Cuban Missile Crisis: what was Cuba's motivation?

i am (somewhat) young (32) so i missed the good parts of the cold war. and my interest in history didn’t come til after college, so i never paid close attention in school.

this week has brought forth a lot of cool documentaries on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to my lack of history interests before, most of it is new to me (and extremely interesting).

at several points, Castro made it clear Cuba was willing to be annihilated for the greater good if Russia pulls the trigger on the US.

my question is: what was in all this for Cuba? being communist or even broadening the sphere of communist influence globally seems like menial motivation to sacrificing your entire nation.

I guess it seemed to me like the stakes for loss were greater for Cuba than anyone else involved. what motivated them to be willing participants in this?

The missiles when operational would be a deterrent to another US or US backed invasion.

I think that’s basically it. The US had already tried an invasion once and there was a very real chance it could happen again.

Bay of Pigs invasion is the event that you want to read about for that.

the missile crisis was indeed a scary event, people did consider it to be the brink of nuclear war. not just potential or talk, it was an actual showdown.

thanks to some military showing restraint and some good diplomacy disaster was averted. leaders got scared enough with knowing how close they came that the Washington-Moscow hotline was put in place.

I agree. The US had already demonstrated in the Bay of Pigs invasion its interest in having Castro out of there (even if they hadn’t followed through enough to make it a success). Castro saw Russian missiles as the best way to ensure that the US wouldn’t attempt another invasion.

There was a recent article claiming that the Soviets were actually going to hand some of the nuclear weapons over to full Cuban control, which in 1962 would have made them the fifth country in the world to have nuclear weapons (China didn’t get them until 1964).

Thats a pretty big motivation considering the invasion risk. Can’t find the article right now, anyone?

IIRC, Kennedy did indeed have another invasion planned, with training being carried out…just about everywhere in the Caribbean (sp?). The Soviet Union, after the U2 thing, not to mention all the other Cold War stuff, was always wary of a US attack.
So, being a satellite of the Soviet Union, due to the humongous trade concessions, Castro saw it as a win-win situation. Castro gets the big bucks from Russia, his own nuclear missiles (at no cost!) to protect from another invasion by a country which attacked his nation earlier, rub Kennedy’s nose in crap…what’s not to love?

But according to the doc i watched, communications began to fail between Khrushchev and Cuba, so Castro sent a wire saying he was ready to sacrifice Cuba and die for the greater good. It scanned to me as tho he was ready to martyr himself and his nation for the greater good of, if not Russia, then Communism in whole? i can understand the motivation against american invasion, getting missiles, etc–but none of that matters if you are willing to be obliterated into nonexistence. did he just hate america so much that it was worth being destroyed so long as america was struck a blow?

the part that really blows my mind is how Vasili Arkhipov more or less singlehandedly saved the world from nuclear war. according to a bio, he was afforded absolute veto over the submarine fleet. once the fleet lost contact with russia, trapped in the middle of the ocean with failing systems, two of the three triggermen were ready to fire a nuke torpedo. but vasili vetoed (according to what i watched, in a last-second, keys-are-in-the-launcher final-second sensationalist moment of intense suspense!) i don’t know how much of that is true, but if the two of three did decide to shoot and he stopped it, good grief–bless that man.

Castro was probably worried that the Soviets would cut a deal with the Americans at Cuba’s expense. He was probably trying to show the Soviets how loyal he was so they’d be less likely to sell him out.

Funny this topic should come up now.

I just read this article in the New York Times: How Castro Held the World Hostage dated yesterday (10/25/2012).

The thesis seems to be that, according to declassified communications between JFK and Khrushchev, they had actually spent three weeks or so negotiating a “face-saving” diplomatic stand-down, unknown to Castro.

It’s unclear (to me) if Castro ever had much, if any, control or say-so in the use of the Soviet nukes there. I can’t imagine that he had any control over that. It was entirely up to the USSR to decide if there would be a nuclear strike against the United States. According to the article, this is exactly what JFK and K were negotiating to NOT have happen, all that time, behind Castro’s back. It sounds to me like Castro was all bluff and bluster (or maybe he really thought he could make the call for a strike, or talk the USSR into doing it)?

The article seems to imply, though, that Castro really did have a finger on the Cuban nuclear button (but doesn’t actually say this). The authors argue that, because Khrushchev ignored all Castro’s bluster, that he brought the world to the brink of nuclear armageddon. I don’t see that.

Anybody here have something more (or something different) to say about that?

the doc i watched said that when things really started to heat up and communications (and fervor) with russia started to wain, Castro was constantly planting seeds of dissent with the stationed russian troops there. it said he would, to paraphrase, sort of undermine Khrushchev by trying to assimilate them as cubans. i guess he kind of saw Khrushchev waning and wanted to seize control of all the local Russian army and proceed on his own. the local russian rep there (the consulate?) and he had many personal, late night talks over “lots of beer and sausages” where castro would sort of pick at the idea maybe russia was abandoning them, and the plan, and that maybe they should all proceed unilaterally (which i guess would be desertion for the russians in cuba). the consulate would speak with Khrushchev and say NO NO NO everything is as discussed, stay on course.

i need to be sure i didn’t misunderstand and/or getting the story wrong–i’m going to do a little diggin on this for now and i’ll get back to this…but at the time it really struck me how so many people involved were all vying for nuclear war–how many variables existed and how dangerous things were. Castro at least acted eager to fire away. several russians NEARLY DID FIRE AWAY. many people on JFK’s team wanted to nail russia with all we had. many in the cabinet eagerly stumped for war. so many people pushed things in the wrong direction and roughly 3 people kept their level head and saved the world.

A true Communist is an internationalist, so sacrificing a nation to achieve global communist victory would be worth it. Also a communist revolutionary would understand that violence and war are necessary to achieve the revolution and that can involve killing huge numbers of people. As a student of history you must be aware that communists have never had a problem with the death of huge numbers of people as long as it served their purposes.

For the Castro offer of self-immolation, before anyone could comment on it, I think a link to the doc or actual quote, and context, are needed. in times of extreme crisis, a lot of people will say wild things, only to back track later. Plus, by failing communications between K and C, do you mean technical or diplomatic?

jump to 45:45

eta: looking for the section where castro trends towards influencing russian troops. i’m starting to think it might have been from the second doc i watched…

Cuban Missile Crisis’ Untold Story: Castro Almost Kept Nuclear

Is this the one about approximately 100 tactical nukes?

^great article. thanks.

in the video i posted above, around the 39 minute mark it discusses how the Russians on the island started to align themselves more with Castro as a leader since they were so far removed from direct russian authority. they felt “they would be just as dead as any cubans” and started to be swayed by castro’s rumblings to use their missiles to attack spy planes and the like. castro would give them long speeches to rally them and they started to fall more under his direct influence…that is what i was referring to. then in the next section it discusses how russian leaders start to feel like castro is becoming “unhinged,” too eager to start nuclear war, and “trying to drag (them) to the grave with him.”

Final proof that all the anti-communist propaganda of the 1950s actually worked.

And drinking too much of that fluoridated water.

It’s kinda hard to believe it’s just propaganda when you how much killing Stalin actually did.