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Cuban Missile Crisis – The Failed Checkmate – Extra History – #1

November 5, 2019

April, 1962 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev is walking near his villa on the Black Sea. He looks across the water. On the far shore is Turkey, where, months before, President Kennedy had stationed nuclear missiles. Their warheads threaten Moscow. And he wonders: “Why then can’t we do the same in Cuba?” And the world slips one minute closer to midnight. Music (Birth of the People) This Cold War series is brought to you by DomiNations. If you want to get your Khrushchev on, check out the link in the description. Remember when we did that Berlin Airlift episode? Well the folks at DomiNations wanted to keep this Cold War party going, so for the next few weeks, we’re gonna talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis. A time when, for thirteen days, two great powers hurtled toward a global suicide pact. And it started with a bluff. Following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, Khrushchev had regularly bragged to foreign press about the Soviet missile system. His rockets could hit a fly 8,000 miles away, he said. And Moscow was cranking them out like sausages. In reality though, his intercontinental missiles were super inaccurate and took hours to launch. In the event of a war they’d probably be destroyed while fueling. Meaning that they weren’t much of a deterrent against an American first-strike. These long-range missiles were little more than an empty threat, but Khrushchev did have reliable medium and intermediate-range missiles and if he could station those in Cuba he could credibly threaten the United States, in much the same way NATO had encircled and threatened the Soviet Union. From that position of power he could probably negotiate for Berlin, or demand that Kennedy withdraw his missiles from Turkey. And, as a bonus, the US would never again dare to invade Cuba. But deploying them openly was not an option. Couldn’t risk Kennedy doing something rash. No, Khrushchev would have to sneak them in, and only unveil them once they were operational. It would be a checkmate, provided the secret held. On an undisclosed date in Havana, Fidel Castro sits in his office. The man across from him, traveling undercover as an agricultural engineer, is the head of Soviet rocket forces. And he’s just offered to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba. Castro is skeptical. If the Yankees discover a secret deployment, they’ll think that the missiles are intended for a first strike. Besides, Cuba doesn’t need nuclear weapons. And he wants to look like a Soviet ally, not a puppet. Wouldn’t a defense treaty be better? The Russian says: “No, these weapons will counteract imperialist aggression, protecting both nations.” Castro withdraws to confer and then delivers his answer: Cuba will help defend world revolution. Khrushchev will have his Caribbean fortress. On August 25th in Sevastopol, a timber freighter pulls out of port, riding high on the water. Deep in its hold lie medium-range rockets. So long that they have to be propped up against a bulkhead. It’s only one of 85 commercial ships ferrying troops and equipment to Cuba. The luckiest of these soldiers travel on cruise ships, disguised as tourists, but the majority are crammed into sweltering freighters. By early September the missiles begin arriving And they’re not alone; 42,000 Soviet troops come ashore dressed in civilian clothes or Cuban army uniforms. They unload their cargoes by night: helicopters, bombers, patrol boats, anti-aircraft guns, fighter jets, and medium-range ballistic missiles. The work begins. On October 16th at 11:50 a.m. in the Oval Office, President Kennedy and a handful of advisers sit at the briefing table, looking at blown-up photos from a U-2 spy plane. A CIA analyst lays it out. These are medium-range missiles with a range of 1174 miles. If one launches it can hit Washington in 13 minutes Kennedy is furious at Khrushchev’s betrayal. The midterms are coming up and his political rivals have made the Soviet buildup in Cuba a campaign issue. They accuse him of letting the Soviets install missile platforms 90 miles from Florida. Privately, Khrushchev had told Kennedy that the build-up was defensive meant to avoid another American invasion and that it wouldn’t include missiles. With this assurance in hand Kennedy had drawn a red line pledging to take action if the soviet station’s nuclear weapons in Cuba. He had made that pledge thinking that he’d never have to go through with it. “When will they be operational?”, Kennedy asks. The analyst replies: “Once the warheads are attached? Within hours.” The Defense Secretary cuts in: “If there’s gonna be an airstrike it must happen before the missiles are operational. But there is evidence that the warheads aren’t on site yet.” He thinks that Kennedy still has time to plan. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs disagrees “Most of the rocket infrastructure is already in place.” He thinks that the President should either order an airstrike or maybe an airstrike followed by an invasion. “We are certainly going to do option one”, says Kennedy. We’re gonna take out those missiles. They reconvene that night. At 6:30 p.m. in the White House, gathered around in the Cabinet Room our 14 men. Nine from the National Security Council, and five other key experts. It’s the first meeting of what will be known, as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. Or EXCOMM. Kennedy secretly turns on a tape recorder preserving the meeting. The Joint Chiefs state their unanimous position: An air strike on the missile sites won’t work. Khrushchev could just send more missiles to replace the destroyed ones, and Soviet bombers in Cuba could still hit Florida. They recommend 800 sorties destroying all Soviet power on the island, followed by an invasion. Kennedy’s brother, Bobby, the Attorney General, loves this plan because he hates Castro. But the others point out that air strikes are never a hundred percent effective. Some Russian missiles might survive it and launch a counter strike. And, of course, if Soviet soldiers are manning the missiles, killing them in an airstrike could lead to war. The Secretary of State asks whether doing nothing is an option? After all those missiles don’t really change the strategic balance. Is getting nuked from Cuba of any different than getting nuked from Russia? Kennedy agrees, it isn’t. But he had pledged to take action, and if he reneges, Khrushchev might see it as weakness and start sending missiles to hot spots everywhere. So three plans are developed. First: Diplomacy. Low chance of success but low risk of war, also. Second: Instituting a naval blockade to stop any more weapons from coming in and calling for the missiles removal. Publicly warn that any offensive move against the US would lead to a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. Third: An air strike with an optional invasion. EXCOMM goes back-and-forth debating possible outcomes, but Kennedy keeps coming back to Khrushchev’s thinking. Why would he do this? It would be like the US putting missiles in Turkey. “We did”, points out the National Security Adviser. On October 17th at 12:00 p.m. in the Caribbean, 40 US warships plunge toward a tiny island. The Marines inside check their weapons. Soon, they’ll storm ashore and remove the island’s dictator. It’s just an exercise. One that was scheduled before the crisis. But in Washington, EXCOMM is still discussing whether they’ll do this for real. On October 19th at 9:45 a.m. in the White House the new intelligence reports are ominous. Fresh U2 photos show two medium-range missiles are now operational. The Soviets are also building several launch sites for intermediate range missiles that can hit almost all of the continental US. Those missiles aren’t ready yet, but the decision window is closing. In the last several days discussions in EXCOMM have increasingly turned away from the air strike invasion option. Even Bobby has come around on that one. The blockade at least leaves room to negotiate. But the Joint Chiefs still push for war. Kennedy expresses his biggest concern: If he attacks Cuba, Khrushchev will attack Berlin and that’ll leave only one alternative: A nuclear strike. The Air Force chief of staff pushes back. If it came to it, they could wipe out the Soviets. Besides a blockade will communicate weakness. He compares it to Nazi appeasement, which is a shot at Kennedy’s father who once advocated negotiating with Hitler. But Kennedy knows that winning a nuclear war might still mean millions of American deaths. The general responds that the Air Force will be ready for an attack in two days if ordered. “These brass hats have one advantage”, Kennedy says after the meeting, “If we listen to them, none of us will be alive later to tell them they were wrong.” He needs to make a decision. On October 20th at 9am in Cuba, the 79th Missile Regiment gathers around a political officer. He stands on a mound of dirt brought from the Soviet Union, a reminder that these men are here to defend their homeland. He makes an announcement. Their eight medium-range missiles are combat ready. “We may die martyrs”, he says, “but we won’t abandon Cuba to the imperialists!” His troops applaud. On October 22nd at 10pm in the Kremlin, Khrushchev has received intelligence reports of unusual activity all over the US. Congressmen are apparently boarding Air Force jets back to Washington. Naval maneuvers are happening in the Caribbean. And civilians are evacuating Guantanamo Bay. Kennedy is scheduled to broadcast a television address at 2:00 a.m., Moscow time. The US Embassy has told him to expect a communication an hour before. Khrushchev calls a meeting of the Presidium, the highest Committee of the Communist Party. “The missiles have been discovered,” he says. “An invasion of Cuba is imminent.” He runs through his options, from announcing a mutual defense pact with Cuba over the radio to transferring the missiles to Cuban control and letting them defend their own country. “The best course,” he says, “is to disallow Soviet troops from using the long-range missiles, but permit them to use their short-range tactical nuclear weapons in the event of an invasion.” His Defense Minister, Malinovsky, cuts in. “Putting that decision in the hands of commanders might accidentally precipitate a conflict.” He suggests waiting for Kennedy’s message. It arrives an hour before Kennedy’s broadcast. Not an invasion, but an ultimatum. There will be no war tonight, but also no sleep. Because there are 14 Soviet freighters inbound for Cuba right now. One carries nuclear warheads three times more powerful than all the bombs ever dropped in history. And it is heading toward an American blockade. This episode was brought to you by DomiNations. Click the link in the description to play the game for free. Music (Extra History Theme)


  • Reply Extra Credits February 13, 2018 at 5:54 am

    Why would Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba? It would be like the US putting missiles in Turkey… oh, wait.

    This series on the Cuban Missile Crisis brought to you by DomiNations!

  • Reply Comrade Joel March 18, 2019 at 5:27 am

    👌Khrushchev looks very beautiful👌

  • Reply Dustin Provost March 20, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Well those missles COULD hit A fly. XD. Just not the which onw they were aiming at.

  • Reply Random Creepy lady March 22, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Don’t mind me

    just putting nukes near ur house

  • Reply Ricarfield March 24, 2019 at 3:17 am

    I'm cuban, and I hate the communists who destroyed my country. Fidel and Raul Castro belong in hell.

  • Reply Orionise March 25, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Khrushchev, also known as the Soviets biggest puppet.

  • Reply bigbadbang18 March 25, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Wow real life X-COM is way more boring

  • Reply Stephen Cantarero March 28, 2019 at 2:19 am

    The air-force chief of staff is just like the military commander in Rick & Morty (from the Get Schwifty episode

  • Reply Stephen Cantarero March 28, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Also, how are we still here??

  • Reply ScabiousGarde March 29, 2019 at 9:27 am

    It's honestly nice to hear communist portrayed as real people, rather than stupid masses ruled by supervillains
    "Counteract imperialist aggression"

  • Reply Jodes March 31, 2019 at 2:16 am

    My dad was around 16 years old when this happened and said it was the scariest shit he’s ever experienced in his life

  • Reply Boom Bop1206 March 31, 2019 at 3:04 am

    When you are rooting for the USA then you remember this is history

  • Reply cloud 90909 April 2, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    0:23 are you talking about the doomsday clock is that the reference

  • Reply Lord Pretzel April 3, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    NOT APRIL 1962

  • Reply Kahsyia Branch April 4, 2019 at 12:10 am

    when you’re doing a report on the cuban missile crisis so you watch these

  • Reply SuperMudkipzTM April 8, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Yeah Bobby, air strikes aren’t that effective, that 15% damage penalty gets a little weird. And don’t forget those Pyros.

  • Reply Frosty King April 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    So glad that the air strike didn’t happen my grandma and grandpa lived in Cuba and I can’t believe I could’ve never been born if she would died I’m actually embarrassed to be Cuban I didn’t even know they were on the Soviet side my family always hated Fidel Castro but he died a few years back.

  • Reply Theldor April 13, 2019 at 12:21 pm



  • Reply EagleBuster April 17, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Good idea to have the USSR flag on everything when you try to disguise.

  • Reply Carmen Mencar April 20, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Is there a reason the heads weren't sent first?

  • Reply Frindjinny6 April 22, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Kennedy is furious at krushchev’s betrayal
    looks at turkey
    Oh I wonder where those came from

  • Reply Bjarke Johannsen April 22, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    this is basicially a resume of the movie Thirteen Days.

  • Reply The garbage you put in your couch April 22, 2019 at 11:56 pm


  • Reply Pingas 69 April 28, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    9:10 Soviet Union: calls America Imperialist
    Also Soviet Union: Literally enslaves half of Europe

    And that’s what consistency means folks.

  • Reply Wouter Van Bruchem April 29, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    It isn't that hard to hit a fly with a missile

  • Reply ielya tehrani May 8, 2019 at 1:04 am

    What happened in real life professor x blocks Magneto's missile throwing ?

  • Reply Slowing pig May 8, 2019 at 4:04 am

    Sorry, but I’d rather prefer Oversimplified, it’s a good history channel

  • Reply Rodrigo Torres May 10, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    The US does this to a lot of countries around the world. The Russians are just one of them that can truly defend themselves against US. That makes us scared, but we should let live and stop getting involved in everyone's business.

  • Reply RubyKing132 May 14, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Already have dominations

  • Reply DatDonutDoe May 15, 2019 at 2:24 am

    I wish my world history teacher would just play this for each class…

  • Reply Matthew Wong May 23, 2019 at 9:14 am

    I wanna kidnap the narrator & hear his choice all day.

  • Reply jason dean May 25, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Where is Che gavera

  • Reply Bobby Knuckles June 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    These videos are awesome

  • Reply CMDRFandragon June 9, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Kennedys staff really wanted a war with Russia? Damn….

  • Reply Jordan Carpenter June 9, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Long live Che guevara and F castro!

  • Reply J H June 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

    My years of playing Metal Gear are paying off!

  • Reply A. K June 16, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    "Kennedy is furious at Khrushchev's betrayal!" Ahh, What betrayal?
    Kennedy is the first one threatening the Soviet Union, if he didnt stationed nuclear missiles in turkey, then all that would never have happened!

  • Reply ERWIN ROMMEL June 21, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Usa: its over i have the high ground
    Missile that survived: u understimated my power…..

  • Reply Naurava_Pottu Peruna June 21, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    You changed the video title?

  • Reply Meme Zonlly June 23, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Yeah they did have missiles but the U.S toke out the missiles in turkey so that's what they did to Cuba

  • Reply Odendal Streicher June 25, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Xcom??? Like alien defence xcom

  • Reply Jane Gould June 26, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Why couldn't Russia be like France they drop there weapons and put there arms up.

  • Reply Dillon Crowe June 27, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Soviet Hypocrites, "we will stop the imperialists!",
    Hungary, "shakes its head."

  • Reply Toyota Pickup June 28, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Time to whip and nae nae on some commies.

  • Reply EA SS July 1, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    June 1, 1961 the USA stationed missiles in Turkey and Italy, then they get into a panic when a year later the USSR makes a similar move in Cuba. Hypocritical don't you think. But MSM don't tell THAT side of the story.

  • Reply Cloaker Cloaker July 1, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Cuba must be happy That GROM been in their country

  • Reply Philippinesball July 6, 2019 at 5:28 am

    dang…thats cold

  • Reply shara30000 July 7, 2019 at 10:24 am

    they decided against the airstrike because they hadnt got 5 kills yet

  • Reply teoteous July 7, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Now I want to see what a YouTube spy plane would look like.

  • Reply Jerald Collins July 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

    I was 14 and in high school when this happened. We were not told at the time that the US had missiles in Turkey…..

  • Reply De leukespeler NL July 9, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    2,200,800 view!

  • Reply Nethascot X July 14, 2019 at 7:44 am

    What happened to this narrator?

  • Reply Keanu Reeves July 17, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Thank god Mason got over his gayness for Reznov to get us the location of the numbers station.

  • Reply scarvasa July 19, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    the Russians had withdrawn the missiles from Cuba, only after the North Americans had withdrawn the missiles from Turkey. otherwise the sea was in place of the united states. lol

  • Reply Collin Ruined July 20, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    Oh wait we did….. Oops forgot about that little detail… We did.

  • Reply Mirakuru July 22, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Where is the Istanbul in turkey ?

  • Reply wEt SpOnGe July 24, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    America: Puts Nuclear Weapons in Turkey
    Soviet Union:

    Soviet Union: Puts Nuclear Weapons in Cuba

  • Reply Mist July 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    …as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, or EXCOMM.

    "Hello, Commander"

  • Reply Captain Crimson July 27, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Imagine what happened to PARALLEL UNIVERSES going through this time…

  • Reply Wannabe Productors August 1, 2019 at 2:33 am


  • Reply BigBoye 4Lyfe August 3, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    U dont say sputnik like butt u say ut like sp U tnik

  • Reply The Great British Empire of her majesty the Queen , August 6, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Mr president you have to look at these photos. Your right that’s the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen

  • Reply Jonathon Reimer August 7, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Fidel sips on milkshake well radioactive cow

  • Reply Paul Pursell August 9, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    I love watching history videos on YouTube. I have learned much from them. But why do you use that strange voice here? I've heard it on a few videos and honestly it makes it difficult to finish the whole video. It's like a chipmunk sound. I got to a minute and a half and I had to stop it or else I would have ended up pulling out all my hair. Great subject, horrible voice. I'm not trying to put down the maker of the video, I'm just saying that it makes it hard to watch and I'm not the only one who feels this way. And lately that voice is taking over many videos and also new age rap music as well.

  • Reply Luka Veljković August 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    They put missiles in turkey first

  • Reply offical phub August 13, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    why didnt they just nuke russia with all they got at once?

  • Reply Noble börk August 14, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Oh man, I hope a nuclear war doesn’t start!

  • Reply chespokotota August 14, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Came to dislike this fuking video

  • Reply Sun Tzu August 15, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Khrushchev never lived in a villa. He had one built for him, but he never once stayed in it, and it was converted into a medical university.

  • Reply ReNixMaR August 18, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    he should've invaded tbh

  • Reply Circle Allies August 23, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Khrushchev kremlin kk

  • Reply Pie Plays August 24, 2019 at 6:03 pm


  • Reply Pie Plays August 24, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    What do you call a member of Ex Comm?

    An X-Man.

  • Reply Foxina August 31, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Kennedy during this whole situation: Come on! This isn't rocket science!! Oh wait..

  • Reply MitchMatt Williamson September 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Shout out to Dominations its REALLY FUN

  • Reply Charles Bordy III September 1, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Guys guys guys. GUUYS! I can't afford to support your patreon right now, even though I really want to, but if you have time after doing all the videos they suggest, can you cover some notable Onna bugeisha, or female samurai? I was really surprised to learn about them.

  • Reply Happy sad September 1, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    7:34 voice crack?

  • Reply ToxicHamster YT September 2, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Imagine if that Soviet LtCol launch the nuclear missiles…

  • Reply Mohammad Rasool September 6, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Keep up the good work bro 🖒

  • Reply offical phub September 7, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    lol i was joking. The repercussions and loss of human life would be way way to much.

  • Reply Totally Jacob September 7, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how good the drawing is? I love the style of it!

  • Reply The Smart Nine In September 13, 2019 at 1:12 am


  • Reply George Barrett September 14, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Generals be war-pigging.

  • Reply Josue V September 14, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Kennedy was sensible that's why they killed him.

  • Reply The Official Cuban Missile Crisis Account September 17, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Very good video 👍

  • Reply scarvasa September 18, 2019 at 7:33 am

    U.s.a. ignorance is abysmal

  • Reply Rik Kendall September 18, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    holy shit i never knew it got THIS close..

  • Reply Justin McDonald September 22, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Cocksuckas moved nuclear warheads into Cuba, pointed em right at us.

  • Reply Arnold Lee September 25, 2019 at 12:01 am

    Love how a bunch of little un informed kids are spamming everywhere that America was at fault for originally putting missiles in turkey and that it is America's fault theres was missiles in Cuba from the USSR. What people dont know is America put the missiles in Turkey because the ussr had aimed missiles at America's ally's, America was only trying to protect France Germany and britian.

  • Reply This is Patrick September 25, 2019 at 6:01 am

    America: puts nuclear weapons in Turkey to threaten the Soviets

    Soviet: puts nuclear weapons in Cuba as retaliation, threatening the US

    America: 👁️👄👁️ ʷʰʸ ʸᵒᵘ ᵍᵒⁿ ᵈᵒ ᵈᵃᵗˀ

  • Reply William McNulty September 26, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Soon as i watched the intro, i couldnt help but hear Bruce belting out"2 minutes to midnight" in my head.

  • Reply Sebastian Marquez October 4, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    The only winning move is not to play

  • Reply Gus Gilman October 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Lets nuke each other. No one will die lol

  • Reply Artemis Fowl IX October 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    3:43– 3:48
    "Sir, you need to look at this photograph!"
    "You're right! That is the cutest dog I've ever seen!"
    "Sir, I was referring more to Soviet missiles."

  • Reply The literal discovery channel October 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm


  • Reply Michael Lawrence October 16, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Btw, I LOVE that even though he's never mentioned by name, the defense secretary has Robert McNamara's little parted haircut. Just a little extra detail that I adore.

  • Reply Özberk Rhino October 17, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Let's tell the story backwards. US positioned some nukes on Turkey and world slips one second from midnight

  • Reply Ahedopod6XD October 17, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Well Castro was the one who suggested it. Because he was also a communist

  • Reply Ilkka Rautio October 25, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Kennedy is overrated AF. Hes the one who put the entire world at the brink of destruction.

  • Reply Chciałbym być poniakiem (klocuszek123) November 5, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    he didnt say 8000 MILES because he's NOT MORON BURGER IDIOT normal people use KILOMETERS

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