Chapter 8: Technology, the Use of Force and Weapons of Mass Destruction


Imagine you are US President John F. Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. You are informed by your advisors that a US Air Force U-2 spy plane obtained photographic evidence of Soviet medium and intermediate-range missile sites being built in Cuba. Located some ninety miles from the tip of Florida, this is by far the closest to the United States that the USSR has risked bringing nuclear weapons. Once complete, the sites will provided a Soviet nuclear presence just south of the United States, directly threatening national security. This is the most pressing threat the United States has faced in the Cold War thus far.

Important background information

What do you do?

Launch air strikes against CubaAim to dismantle the missile sites and put a prompt end to the program.
Set up a naval blockade of CubaEnsure nothing can enter (or leave) the country without US knowledge and acquiescence. Any Soviet craft trying to bring missiles or any other weapons, material, or supplies to Cuba will have to cross your blockade. Demand that the Soviet Union dismantle all missile sites in Cuba.
Launch a nuclear strike on the missile sites in CubaThis will serve to entirely destroy the new sites and to send a message that the US will not accept nuclear weapons so near its own territory.
Launch nuclear strikes against the Soviet UnionAim primarily at key military and government installations. If the Soviet Union is willing to put weapons so close to the United States, it seems they must be preparing for a nuclear attack. It is absolutely essential that you strike first, to gain the upper hand before Moscow does.
Do nothingThe Soviet Union is likely just providing defensive assistance to Cuba, and no harm will come of it.
Request a diplomatic meeting with the Soviet UnionRequest that the missiles be removed from Cuba. Make it clear that any missiles in Cuba will be treated as Soviet missiles, and an attack from Cuba will be responded to with an attack on the Soviet Union.