The were bound to be made in order

     The entire world recognises the Cuban Missile crisis to have
been one of the most dangerously fragile points in the history of conflicts
between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Surely after it was
over, after the US and USSR had realized they had nearly thrown the world into
nuclear war, after an event that could ultimately have spelt the planets doom,
changes were bound to be made in order to stop anything like the missile crisis
from happening again in both the near and far future.

So, what steps were taken by the superpowers that would
ensure the worlds safety from then on? And more importantly, can the events
that took place during October of 1962 on Cuba, be considered a turning point
in relations between the US and USSR, and if yes how and to what extent? There
are a number of points that can be analysed in this topic that will show
evidence of progress and in some cases contradictory evidence to the
improvement in the superpowers’ relations after the Cuban Missile crisis.

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In the days just after the crisis one of J.F Kennedy’s
advisers said to the press, “Having come so close to the edge, we must
make it our business not to pass this way again”. Though this was easier
said than done. Kennedy and Khrushchev lay the situation down in front of them
and decided what was the wisest thing to do first of all. One of the main
aspects of the crisis that made it particularly dangerous was the fact that communications
between the White House and the Kremlin were extremely poor. Before and during
the crisis messages were sent via letters or telegraphs. The danger of this was
that so many important decisions were being made on behalf of these messages
and the fact is that it was taking too long for them to reach Kennedy or
Khrushchev, meaning critical errors could be made in the time it took one side
to get a letter or telegraph across to the other. It was decided that a
telephone hotline was required that would link the White House and the Kremlin;
it was installed in August of 1963. It would enable leaders to discuss problems
before they reached a dangerous level. It had its other benefits as well, it
should not be forgotten that the two sides had only just avoided war and
therefore it was clear neither really trusted the other. The hotline would automatically
allow leaders to tell each other’s moods and to an extent thought track,
perhaps pick up where the other was possibly bluffing or enthusiastic about an
idea. None of this could be drawn out of the letters that were sent in the time
of the missile crisis.

The introduction of the hotline in itself was a turning
point in relations between the US and USSR for it had enabled the two leaders of
the superpowers of the world, to talk to each other in a one to one conversation,
and thoroughly discuss any subject matters that would possibly affect both
countries. Also, the hotline did allow the two sides to gain a degree of trust
between each other, however small an amount of trust that was, the fact is it
was still there, and was a huge improvement upon the capitalists and communists
being sworn enemies. The advance in communications would also make such events like
the Paris Summit, peace talks conference in 1960, which Khrushchev stormed out
of after an American U2 spy plane was shot down over Moscow, never happen
again. However, things had certainly not suddenly become perfect between the
two sides. The new communication facilities did not stop Americans and Soviets
speaking their minds, as President Ronald Reagan (presidency 1980-1989)
demonstrated in 1980, when he declared that the Soviet Union was an “Evil
Empire”. This unfortunately started a second Cold war, which of course was
not very good for efforts in communications and relations.

Examples of this are the boycotting of the Moscow 1980
Olympic Games by America and then the 1984 games by the Russian athletes. As
can be seen, there definitely was to an extent a turning point in communications
relations after the missile crisis, but certainly there were many ups and downs
after the event. The communications advance between the US and USSR also did
not fully complete any bridges of trust, yet I believe that would have been
very wishful thinking, it was unrealistic to hope for complete cooperation and
trust between the superpowers so soon after they had just been involved in such
a major international crisis.

The next point to be analysed is the arms race before the
Cuban missile crisis and the changes that were made after by the US and USSR. In
1945, the US arms industry gave birth to the most terrifying man-made weapon
imaginable, the atomic bomb. The USSR did the same four years later in 1949,
partly to rise up to the strength and capability of their adversary the US.
Many more weapons with nuclear capabilities were developed over the coming
years after the A-bomb, by the two superpowers, with even more advanced and
moreover more destructive capabilities including the long range
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This chain of events was the
beginning of the Arms Race between America and the Soviet Union. Throughout
this period the two sides competed in a race, to develop more and more deadly
and capable weapons, as well as trying to produce as many as possible. During
the next few years the superpowers produced enough weapons to destroy the
entire world several times over.

In 1962 during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’, the two
superpowers realized that being in the position of having these weapons
threatened world peace like nothing ever before. When the thirteen days in
which the crisis took place were over, it became clear that measures would have
to be taken to stop an event of such happening again. The realization of this
brought the two powers somewhat closer and allowed them to sit down together
and take the future of their arms industries into consideration. Between 1963
and 1979 America and the Soviets drew up several treaties that would enable the
world to avoid events as dangerous as the missile crisis.

The first treaty to be signed internationally was the ‘1963
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’ this was the banning of all forms of nuclear testing other
than underground, this was welcomed warmly by the worlds leaders, with the
exception of France and China who refused to sign. France continued testing
their nuclear capabilities just off the Polynesian coast until 1996 when
various protests throughout 1995 in Paris brought the testing to an end. It
became clear to the US and USSR that each side was fully capable of destroying
each other. The horrifying prospect of this came to be known as ‘Mutually
Assured Destruction’ (MAD). The New Soviet Premiere Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (1906
-1982) who took over from Khrushchev and continued the policy of peaceful
co-existence between the capitalists and communists and President Lyndon B.
Johnson (1908 – 1973) of the US both signed the ‘1968 Non-proliferation
Treaty’, this denied smaller emerging countries of the superpowers nuclear
technology. In 1968 Richard M. Nixon (1913 – 1994) took over presidency from Johnson.
He made an agreement with Brezhnev to limit the spread of ‘strategic’ nuclear
weapons. The path in which these actions came in to play from was the ‘1972
strategic Arms Limitation Talks’ otherwise known as SALT. This was obviously a
good thing and can definitely be viewed as a turning point in relations between
the superpowers, but the problem was that both sides continued to modernize
their nuclear arsenals even though they were not allowed to let them spread.
The fact is that they were still making their nuclear capabilities more and
more apparent by bringing larger and more destructive weapons into play. In the
time between 1966 and 1988, many newer more lethal weapons including Multiple
Warheads (MRV) and new long range cruise missiles were developed. However
desperate these two superpowers were to prevent an event such as the missile
crisis from happening again they continued to contradict their efforts by
carrying on developing more dangerous arsenals of nuclear weaponry.

To conclude this point I would say ‘yes’ the crisis was most
certainly a turning point, simply because it made the United States and Soviet
Union realize how dangerous their nuclear capabilities were, let alone the fact
that they started to negotiate about their weapons on more formal terms. However
the treaties signed were efficient in only stopping the spread of arms but not
the reduction of weapons being produced. This did not happen until 1988, after
Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1987 where they secured a deal that would
reduce the amount of arms the powers possessed. It was recognised by both sides
as a historic moment.

The third point to be looked at is the ‘Space Race’. The
race was a competition between the two superpowers to see who was technically
and scientifically more advanced. New nuclear weapons capabilities were one
thing yet it was far out of the league of space science, notably in the area of
space travel. It was believed that the victor of the space race would determine
which ideology, capitalism or communism was better. The first step into the
space race began before the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ when on the 4th October 1957
the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.
The satellite carried a radio transmitter which sent signals back to earth
until Sputnik burned up in the atmosphere 92 days later. This was followed up
the year before the Cuban Missile crisis on 12th April 1961, when the Russian
Yuri Gagarin blasted off from earth aboard a rocket and entered space. He was
the first cosmonaut – Russian for astronaut. These early victories for the USSR
were massive propaganda factors for the Soviets. The US did also start to advance
in the space race to the Soviet’s status in space science; they achieved
victories such as the passing of Venus in 1962 by the Mariner 2, the first
successful planetary space probe.

Before ‘Cuba’ the US and USSR were as suspicious of each
other as ever, there were literally no communications between their space engineering
or science research departments of the two powers. After the Missile crisis due
to general improvements in communications this did start to change. Scientists
from both sides started to work together on scientific research. This lead to a
combined soviet, US mission to space when a Russian cosmonaut and an American
astronaut met up. Even though improvements were made in relations between the superpowers
science research, the space race went on and both sides were determined as ever
to claim victory and prove either capitalism or communism to be a better
ideology! The race was finally ended when the US claimed victory as Neil
Armstrong climbed out of the Apollo 11 lunar module and became the first person
on the moon. The Americans broadcasted the whole event live to the world to
prove its dominance in Science. Yet again we come to a similar conclusion that the
Missile Crisis was definitely to an extent a turning point in relations due to (again)
communication advances and through that; a step further towards cooperation
between the super powers research facilities. As before there is still the
matter of ‘the however factor’, both the Soviets and Americans, still had the
urge to beat each other in this technological race and prove their side to be
more advanced. One could look at this in either one of two ways from my
perspective. Either the space race would bring the two super powers closer to
each other by putting them in a competitive situation where there was no
obvious gap in capability. Or it could leave one or the other in a very soar position
by the end of the competition, thereby to an extent, potentially damaging
relations between them.

The next point to look at is the policy held in practice
between the Soviets, Americans and earlier by the Chinese, called Détente. Détente
was a permanent relaxation in international affairs during and after the Cold
War rather than just a temporary relaxation, that was likely to fall at the
slightest disagreement between the US and Soviets. The US realised that there
were better ways of containing communism than the ways that they had tried with
in previous years. The Americans were also aware of the massive cost of weapons
production and maintaining a huge armed force. A peaceful relationship with the
USSR would be very beneficial to USA especially after the cost of the Vietnam
War not long after the Missile crisis. Similarly Khrushchev and the USSR
realized they were also spending a great deal on Warfare and military
enhancement and production, rather than basic household goods for the people of
Russia, living standards were generally speaking, very poor. It would be
extremely beneficial for the Soviet Union to adopt the policy of détente with
the Americans. From 1963 – 1975 the two super powers worked together to
establish a strong sense of détente between themselves. Some of the key acts
following the Cuban Missile Crisis are as follows.


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