Results of Status Quo During The Cuban Missile Crisis

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The Cuban Missile Crisis, as many historians would agree, was a period of time in which Americans were threatened by Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba, and Soviets were threatened by American nuclear missiles from many directions, specifically Turkey. In an effort to maintain their fragile peace, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were drawn into discussions, both direct and indirect, on a peaceful discourse for the prevention of nuclear fallout. While the two leaders engaged in their talks, Fidel Castro of Cuba became a rogue factor in the crisis. In a conflict which was centred on mitigating aggressions and thus preventing mass death, the world came the closest it has ever been to destruction when a man focused on self preservation and chaos, as he had been ignored for a long time by his allies, felt that he could cripple and thus destroy the USA, who he had suspected of plotting to invade Cuba.

Although some thought that the Cuban Missile Crisis was one-sided and thus disruptive to the status quo, others think that the status quo was maintained, which forced all three sides to deploy missiles and take action as a preemptive defence. In essence, the ‘preservation’ of the status quo could be considered to have been the result of the notion that there was an inequality among forces. Not all parties involved, such as the Soviets, believed this to be true. Being of a defense oriented nature, the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t see its share of direct conflict. It did, however, come to involve several threats, from naval blockades to intercontinental ballistic missiles being deployed along the borders of both offending parties. Of course, there was a mutual fear of destruction, as neither country desired nuclear war. While both President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev felt that nuclear prevention was the most proactive and beneficial course of action (shown by their use of diplomacy in attempts to mitigate future conflict), the use of espionage and preemptive reconnaissance as well as the stationing of missiles with nuclear payloads presents an unease which is seen as central to the conflict itself. This is significant, as it presents a situation which was seen as being so volatile that diplomacy was needed in order to maintain the status quo. However, it also presents a backhanded approach to diplomacy, in which one country attempts to gain an upper hand on the other through hiding their operations. This hypocritical approach to peace diplomacy existed through Fidel Castro’s intense willingness to take aggression even while peace talks were underway, similar to the United States’ deployment of Jupiter Missiles in Turkey. In fact, the Cuban deployment of missiles was first meant to be a reactive measure to American deployment, and this seems to be a prolific theme throughout Cold War developments.

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The accompaniment of peace talks with threats surely was a chaotic element of the Missile Crisis, as well as a driving force of each opposing nation to maintain the status quo. Since the two forces reacted with eachother so virulently, the status quo was maintained upon the fact that both nations were attempting to prevent nuclear war while still counteracting one another. There are some historians of the opinion that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the result of one nation exerting too much power over its neighbours. This nation, being the USA, would have disrupted the status quo, rather than maintaining it. This perspective would maintain that the USA’s invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba was an underhanded attempt at exerting dominance over a neighbouring state (Cuba) whom they had a disagreement with. By invading a Soviet ally, the USA knew that they would cause controversy: which is why the CIA recruited Cuban exiles to undertake the mission.

The use of Cuban exiles would have made the invasion seem as though it had nothing to do with America, when in fact it did entirely. The exertion of American power over the relatively small power of Cuba created a situation in which Khrushchev was faced with allowing the possibility of an American invasion, or he could send missiles and armaments to Cuba in an attempt to protect his ally from a much stronger power. Khrushchev would have chosen the latter, and in doing so, he changed the status quo. Where the Americans had once foreseen only political consequences for an invasion, the threat of nuclear arms now loomed over any military action. Effectively, this shows that the status quo wasn’t core to the outbreak of the Missile Crisis: instead, the threat of the USA exerting too much power over Cuba drove the USSR to protect their ally, and resist against circumstances that were really quite disproportionate. When examining the extent to which the status quo impacted the political tension during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is important to first determine whether the fluctuations within the status quo had any impact on the politics of different governments in the first place.

According to Nikita Khrushchev’s son, Sergei, the political climate of the USSR hadn’t been changed by the Crisis at all. This means that although American missiles were placed in close proximity to the USSR, the daily lives of Soviet people stayed the same; the status quo was kept the same in the USSR. In the USA however, the public was quite alarmed and the government had to take action in order to calm them. While the american government recognized that the Cuban missiles were of a defensive nature, the political circumstances required that action was taken, otherwise the status quo would have been perceived as in the USSR’s favor. Since the USSR already limited their citizens’ exposure to world news, this problem would not have been as prevalent in Russia, meaning that while the USSR just meant to protect their allies in Cuba, the USA meant to preserve their status as the leading world power, meaning that they would have to reduce the threat of Cuba’s missiles in the world’s eyes. In effect, this perspective demonstrates that the Crisis went beyond the threat of war: it was also based upon the USA’s preservation of the status quo, in which they were superior. Khrushchev recognized this, and would have also recognized that the crisis wouldn’t result in nuclear devastation for this reason.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was the product of the status quo being maintained by two world powers. Through their use of aggressive peacetime tactics, both nations contributed to offsetting the status quo multiple times, creating an air of discomfort as missiles drew closer to their borders. While the overexertion of American force upon Cuba could be traced as a major contributing factor in the Crisis, Russia’s response of missile deployment would have led the USA to take more measures in order to maintain their superiority, thus driving the conflict forward. This maintenance led to circumstances in which conflict was a mere statement, even though neither party desired actions of war.

Thusly, the original question can be answered: the maintenance of the status quo only drove conflict forward, which created the political tension that brought a supposedly harmless conflict of interests to a boil. Empty threats of nuclear war rang from both sides, and both sides desired to quell these threats. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a case of the status quo fuelling as well as spurring on international conflict.

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