After the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a fierce war, one without fighting, however. Called the Cold War, this war was fought on the political stage instead of the battlefield. The United States and the Soviet Union never actually went to war; in fact, they were actually allies against Germany during World War II. However, after the war ended, the Soviet Union and the United States became bitter enemies again, much like they were before the war. This "cold war," as it was called, lasted until the 1990's when the Soviet Union finally fell. At the climax of the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis, which occurred during thirteen days in 1962. The Soviet Union brought nuclear missiles into Cuba and aimed them at United States targets, prompting a tense standoff between the two countries. However, this brinkmanship was necessary in that if either country had fired upon the other, nuclear war could not have been avoided. The United States demonstrated that by a show of military power they could force another country to back down, thereby avoiding nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis entailed a necessary show of force by the United States (Thomson 339).
In the 1960's, United States spy planes, the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, flew routine missions over Cuba to monitor the state of Cuba and its military. Fidel Castro had just become the President of Cuba, and openly embraced Communism as a form of government, something which the United States was completely opposed to. Castro and the Cuban government had become the first Communist country in the Western Hemisphere by December 1960 (Finkelstein 26). The United States and the Soviet Union had been fighting for several years, and the United States had a strategic advantage over the Soviet Union in that the United States had missiles stationed in Turkey, a mere 150 miles from the Soviet Union.