The Cuban Missile Crisis: Tensions, Diplomacy, and the Threat of Nuclear War

TLDR The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear war as the United States discovered Soviet missile sites in Cuba. President Kennedy chose to quarantine Cuba and engage in backdoor diplomacy with the Soviet Union, ultimately resolving the crisis and avoiding a wider conflict.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 In October 1962, a U-2 spy plane discovered Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba, leading to the tensest 13 days in human history and a last-minute resolution that prevented nuclear war.
02:30 In October 1962, evidence of Soviet missile sites in Cuba was discovered, leading President Kennedy to consider options such as diplomacy, a naval quarantine, an airstrike, invasion, or doing nothing in response.
04:27 Kennedy chose to quarantine Cuba as a way to remove the missiles without starting a wider conflict, and he presented photographic evidence of the missiles to the American people while sending a message to Khrushchev expressing his hope to avoid war.
06:30 Tensions continued to rise as Khrushchev refused to acknowledge the existence of the missiles, the US military went on high alert, and Kennedy received a message from Castro encouraging a nuclear first strike against the US.
08:33 After ordering plans for invasion and a nuclear strike, Kennedy received a message from Khrushchev calling for cooler heads to prevail, while low-level backdoor diplomacy began and a proposed solution for the removal of Soviet weapons in Cuba under UN supervision was discussed, but tensions escalated when Castro ordered Cuban defense forces to fire on American aircraft, resulting in the downing of an American U-2 spy plane and the death of its pilot, leading Khrushchev to demand the removal of American missiles from Turkey.
10:34 During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy secretly met with the Soviet Ambassador and proposed the removal of missiles from Turkey in exchange for the removal of missiles from Cuba, and tensions escalated when an American ship unknowingly came close to being attacked by a Soviet submarine with nuclear torpedoes.
12:31 The Cuban Missile Crisis remains the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war, with tensions escalating and the potential for accidental conflict, but cooler heads prevailed.
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