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[個人寫作] 美國甘迺迪政府對豬灣事件(Bay of Pigs)的決策過程

Main Purpose:

Take “The Bay of Pigs” as an example and try to depict President John Kennedy’s initiate doctrine of American foreign policy in 1961.

Main Theme:

The history of the Cuban project begins in 1959 and the purpose of the survey ends with the invasion of Cuba by the Agency-supported Cuban brigade on 17 April 1961 and its defeat and capture by Castro’s forces in the next two days, so the main theme of this essay places the context and historical meanings of the Bay of Pigs through the background, the process of arrangement, especially using Graham Allison’s decision –making models to examine the invasion of Cuba and explore its influence to President Kennedy.


“How could I have been so stupid as to let them go ahead,” John Kennedy asked his advisers more than once following the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs. For nearly forty years, policy analysts, and even former participants of the infamous have pondered the same question. Indeed, all bureaucracies involved in making, evaluating and authorizing this venture—the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department and the White House –failed to carry out their tasks properly. And each must bear its own share for the blame of what constitutes the classic failure of convert action during the cold-war era.

Bay of Pigs invasion, 1961, an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles, supported by the U.S. government. On April 17th, an armed force of about 1500 Cuban exiles landed the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba. Trained since May, 1960, in Guatemala by members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the approval of the Eisenhower administration, and supplied with arms by the U.S. government, the rebels intended to foment an insurrection in Cuba and overthrow the Communist regime of Fidel Castro. The Cuban army easily defeated the rebels and by April 20th, most were either killed or captured. The invasion provoked anti-U.S. demonstrations in Latin America and Europe and further embittered U.S.-Cuban relations. Poorly planned and executed, the invasion subjected President Kennedy to serve criticism at home. Cuban exile leader Jose Miro Cardona, president of the U.S.-based National Revolutionary Council, blamed the failure on the CIA and the refusal of Kennedy to authorize air support for the invasion. In December, 1962, Castro released 1113 captured rebels in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine raised by private donations in the United States.

Literature Review

The humiliating failure of the 1961 operation received much attention both in academic and non-academic literature. The emotional, and often acrimonious, official account over what went wrong at the Bay of Pigs divides into two distinct camps.

For embittered CIA officials and Brigade members, Kennedy’s decisions to scale down the invasion spelled failure for the project even before it was launched. In his memoir Reflection of A Cold Warrior, Richard Bissell, the architect of the operation, characterizes Kennedy’s cancellation of the second air strike as “certainly the gravest contributory factor in the operation’s failure.”

The major histories written by Kennedy aides Theodore Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. present a different account. In Kennedy, they highlight the deception and wishful thinking of the CIA in dealing with the exile force, Castro’s Cuba, and the Kennedy White House. “All of us were hypnotized by the CIA to some degree and assumed that they knew what they were doing,” Schlesinger later observed. Others such as Trumbull Higgins and Peter Wyden have made detailed studies of the episode in all its many dimensions in The Perfect Failure and the Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story, respectively.

Still, the most scathing critique probably comes from an internal CIA report, written in 1961 by its Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick after a six-month inquiry. The document, declassified in 1996, found fault with almost every organizational and operational aspect of the Cuban project. Kirkpatrick cited “bad planning,” “poor” staffing, faulty intelligence, “fragmentation of authority,” mistreatment of the exile forces, and “failure to advice the President that success had become dubious,” as key factors in the failure.
The main purpose of the essay is to take “The Bay of Pigs” as an example and try to depict how President John Kennedy dealt with the Bay of Pigs debacle in 1961.

The main theme of the essay is to place the context and historical meanings of the Bay of Pigs through the background, the process of arrangement, especially using Graham Allison’s decision –making models to examine the invasion of Cuba and explore its influence to President Kennedy.

The worst disaster if that disaster-filled period, the incident that showed John Kennedy that his judgment had human limitations, and the experience that taught him invaluable lessons for the future, occurred on April 17 in the Zapata Swamp at the Cuban Bay of Pigs. The Eisenhower administration authorized early in 1960 the training and arming of a Cuban exile army of liberation under the direction of the CIA.

Shortly before the Presidential election of 1960, (although Eisenhower was apparently not informed the decision) that this should be conventional war force, not a guerrilla band, and it’s numbers were sharply increased. On January 20, 1961, John Kennedy inherited the plan, the planners and, most troubling of all, the Cuban exile brigade—an armed force, flying another flag, highly trained in secret Guatemalan bases, eager for one mission only.

Model I- The Rational Actor

In “The Rational Actor Model”, the unitary states or governments are the key actors in international affairs and the states act rationally, calculating costs and benefits of alternative courses of action and choosing the action that minimizes their utility. As Anthony Downs has noted, “Economic theorists have nearly always looked at decisions as though they were made by rational mind….” “If a theorist knows the end of some decision maker, he can predict what actions will be taken to achieve them as follows (1) he calculates the most reasonable way for the decision maker to reach his goals, and (2) he assumes this way will actually be chosen because the decision maker is rational.”

Army General Lyman Lymnitzer, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Air Force General Thomas White—the Joint Chiefs of Staff—all have names from a brave era of war when the United States had no military peer, all with ribbons on their chests marking their years of success; these were the men who sat across the table from Kennedy and told about the military plans for Cuba. They, and the immense war machine in the Pentagon and the CIA, selected the Bay of Pigs for the invasion site. They armed the impatient rebels and trained them and gave them B-26’s that would have to fight against Castro jets. True, the plan was not like one for an open invasion, where every available force could be used. But the intelligence experts, who hoped for a mass uprising to help throw the dictator out of the country, rated the chances of success better than that for the plan which in 1954 had wrested Guatemala from the oppressions of Jacobo Armenz.

President Kennedy listened to these experts. Why doubt them? There was only one man with doubt with doubts who made them known to Kennedy before the adventure. He was Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, and his objections were not based on the military feasibility of the operation but on the more nebulous moral concept that it wasn’t consistent with our national ideals.

The new President actually made his first important policy choice on Cuba before he entered the White House. On the day Cuban-American relations were served, Secretary of State Christian Herter telephoned Secretary-designate Dean Rusk and asked for Kennedy’s reaction. Rusk talked with Kennedy and reported that the President elect “would not associate himself with the Administration stand, i.e., he would not take a position a for or against it at the present time….” By saying nothing, Kennedy accepted a decision that reduced his own options for dealing with Cuba. The United States lost an embassy which had served as a first-hand listening post; now Washington would have to rely upon a fast diminishing number of CIA informants and deep-cover agents or upon often exaggerated information from exiles. Most important, with economic coercion having failed to bring down Castro and diplomacy now impeded, the rapture in relations elevated convert action—especially an invasion by Cuban exiles—as one of the few means left to resolve the contest with Cuba.

Though Claim in the Washington spring as the invasion approached, President Kennedy kept turning the proposition over and over to himself. With these facts before him, Kennedy arrived at his own philosophy for the invasion. It was to be, a new revolution, but a “revolution redeemed.” In all his plans Kennedy had listened that most of the old Batista men be kept at arm’s length. He wanted no taint from the pre-Castro days. The revolution against such oppressive dictatorship was something that the new administration endorsed. In Kennedy’s mind, the mission now was to put the original revolution back on which Fidel Castro had started it. Kennedy looked to the thousands of young Cubans, all Castro men in the beginning, who , as they saw Castro pervert his revolution in the name of communism, left him and came to this country. The blow was to be struck in the name of freedom, as Castro had originally promised but had since renounced. These philosophical thoughts seemed to prevail over these of tanks and guns. Kennedy seemed to think that he could not lose.

The questions of whether and under what conditions to approve an exile expedition dominated the President’s discussion of Cuba in his first few months in office. Although Kennedy always reserved the authority to cancel the operation right up to the moment of departure, his choices, made after much deliberation, pointed in one direction: Go. National security adviser McGeorge Bundy later said that the President “really was looking for ways to make it work… and allowed himself to persuaded it would work and the risks were acceptable.” Not simply a prisoner of events or of the Eisenhower legacy, Kennedy associated so closely with the covert operation that it became identified as his. He listened to but rejected the counsel of doubting advisers, and never revealed moral or legal qualms about violently overthrowing a sovereign government. He never requested a contingency plan to disband the exile brigade. In questioning aides, the President worried most about which methods would deliver success and whether the guiding hand of the United States could be concealed. Kennedy sought deniability of an American role, but never the demise of the project.

With time running out, Kennedy was under pressure to make a decision on what to do with the Cuban exile force and CIA’s invasion plans. Following the CIA briefing and the subsequent discussions, Kennedy indicated that he was willing to go ahead with the overall project but he was not prepared to approve a plan as “spectacular” as the Trinidad Plan. The President wanted a plan that looked more like a Cuban operation and less like a U.S.-supported venture. He furthermore instructed the CIA to assist the Cuban exiles in their effort to build a new and strong political organization. The President wanted the emerging political leaders in that organization to receive extensive publicity.

The President had been told, this plan was now and never, for three reasons:

First, because the brigade was fully trained, restive to fight and difficult to hold off.

Second, because Guatemala was under pressure to close the increasingly publicized and politically controversial training campus, and his only choice was to send them back to Cuba, where they wished to go, or bring them back to this country, where they would broadcast their resentment.

Third, because Russian arms would soon build up Castro’s army, Cuban airmen trained behind the Iron Curtain as MIG pilots would soon return to Cuba, large numbers of created MIGs had already arrived on the island, and the spring of 1961—before Castro had a large jet air force and before the exile army scattered in discontent—was the last time Cubans alone could literate Cuba. With an excess of candor during the week prior to the landing, the President revealed the importance of this factor in this thinking when he stated in a TV interview, “If we don’t move now, Mr. Castro may become a much greater than he is to us today.

Finally, the President was told, the use of the exile brigade would make possible the toppling of Castro without actual aggression by the United States, without seeming to outsiders to violate our principle of nonintervention, with no risk of involvement and with little risk of failure.
With heavy misgiving, little more than a week before the plan was to go into effect, President Kennedy, having obtained the written endorsement of General Lemnitzer and Admiral Burke representing the Joint Chiefs and the verbal assent of Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, gave the final go-ahead signal. He didn’t regard Castro as a direct threat to the United States, but neither did he see why he should “protect” Castro from Cubans embittered by the fact that their revolution had been sold out to the communists.

Kennedy’s foreign policy troubles have sometimes been explained as inheritances Eisenhower that shackled the new President with problems not of his own making. To be sure, Kennedy inherited the Cuban problem from Eisenhower. But he did not simply continue his predecessor’s anti-Castro policies. Kennedy greatly exaggerated the Cuban threat, attributing to Castro a capability to export revolution that the Cuban leader never had and lavishing on him an attention he did not deserve. Castro was “an affront to our pride” and a “mischief maker,” Walker Lippmann wisely wrote, but he was not a “mortal threat” to the United States. And because of his obsession with Cuba, Kennedy significantly increased the pressures against the upstart island. He thus helped generate major crises, including the October 1962 missile crisis. Kennedy inherited the Cuban problem—and he made it worse.

Kennedy approved the operation, finally, because he felt a sense of urgency. CIA analysts advised that time was on Castro’s side. Delay would permit the Soviets to strengthen the Cuban military, perhaps with MIG fighters, and the rainy season was about to begin, making military maneuver difficult. The Guatemalan president, was also beseeching Washington to move the exiles out by late April.

Model II- Organizational Behavior

Government behavior relevant to any important problem reflects the independent output of several organizations, partially coordinated by government leaders. Government leaders can substantially disturb, but not substantially control, the behavior of these organizations. The process of decision-making is controlled by the concerned governmental organizations. Experts and scholars are invited to provide the concerned organizations with their advice and suggestions.
Bissell’s Plan: In February 1954 Bissell joined the CIA as a special assistant to the director, Allen Dulles. In 1954, the leftist regime of Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala had been topped without serious resistance when an exile force had been inserted into the country by the agency, and this encouraged the thought that Castro might also be so shocked by the prospect of taking on the United States that his regime would simply collapse. The rosy glow surrounding this memory had obscured both the many chaotic elements of that enterprise and the critical factor of an army group in Guatemala poised to act against Arbenz when the Americans provided the pretext. There was no such group in Cuba. For Bissell a striking feature of this case was that the Guatemala operation had been planned on the basis that there should be no overt American involvement, yet when it came to the crunch and the rebels appeared on the verge of defeat, President Eisenhower agreed to provide supporting air power. Bissell had accompanied Dulles to the critical meeting when the president had acceded to this request.

Almost from the outset, however, the CIA’s goals grew well beyond the resources and risks the president was willing to invest. The original strategy of infiltrating the island with small units lost favor because such commando groups kept getting caught. This led to the plan for a full-scale invasion. Troop readiness was another problem. While some of the Cuban recruits had military experience under the old Cuban regime, many in the brigade were middle-class sons of professionals, more adept at winning arguments in cafes than in amphibious assault. The CIA had failed, moreover, to establish an exile government of Cubans with sufficient appeal to their compatriots on the island. When the assigned agent, E. Howard Hunt (“Eduardo”), failed to organize a credible group, Bissell replaced him. A more basic problem lay with the military plan itself. When the exiles asked the Americans how such a small force could defeat a 200,000-man army, they were assured by the CIA that an “umbrella” of air cover would keep every Cuban car, truck, tank, or airplane from moving the day of the attack. “It was on this premise that all related plans were made,” CIA agent Hunt insisted. Unfortunately, that particular promise had never come from the top.

On Sunday morning, April 16, the operation was under way. B-26 bombers, taking off from Nicaragua, struck at the Cuban air force, but with minimal success. Only a handful of planes had been disabled. With fifteen hundred exiles prepared to land at the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy, worried about Moscow’s reaction, called off a second air strike. From Nicaragua there would be no more strikes, the White House ruled, until the exiles had secured a takeoff strip in Cuba, thereby giving the invasion the plausible cover of being a covert act by Cuban defectors. “I thought Kennedy was tough,” the CIA’s deputy chief Richard Bissell said later, “that he wouldn’t cancel air strikes and lose his first main effort.”

When distress calls came from the landing beach, Bissell and the military chiefs urged Kennedy to commit U.S. forces immediately to the attack, navy jets to give air cover to those pinned down on the beach and naval artillery to destroy Castro’s tanks. The young commander in chief rejected the plea, believing that the invasion did not justify the risk of a Soviet countermove in West Berlin, a confrontation that could trigger nuclear war.

Kennedy’s partial commitment to the Cuban invasion incurred the wrath of both the left and right. At the CIA war room in Washington, a group of gung-ho agents, including Hunt, were screaming in four-letter language, pleading for an air strike. What they and the rest of the agency had stubbornly refused to admit was that the invasion had never stood a chance without a far greater American role than the one Kennedy had approved. Without a full-scale invasion, a people’s revolt against Castro was not in the cards. And if the United States was not going to enter big and win the fight, and if it had little expectation of the Cuban populace rising up, certainly the small forced landing at the Bay of Pigs could not do the job.
The CIA operation was predicated on their earlier success against Colonel Arbenz in Guatemala, where the conditions were totally different. Frank bender had been the CIA operative in charge of the Guatemala operation and was made responsible for the Cuba one.

No matter what the new administrations decided, the CIA was committed to its plan, which was out of tune with the historical moment Cuba was living. Instead, the CIA was relying on leaving President Kennedy no recourse other than to order a full-fledged American intervention. Early in April, 1961, Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, the president reiterated his earlier public announcement that no American forces were to be involved in any operation in Cuba. Bender reassured Dr. Miro by saying “Don’t worry, once the operation starts, the President will have no choice but to order American forces in “The Bay of Pigs operation started a few days later.”
CIA planners made plans in other ways. They overestimated Cuban discontent with Castro, they underestimated the effectiveness of his military. They anticipated that he would crack; in fact, he expertly led his forces at the Bay of Pigs, where he had vacationed. CIA analysts had failed to detect the coral reefs. CIA issued equipment malfunctioned; crucial communications gear was concentrated in one ship that sunk; paratroopers did not drop far enough inland to cut off causeways. Another operational plan remained a tightly held secret. The CIA had been attempting since 1960 to kill Fidel Castro, even employing Mafia thugs for the task. The CIA activated assassination plots in March and April. It seems likely that assassination was part of the general Bay of Pigs plan. Bissell has admitted that he was hopeful “that Castro would be dead before the landing.

Bissell summarized the intelligence information and alternative courses of action in his paper at a March 11 meeting when the President and his advisers again examined the invasion scheme. Bissell emphasizes the CIA’s contention that time was running out in Cuba. Allen Dulles followed up Bissell’s presentation by pointing out again that the situation with the Cubans training in Guatemala had to be resolved. Dulles argued that it was necessary to find an acceptable way to get the exile force into Cuba, where they were determined to fight Castro. The alternative was to cancel the operation which, Dulles Warned, would frustrate the Cuban exiles and run the risk of having them expose the U.S. involvement in the anti-Castro scheme.

Hence, outside the CIA planners, the decision-makers who received the operation were almost all high-level officials who could only give a fraction of their time. Moreover, the CIA’s security practices made it difficult for them to gain a through understanding of the scheme. The CIA was extremely reluctant to provide written descriptions of the operation. The documents the Agency did share circulated briefly at White House meetings and were carefully collected at the end of each session.

Model III- Governmental Politics

The Governmental Politics Model sees no unitary actor but rather many actors as players—players who focus not on a single strategic issue but on many diverse intra-national problems as well. Politics is the mechanism of choice. Each player pulls and hauls with the power at his discretion for outcomes that will advance his conception of national, organizational, group, and personal interests. Political leaders at the top of the apparatus are joined by the men who occupy positions on top of major organizations to form a circle of central players. Where you stand depends on where you sit. Horizontally, the diverse demands upon each player shape his priorities, perceptions, and issues.

So far so comprehensible. Less understandable are the steps which Kennedy took with regard to Cuba in the first months of his administration. He saw that the proposed expedition against Castro was a matter of the highest importance. When the National Security Council could spare time from Laos, it debated Cuba. Kennedy sought assurances from the CIA and the Pentagon. He got them: Admiral Burke, the chief of naval operations, told him that ‘As far as we have been able to check it out, this is fine. The plan is good.’ Alan Dulles, the head of the CIA, told Kennedy that he was much more confident about the Cuban plan than he had been about the successful coup which the agency had mounted some years before in Guatemala. Several intelligent and weighty voices ere raised against the scheme, but had no effect, probably because Kennedy, overborne by the experts, was stifling his own doubts. Still, the British government protested that the adventure was illegal, by those standards of international law which the United States is supposed to support; it predicted failure. Dean Acheson characteristically said to the president that he did not think it was necessary to call in Price Waterhouse to discover that 1,500 Cubans were not as good as 25,000. Fulbright said that the invasion would be a disaster, whether it succeeded in its aims or failed, and denounced the obsession with Castro: ‘the Castro regime is a thorn in the flesh; but it is not a dagger in out heart.’ Arthur Schlesinger, working in the White House, forcefully argued that even if the invaders established themselves in Cuba, a long civil war would almost certainly follow, creating a quagmire which would suck in the United States, and Kennedy’s burgeoning international reputation as a man of ‘intelligence, reasonableness and honest firmness’ would be sacrificed. Dean Rusk had his own doubts, but as he sadly admits in his memoirs he did not express them effectively:
Having been both a colonel of infantry and chief of war plans in the China-Burma-Indian theater in World War II, I knew that this thin brigade of Cuban exiles did not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of success. I didn’t relay this military judgment to President Kennedy because I was no longer in the military.

On March 11, Kennedy’s chief advisers gathered in a critical National Security Council (NSC) meeting. CIA Director Allan Dulles and Deputy Director for plans Richard Bissel explained plans for an invasion at the town of Trinidad, on Cuba’s southern coast near the Escambray Mountains, where President Kennedy criticized the plans as too much like a spectacular World War II amphibious landing. He asked for something quieter, and he instructed planners that no American forces were to be used. Dulles advised that the mission had to go forward, because “we have a disposal problem.” Great embarrassment would beset Washington if the exile brigade, training in Guatemala, are to disband and its members return to the United States to bellow their anger. Kennedy requested “new proposals”; he ordered the CIA to force bickering exile groups to unite behind one leader; he directed Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., the Harvard histrorian-turned-White House assistant, todraft a White Paper to justify an invasion; and he asked the State Department to gain OAS backing for strong anti-Castro measures.

In a Miami motel, a CIA operative bluntly forced exiles to form the Cuban Revolutionary Council under Jose Miro Carodona, a former foe of Batista and a onetime member of Castro’s government. Schlesinger quickly produced a White Paper. After several high-level meetings, and Dulles’s insurance that the prospects for Operation Zapata were even greater than they had been for the successful CIA plot in 1954 against Guatemala, Kennedy set April 17 as D-Day.

The Bay of Pigs plan began to unravel from the start. As the brigade’s old, slow fighters, obtained from the United Fruit Company, plowed their way to Cuba, B-26 airplanes took to the skies from Nicaragua. However, snooping journalist noticed that the nose cone of the B-26 was metal; Cuban planes had plastic noses. They observed too that the aircraft’ guns had not been fired. The American hand was being exposed. The President, still insistent upon hiding American complicity, decided to cancel a second D-Day air strike against the remnants of the Cuban air force. CIA officials protested, because they believed the invasion force could not succeed unless Castro’s few planes were knocked out. After conferring with Secretary Rusk, Kennedy stuck with his decision.

Upon receiving Kennedy’s order, the JCS set up a review panel. The task of analyzing the invasion plan was entrusted to Major General David Gray, chief the JCS’ subsidiary Activities Division, which ensured liaison between the JCS and the intelligence community. Under Gray were three colonels from the Army, Marines and Air Force and a military intelligence specialist who had served in Cuba. In contrast to usual military procedure, the CIA gave the Gray committee no documented report of the planned invasion project, probably because no such document was never prepared by the Cuban Task Force.

It seemed also likely that the JCS were sympathetic to the CIA’s objective of toppling Castro. In a memorandum of January 27, 1961, to Secretary of Defense McNamara, the Joint Chiefs warned “there is a great and present danger that Cuba will become permanently established as part of the Communist bloc, with disastrous consequences to the security of the Western Hemisphere.” The Chiefs urged that “the primary objective of the United States in Cuba should be the speedy overthrow of the Castro government, followed by the established of a pro-U.S. government.”

As the plan turned out the chiefs did not present their views themselves. Rather, Bissell summarized their conclusions at a February 8 White House meeting. Attending were the President and his chief national security advisers including Rusk, McNamara, Lemnitzer, Dulles, McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistants to the Security of State Adolf Berle, and Assistant Secretaries Paul Nitze, Thomas Mann and Whiteman and William Bundy. Bissell noted that “The JCS, after careful study, believed that the plan had a fair chance of success-‘success’ meaning the ability to survive, hold ground, and attract growing support from the Cubans.”
At the worst, Bissell went on to say, the exile force should be able to fight their way into the Escambray and go into guerrilla action. The CIA official apparently made no mention of the specific weakness the JCS had identified in the plan. General Gray, who accompanied Lemnitzer to the meeting, later regarded “Bissell’s briefing technique as ‘very peculiar.’ He seemed to address himself to specific items out of context.” Even though the general was distributed by Bissell’s presentation, neither he nor the JCS chairman Lemnitzer brought up the specific problems the military had with the CIA project. Their reticence led White House decision-makers to believe the military endorsed implementation of the invasion plan.

Despite the weakness uncovered by the evaluation team, the Chiefs avoided strong criticism of the invasion scheme. The JCS concluded guardedly:

From a military standpoint, since the small invasion force will retain the initiative until the location of the landing is determined, the plan could be expected to achieve initial success. Ultimate success will depend on the extent to which the initial assault serves as a catalyst for further action on the part of the anti-Castro elements throughout Cuba.

As Maxwell Taylor’s “Letter to the President” on the Cuban disaster stated: “There was no single authority short of the President capable of coordinating the actions of the CIA, State, Defense, and the USIA [U.S. Information Agency].”
First, the CIA’s close control of the operation, however, kept President Kennedy and Cuban exile force largely uninformed of each other’s thinking; and its enthusiasm caused it to reject the clear evidence of Castro’s political and military strength which was available from British and State Department intelligence and even from newspaper stories.

Second, both the CIA and Joint Chiefs were moved by the necessity of acting swiftly against Castro than the necessity for caution and success. Answers to all the President’s doubts about the military and intelligence estimates came from those experts most committed to supporting the plan, and he had no military intelligence expert of his own in the White House. Instead of the President telling the bureaucracy was telling the President that action was necessary and that the means were already fashioned—and making his approval, moreover, appear to be a test of his mettle.

Although the generals and admirals had serious reservations, they always evaluated the operation favorably. Sworn to secrecy, they did not seek close staff analysis of the CIA plan. Not “cut in” until the later stages of planning, they hesitated to “pound the desk,” because the operation was “not our show,” Nor did Dean Rusk provide rigorous scrutiny or press his case against the invasion. A “good solider” who went along with the apparent consensus, he seemed to believe that he should preside over debate rather than influence it. Rusk later regretted his restraint:

As a colonel of infantry [in the Second World War], I knew that this brigade didn’t have the chance of a snowball in hell.” But I wasn’t s colonel of infantry; I was sitting there in a very cubicle. I failed President Kennedy by not insisting that he ask a question that he did not ask.

Following his initial meetings on Cuba with his senior policy advisers, President Kennedy remained undecided on a course of action against Castro. He was concerned about the coordination of his Cuban policy among State, Defense, and the CIA. On February 8, McGeorge Bundy informed the President that there were differences of opinion between the CIA and the Defense Department on the one hand and the State Department on the other. In a memorandum to Kennedy, Bundy explained: “Defense and CIA now feel quite enthusiastic about the invasion. State Department takes a much cooler view, primarily because of its belief that the political consequences would be very grave both in the United States and in Latin America.”
In light of their hesitation, Kennedy requested that the State Department prepare their own recommendation for action on Cuba. He also asked Bundy for a set of alternatives to full-scale invasion supported by U.S. aircraft and ships. Kennedy was less than satisfied with the choices the CIA left him.


“How could I have been so stupid, to let them go ahead?” Kennedy asked an assistant. Stupid or not, Kennedy knew the answers to his own question. First he dearly sought to oust Castro and score a victory in the Cold war. Second, his personality and style encouraged action. Always driven win, Kennedy believed “that his disapproval of the plan would be a show of weakness inconsistent with his general stance. Third, fear of nasty political repercussions influenced the President. Told to disband, brigade members might have refused to give up their arms or even have mutineed. In any case, Republicans would have scorned a weak-kneed Administration.

Why did President Kennedy and his chief advisers indulge such a fixation with Cuba and direct so many United States resources to an unrelenting campaign to monitor, harass, isolate, and ultimately destroy Havana’s regime? One answer springs from a candid remark by Robert F. Kennedy. Looking back at the early 1960s, he wondered “if we did not pay a very great price for being more energetic than wise about a lot of things, especially Cuba.” The Kennedy days’ famed eagerness for action became exaggerated in the case of Cuba. They always wanted to get moving on Cuba, and Castro dared them to try. Some Europeans thought that “we kept slapping at Castro because he’d had the effrontery to thumb his nose at us,” recalled one American diplomat. The popular, intelligent, but erratic Cuban leader, came down from the Sierra Maestra Mountains in January 1959 to overthrow the United States ally Fulgencio Batista, hurled harsh words at Washington and defiantly challenged the Kennedy model of evolutionary, capitalist development so evident in the Alliance for Progress. Kennedy harbored a “deep feeling against Castro,” and the Cuban thought the American “an intelligent and able leader of American imperialism,” and after the Bay of Pigs invasion, he branded him a new Hitler. To Kennedy’s great annoyance, Castro could not be wheedled or beaten.

Richard N. Goodwin, the young White House and State Department official with responsibilities for Latin America, provided another explanation for the Kennedy fixation with Cuba. He remarked that “the entire history of the Cold War, its positions and assumptions, converged upon the ‘problem of Cuba.’ Indeed, the Cold War dominated international politics, and in the zero-sum accounting of the time, a loss for “us” meant a gain for “them.” As Cuban-American relations steadily deteriorated, Cuban-Soviet relations gradually improved.

There are five fundamental gaps between what the President actually approved and what he thought he was approving arose from at least three sources:

First, in part they arose because of the newness of the President and his administration. He didn’t fully know the strengths and weaknesses of his various advisers. He didn’t yet feel he could trust his own instincts against the judgments of recognized experts.

Second, in part these gaps arose because supposed pressures of time and secrecy permitted too little consideration of the plan and its merits by anyone other than its authors and advocates. Only the CIA and the Joint Chiefs had an opportunity to study and ponder the details of the plan.

Finally, these gaps arose in part because the new administration had not yet fully organized itself for crisis planning, enabling the pre-committed authors and advocates of the project in the CIA and Joint Chiefs to exercise a dominant influence.

A flawed decision-making system also contributed to failure. Bissell and Dulles were too emotionally committed to the project to see the shortcomings in their handiwork. CIA planners were less than candid with the President, for fear that he would terminate the project. Operation Zapata was even kept a secret from many other CIA professionals responsible for the intelligence analysts. CIA officials also contributed to the President’s thinking that American participation could be hidden and plausibly denied. Wishful thinking provides the best answer. “Trying to mount an operation of this magnitude from the United States,” a CIA official wrote letter, “is about as covert as walking nude across Time Square without attracting attention. Nonetheless, until his decision to cancel the second strike, Kennedy clung to the fiction of deniability.

Despite President Kennedy’s lack of initiate knowledge of CIA operations, Kennedy indicated on taking office that he would play an active role in supervising the Agency. He pledged support for containing the threat of communist expansion but expressed misgivings about committing U.S. troops to achieving the goal. Kennedy would use the CIA but insisted on calling the shot himself. Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, he found it necessary to further tighten the rein over the Agency. “I have learned one thing from this business-that is, that we will have to deal with the CIA,” he said shortly after the Cuban invasion.

Reference Materials:

1‧和平捍衛者 甘迺迪傳〈John. F. Kennedy〉,克寧出版社發行。
2‧L. Fletcher Prouty, JFK, Published by Carol Publishing Group.
3‧Hugh Sidey, JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT, JFK The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy (New York: Crest Book).
4‧Hugh Brogan, KENNEDY (London and New York: Longman).
5‧Thomas G.. Paterson, KENNEDY’S QUEST FOR VICTORY AMERICAN FOREGN POLICY, 1961-1963 (Oxford University Press).
6‧Theodore C. Sorensen, Special Counsel to the Late President KENNEDY (元山書店發行).
8‧Peter Kornbluh, BAY OF PIGS DECLASSIFIED (New York: The New Press).
9‧Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (Oxford University Press).
10‧Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Volume VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges, Published by Department of State Washington.
11‧Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1962, Published by Department of State Washington.

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