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History 102 Professor McMullen Bay of Pigs Responsive Paper The student is required to read The Bay of Pigs by Howard Jones and write a responsive paper, with a title page, addressing the following points and questions. In each case, be sure to provide many direct quotes from the book to buttress you arguments. Whenever you state a fact not in general knowledge, you must cite the source of your information. Failure to place the necessary citations will result in a grade of 0 (zero). No outside material is to be used for this paper. The below average paper will only have generalized answers or statements for each question. The average paper will have generalized statement with one or two quotes that fail to mention the individuals by name. The above average paper will have few generalized statements and one or two quotes citing specific answers for each question. The superior paper will have few to no generalized answers and four or more quotes (where appropriate) for each question. The following are the guidelines for the paper (the paper will downgraded for failure to follow these guidelines): The format of the paper shall be question and answer. It is not a typical essay. The paper will be organized thusly: 1. The first question (do not include the page references with the question) The answer to the first question 2. The second question The answer to second question, etc. a. The text shall be in 12 point, Times New Roman font, double-spaced. b. The first line of each paragraph shall be indented. c. Each page of text will have a single-line header with the student’s name, the book title, and the page number. d. The title page shall include: the title of the book; student’s name; date report is submitted; and instructor’s name. e. Proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization are required. Student’s grade will be lowered for failure to accomplish this. f. All quotations from the book will be followed by an internal citation of the page number. As an example: Hale said, “That is why we must destroy Castro.” (213) g. All book titles are either to be italicized (Bay of Pigs) or underlined (Bay of Pigs). h. The margins are to be Normal: one inch each for top, bottom, right, and left margins Failure to adhere to the above formatting will result in a reduction of the grade assigned to the paper. The paper is worth 100 points.
When answering the question, be specific. Use quotes, not generalized comments. Questions for the Paper: 1. What did the author suggest was the reasoning behind JFK’s decision to launch the Bay of Pigs invasion? Page 6 2. Who was Richard Bissell, what was his background, what other operations, concerning what other countries, did he oversee, what was his position in the CIA, and what role did he play in the Bay of Pigs invasion? Pages 13, 21 3. Castro engaged in what activities that caused some to believe Castro was in fact a Communist? Pages 11, 12, 17 4. What were the two approaches the US considered for regime change in Cuba? What was Richard Nixon’s role? To what was Bissell referring when he proposed a “gangster-type action”? Pages 13 – 15, 21 5. What were the Eisenhower administration’s views on Castro and Cuba, and how did its plans evolve? What key administration people were involved with the invasion’s planning? Pages 13, 15, 16, 17 6. How did the Soviet Union become involved? What were the early actions and comments by the Soviet primer, Nikita Khrushchev? Page 18 7. As the planning developed for the projected what were the difficulties and issues that hindered the operation? Pages 33, 34 8. What were President Kennedy’s concerns about Project Trinidad? Were these concerns military, political (foreign relations), or both? Pages 50-51 9. Why did the military refrain from vigorously criticizing the lack of strong air cover, in particular, and the overall plan in general? Page 51 10. Who was responsible for forcing massive changes to the invasion plan which caused the invasion site to be moved, and why? Be specific on who forced the changes, and why.
11. What were the three main points that Bissell either did not mention to President Kennedy, or else Bissell discounted as being unimportant concerning the movement of the landing site to Zapata? Pages 58-60 12. Presidential Advisor Schlesinger warned Kennedy against the invasion. What were his main concerns? Page 67 13. Who fired the first shot of the invasion, where, and why? Why was this important? Page 100 14. What did Castro believe was the key to his defense? Why? Page 102 15. From quotes by the participants, it seems most of those who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion blame whom? Why? Be specific on which participants you are quoting. Page 123 16. What were the failures of the CIA according to the author? Page 126 17. According to the author what were Kennedy’s failings in his handling of the invasion? Page 127 18. What was the Taylor inquiry, and whom did it blame for the failure at the Bay of Pigs? Page 146 19. Disregarding the question of whether the United States should have supported Cuban regime change, who, in your opinion, bares most of the responsibility for the failure of the operation? Support your argument with quotes from the text.
Bay of Pigs
History 102: US Since Reconstruction
April 29, 2023
What did the author suggest was the reasoning behind JFK’s decision to launch the Bay of Pigs invasion?
According to the author, a few factors fostered President JFK’s decision to attack the Bay of Pigs. As the newly elected President, he, “adopted a course of pre-emptive and convert action” and this was his first chance to, “strike a blow at the Communist world.” Moreover, this was an opportunity for him, “to make his mark and earn the respect of his Soviet counterparts who considered him too young and inexperienced.” Similarly, President Kennedy could not permit Cuba, “an aggressive Communist state to thrive so close to Florida, free to spread its insidious and violent doctrines throughout the hemisphere while openly flaunting its alliance with the Soviet Union.” Hence, “the Munich syndrome of appeasing aggressors and of the McCarthy era’s warning against appearing soft on Communism.”
Who was Richard Bissell, what was his background, what other operations, concerning what other countries, did he oversee, what was his position in the CIA, and what role did he play in the Bay of Pigs invasion?
The author highlights Richard Bissell as “the CIA’s deputy director of plans.” (13) Bissell was a “Yale-trained economist known for his brilliance.”(13) He initially taught in his alma mater. Before taking up different government positions such, as “his attendance at the Quebec, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences,” and worked “closely with the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services.” (13) during WWII. After the war ended, he was appointed “assistant administrator of the Marshall Plan in Germany before heading the collection of classified information on Europe for the Economic Cooperation Administration. He then worked with the Ford Foundation before accepting a CIA position in 1954 as Dulles’ special assistant.” (13) Bissel “became deputy director of plans and hence in charge of ‘black’ operation.” (13) Furthermore, he upheld “a mid-December recommendation by the head of the agency’s Western Hemisphere Division, Colonel Joseph C. King, to consider the elimination of Fidel Castro.”
(19). To eliminate Patrice Lumumba and Rafael Trujillo, “Bissell had devised and managed the CIA’s efforts (even if not carried out by its operatives) to eliminate the two leaders.” (21) He “crafted both the assassination plot and the invasion plan, making it unlikely that he separated the two overthrow approaches into two tracks of action that paralleled each other but never met.” (21) During the Bay Of Pigs invasion, the government appointed Bissell as the CIA’s head of “clandestine operations.” (21) Moreover, “after the Eisenhower administration approved the program to overthrow Castro, Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards, the CIA’s director of the Office of Security, to proposed a ‘gangster-type action’ based on identifying potential Cuban assassins” (21).
Castro engaged in what activities that caused some to believe Castro was in fact a Communist?
Castro “never became a member of the Communist party, but he engaged in strident anti-American harangues and pursued militant efforts to export the revolution to other Latin American countries.” (11) Also, his words exhibited him as a communist. He referred to himself a “utopian socialist.” (12) Moreover, he chose a “pro-soviet and anti-American stance” (12), denouncing America in the association between Batista and Washington. Therefore, Robert Hurwitch concluded that “Castro had a general Marxist orientation along with the political savvy” (12). Washington analysts viewed Castro as an individual who threatened or jeopardized Cuba’s stability a, “to become a Communist headquarters inside the Western Hemisphere for spreading the violent revolutionary party gospel throughout the Americas.” (12) Castro pranced around, “counting on Soviet protection while publicly criticizing the United States.” (12) He launched “radio and television diatribes against the United States.” (17) Furthermore, In 1960, after acknowledging the People’s Republic of China, Castro agreed with the Soviet Union. He “joined a host of countries, both Communist and non-Communist, in recognizing the new Beijing regime” after” the Communist took over the Chinese mainland in October.” (17)
What were the two approaches the US considered for regime change in Cuba? What was Richard Nixon’s role? To what was Bissell referring when he proposed a “gangster-type action”?
The US government resorted to “two programs intended to prepare Cubans for paramilitary operations aimed at overthrowing the regime.” (13) The first strategy entailed “recruiting a small number of Cubans, preferably with military experienced, for intensive guerilla training. These new trainees would then secretly groom small teams of fellow Cubans to infiltrate areas inhabited by Castro’s opponents.” (13) Consequently, Duller Gave his approval to the suggestion made in mid-December by Colonel Joseph, the head of the Western Hemisphere division of the agency, to contemplate the “elimination of Fidel Castro.” (13) The second strategy was the recommendation made by “the ‘Special Group’ established by NSC 5412 in 1955 to deal with clandestine activities.” (15) The committee members established that “the CIA intended to use its successes in Iran and Guatemala as models for engaging in paramilitary operations aimed at overthrowing Castro.” (15) When formulating the plan for regime change in Cuba, Richard Nixon was the Vice President. He was “an ardent supporter.” (21) for the regime change. His position in the White House allowed hi to rally for a “corrective operation” to be carried out in Cuba. His supporters identified his as “the father of the operation” and “the project’s action officer in the White House” (14) He was described as “was just as ready to provide the needed corrective.” (21) “gangster-type action”, referred to “identifying potential Cuban assassins” (21) who would be used to kill Castro for the US government to enforce regime change. Bissel perceived “assassination as the proper predecessor to the landing.” (21)
What were the Eisenhower administration’s views on Castro and Cuba, and how did its plans evolve? What key administration people were involved with the invasion’s planning?
Eisenhower’s administration was concerned about the rise of Castro iin Cuba and his Communist affiliations. “Eisenhower had no need for a ‘‘natural’’ enemy, and he never had a real interest in Latin America or the Caribbean. But the new Cuban leader’s public attacks made him impossible to ignore” (16). The United States viewed Cuba as a potential Soviet beachhead in the Western Hemisphere and feared Fidel Castro’s regime would threaten America. Hence, “soon afterward, Eisenhower laid the basis for a regime change by approving an anti Castro propaganda campaign both inside Cuba and throughout Latin America.” (16) The Eisenhower view of the Cuban leader changed when “Castro’s Communist allegiance fell into place in February 1960 when, shortly after extending recognition to the People’s Republic of China, he signed a treaty with the Soviet Union” (17). Consequently, the US government banned the export of weapons to Cuba. Moreover, by the end of 1959, the government initiated attempts to eliminate Castro. The key personnel involved in planning the invasion included a deputy undersecretary of state, the deputy secretary of defense, the CIA director, and the special assistant to the President for national security affairs. The CIA’s primary responsibility was ensuring the team has “contingency planning’ of a covert project intended to unseat Castro.” (16) CIA intended to utilize their achievements in Iran and Guatemala as models for conducting paramilitary missions to overthrow Castro. (13)
How did the Soviet Union become involved? What were the early actions and comments by the Soviet primer, Nikita Khrushchev?
In 1960, the Soviet Union signed a treaty with Cuba that “guaranteed arms to Cuba over the next five years in exchange for sugar” (17), threatening US interests. Moreover, “relations sharply deteriorated when a French vessel filled with Belgian arms, the La Coubre, mysteriously blew up in Havana harbor, killing more than a hundred people on the ship and shore” (17). Castro played a crucial role in the Soviet Union’s involvement in denouncing the United States through radio and television and accusing the United States of bombing the French vessel. However, “the charge remains unproven of whether the CIA was responsible, but Castro expected further terrorist acts by the United States” (17). The Soviet premier reacted by “bosting to the international press in Moscow of his new Communist comrade while issuing a dark warning to the United States. The short and rotund leader soon made clear that he was capable of overly dramatic, if not unbalanced, behavior, constantly searching for that chink in the American armor he might exploit in the growing Cold War. Seeing this opportunity with an equally rash Castro, Khrushchev promised support to any Cuban attempt to close the US base at Guantanamo. He also warned the United States against threatening the Havana regime” (18). “Khrushchev exulted over the first request from Castro for more than economic aid and assured him of Soviet and Czech weapons.” (18)
As the planning developed for the projected what were the difficulties and issues that hindered the operation?
The United States’ employment of guerrilla tactics proved inadequate in achieving its goal of overthrowing the Cuban government. The program was not succeeding because of the difficulty in air-dropping supplies.” (33) Secondly, the CIA constructed a substandard airstep it was “barely passable, having only a few feet of clearance from the parking ramp and a runway extending a scant four feet on each side of the landing gear. And it was highly vulnerable to attack ” (33) from Communist guerillas. Thirdly, “the site was almost impossible to access by land and had no training provisions and hardly any living accommodations.” (34) Hence decreasing survival rate. Fourth, “tropical rain pelted the area, food and other supplies ran short, and the failure to screen all recruits allowed troublemakers to slip in among the trainees and disrupt the program.” (34)
What were President Kennedy’s concerns about Project Trinidad? Were these concerns military, political (foreign relations), or both?
President Kennedy had “reservations about an operation that so blatantly exposed the US involvement.” (50). However, he “did not want to undermine an opportunity to overthrow Castro, but he had to be concerned about its feasibility when Bissell echoed the Joint Chiefs in arguing that the invasion plan had only a fair chance of success’ in holding a beachhead and attracting popular support.” (50) The plans of President Kennedy were both military and political based. Even though he wanted to overturn the Cuba government he “feared domestic and foreign political consequences of US attribution and wanted options other than an all-out invasion supported by American planes, ships, and supplies. “(51) Hence enacted “stringent political restrictions on a military operation.” (51).
Why did the military refrain from vigorously criticizing the lack of strong air cover, in particular, and the overall plan in general?
“Even though Lemnitzer also had qualms about the limited nature of the air strikes, he hesitated to say anything at the time because of the Joint Chiefs’ assigned non-leadership role of appraisal, evaluation, offering of constructive criticism, and assisting (the) CIA in looking at the training and detailed plan.’’ Hence restricted the issues or challenges they could address while in their positions. Moreover, Lemnitzer considered the strategy “potentially effective” (51) only if the landing group received sufficient air support. Hence, “Lemnitzer’s colleagues did not think the Trinidad Plan’s limited conception of preinvasion strikes militarily sound but remained silent because most of them conceded the political importance of plausible denial.” (51)
Who was responsible for forcing massive changes to the invasion plan which caused the invasion site to be moved, and why? Be specific on who forced the changes, and why.
President Kennedy had reservations about the Operation Trinidad due to the extent to which the United States would expose itself during the invasion. He wanted to retain “the covert nature of the plan and thus the capacity to deny complicity.” (55). Therefore states, “You must change the place.” (55). On March 15, “Bissell returned with a revised invasion plan intended to satisfy the president’s concerns and Zapata calling for an alternative landing area previously under consideration.” (55).
What were the three main points that Bissell either did not mention to President Kennedy, or else Bissell discounted as being unimportant concerning the movement of the landing site to Zapata?
First, Bissell did not mention that “the CIA had virtually abandoned guerrilla training five months earlier” (59). Bissell discarded the strategy before the Cuban rebels arrived at the American facility in Guatemala for instruction, as he recognized that “there was no chance to build an effective underground and that the invasion forces had to succeed on their own.” (59) Thirdly, he did not mention to the President the challenges to establish “an organized resistance on the island meaning there was no chance for a popular insurrection because of the lack of a communications and command and control net.’’ (59) Although he informed the President that the likelihood of withdrawing to the mountains and transitioning to guerrilla warfare was low compared to Trinidad, which was significantly nearer to the Escambray Mountains, he persuaded him to consider Zapata as a viable option. “given Bissell’s faint hope for guerrilla tactics as a final resort, he displayed another mystifying piece of misjudgment by deciding against informing either the president or the Cubans of that alternative if they were unsuccessful in establishing a beachhead.” (60) Secondly, he did not inform the President he altered the invasion strategy from “instigating a rebellion to building a beach perimeter aimed at wearing down the Castro regime.” (59)
Presidential Advisor Schlesinger warned Kennedy against the invasion. What were his main concerns?
Schlesinger knew “an invasion came heavily freighted with political costs. Therefore, he “urged him to approve a ‘quiet infiltration’ followed by air drops.”(67) However, this would be difficult and could cause “prolonged civil war in which the United States would likely become involved and might suffer the humiliation of a defeat.’’(67) He highlighted that the operation taking “place by a swift, surgical stroke” could not guarantee success. He also had concerns that “an invasion could inflict great political and diplomatic damage on the new American image of statesmanship.” (69)
Who fired the first shot of the invasion, where, and why? Why was this important?
Grayston Lynch was the “first to engage in military action” (101) at Blue Beach. Grayston was “former member of the Special Forces in Laos who had twice been wounded in World War II, during the Normandy invasion and at the Battle of the Bulge, and again in the Korean War at Heartbreak Ridge.” (100) The shot occurred because a militia “jeep’s driver trained its headlights directly onto the raft, thinking it a fishing boat and in need of directions for navigating through the dangerous reefs.” (100) Grayston perceived they were under attack hence reacted instinctively.” (100) The first shot from the American camp was vital because it symbolized that that “contrary to President Kennedy’s specific orders, an American was among the first to invade Cuba. There ‘wouldn’t be a white face on the beach,’ Bissell had promised him. Indeed, Gray was not only the first to touch the sand but the first to engage in military action. The Kennedy administration had lost all pretense to plausible reliability.” (101)
What did Castro believe was the key to his defense? Why?
Castro defense was “an air assault before the invaders established a beachhead and declared a provisional government that sought US recognition and help.” (102) This tactic’s intention was to halt the rebels from establishing a temporary administration in the region that could warrant United States recognition. He also believed he had “to counter both an air and a ground attack; Castro ordered his planes to take off at dawn. Only a steady air and ground bombardment of the invasion force could hold on to the Bay of Pigs and keep the enemy on the eastern side of the swamp, where his tanks and militia could make the arduous advance and close in for the kill.” (102)
From quotes by the participants, it seems most of those who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion blame whom? Why? Be specific on which participants you are quoting.
Many participants of the Bay of Pigs invasion channel “their anger on President Kennedy.” (123) Similarly, Captain Edward Ferrer stated “President Kennedy’s decision to call off the D- Hawkins elaborated that the decision to call off the airstrikes effectively crippled the operation. (123) Day strikes ‘doomed the invasion to failure.” (123). Furthermore, Albert Persons, an American Pilot, blame him for “switching the invasion from Trinidad to Zapata and then refusing to take decisive military action.” (123)
What were the failures of the CIA according to the author?
The author states, “the CIA’s operational failures, poor intelligence, communication breakdowns caused by damaged or destroyed signal equipment, and the absence of an American on the scene to provide firsthand reports.” (216). Additionally, the author highlights, “CIA had been unable to build a communication network with the island’s dissidents, the strategists underestimated the fighting capacity of Castro’s forces, overestimated the number of defections from his army and militia forces once the landing began, and erroneously counted on massive support once ashore and implanted on the beach.” (216)
According to the author what were Kennedy’s failings in his handling of the invasion?
According to the author, President Kennedy’s failure in the operation against Castro was primarily due to his dependence on “false assumptions.” (127) “he thought he had approved a quiet, night-time landing; that the brigade could escape into the mountains and take up guerrilla tactics; that it had expected no direct American help; that a popular uprising would occur; that Castro’s growing military strength made this a now-or-never operation; that the infiltration would be clandestine and a success.” (127) Moreover as a new President, he did not know who is trustworthy. He assumed, “the landing process stretched into daylight; the mountains were too far from the coast to provide sanctuary; the brigade had not received adequate guerrilla training and counted on US military support; no rebellion took place; Castro’s forces were militarily capable; and the landing operation was too large to be a secret and too small to win.” (127) Jones recommends President Kennedy “should have trusted his instincts and called it off even though fresh in office and dealing with experts. His political concerns were senseless in that the operation could never remain quiet in an open, democratic society.” (127)
What was the Taylor inquiry, and whom did it blame for the failure at the Bay of Pigs?
Taylor inquiry was an investigation committee established by President Kennedy ‘‘to take a close look at all our practices and programs in the areas of military and paramilitary, guerrilla and anti-guerrilla activity which fall short of outright war.’’ (136) The committee’s primary responsibility was to examine Cuban operations. Taylor’s committee blamed the John Chief for the failure at the Bay of Pigs “the Joint Chiefs’ going along with the Zapata Plan, they left the impression of having approved it. But they had expressed a preference for Trinidad from the beginning, a point never made clear to senior civilian advisers. The Joint Chiefs examined the Zapata Plan on a ‘piecemeal’ basis and within a ‘limited context’ and therefore made no proper analysis of the operation…’’ (146). Moreover, they concluded that “the Joint Chiefs should have made their views known. Because they remained quiet, they never became part of the Zapata Plan’s developmental process and neither participated in decision making nor had a military commander on the scene to supervise the operation (146).
Disregarding the question of whether the United States should have supported Cuban regime change, who, in your opinion, bares most of the responsibility for the failure of the operation? Support your argument with quotes from the text.
I find Richard Bissell to hold the most responsibility for the failed mission. Bissell, “he did not mention that the CIA had virtually abandoned guerrilla training five months earlier.” (58) He quickly devised Operation Zapata, mainly aimed at impressing the President. (56) He overlooked the Joint Chief’s reservations of Operation Zapata. (56) Also, he “was not straight with the president about either the chances of a popular uprising or escaping into the mountains” (58). Similarly, in evaluating the military potential of the strike force training in Guatemala, “the Joint Chiefs’ inspection team had detected many weaknesses in the training program in Guatemala, particularly the lack of centralized control and planning that its superiors had emphasized in their review of the Trinidad Plan.” (54) However, “Bissell ignored the danger signs and urged the administration to act quickly in approving the invasion.” (55)
Jones, H. (2008). The Bay of Pigs. Oxford University Press.
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