SNAPSHOT: The Cuban Missile Crisis
In the fall of 1962 the Cold War almost turned very hot indeed. The USA had short-range nuclear missiles stationed in Europe and Turkey which could reach the Soviet Union, but the USSR had no such short-range missiles near the United States. So Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro agreed that Soviet missiles would be placed in Cuba, only a few miles away from the American mainland. Unfortunately for Khrushchev and Castro, American spy planes detected the missile sites in the middle of October, and President Kennedy decided to put a naval blockade or “quarantine zone” around Cuba until all the missiles were removed.
The Soviets and the Cubans refused to back down, and tension ran high. Who would shoot first, and how would it all end? Fortunately, a few days after the crisis started, it ended. Khrushchev said he would remove the missiles from Cuba if Kennedy removed American rockets from Turkey and promised not to invade Cuba. Diplomacy triumphed, but it was a near thing!