Cuban Missle Crisis and the Realist Perspective Essay

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The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought the world closer than it had ever been to nuclear war. This makes the crisis one of the most essential events in international affairs history, demonstrating a great example of the realist perspectives and other important aspects of international relations.

Primarily, the origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be readily attributed to the realist perspective. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba, which was a thwarted attempt by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with assistance from United States armed forces, to oust the corrupt government of Fidel Castro. This failed operation had sent the US back into a defensive position.
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This ambiguity led to the United States’ surveillance efforts of sending U-2 unmanned aerial vehicles over Cuba in order to investigate the construction of the missiles, which, with time, led to the mobilization of the military to the level of DEFCON 2. Kennedy expressed his discomfort in his November 6 letter to Khrushchev stating, “Not only did this action threaten the safety of this hemisphere, but it was, in a broader sense, a dangerous attempt to change the world-wide status quo. Secret action of this kind seems to me both hazardous and unjustified… Your government repeatedly gave us assurance of what it was not doing; these assurances were announced as coming from the highest levels, and they proved inaccurate (Kennedy, 3).”

The realist perspective not only played a role militarily, as previously shown, but also diplomatically. In Kennedy’s meeting with the Executive Committee of the National Security Council they discussed what measures to take after having confirmed surveillance photos of missile sites being constructed in Cuba. As a result, the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided a full-scale invasion would be the only remedy. This opinion was promptly rebutted by Kennedy saying, “They, no more than we, can let these things go by without doing something. They can't, after all their statements, permit us to take out their missiles, kill a lot of Russians, and then do nothing. If they don't take action

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