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Why wasn't there a Turkish Missile Crisis? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 36 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:03

1 of the most famous events in the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis,

Speaker 2

00:00:04 - 00:00:26

in which a crisis occurred in Cuba concerning missiles. This saw the Soviet Union place nuclear weapons in allied Cuba. As you may know, the USSR stationed weapons in Cuba in response to the United States earlier placing its own nuclear weapons in Italy and Turkey. The Soviets knew about the weapons in Turkey, they were furious, but ultimately they didn't make a fuss about it like the Americans did with Cuba. Which raises the question, why?

Speaker 2

00:00:26 - 00:00:48

Why wasn't there a Turkish missile crisis after America stationed nukes there? So, as of 1960, things between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were getting a bit tense. And 1 of the things that the US government had to concern itself with was nuclear war. And a part of potentially winning said war was reducing the amount of warning that the USSR would get when the missiles were launched. And at the time, there were 2 main ways of doing this.

Speaker 2

00:00:48 - 00:01:14

1, develop faster missiles, which sounded hard, or 2, move the missiles closer. The second option was chosen when President Eisenhower offered to store them in Turkey and Italy. This was to reassure them that America would be there and to deter the USSR from using nuclear weapons against them. The USSR learned of these potential deployments in about 6 seconds, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev routinely complained to the US, Italian and Turkish governments about their deployment. In 1961, when brand new, not-shot President John F.

Speaker 2

00:01:14 - 00:01:34

Kennedy was sworn in, it was his hope to find a long-term mutual agreement to some of the issues of the day. As such, he and Khrushchev met in Vienna to discuss what could be done. This meeting went poorly. Khrushchev berated the new president, calling him a weak leader whose actions across the world were overtly and covertly hostile towards his government and its communist allies. Kennedy had been toying with the idea of removing the missiles from Turkey.

Speaker 2

00:01:34 - 00:01:58

But when Khrushchev issued the Americans an ultimatum to leave Berlin or face war, he opted to keep them. And just over a year later, Soviet nukes were on their way to Cuba. So why didn't the Soviet Union publicly demand the removal of nuclear weapons from Turkey in 1961 like the USA would do with Cuba the next year? Well, there were 2 main reasons. The first reason that the United States could publicly demand that the USSR cease their nuclear activities in Cuba was that they thought that they could stop it.

Speaker 2

00:01:58 - 00:02:19

JFK's advisors didn't think that nuclear weapons were actually on the island yet. Spoiler alert, they were, but at the time, the Americans didn't know for sure. And thus, it was believed that the USA's much mightier navy could stop the USSR from ever delivering them. Furthermore, the United States believed that in the event of a war, the US could quickly overwhelm Cuba with an invasion before the USSR could really react. Whereas the USSR had no such beliefs.

Speaker 2

00:02:19 - 00:02:54

In order to remove the weapons from Turkey, the Soviets would have needed to launch a major land invasion. This would have dragged the rest of NATO into a war, thereby threatening the existence of communism in Eastern Europe and also such a military build-up would have been spotted long in advance. And reason number 2 that the USSR said nothing was, well, what was new? The USA already had long-range missiles pointed at Moscow, and since the 1950s it had fleets of long-range bombers posted in numerous NATO countries which were more than capable of launching nuclear attacks against the USSR. The Soviet government was, frankly, used to having American nuclear weapons at high readiness pointed at them, and making their existence publicly known would do nothing but panic the Soviet people.

Speaker 2

00:02:54 - 00:02:54

As such, Khrushchev kept quiet and used the Cuban crisis to get the missiles removed from Turkey and a guarantee of Cuban security, which frankly meant that after the crisis the USSR had more in 1962 than it did in 1960. I hope you enjoyed this episode with a special thanks to my patrons James Bizonette Kelly Moneymaker Korsho Wolf Sky Chappell Kartoytska Adam Stalter Alex Schwinn Jerry Lambdin, Marcus Arsner, Rod D. Martin, AF Firefly, Wyan Hockey, Captain Psydog, Boogalewoogalee, Marvin Casale, Winston K. Wood, Camoon Yoon, Miss Isette, Maggie Patskowski, Gustav Swan, The McWhopper, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Shwenin, Spinning 3 Plates, Words About Books Podcast, Jim Strumberg, Spencer Lightfoot and Charles I.