Nuclear and Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

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Using the references presented, answer the question below in 300 words.

Q1) The Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the few instances where nuclear superiority (or at least Khrushchev’s perception that the U.S. nuclear arsenal was superior to the USSR’s) was decisive in settling a conflict. What other examples are there where nuclear superiority, of any nation, was a decisive factor in resolving a conflict in the post-WWII period?

References:
1-America Recommitted; Chapter 2, pages 32 – 59
2-American Foreign Policy; 17th Ed. Chapters 2, 3 & 4, pages 24 – 111 or 18th Ed. Chapters 2, 3 & 4, pages 21 – 104

Q2- (85 words ) Read the following comments and write your opinion ( Why you agree with this comments or why not ACCORDING TO the references presented above in the first question. “Your comments must be substantive, meaning that you are adding something new and thoughtful to the discussion. It’s not sufficient to say you agree or disagree. Explain why.”

The first incident that comes to mind is the recurring conflicts between India and Pakistan. Although neither country has a decisive nuclear advantage over each other, the development of nuclear weapons has had an impact in both of these countries. With each country possessing nuclear weapons, the thought of a total war between these neighboring countries is unpractical. This example isn’t as clear cut as the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the mutually assured destruction of India and Pakistan serves as a decisive deterrent for all out war between the two countries.

Q3- (85 words ) Read the following comments and write your opinion ( Why you agree with this comments or why not ACCORDING TO the references presented above in the first question. “Your comments must be substantive, meaning that you are adding something new and thoughtful to the discussion. It’s not sufficient to say you agree or disagree. Explain why.”

It seems there are a couple factors involved in the Cuban missile crisis. Certainly the inferiority of Soviet nuclear arms played a factor in Khruschchev’s backing down during the missile crisis, but just the act of initiating a nuclear exchange at all, irrespective of nuclear parity, is huge. When America used nuclear weapons on Japan to end WWII, there was obviously no chance of nuclear retaliation. Both parties to the conflict in the missile crisis, on the other hand, had the capability of nuking the other in what would have been a war of unprecedented casualties and destruction. 

In 1962, the US was beginning to lose its overwhelming nuclear superiority; the Soviets had over 400 deliverable warheads they could have bombarded America with(1). I think a more significant factor restraining Khruschchev was not wanting to gamble such disaster over the ability to station missiles in Cuba. In other words, the Soviets did not see doing so as a vital security interest worth going to war, much less nuclear war, over. As this was a survival threat to America, Kennedy did. 

I can’t think of too many examples where nuclear superiority was the factor of resolving a conflict, as opposed to preventing or restraining one. The one that most quickly comes to mind is the reported threats coming from Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war about using their nukes when it looked as though Egypt and Syria were coming close to over-running them.(2) Some analysts have stated the only possible reason for the war turning around so quickly in Israel’s favor was nuclear saber-rattling.



(1) Press, Daryl Grayson. Calculating Credibility: How Leaders Assess Military Threats, Pg. 87


(2) http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/06/opinion/the-last-nuclear-moment.html

Q4- (85 words ) Read the following comments and write your opinion ( Why you agree with this comments or why not ACCORDING TO the references presented above in the first question. “Your comments must be substantive, meaning that you are adding something new and thoughtful to the discussion. It’s not sufficient to say you agree or disagree. Explain why.”

The theory regarding nuclear weapons appears to be that if the parties involved in a conflict all have nuclear weapons then they serve as a deterrent to war. The assumption is that neither party would be willing to use the weapons as a deciding factor in the conflict because retaliation is inevitable and the results would be catastrophic to all parties involved. Continuing that train of thought one would assume that if one power has nuclear weapons and another does not then the one with the weapons would easily control the other. 

That being said I can not think of any situations where the possession of nuclear weapons by any country helped “resolve” a conflict, however I can think of several where the possession of nuclear weapons did NOT help to resolve conflict. Most recently, the fact that the US has WMD’s did not curtail Iraqi forces from going against the super power, even if it spelled certain doom for the Iraqi Army. Our ownership of these weapons also did not stall North Vietnam from taking on America. When a nation-state is aware that the threat of nuclear weapons is an empty threat, then it does nothing to slow the conflicts. 


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