On October 24, a crucial moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis began erupting at sea.
Soviet ships, headed for Cuba, reached the line of U.S. naval vessels enforcing Kennedy’s blockade (https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis). If the Soviets had attempted to make any kind of advancement through the blockade they most likely would have started the first military confrontation of the Cold War.
This could have easily escalated into a nuclear exchange. But, luckily for everyone the Soviet ships stopped short of the blockade. A standoff between the superpowers ensued for about a week. Unfortunately on October 27, an American pilot was shot down and killed by the Soviets while flying over Cuba (https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis). Despite this incident, the Soviet and American leaders found a way to come to a peaceful resolution. During the standoff the two sides exchanged communications, including messages from Khrushchev to Kennedy.
On October 26th, Khrushchev sent his first message to Kennedy in which he offered to remove the Cuban missiles, in exchange, he asked that the U.S. leaders promise not to invade Cuba (https://history.
state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis). In the next message the Soviet leader proposed that the USSR would get rid of their missiles in Cuba if the Americans removed their missiles in Turkey. Kennedy decided to accept the terms of Khrushchev’s first message and ignore the second entirely. However, later on, American officials agreed to withdraw their missiles from Turkey within 6 months. Kennedy sent U.
S. Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, to personally deliver the message to the Soviet ambassador stationed in Washington. Finally on October 28, the crisis officially drew to a close (https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis). The following year, the two countries set up a direct line of communication between Washington and Moscow to help insure that nothing like the Cuban Missile Crisis would ever happen again. The two superpowers also signed two treaties regarding nuclear weapons (http://www.
history.com/topics/cold-war/cuban-missile-crisis). Although this was a step in the right direction it certainly did not mean that the Cold War was over. If it wasn’t for Kennedy’s swift and racial decision making it is very possible that the Cuban Missile Crisis could have ended in a nuclear war. Instead of rushing into a rash decision as soon as he found out about the Soviet missiles in Cuba he took a more responsible course of action. He was instead patient and took the time to seek the recommendations of trusted advisors.
If Kennedy had let the Soviets know that he was aware of the missiles before seeking the advice from the Excom council it could have been a grave mistake. He didn’t let his emotions or personal feelings cloud his judgement. His top priority was always the national security of the United States. He kept the American public informed about the situation, but he also made sure not to release the information to soon, in case of creating mass panic. He waited until he could give the American people a well thought out plan of action in hopes to keep the chaos at a minimum. Kennedy continued to make these types of well thought out decisions thought out the course of the conflict.
When he could have made the decision to attack the Soviets or Cuba, he opted to make a peaceful blockade instead. Lastly his decision to accept Khrushchev’s offer, of promising not to invade Cuba in exchange for the Soviet removing their missiles, was the smartest choice he made to avoid war. He knew that he would have to compromise in one way or another to come to a peaceful agreement with the Soviets. If Kennedy had made rash decisions, and chosen to take a more violent course of action, there would have been a great possibility of a nuclear war.