Courtesy of our friends at History.com, I am pleased to begin each and every day of the week here at Bulldog Pundit with a snippet of some important event that occurred on this date sometime in the past. Some events might come readily to mind while others may take a bit of effort to recall. Not all are historically portentous and some may even seem whimsical. Nevertheless, each and every one is a grain in the hourglass of human history.
The Cuban Missile crisis comes to a close as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agrees to remove Russian missiles from Cuba in exchange for a promise from the United States to respect Cuba’s territorial sovereignty. This ended nearly two weeks of anxiety and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that came close to provoking a nuclear conflict. The consequences of the crisis were many and varied. Relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union were on shaky ground for some time after Khrushchev’s removal of the missiles, as Fidel Castro accused the Russians of backing down from the Americans and deserting the Cuban revolution. European allies of the United States were also angered, not because of the U.S. stance during the crisis, but because the Kennedy administration kept them virtually in the dark about negotiations that might have led to an atomic war.
Inside the Soviet Union, hard-liners were appalled at Khrushchev’s withdrawal of the weapons. Two years later, in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksei Kosygin pushed him from power and proceeded to lead the Soviet Union on a massive military buildup. There was perhaps one positive aspect of the crisis. Having gone to the edge of what President Kennedy referred to as the “abyss of destruction,” cooler heads in both nations initiated steps to begin some control over nuclear weapons. Less than a year after the crisis ended, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to end aboveground testing; in 1968, both nations signed a non-proliferation treaty.
[Video clip taken from the 2000 motion picture Thirteen Days]