Essay by Alexx0925College, Undergraduate April 2004

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The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. War, however, was averted due to the bravery, intelligence, and wits of a man known as John F. Kennedy. The Cuban Missile Crisis was cause for great alarm. However, it was, in fact, inevitable due to several circumstances. Anyone could have predicted that it was coming, but one could not predict the severity of the threat.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had everything to do with jealousy and fear. The United States was the superpower of the planet and the Soviet Union was envious. During the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, his major concern was a missile gap between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The truth, however, was that he had been briefed by the Pentagon that the United States had, in fact, more missiles than the Soviets. Despite the briefing, Kennedy maintained his claims. Upon Kennedy's victory in the 1960 election, Khrushchev began to test the new president. The Berlin Wall was constructed and the United States acted. Consequently, it was revealed that there was no missile gap.

In 1962, the Soviet Union realized their position in what became known as the arms race. It was a competition to see who could have the best quality and quantity of weapons. Their position was not first. The Soviets were desperately behind the United States. The Soviets' most powerful missile was only powerful enough to be launched against Europe while U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. Khrushchev began an attempt to conceive an idea that would deplete the...