Jon Wiener makes a surprising oversimplification. He argues that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and his Cuban counterpart Fidel Castro put the missiles in Cuba because they "wanted a bargaining chip to trade for a U.S. agreement not to invade." Khrushchev offers this explanation in his memoirs. But there are many reasons to take this as spin control by the beleaguered Soviet leader.
I know of no one who closely followed Soviet domestic politics or military affairs who accepted this explanation. As more members of President Kennedy's Executive Committee seemed to believe, better answers were found in Khrushchev's need for a quick fix to Soviet strategic vulnerability, in his need to improve relations with his military leadership and in other Soviet geopolitical objectives.
In these larger purposes, Khrushchev was certainly not a "winner," and Castro was a bit player.
The writer, a political science professor at Occidental College, served in the CIA's Office of Soviet Analysis.
Russia had never risked the existence of the state with calamitous military adventures, but after Hitler, Soviet leaders felt threatened by an expanding NATO, missiles in Turkey and increasing U.S. defense budgets.