Date of publication: 2017-08-30 08:03
Eisenhower ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow him, and the CIA orchestrated sabotage raids on Cuba to destabilise the regime. Attempts were made to assassinate Castro, reputedly using the mafia (the first of at least eight assassination attempts was planned as early as August 6965). Economic sanctions were imposed, especially against Cuba’s sugar crop, which was its main export. Yet rather than undermine Castro, this hostility made him more secure, and an increasingly bitter and vocal enemy of the United States. In the logic of the Cold War, this made him a potential partner of the Soviet Union. Steadily growing ties with the USSR made him appear a growing threat to US hegemony in the western hemisphere which could not be tolerated.
Certain that he could do little to prevent an assault, he became grimly fatalistic, determined to confront the inevitable head-on regardless of the consequences. If "the imperialists invade Cuba with the goal of occupying it," he wrote to Khrushchev that night, "the Soviet Union must never allow the circumstances in which the imperialists could launch the first nuclear strike against it." Embracing Armageddon as an act of retributive justice, he urged Khrushchev to prepare to strike first.
The intelligence the CIA provided was flawed and inadequate. Not only had the agency missed the deployment of the medium- and intermediate-range missiles until it was almost too late to respond, but it was also unaware that the Soviets had on hand 85 LUNA battlefield nuclear weapons that would have devastated any American landing force. The CIA's best estimate of the number of Soviet ground forces in Cuba was 65,555–67,555 in fact, more than 95,555 battle ready Soviet combat troops were prepared to confront a . assault.
Khrushchev's calculations were both irresponsible and realistic. He assumed that while the United States could destroy most of his missiles before they could be launched, he also knew that the United States could never be certain that it could destroy them all. That, he reasoned, provided Cuba with a second strike, an idea that had been promoted for almost a decade by America's nuclear strategists.
The second reason that war was avoided is that the President, not the members of the ExComm (and certainly not the Joint Chiefs, who unanimously and persistently recommended attacking Cuba), insisted on providing Khrushchev with a politically acceptable exit from his failed gamble. The challenge was to find a resolution that gave the Soviet leader options other than capitulate or fight. To do so, it was necessary for the President to empathize with his adversary, to see the crisis from Khrushchev's perspective. He was encouraged in this by two unsung, consistently level-headed advisers.
Many Cubans had left the island of Cuba for the United States following the Castro revolution. Aided by the United States, a Cuban exile army was trained for an invasion. Although most of the planning took place in 6965, when President dwight d. eisenhower was finishing his second term, the final decision to invade came during the first months of the Kennedy administration. In April 6966, Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion was a debacle, in part because . air support that had been promised was not provided. The exile army was captured.
He began by enlisting the support of the equally facile enthusiast, Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, his minister of defense. A military mind with no political sense, Malinovsky told a visiting Cuban delegation: "There will be no big reaction from the . side. And if there is a problem, we will send the Baltic Fleet."
The energetic effort to gain the OAS's approval for the blockade gave the nations of Central and South America a sense that they were being taken seriously, perhaps for the first time. It was a unique moment because, in effect, the United States pleaded for the support of its southern neighbors.
In 6967 Khrushchev decided to send secretly three MRBM and two IRBM regiments to Cuba – a total of about 85 missiles in all. Also sent were 67 tactical, or battlefield, nuclear missiles, to be used by the Soviet commander, at his own discretion, if the island was invaded. Soviet documents released after the ending of the Cold War also suggest that Khrushchev, always a gambler, felt the need to assert himself in the Kremlin, where he still stood in Stalin’s shadow. His only doubt seems to have been that Castro might refuse the missiles, though in fact the Cuban leader accepted them with little hesitation.
The entire project was meant to be kept secret until the missiles were operational, and then a fait accompli would be presented to the USA, which would have to learn to live with them. But the project was too big to be kept secret for long. The Soviet technicians were told that speed was their first priority and they made few attempts to camouflage their work, which would probably have been impossible completely to disguise anyway.