Cuban Missile Crisis: Resolution and analysis

Cuban Missile Crisis: Resolution and analysis

Who won the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Who won the Cuban missile crisis is an Interpretations question that the exam boards have asked in the past. When answering this question it is important to remain balanced and to consider how far each side achieved its objectives and also to consider what the consequences of their actions were in the months and years afterwards.

Soviet Aims and Objectives:

The removal of US missiles from Turkey: objective achieved.

The security of Cuba: objective achieved, the US made a promise never to attack Cuba and they have stuck by this promise.

Deployment of missiles close to the United States: you need to weigh up whether it was ever the intention to have missiles permanently based in Cuba. If the Soviet Union DID want this to be the case then they failed to achieve this goal. However if the intention was to use Cuba to gain concessions elsewhere, then they achieved these objectives.

Enhance Khruschev’s reputation within the Soviet Union. If Khruschev was using the deployment of missiles in Cuba to try and enhance his reputation and to placate hard liners within his own party then he failed spectacularly. Following the crisis he saw Soviet – Chinese relations collapse and he was ousted from power in 1964, just 2 years after the crisis.

‘Peaceful Coexistence’ – was a stated aim of Khruschev’s. Despite the fact that the world had been closer to Nuclear War than at any other time the crisis did actually do a lot to reduce the risk of a future Nuclear conflict. Both the US and Soviet Union realised just how easily a situation could get out of hand and result in a world annhialating nuclear conflict. A result of this was the hot-line linking the Kremlin to the White House and the instigation of talks about Nuclear Non Proliferation.

US Aims and Objectives:

Remove threat of Nuclear Missiles in Cuba: Objective achieved. Indeed at the time the world viewed the outcome of the Crisis as a huge victory for Kennedy and believed he had done a fantastic job of standing up to, and beating, the Soviet Union (At the time nobody knew about the agreement to remove missiles from Turkey).

Isolate Cuba and / or remove the Communist regime: This was more of a long term aim of the US Government rather than somethingt that was at the forefront of their minds whilst dealing with the missile crisis. Whilst the outcome of the crisis saw the US promise never to invade Cuba again, thus ensuring the continuation of its Communist Government, the diplomatic actions taken by Khruschev during negotiations led Castro to feel betryaed by the Soviet Union. He had wanted issues such as the continued presence of US troops at Guantanamo Bay to be dealt with: they weren’t mentioned. Cuban-Soviet relations suffered for some time as a result of this.


If both sides had an objective of making their country a safer place, then this was to some degree achieved. Missiles were removed from Cuba by the Soviets and from Turkey by the US. The Balance of Power, did it change at all? If missiles had remained on Cuba then there would have been a considerable shift in the balance of power, or at least the way that it was perceived by the general public. The simple fact of the matter is that the US were so far in front of the Soviets in terms of ICBM’s, their range, speed of deployment and their accuracy that missiles on Cuba would have little military impact: though image and public perception is highly important in politics. Kennedy dealt with the matter very well in public. His demeanor and method of getting his message across made him look very good at dealing with hostile situations. Khruschev however, despite probably achieving most of his objectives, came across as giving in to the Americans.

Cold War
Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam ConferencesStalin and Truman: ideological differencesSoviet Satellite States
Cominform and ComeconUS Involvement in Europe Post WW2Truman Doctrine
Marshall PlanBizoniaBerlin Airlift
NATO: Origins and HistoryThe arms race and Mutually assured destructionSoviet rule in Hungary
DestalinizationHungarian RevolutionBerlin: Refugee Crisis
Khruschev's challenge to the west over Berlin1960: Paris SummitKennedy and the Berlin Crisis
Berlin WallPresident Kennedy visit to BerlinCuban Missile Crisis: Why were missiles there?
Cuban Missile Crisis: Why did Kennedy respond as he did?Cuban Missile Crisis: Resolution and analysis
Love Learning?

Subscribe to our Free Newsletter, Complete with Exclusive History Content