America’s Failure at the Bay of Pigs

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Cuba was a US-controlled isand since 1898 when it won Cuba from Spain after the Spanish-American war. While itofficially controlled Cuba only until 1902, it established itself on the island with a long-term lease on Guantanamo Bay for a naval base. Up to the time before Castro was seated in power, the US ambassador to Cuba was the second most pwoerful officail after the President. (Lafeber, 19 Aril 1986, p. 537). President Truman inn March 12, 1947 called the Truman Doctrine recomended to Congress to halt the Russian aggression in Europe.

“I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting atempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. ” (cited in Ismael, 1965, p. 3212). Regular battles with the threat of communism and in 1948, the Belrin blockade where the Russian tries to starve out the Western sector but the US responded by airlifting a tremendous amount of food and other supplies. The US assistd the Nationalistas versus the Communista in the civil war in China which the Communists eventually won in 1949.

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In 1950, the US gladly responed to the call to end the Communists North America aggression towards South Korea by sending troops under Gen. Douglas McArthur. While the Korean war became inetnsely unpopular aong many Americans as casualties were heavy and the Truman administration was blamed for not foreseeing the attack. There was a general agreement nevertheless that the cuommunist leders had to be shown that the US would, if necessary, use force to stop the expansionist plans. In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president.

Anti-cmmunist sentiment was still going strong as McCarthy continued his unproven charges “that the government payrll included communists”. Through his charges, teh Sneator speread fear and dissension throughout the countyr. In 1954, Cimmunist China threatened the islands held by the Nationalist government. The US announced that it would defend Taiwan against any atack and pledged itself to aid any fellow Sout East Asian Trety Organizaton member in fighting communist advances. Communist influence in Latin America became more and more apparent especially in Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro ended the island’s totalitarian governemnt.

Soon, Caro was displaying dictatorial tendencies and strong leanings towards communism. By 1960, it was evident that Cuba was trying to implant communism in other Latin American nations. (Book of Knowledge) Castro first attracted international attention and national history when he led an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba on July 24th 1953 hoping to overthrwo the dictatorship of then President Fulgencio Batista. Castro was pardoned in 1955 and sailed to Mexico but returned in 1956 and instigated a guerila wafare against Batista’s regime.

In the early hours of 1st January 1959, Batista and the former Prime Minisster and newly–elected President Dr. Andres Rivero Aguero fled Cuba (Telzrow, 2006). On Jan. 6th, an official note proclaiming “the sincere goodwill of the government of the United States towards the new government” was sent to Castro (Welch, 1982, p. 29). Career diplomat Philip Bonsal was then appointed as the new US Ambassador to Havana with the hope that Bonsal will be able develop good raltions with Castro replicating his sucess in Bolivia where he was able to establisg good relationships with the left-leaning incumbent adminsitration.

On April 19, 1959 after a 3 ? hour meeting with Vice President Richard Nixon in Washington D. C. , Nixon was convinced that Castro was indeed a communist. Castro was determined to transform Cuba led to radical reforms and other economic changes that brought him closer to the Cuba communist party and put him on a collisison course with the Eisenhower Adminsrtration. When in early 1960, the US tried to strangle Castro with tough economic sanctions, he turned to the Soviet bloc for help. (Lafeber) Free lections were suspended, private business was socialized, US property was confiscated, On Oct.

12, the Cuban government nationalizes 382 big businesses including manufacturers of sugar, liquor, beer, perfume, soap, textiles and milk products as well as bank. (Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 161). As early as Oct. 1959, programs had been proposed by the Department of State in agreement with the CIA to support elements opposed to the Cuban government while making Castro’s downfall seem to be the result of his own mistakes. In Dec. 1959, J. C. King, the CIA’s head of its Western Hemisphere division outlines a series of covert and propaganda operations to overthrow Castro.

On March 17, Preseident Eisenhower approves a CIA policy paper title “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime”. (Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 159). In the History of Cuba as compiled and written by J. A. Sierra (2007, par. 14), the plan was siad to have included: 1) the creation of a responsible and unified Cuabn opposition to the Castro regime located outside of Cuba, 2) the development of a means for mass communication to the Cuban people as part of a powerful propaganda offesnive,

3) the creations and development of a covert intelligence and action organization within Cuba whioch would respond to the orders and directions o the exile opposition, and 4) the development of a paramilitray force otuside of Cuba for future guerilla action. These goals were to be achieved ‘in sucg a manner as to avoid the appearance of U. S. intervention. ’ In July 1960, Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khruschev openly declared its support for Castro by speaking of “figurative rockets that would protect Cuba from teh U. S. ” to which Pres.

Eisenhower announced that the US would no “tolrate the establishment of a regime dominated by international communism in the Western hemisphere. (cited in Sierra, 2007, par. 7). On Oct. 28, Amb. Bonsal was permanently recalled to Washington. On Jan. 3, 1961, all diplomtic relations were broken off with Cuba. The year 1960 was also the year for the campaign period for the the presidential elections. Vice President Richard Nixon was running against SenatorJohn F. Kennedy. The Kennedy campiagn rode on the American voters anti-Castro sentiment and their restlessness towards the resolution of the Castro issue.

On the eve of a candidate’s debate, Kennedy attacked Eisenhower’s Cuba policy. He called for U. S. support for the “non-Batista anti-Castro forces in exile, and in Cuba itself, who offer eventual hope for overthrowing Castro. ” Stated further, “thus far these fighers for freedom have had no support from our government. ” Nixon attacks Kennedy’s position on Cuba as irresponsible and reckless since he knew that CIA Director Allan Dulles himslef briefed Kennedy some months back on intelligence amtters including the training of Cuban exiles for operations against the Castro government.

(Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, pp. 160-162). Meanwhile, the program for covert action was being put in place. Radio Swan goes on the air in May 1960. The programs were taped in Miami and routed throught the Swan transmitter, An airport was built in Guatemala, a cuntry whose president was beholden to the CIA-led U. S. support in overthrowing the reformist government in 1954. The Cuban exiled forces called Brigade 2506 who were being trained in Useppa Island off the coast of Florida were transferred to a camp in Guatemala.

Eventually, the size of the brigade grew to about 1,500 soldiers and were called Brigade 2506. A few months later, Castro charged “that the U. S. has taken over Swan Island and has setup a very powerful broadcasting station there, “ during an address to the UN General Assembly which the US refuted claiming that there is a private commercial broadcasting station in Swan Island . Foreigh Minsiter Raul Roa addressed the UN a month later providing details on the recruitment and training of the Cuban exiles wherein he referred to them as mercenaries and counter-revolutionaries.

The CIA recruits were paid USD400 per month to train and an additional USD175. 00 for their wives and more for their children. (Sierra, 2007, par. 19) NOTE: In a historic meeting of the participants of both sides in 2001, Castro himself pointedly referred to them as brigadistas. President Eisenhower approves a budget of USD13 million for the covert antCastro operation as well as the use of the Department of Defense personnel and equipment. However, it was specified that no US military personnel are to be used in combat status. 2ND PLAN The CIA changes the conception of the plan in Nov.

8-9, 1960 from a guerilla infiltraion to an amphibious invasion Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 162). Why? - Cuban accustaion of propaganda via Radio Swan - First attempt at droping weapons and supplies to the internal Cuban resistance was a failure having missed the drop zone by seven miles, lands on a dam, picked up by Castro forces and the gound agent caught and shot - Young officers revolt in Guatemala due to the presence of the Cuba expeditionary force which the US helped to quell - The operation is no longer a secret as it is known all over Latin America and was being discussed in UN circles.

The Joint Chief of Staff were consulted for the first time on Jan. 11th 1961. A working committee including representatives from the CIA, Defense and the JCS resulted which the Pentagon code names Operation Bumpy Road. On Jan. 28th, newly-elected President John F. Kennedy receives his first CIA briefing on the Cuban operation. The concept of the plan as outlined in the memorandum prepared by two senior CIA official in charge of the brigade, Jacob Esteline and Jack Hawkins is as follows: The initial mission of the invasion force will be to seize and defend a small area.

There will be no attempt to break out of lodgment for further offensive operations unless and until there is a general uprising against the Castro regime or overt military intervention by the US forces has taken place. (Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 164). The landing would be in the vicinity of the old colonial city of Trinida, Cuba in the southern coast of Cuba. This is approximately 400 km. Southeast of Havana at the foothills of Escambray mountains. The Trinidad site provided a number of options that the exile brigade could exploit during the invasion.

The popiltaion of Trinidad was generally opposed to Castro and the rugged mountains outside the city provided an area into which the invasion force could retreat and establish a guerilla campaign were the landing to falter. Throughout the 1960, the growing ranks of Briagde 2560 rained throughout for the beach landing and possible mountain retreat (Wikipedia). Richard Bissell, CIA Director of Plans, assessed the plans as having “a fair chance of success - success meaning ability to survive, hold ground and attarct groing support for Cubans and get a ful-fledged civil war in which the US could then back the anti-Castro forces openly.

At worst, the invaders should be able to fight their way to the Escabray and go into guerilla action. (Bight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 164). The military plan for d-day of Macrh 5 is put back until April after examination of all possible alternatives. Why? - State Department point out grave effects on US position in Latin America - No way to disgusie US complicity However, Bissell argued for the invasion on the grounds of “disposal” problem if the mission is aborted: “brigade members will be angry, disillusioned and aggressive” (in fact a revolt did occur in late Jan.

1961 among the Cuban exiles in Guatemala and almost half of the more than 500 en in camp resigned. ) (Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 164). Bissell concludes that this is the last opportunity for the US to bring down Castro without overt US military intervention or a full embargo. National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy recommended to institute a trade embargo first and let internal oppositon build for several months and then launch “Bissells’s battalion”. Ther Trinida plan is rejected as the President prepfers a quiet landing, prefereably at night with no basis for American military intervention.

CIA presented three alternatives. The first is a modification of the Trinidad plan, the second targets an area on the northeast coast of Cuba and the thrid is an invasion at the Bay of Pigs codenamed “Opertion Zapata”. The pPresident orders modifcations of the Zapata Plan to mak it appear more like an inside, guerilla-type operation. It was modified to a night landing (instead of a dawn landing) and air drops a t first light. Kennedy questions the necessity of the air strikes, A compromise is agreed upon limited air strikes two days pror to d-day simultanoeus with a diversionary landing of 160 men in Eastern Cuba.

These strikes will give the impression of being the action of Cuban pilots defecting from teh Cuban air force and thus supproting the fiction that air support for the invasion force is coming from within Cuba. Bissell also reassures Kennedy that the Cubans on the island will join in an uprising. Sen. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations describes the venture as ill-considered and predicts that it will be impossible to conceal the US hand. After polling a dozen advisers, all vote in favor of moving ahead ecept for Sec.

Of State Dean Rusk who remained noncommittal. Defense Sec. Requested the JCS to reconsider the rules of engagement to ensure that the US would not become oertly engaged with Castro forces. Seven days before d-day, Esterline and Hawkins, two of the leaders of the invasion call on Bissell to tell him that they want to quit. They say that the project is out of control. Bissell asks them to stay and they do. Three days before the invsion, “Kennedy rules outm under any condition, an intervention in Cuba by the US Armed Forces.

One day before the invasion, the number of plane were reduced from 16 to 6 planes as ordered by Kennedy in order to keep it minimal. On April 16, Kennedy formally approved the landing plan. However, fearing international condemnation, Kennedy cancels the dawn air strikes until the beachhead airfiled is in the hands of the aldning force and completely operational and capale of supporting the raids. Bissel argued that the ships as well as the landings will be seriously endangered without the dawn strikes,

In early morning, aboard the Blagar, CIA agent Grayston Lynch receives a message from Washington: “Castro still has operational aircraft. Expect you to be hit at dawn. Unload all troops and supplies and take ships to sea as soon as possible. ” On learning that the invading troops will meet resistance in the landing area, due to failure to destroy all of the Cuban air force, the Blagar moves in close to shore and delivers gunfire support. Brigade troops commence landing at 0100 hours. Later that morning, the Houston comes under air attack and is hit.

It goes aground with about 180 men on the west side of the Bay of Pigs—about five miles from the landing beach. At 9:30 AM, the freighter Rio Escondido is sunk by a direct rocket hit from a Sea Fury—with ten day's reserves of ammunition on board, as well as food, hospital equipment, and gasoline. All crew members are rescued and transferred to the Blagar. Fighting rages throughout the day, with the brigade freighters withdrawing 50 miles out to sea. That evening, President Kennedy discusses the deteriorating situation with his advisers.

(Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 168). On April 18, the Brigade Commander refused a call for evacuation. While at the UN on the same day, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson continued to deny that the United States had intervened militarily in Cuba. Bissell, in direct violation of Kennedy’s instructions, authorized American pilots to fly combat missions when a number of the Cuban pilots at Pueto Cabezos refused to fly. On April 19, two planes flown by U. S. pilots were shot down and the pilots killed. The invasion force were captured.

About 130 were killed and 1,189 were taken prisoners. Cuba’s casualties were about 157. Mass trial were held and each was sentenced to 30 years in prison. After 20 months of negotations, most were released in echange for USD53 million in baby food and medical supplies. (Sierra, 2007). Lymann Kirkpatrick, the CIA Inspector General, issued a report that pointed to Bissell and his aide Tracy Barnes as not having firm plans for the invasion and failed to advise Kennedy that a covert action is not at all possible.

Bissell rebutted by issuing a memorandum of his own and putting the blame on Kennedy’s withdrawal of the air strikes. On June 13, 1961, General Taylor, head of the Taylor Commitee composed on Gen. Maxwell taylor, Atty. General Robert Kennedy, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Dir. Gen. Of CIA Allen Dulles to investigate why the operation failed submits their report to President Kennedy: A paramilitary operation of the magnitude of Zapata could not be prepared and conducted in such a way that all U. S.

support of it and connection with it could be plausibly disclaimed…. By about November 1960, the impossibility of running Zapata as a covert operation under CIA should have been recognized and the situation reviewed. If a reorientation of the operation had not been possible, the project should have been abandoned. (Blight & Kornbluh, 1999, p. 169). Apart from the reports of Kirkpatrick of the CIA and the Taylor Committee, and after more documents relating to the Bay of Pigs invasion surfaced and were declassified, the following can be concluded:

- the CIA made decisions on mere assumptions that the people would spontaneously assist in overthrowing Castro (Lafeber, 1986). - they failed to see that the exiles and the supporters were the loud minority while the majority were straddling the fence in a wait-and-see attitude inasmuch as Castro’s government was still at its inception and already seemed to have eben serious about its reforms in distributing the wealth concentrated on the few during the previous regime which was openly supported by the U.

S. - the United States could have lost sympathy from the locals since from 1898, they have exerted great influence over Cuba’s internal affairs seemingly to the point of meddling in order to favor American businessees and the invasion was undeniably a US-backed operation - the US did not trust its own invading force, not even telling the Cuban exiles the actual day of the invason. One aganet admitted that, “I don’t trsut any goddamn Cuban.

” (Lafeber, 1986) - aside from being trapped by his own campaign statements, the ongoing cold war forced Kennedy to take immediate if undecisive action in battling Cuba’s Castro and ultimately the USSR’s Nikita Kruschev for the Western hemisphere - there were tactical errors such as mistaking the coral reefs in the Bay of Pigs for seaweed which ran the exile craft aground and made easy targets - the US underestimated the Castro’s security and defenses.

In a historic meeting in 2001 between the antagonists and the protagonists in the invasion which was held in Cuba, it was divulged that “a vast security network had been established and about 20,000 suspected dissidents were rounded up” which effectively squelched US expectations of a mass rebellion. Moreover, the Cuban air forces’ better planes were camouflaged and the ones that were destroyed by teh pre-d-day strike were decoys. (Dinges, 2001, p. 6).

- the CIA strategy is rooted on another assumption that no president, Kennedy included despite his statements against overt operations, will allow the United States to “go down in ignominous defeat” and will send in the Marines (as related by Whote House adviser Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. In Dinges, 2001). - There were no CIA broadcasts to announce the invasion (Telzrow, 2006). It would seem highly improbable that the world’s greatest superpower would be defeated by a revolutionary government barely over a year in power. However, that is exactly what Cuba did did under Fidel Castro’s leadership.

On April 19, 1961 Cuba was able to repulse an invasion led by 1,400 commandos of Brigade 2506 who arrived at Playa Giron (Giron Beach) from Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) Brigade 2506 was US-backed all the way. The planning and training was done by the CIA. They were armed and supplied by the US. It was not a failure of the men of the invasion force who fought valiantly and refused to be evacuated. Given the circumstances surrounding the invasion, it was a “perfect failure” as it has now been dubbed for the spectacular defeat of the US.

Overall, this is mainly due to the arrogance displayed by America and has now been immortalized in the Bay of Pigs. ? References Blight, J. G. & Kornbluh, P. (Eds. ) (1999). Politics of illusion: The Bay of Pigs invasion re-examined. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Dinges, J. (2001, April 23). Back to the Bay of Pigs. The Nation, 272, 6. Ismael, F. L. (1965). The United States as a world leader. The Book of Knowledge, vol. 9, pp. 3206-3224. New York: Grolier Incorporated. Lafeber, W. (1986, April 19). Lest we forget the Bay of Pigs; the unlearned lessons. The Nation, 242, 537-539. Sierra, J. A. (2007).

History of Cuba. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://www. historyofcuba. com/cuba/htm. Telzrow, M. E. (2006, August 21). Bay of Pigs betrayal: The batrayal of the Cuba people by the CIA, State Department and staff members of the New York Times ranks as one of the America’s darkest foreign-policy moments. The New American, 22, 37-39. Welch. R. E. (1985). Response to revolution: The United States and the Cuban revolution, 1959-1961. Chappel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. WIKIPEDIA. 2007. Bay of Pigs invasion. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion.

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