The U.S. and USSR Stood on the Brink of War
October 21, 2009 by Chip Wood
The “Cuban Missile Crisis” began on Oct. 22, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy told a nationwide television audience that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba. This was four years after an "agrarian reformer" named Fidel Castro seized power there and quickly turned the island nation into a Communist dictatorship.
In his address to the nation, Kennedy said that the United States would implement a blockade of Cuba until the missiles were removed. The next day, the Organization of American States passed a resolution unanimously approving the U.S. quarantine of Cuba—something that would never happen today. The measure authorized the U.S. to use military force to prevent the shipment of more offensive weapons to Cuba.
When a Soviet ship challenged the blockade on Oct. 24, all U.S. military forces went to DEFCON 2, the highest military alert ever reached in the postwar era. The U.S. and the USSR appeared poised for full-scale war.
Two days later, on Oct. 26, a deal was struck between the two powers. The Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. Castro pledged not to accept any more offensive weapons. And in turn, the U.S. promised to stop any efforts to overthrow Castro or to invade Cuba. Forty-seven years later, the Castro brothers are still in power. And the Cuban people are still enslaved.