation,and thoroughly discuss any subject matters that would possibly affect bothcountries. Also, the hotline did allow the two sides to gain a degree of trustbetween each other, however small an amount of trust that was, the fact is itwas still there, and was a huge improvement upon the capitalists and communistsbeing sworn enemies. The advance in communications would also make such events likethe Paris Summit, peace talks conference in 1960, which Khrushchev stormed outof after an American U2 spy plane was shot down over Moscow, never happenagain. However, things had certainly not suddenly become perfect between thetwo sides. The new communication facilities did not stop Americans and Sovietsspeaking their minds, as President Ronald Reagan (presidency 1980-1989)demonstrated in 1980, when he declared that the Soviet Union was an “EvilEmpire”. This unfortunately started a second Cold war, which of course wasnot very good for efforts in communications and relations. Examples of this are the boycotting of the Moscow 1980Olympic Games by America and then the 1984 games by the Russian athletes. Ascan be seen, there definitely was to an extent a turning point in communicationsrelations after the missile crisis, but certainly there were many ups and downsafter the event.

The communications advance between the US and USSR also didnot fully complete any bridges of trust, yet I believe that would have beenvery wishful thinking, it was unrealistic to hope for complete cooperation andtrust between the superpowers so soon after they had just been involved in sucha major international crisis.The next point to be analysed is the arms race before theCuban missile crisis and the changes that were made after by the US and USSR. In1945, the US arms industry gave birth to the most terrifying man-made weaponimaginable, the atomic bomb. The USSR did the same four years later in 1949,partly to rise up to the strength and capability of their adversary the US.Many more weapons with nuclear capabilities were developed over the comingyears after the A-bomb, by the two superpowers, with even more advanced andmoreover more destructive capabilities including the long rangeintercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This chain of events was thebeginning of the Arms Race between America and the Soviet Union. Throughoutthis period the two sides competed in a race, to develop more and more deadlyand capable weapons, as well as trying to produce as many as possible. Duringthe next few years the superpowers produced enough weapons to destroy theentire world several times over.

In 1962 during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’, the twosuperpowers realized that being in the position of having these weaponsthreatened world peace like nothing ever before. When the thirteen days inwhich the crisis took place were over, it became clear that measures would haveto be taken to stop an event of such happening again. The realization of thisbrought the two powers somewhat closer and allowed them to sit down togetherand take the future of their arms industries into consideration. Between 1963and 1979 America and the Soviets drew up several treaties that would enable theworld to avoid events as dangerous as the missile crisis. The first treaty to be signed internationally was the ‘1963Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’ this was the banning of all forms of nuclear testing otherthan underground, this was welcomed warmly by the worlds leaders, with theexception of France and China who refused to sign. France continued testingtheir nuclear capabilities just off the Polynesian coast until 1996 whenvarious protests throughout 1995 in Paris brought the testing to an end.

Itbecame clear to the US and USSR that each side was fully capable of destroyingeach other. The horrifying prospect of this came to be known as ‘MutuallyAssured Destruction’ (MAD). The New Soviet Premiere Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (1906-1982) who took over from Khrushchev and continued the policy of peacefulco-existence between the capitalists and communists and President Lyndon B.Johnson (1908 – 1973) of the US both signed the ‘1968 Non-proliferationTreaty’, this denied smaller emerging countries of the superpowers nucleartechnology. In 1968 Richard M.

Nixon (1913 – 1994) took over presidency from Johnson.He made an agreement with Brezhnev to limit the spread of ‘strategic’ nuclearweapons. The path in which these actions came in to play from was the ‘1972strategic Arms Limitation Talks’ otherwise known as SALT. This was obviously agood thing and can definitely be viewed as a turning point in relations betweenthe superpowers, but the problem was that both sides continued to modernizetheir nuclear arsenals even though they were not allowed to let them spread.The fact is that they were still making their nuclear capabilities more andmore apparent by bringing larger and more destructive weapons into play. In thetime between 1966 and 1988, many newer more lethal weapons including MultipleWarheads (MRV) and new long range cruise missiles were developed.

Howeverdesperate these two superpowers were to prevent an event such as the missilecrisis from happening again they continued to contradict their efforts bycarrying on developing more dangerous arsenals of nuclear weaponry. To conclude this point I would say ‘yes’ the crisis was mostcertainly a turning point, simply because it made the United States and SovietUnion realize how dangerous their nuclear capabilities were, let alone the factthat they started to negotiate about their weapons on more formal terms. Howeverthe treaties signed were efficient in only stopping the spread of arms but notthe reduction of weapons being produced. This did not happen until 1988, afterReagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1987 where they secured a deal that wouldreduce the amount of arms the powers possessed.

It was recognised by both sidesas a historic moment. The third point to be looked at is the ‘Space Race’. Therace was a competition between the two superpowers to see who was technicallyand scientifically more advanced. New nuclear weapons capabilities were onething yet it was far out of the league of space science, notably in the area ofspace travel.

It was believed that the victor of the space race would determinewhich ideology, capitalism or communism was better. The first step into thespace race began before the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ when on the 4th October 1957the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.The satellite carried a radio transmitter which sent signals back to earthuntil Sputnik burned up in the atmosphere 92 days later. This was followed upthe year before the Cuban Missile crisis on 12th April 1961, when the RussianYuri Gagarin blasted off from earth aboard a rocket and entered space.

He wasthe first cosmonaut – Russian for astronaut. These early victories for the USSRwere massive propaganda factors for the Soviets. The US did also start to advancein the space race to the Soviet’s status in space science; they achievedvictories such as the passing of Venus in 1962 by the Mariner 2, the firstsuccessful planetary space probe. Before ‘Cuba’ the US and USSR were as suspicious of eachother as ever, there were literally no communications between their space engineeringor science research departments of the two powers. After the Missile crisis dueto general improvements in communications this did start to change. Scientistsfrom both sides started to work together on scientific research.

This lead to acombined soviet, US mission to space when a Russian cosmonaut and an Americanastronaut met up. Even though improvements were made in relations between the superpowersscience research, the space race went on and both sides were determined as everto claim victory and prove either capitalism or communism to be a betterideology! The race was finally ended when the US claimed victory as NeilArmstrong climbed out of the Apollo 11 lunar module and became the first personon the moon. The Americans broadcasted the whole event live to the world toprove its dominance in Science. Yet again we come to a similar conclusion that theMissile Crisis was definitely to an extent a turning point in relations due to (again)communication advances and through that; a step further towards cooperationbetween the super powers research facilities. As before there is still thematter of ‘the however factor’, both the Soviets and Americans, still had theurge to beat each other in this technological race and prove their side to bemore advanced. One could look at this in either one of two ways from myperspective.

Either the space race would bring the two super powers closer toeach other by putting them in a competitive situation where there was noobvious gap in capability. Or it could leave one or the other in a very soar positionby the end of the competition, thereby to an extent, potentially damagingrelations between them. The next point to look at is the policy held in practicebetween the Soviets, Americans and earlier by the Chinese, called Détente.

Détentewas a permanent relaxation in international affairs during and after the ColdWar rather than just a temporary relaxation, that was likely to fall at theslightest disagreement between the US and Soviets. The US realised that therewere better ways of containing communism than the ways that they had tried within previous years. The Americans were also aware of the massive cost of weaponsproduction and maintaining a huge armed force. A peaceful relationship with theUSSR would be very beneficial to USA especially after the cost of the VietnamWar not long after the Missile crisis. Similarly Khrushchev and the USSRrealized they were also spending a great deal on Warfare and militaryenhancement and production, rather than basic household goods for the people ofRussia, living standards were generally speaking, very poor. It would beextremely beneficial for the Soviet Union to adopt the policy of détente withthe Americans. From 1963 – 1975 the two super powers worked together toestablish a strong sense of détente between themselves.

Some of the key actsfollowing the Cuban Missile Crisis are as follows.


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