Forum: Security Council Issue: The Cuban Missile Crisis Student Officers : Aspen Wang

Introduction to Topic and Committee
The Historical Security Council will be looking at a variety of issues that have happened in the past and has previously confronted the nations back then in the Security Council during the time period of such a crisis. The topics we will be looking at largely fall during the timer period of the Cold War. The focus of the committee is not only to diffuse the tension and impending nuclear conflict but also to strive for innovative ways in which to find better solutions to the event than the ones history has offered. The emphasis is to balance historical accuracy whilst striving for innovative solutions. That means historical accuracy is necessary up to the dates delineated in the timeline, but then delegates are not required to recreate the course of history when finding a solution after those dates.

Description of Issue
The first issue is the Cuban missile crisis, otherwise known as the October or Caribbean crisis. No two nations have come closer to nuclear confrontation in human history as did USA and the USSR in the year 1962. The impact of the event, regardless of whether the two nations had turned to nuclear missiles or retracted them as they did back then, would have been felt across the globe because of the interesting concentration of polarized political clout into two superpowers. Historians have often characterized it as one of the culminating points of the Cold War and one of, if not the, most important events in nuclear history, setting a precedent for the rest of mankind. After a period of escalation of tensions between the two superpowers of USA and the USSR, including to the US clandestinely urging the toppling of the Cuban Regime through Operation Mongoose and the Bay of Pigs, the world witnessed Khrushchev dealing with Fidel Castro to construct several missile launch areas in 1962. These constructions began in July 1962 and here is a timeline of what has happened so far: 1959 (January 1) - Fidel Castro assumes power in Cuba 1960 (December 19) - Cuba publicly announces its compliance with USSR policies

1961 (January 3) - Diplomatic ties between USA and Cuba are severed 1961 (April 12) - US declares it will not intervene militarily in Cuban affairs 1961 (April 17) - Bay of Pigs incident in which US backed Cuban rebels 1961 (June 3)- Vienna summit between Khrushchev and Kennedy 1962 (July 27) - Cuba announces that any attack on Cuba is to welcome another world war, especially when the USSR and declared support of Cuba 1962 (August 10) - CIA notifies the president of medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba 1962 (August 31) - US senate urges Kennedy to take action 1962 (September 11)- at the UN, Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko warns that an American military action would cause the USSR to enter into the war

Definitions of Key Terms:
Helsinki Accord – An agreement to reduce nuclear weapons Containment - A foreign US policy during the Cold War crafted by Kennan and put into practice by Eisenhower and Truman in terms of preventing communism from spreading to other countries. AEA – Atomic Energy Act passed in 1946 in USA, granting the atomic energy commission autonomy over the research and development of nuclear activities for the purposes of national security. ABM - Anti-ballistic missiles shoot down missiles carrying nuclear weapons before they reach the intended target. SLBM - Submarine-launched ballistic missiles ICBM - Intercontinental ballistic missiles, missiles that could carry nuclear weapons over a long range. Brinkmanship - A political tactic of allowing a situation to escalate to a dangerous point where one nation is willing to go to war in the hopes that the other nations back down.

Mutually Assured Destruction - The deterrent of massive retaliation should one superpower launch a nuclear attack, the other would likewise reciprocate, destroying everything. Broken arrow - A nuclear missile that did not meet its intended target either throw being lost, broken, stolen or encountered an accidental misshap. DEFCON - Defense readiness condition, an acronym normally succeeded by a number ranging from 1 to 5 as a means of gaging the level of threat of a situation, with DEFCON 5 being the most peaceful and DEFCON 1 being the least. Fallout Shelter - Underground units meant to shelter people in the case of a nuclear attack First Strike - The capability of one country to engage in a surprise attack against another country and destroying the majority of the other country’s military stockpiles Missile Gap – It refers to the fear on the part of the US that the Soviet Union’s nuclear missile stockpile had surpassed that of the US. Space Race - Description of the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union that led to both nations bulking up in military stockpiles and increasing investments in technology (especially space related technology). The biggest catalyst event for such a race has often been attributed to the launching of the Sputnik by the USSR in 1957.

Positions of Key Member Nations and Other Bodies on the Issue
Ideologically Western/Democratic states (NATO): Post WWII, USA, the UK, France, Japan and West Germany typically had very strong political ties and agreements. Such countries have also generally championed democracy, human rights and western liberal ideals, although to varying degrees in different points of time and also depending on the domestic pendulum swings to different parties. At the height of the cold war, US was seen to be given the lead role in opposing the growing USSR due to the supposed decline in power as stated by the UK and the need for a reconstruction time period for France after the great war. Ideologically Soviet leaning: It would seem as though there are not as many countries that lean towards the USSR, however that is because many of them were simply absorbed by the USSR. In terms of land mass, the

communist bloc was bigger than the western bloc. However it is important to notice that within many of these blocs were small pockets of dissent (Czechoslovakia) and also some countries, although communist, did not necessarily buy into the same strain of communism that USSR proposed. One such country being the People’s Republic of China, which although had stronger tendencies towards the Soviet Union had a series of fallout between their two leaders in the formation of the Communist Party in China. Other blocs There are also a series of countries, such as Cuba, Cyprus, Iran, Ghana fearing the excessive influences of one superpower, those countries would pander to the other superpower and playoff the two to its own benefit rather than for the purposes of truly aligned political ideology. NATO North Atlantic treaty organization was formed in April 1949. Ten European nations, Canada, and the US formed this organization which was a mutual defense pact WARSAW Pact A pact formed by the Soviet Union and its satellites in 1955, seen by many historians as a direct response to the formation of NATO. IMF International Monetary Fund used to rebuild post war Europe through stabilizing exchange rates, managing debt, often seen as pro USA.

Main issues
There remain a number of obstacles in overcoming such political tensions, the first being concentrated political power. Post WWII was characterized by an unusual concentration of power in two countries: USA and the USSR. This was an international bipolar balance, that has since then has not been replicated, created because of the reconstruction of Europe after being the battleground for the war and the yet to emerge political consciousness and economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The fluid nature of the political state of many countries and the lack of a balancing power to the two superpowers meant that the situation was highly unstable, subject to volatility should any one of the two superpower’s gain dominance over the other. The stratification of power or the distribution of it perhaps could produce fewer stalemates and direct polarized clashes of power.

Politics prior to the Cold War and after WWII determined a sentiment of aversion to the idea of appeasement, especially when this very policy of appeasement had failed so drastically in the case of the UK and other countries appeasing Hitler at the onset of his rise to power. Thus there was a dramatic swing to the other spectrum of aggressiveness and the threat of not simply military interventions and attacks between the two superpowers of USA and the USSR, but rather retaliation to the fullest extent. It is also important to recognize that irrational or unseen factors such as the formation of a national consciousness or narrative, political personalities etc. in many post-war countries that play in the decisions of such policies. “The frame of reference you bring to the issue is vital-the factors you think are important and the weight you attach to them….It’s very hard to get to nuclear war if the framework you bring to the equation is purely rational. But if irrational factors are important in your frame of reference, things look very different.” (p. 97)Graham Allison. The general lack of communication between the two superpowers and media sensationalism easily led to the kind of misconceptions the beguiled both the political entities in the two nations and the people. For example, when Bob McNamara denounced DefCon 2 of the Soviet quarantines, numerous members of the Russian government were unaware of the situation as well, and as noted by the historian Joseph Nye “organizational procedures are not full controllable by small groups of men. We heard a great deal about the problems of micromanaging complex military operations such as a quarantine, ASW activities, and reconnaissance.” The U2 incident as well as other incidents of espionage and lack of communication froze international relations and led to the escalation of the cold war which could have been avoided. The importance of the post WWII political blocs is that they extended on an unprecedented global reach into Latin America, Asia and Africa as well. Thus it is vital to take into consideration the ripple effect and geographical reach certain policies and solutions will have in other areas of the world as well.

Questions for Debate
Delegates should consider if there are other methods apart from brinkmanship and mutual assured destruction to move on from the impasse and gridlock that the Cuban missile crisis has brought. Although such methods are viable for negotiation, they are not necessarily the best possible outcome given the huge amount of risk attached to it. Delegates should reevaluate the way deterrence is used in international relations as well.

Another route for inquiry should be about the mechanisms in which to shed light or bring greater transparency to negotiations between nations. Nations before WWI and WWII had numerous secret alliances and negotiations, and some of these entanglements contributed to the world wars. Thus is it imperative for countries to set standards on issues of transparency when dealing with a high-risk situation and nuclear missiles. Furthermore, transparency needs to be brought not only to the terms of a treaty or negotiation but also to the implementation of such agreements. This would be especially pertinent when the UN examines the legitimacy of proxy wars and how to deal with undeclared warfare. Delegations of countries should delve into whether or not there are better methods of enforcement, such as economic incentives, apart from simple condemnation. The question of to what extent can a country divorce itself from the actions of espionage incidents needs to be answered cautiously when drafting resolutions. Delegates need to as well ponder how countries can reconcile differences after a public debacle and what concessions can be made in order to facilitate this reconciliation. Delegations need to keep in mind the long term projection or development of nuclear capabilities in other countries. Perhaps escalation resulting from such development can be avoided through setting international standards. Moreover, in such an uncertain and volatile political climate, the chance for escalation is heightened with the increased risk of misunderstandings and miscommunication. Thus delegates are urged to consider opening long term lines of communication between countries.

Further Reading:


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