13 Days of Crises
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also known as JFK, was the 35th president of the United States and the youngest person ever to be elected president. He was also the first Roman Catholic president and the first president to be born in the 20th century. Young people especially liked him. No other president was so popular. Kennedy was assassinated before he completed his third year as president; therefore, his achievements were limited. Nevertheless, his influence was worldwide, and his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis may have prevented war. The thirteen days Kennedy spent fighting for the safety of this country back in mid-October of 1962, were probably one of the most difficult times faced by Kennedy during his presidency.
Right after the end of World War II, the world could be basically divided into two specific superpower nations, one being the US and the other being Russia. Russia then was quickly leading and building its political ideals towards communism and socialism. Widely different from capitalism, communism was brought through media and tradition as being an oppressive, horrific regime. Thus, during the fifties and sixties a lot of pressure was developed regarding communism. With all of this conflicts going on between the two nations, the American people started to dislike anything it had to do with communism. The media with its latest powerful communication tool which was the TV was also responsible for transmitting the cruel “face” of communism. Then, JFK knew that he had to act fast and precisely to ensure the safety of the Americans when any threats towards the US were present.
The 13 days conflict began when during a routine flight of a U-2 spy aircraft passed over Cuba during a routine flight on the early morning of October 14, 1962. This flight revealed that Cuba had non-operational missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons representing a tremendous threat against US. At the time, Cuba was befriended with Russia politically and military. Since Cuba is only 90 nautical miles away from United States it represented as a direct hit from Russia. Later, U.S. spy agencies were able to count 20 nuclear warheads in Cuba. On October 20th, Kennedy orders quarantine over Cuba preventing anyone or anything from going in or out of Cuba. Kennedy was not only facing the Cuban Missile Crises as well as physical back pains from a previous injure when he served the U.S. forces. Then, Kennedy was feeling a physical and political stress; nonetheless, he had a job to do, the job of protecting the United States of America against this communist threat.
It is also important to remember that back in the sixties, communication was very limited and sometimes it would take hours to have an answer from across the globe. Communication with Russia was very difficult. Just as McNamara (U.S. secretary of defense during JFK presidency) once said, military moves were like a conversation between Kennedy and Khrushchev (leader of Russia from 1958-1964). During The Cuban Missile Crises, Kennedy also had to deal with his joint chiefs of staff advising him on what to do and sometimes acting behind his back. One good example of such acting between Kennedy and his advisors was when a U-2 flew over Eastern Soviet Union territory violating an agreement Eisenhower had made on May 5, 1960 with Khrushchev.
On October 27, the CIA reported that at least two sites were already fully operational to launch missiles to any place in the U.S. Kennedy knew that the blockade was not being sufficient enough to stop USRR from launching the missiles already present in Cuba. On the same day, Kennedy began replying to an early Khrushchev’s letter (Oct. 26) requesting for peace. The whole crisis turned out to be settled by democracy. JFK wrote a letter agreeing with Russia’s leader proposals; remove missiles from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision, and ensure that no use of such weapons would be introduced into Cuba. As far as U.S. duties, it would be its responsibility to cease the quarantine and assure there would be no further invasion of Cuba. Furthermore, after a four month period ensuring that there would be no more threat over United States from Cuba, U.S. would have his warheads removed from Turkey as well. After a wide exposal and brilliant presentation on the U.N. council by Adlai Stevenson of Russia’s intentions and presence of nuclear warheads threatening the United States, there was nothing else to do for Russia except to accept the terms of the agreement.
After thirteen days of tension, JFK and his commissioners have finally reached an agreement with Russia ending the Cuban Missile Crises. Facing all of these dilemmas, it was proved to many Americans and possibly to the whole world the great ability and political knowledge Kennedy had concerning international diplomacy.