US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba


After the world war, the united state of America was left as the only superpower having destroyed and managed to split up the USSR into a powerless division of nations. Most of the nations then sought to stabilize and recover from the loss they had suffered both in terms of economy and the military loss where many families were also shattered. The US being the only superpower, it had all the supremacy to venture in any type of military research and technology it could, setting up military camps in areas it thought it was for the best interest of national and world security. It’s during the post second world war period that the Cuban missile crisis emerged around the early 1960s. Actually, the US intelligence – Cuban missile conflict came about in 1962. This event presented and integrated and all-inclusive documentation of the decision making issues concerning the US confrontations with the collapsing Soviet Union. This was also the time nuclear weaponry was increasingly being researched. At least 3,400 unique records concerning that conflict summing up to 17,500 pages are available in microfiche. The report was a very critical and much part of it concentrates on the tough time the then president J.F Kennedy faced when he was to make the decision- 13 days of Missile crisis. It was at this time that McGeorge had briefed the U.S president about the Soviet Union’s missile in Cuba. This is one of the well managed crises of the nuclear age. Paradoxically, the U.S Soviet Union relations improved following this discovery.

Soviet Union before the Cuba Crisis

After the Second World War, the world experienced a period of conflict, misunderstanding though no serious military fighting was seen (George 2006). The cold war described the time of conflict, tension and competition that presented between the world’s most powerful Nations especially the Soviet Union and the United States including their respective supporters. The time of cold war stretched from the 1940’s to 1990’s. The disintegration of the Soviet Union brought the cold war to an end. The U.S was most influential nation in the world (Stern 2005). Having lost most of its leaders and military in the war, the U.S found an opportunity to re-strategize their administration and invest in positive and beneficial ideas such as developing their economy towards the global agenda (George 2006). The cold war period had boosted the industrial development during post cold war and basically cold war times were major


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

motivational factors to farther industrialization characterized by space stations, Lunar Landers and ballistic missiles increased creativity and inventions such as microwaves, satellites and supercomputers

The Soviet Union collapse had a very negative impact on the stability of the nation; so much transformation took place that saw a series of action that brought about the complete disintegration of the Union. Several countries of the Union begun announcing their independence until it the Union was no more in existence. The individual states that had emerged from the Union had to start from scratch to mend their economies from a centrally managed system that was the Union (Stern 2005). None of the countries had well established legislation system, boundaries and some had serious economic crises. However the post cold war era allowed these developing states a chance to grow, develop and experience economic freedom. The period of the cold war was characterized by excessive spending on defense systems, technology, military coalitions, weapon development and industrial development (George 2006). Competition between the two most powerful nations erupted just after the Second World War due to major disagreements on the way forward in the post war period

The Crisis

During the period of the cold war (1940s to 1990s) it was evident that the U.S was very superior to the USSR, to be specific, the Americans had shown apparent second-impound counter-value ability (the capability to wreak undesirable harm on Soviet Union after being able to take in an all-out Soviet bolt from the blue counterforce hit). And probably had also the first-strike counterforce capacity (the capability to be the first to strike with such a magnitude that it would leave the Soviet Unions not capable of inflicting offensive smash up in retaliation) (Stern 2005). During this crisis, many of the President Kennedy critics say that the US could have just used the opportunity to strike Soviet Union once and utterly get away without the nuclear retaliation (George 2006).

The period after the cold war was a conflict between differences in ideologies between the western capitalist philosophy and the USSR communism. It’s believed that the Americans were very much afraid of the expansion of the Soviet Union’s policies especially that the Latin


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

America was obviously allied to the Soviet Union. The U.S disputed this as unacceptable bearing in mind that there never had good relations with the Soviet Union following the end of the Second World War. The Americans held that this was going to break the Monroe doctrine which was that no European power was to meddle in Americans affairs. Previously, the US had planned to oust Castro out of power from 1959 to 1962; an operation termed Bay of Pigs of 1961. The US also planned the Mongoose operation and McNamara memo to attack Cuba (Polmar & Gresham 2006). The failure of the Bay of Pigs greatly embarrassed the US. Furthermore former President Eisenhower warned President Kennedy that this would even stimulate the Soviets to want to try something they would otherwise have not done. The unenthusiastic attack left Nikita Khrushchev and his allies with the notion that the US president by then, Mr. Kennedy was indecisive. The secret operations went on throughout 1961 in the unsuccessful Mongoose operation. The US instigated economic restriction in opposition to Cuba’s stance (Polmar & Gresham 2006).

In September 1962, it was evident to the Cuban government that the US would attack following a congressional conference that legalized the use of military in case it was deemed that the US interests were threatened. The announcement of the military exercise planned for October in the Caribbean brought the whole issue to climax, Cuban leader Castro and Khrushchev agreed to take precaution and place strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba. Both leaders believed that invading Cuba was forthcoming and losing Cuba was a great setback to communism in particular the Latin America. Missiles were options to be used other than words (Stern 2005). The Soviets and Cuban thought that it was the best moment to take charge as the were greatly convinced that President Kennedy would want avoid attacks and accept missile as he was defeated during bay of pigs.

The cold war created a platform for conflict between Nations and rather than concentrating on development investments, many countries were influenced to invest in military and nuclear weapons. The post second world war could have been used for reforms and not on contradictory ideologies of two nations. Cold war is just an extension of the Second World War but lacked a chance to erupt. The missiles were being launched already in the Cuban nation, the US discovered this and they issued a warning to the Russians and the Cubans to stop the mission and retreat with the operation (George 2006). The major concern was why do this at this point in time? Basically the Russian wanted to protect Cuba from the US invasion ands preserve the communism philosophy. Second, the Cuban and Russian would pool their resource together and acquire nuclear strength and hence eliminate the US deemed Superiority. Finally, some scholars believe that the Russians were out to humiliate President JF Kennedy (Polmar & Gresham 2006).


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

The president had to come out strongly to demand that the missiles be removed. This came following an impulsive discussion with the EXComm (National Security Council executive committee) in secret thoughtfulness. The president imposed a naval quarantine on the consignment of destructive unpleasant weaponry to Cuba there was a massive redeployment of the US troops to the area around the Caribbean and Air command was put on high alert (George 2006).

Nikita Khrushchev became very infuriated concerning what the US was doing describing as a flagrant interference in the matters of the Cubans and Soviets and that this was a violation of the freedom to navigate. However, by the time the quarantine was being effected the next morning, Khrushchev had ordered his military not challenge the US forces. For quite some days, resolving the issue seemed elusive and pressure was mounting on the leaders for a more decisive action to be done (Stern 2005).

The two leaders actually did not want to risk a nuclear war over that simple issue and it appeared that they were increasingly getting troubled that accidental action or military blunder could elicit intensification. The tension was apparently eased on 26th of October 1962; Khrushchev wrote a letter to there president of the united states offering to withdraw the missiles in exchange for the U.S pledge not to attack Cuba (Gonzalez 2002). In a flash a tougher letter was again received in which Khrushchev had serious demand and they included the withdrawal of the corresponding missiles deployed by NATO to turkey. Decision making ability of the US presidency was a t stake, however, many of the president advisors were opposed to the second letter’s demands claiming that they were impracticable in that situation; they also interpreted it that the Soviets would use that and the incidence of the bay of pigs as evidence of the declined US superiority (evidence of weakness of America as a superpower). On the other hand the North Atlantic treaty alliance would view that as a betrayal by a collaborator. President Kennedy ignored the second letters demands and decided to accept the first letter’s offer (George 2006).

Secret Negotiations


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

As the ExComm were still deliberating on the issue; 27th October, the Whitehouse was notified that and American U-2 reconnaissance was down having been shot at over Cuba and that another one had unintentionally wandered away over Siberian airspace, and by a whisker got away from a comparable fate. The US president resolved to culminate the tension once and for all. He ignored the ExComm’s advice and entered a secret deal with his counterpart in USSR that the US had agreed to withdraw the turkey missiles over a period of few months; as a confidential pro quo to a United Nation’s confirmed pulling out of USSR missiles from Cuba. The US president was also to publicly pledge that America was not going to attack Cuba (Stern 2005).

Castro on the other hand was not aware of the secret deals and was ordering for aircraft weapons to be made ready. The Cuban military continued to set up the weapons for the battle for action despite the fact that they were ordered to initiate any type of action unless they were attacked (George 2006).

Contrary to what the people expected the radios in the morning of 28th begun announcing that the missiles in Cuba were to be withdrawn and that the US would also retrieve its missiles from Turkey. Meanwhile other negotiations were being held between the Soviet leaders and the president. Khrushchev sent a message to the US Whitehouse that he was ready to remove the weapons as agreed and that the US would call the UN Security Council to inspect the region (Turkey) after withdraw just to confirm that the pledge had been adhered to (Gonzalez 2002)

Ending the Crisis

The 28th October 1962 was very critical date to the US intelligence crisis with Cuba. The acute phase of the crises ceased. Presidents Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to the each others demands and the weapons started being withdrawn from Cuba as tension culminated. Cuban leader, Castro felt betrayed by President Khrushchev and due to that reason he declined to permit the United Nations Organization security assessors on Cuban ground to confirm that the missiles had been withdrawn (George 2006). Nonetheless, having been satisfied by the aerial


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

photos they had taken, that the USSR had removed weapons considered offensive, the US president issued a statement to terminate the quarantine.

The causes of the conflict had discussed long ago and the soviet leader considered the deployment in the late spring of 1962 following a hurried and unsuspecting decision making course of action that involved only few people as advisors. His aim seem to have been to stop the dreaded American attack of Cuba; to even out the immense US supremacy in the strategic nuclear weapons openly disclosed by the US in 1961; to reduce the myth of there being a missile gap despising Soviet Union and of less importance to reciprocate the turkey deployment of Jupiter missiles(Stern 2005).

The realistic result of the pact between US President J.F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev of Soviet Union was that it efficiently reinforced the stance of the Cuban leader, Castro in that he was not going to be attacked by Americans. It’s also suggested that the Soviet Leader Khrushchev only used Cuba to get to hit back at his counterpart Mr. Kennedy to make him take out the missiles in Turkey and that they had no intent whatsoever of resorting to nuclear war if they could be attacked by the US. However since the US did not publicize the withdrawal from Turkey, Khrushchev appeared to have lost the crisis and became weaker. Many nations perceived that Mr. Kennedy had won the conflict making the US even more powerful. In reality, both leaders took measured steps just to avoid escalation of the conflict into a war torn incidence (Stern 2005).

Understanding the US Intelligence Cuban Crisis

The crisis provided a very essential assessment of miscalculation and misperceptions. It seem that the US Intelligence perceived that the USSR and Cuba would never deploy nuclear weapons set ready to attack as it would be very much contradictory with the USSR tradition since it was very obvious that it would prompt a serious conflict (George 2006). The myth of missile gap greatly increased the susceptibility of USSR which the US failed to understand. The Soviet Union was afraid of the invasion Cuba and this was also escalated by the Bay of Pigs attempt of the previous year. The Soviets were also sincere in their thinking that if the US were justified to launch missiles in Turkey then they were also justified to launch missiles in Cuba. On


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

the same basis, the US failed to stop the move in the early stages of the conflict, rather issues threats against the soviets when the secret deal was very much established (Gonzalez 2002).

The Soviet leader also overestimated the willingness of the US to protect public interests and to tolerate serious disruptions in the world status quos and take too lightly the probability that the US intelligence would find out about the missiles ahead of time; and also fell short of appreciating that the secrecy and trickery that surrounded the deployment would provoke American and as such Khrushchev underestimated the risk involved in deployment (George 2006).

The US Foreign Policy on Cuba

The U.S government idea of embargo is to facilitate peaceful transformation of Cuban governance from political instability to democracy and an administration that respects human rights. The embargo dates back to the Eisenhower’s administration in the U.S, this is the time when Fidel Castro took power. The U.S was so much involved with war against communism (Cold War) and it banned shipment of arms to Cuban since at the time, Castro was leading a large rebel group. The whole of the U.S administration since then has been characterized by embargos and more conflict (Stern 2005)

The major U.S Cuban crisis came into place in 1996 when the Cuban missiles took down a U.S based civilian aircraft. The crash killed three United States citizens and one Cuban of the U.S residence. The then president Bill Clinton, shortly after the incidence, accented his signature to the controversial Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. The act imposed legal punishment to foreign companies that were investing in business ventures in Cuba (George 2006). The law allowed legal action against foreign investors who were involved in any appropriated property detained by the Cuban administration, the law affected also the individuals of Cuban origin living in the U.S at that time (Allison & Zelikow 1999). Entry in to the United State was denied to such individuals including their families.


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

Both president Bill Clinton and Bush has failed to implement the lawsuit measure, under a waiver condition in law referred to as Title III. Civilian to civilian initiatives to improve the nations’ stand about the foreign policy on Cuba became increasingly numerous in 1991 onwards. Despite all these efforts, the governments stand was a bit moved and by 1995, President Clinton declared that the non-governmental organizations from the States could finance any projects in Cuba plus those in the U.S but related to Cuba. The government also agreed to fund Cuban Non-governmental Organizations from the U.S AID funds (Stern 2005).

In 1998, the Clinton administration granted legal licenses to religious groups or individuals including the media to use aircraft and marine ships to travel to Cuba. This move saw many people travel across the two nations with the anticipated pope’s visit to the island. The same year, the government of the U.S increased the sales and drugs that were donated to Cubans, plus giving licenses to direct cargo flights and shipment. The freedom of movement was further improved as the U.S increased the categories of people to travel to Cuba as well as eased the procedure for acquiring licenses to travel (George 2006). The groups to whom medicine and drugs donations and sales could be made were also expanded. Direct charter flights were legalized and could be made from other cities apart from Miami. However this did not change Clinton’s stand on the embargo, he still sustained the embargo though many other nations had put policies in place that were aimed at bringing some engagement (Allison & Zelikow 1999).

The President Bush’s administration was no different to the implementation of the embargo. In fact President George W. Bush called for tightening of the trade embargo and included more restrictions to those with intent of traveling to Cuba and imposed sanctions on money transfer from Cubans in America to their family members in Cuba. (Gonzalez 2002). In 2001, President Bush reaffirmed his Stand on the execution of the restrictions by stating that he would increase the capacity and promote the government’s enforcement of the embargo. Bush administration focused so much on efforts to remove the Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul from power based on argument that it would bring about transition in to a democratic nation once the Castro brothers were out of power. Bush accused Cuba of developing destructive biological weapons that encouraged conflict and war. In its struggle to remove Fidel Castro from power, bush administration encouraged people to people initiatives and increased their backing for human rights protesters in Cuba and promoted the use of any means available to conquer the Castro administration (Stern 2005)


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

The long lasting embargo on Cuba has completely been unable to achieve the U.S objectives of the Policy. The policies were devised during the cold war period and the effects have since then affected the development in the two countries in terms of economy, diplomacy and national security matters. The embargo has illegally put constraints to U.S citizens’ freedom of movement, association among other aspects of socio-economic welfare. The Clinton administration however brought about changes that could be used as a stepping stone for future relations since it reduced the restrictions to more lenient position that allowed travel and export of food and medicine (Allison & Zelikow 1999). Contrary, Bush governance advocates for tightening the embargo restrictions. Since the intension of the embargo was to encourage peaceful transformation of the Cuban administration to a democratic one, a mission it has completely failed, there need to be change since the current economy cannot afford to loose out on failed tactic if over 40 years! (Gonzalez 2002)


Many people including scholars have differed on their evaluation of the USA intelligence Cuban missile crisis. This is a classic kind of cautious management of a conflict. Kennedy and Khrushchev were able to control escalation of a very devastating war while they were seeking a solution of mutual satisfaction. Irreversible measures were totally avoided in there negotiations, holding back unnecessary bluster and keeping away from pressing each other in tough position. Other scholars criticize the treatment of the situation as being too hesitant or too careless. President Kennedy’s critic point out the chance to destroy Castro and was not utilized. Others blame him for risking nuclear war postponing the problem (US susceptibility to Soviets Nuclear weapons). Khrushchev on the other hand has been criticized harshly by hardliners for yielding to the Pressure easily. Latest analyses show that both leaders were scared of uncertainty, misjudged, misconception, and dreaded unauthorized military operation and all these factors contributed a quantity of carefulness and caution that barred the crisis from growing further. In contradiction the US intelligence Cuba conflict resulted in enhancement of the US – Soviet relationship. Several accords intended to restrict the military action and improve conflict stability and hot line stability accord have been witnessed. A notable such agreement is the Test Ban Accord. The Soviet Union has desisted from deploying weaponry to Cubans with offensive capacity and the US agreed to the Communist controlled Cuba maintaining a close relationship with the USSR.


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba


Allison G. & Zelikow. P. (1999). Essence of Decision- – Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. Longman

George A.L. (2006). Awaiting Armageddon- – How Americans Faced The Cuban Missile Crisis.

North Carolina University Press.


US Intelligence-Crises over Cuba

Gonzalez S. (2002). The Nuclear Deception- – Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Polmar N. & Gresham J.D. (2006). Standing On the Brink of Nuclear War during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wiley

Stern S. M. (2005). The Week The World Stood Still- – Inside The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis- – Stanford Nuclear Age Series. Stanford University Press