July 23, 2007

Schlesinger to Kennedy: Chill Out, Dude! Part 2 (of 4)

On April 5, 1961, ten days before the bombings that launched the Bay of Pigs operation, Special Assistant to the President, Arthur Schlesinger, wrote in a memo (“Foreign Relations of the United States, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1963” Doc No. 81, Page 186) to President John F. Kennedy that “I am in favor of a continuation and expansion of the present approach to Cuba—i.e., quiet infiltration of anti-Castro exiles into Cuba and subsequent support through air drops.” But he adds in the same paragraph, that “in present circumstances the operation seems to me to involve many hazards; and on balance—and despite the intelligence and responsibility with which the case for the action has been presented—I am against it.”

Further down he says it “will seem increasingly intolerable to subject ourselves to the humiliation of a defeat in Cuba.”

Regarding the political fallout from the invasion, win or loose, Schlesinger’s memo identifies three options: evade the questions, deny involvement, or declare ignorance. His 3 choices can be boiled down to 2 courses of action: say nothing, or lie through your teeth—this last one being a presidential favorite, as well-crafted lies get better mileage.

Five days later, on April 10, Schlesinger penned another memo (“Foreign Relations of the United States, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1963,” Doc No. 86, Page 196) to President Kennedy. The subject was “Cuba: Political, Diplomatic and Economic Problems.”

Section 2 of this memo is quoted in full:

“2. What is at stake. In the days since January 20, your administration has changed the face of American foreign policy. The soberness of style, the absence of cold war clichés, the lack of self-righteous and sermonizing, the impressive combination of reasonableness and firmness, the generosity to new ideas, the dedication to social progress, the tough-minded idealism of purpose—all these factors have transformed (to use that repellent word) the ‘image’ of the United States before the world. The result has been to go far toward restoring confidence in the intelligence, maturity and restraint of American leadership. People around the world have forgotten the muddling and moralizing conservation of the Eisenhower period with surprising speed. The United States is emerging again as a great, mature and liberal nation, coolly and intelligently dedicated to the job of stopping Communism, strengthening the free and neutral nations and working for peace. It is this reawakening world faith in America which is at stake in the Cuban operation.”

Later he adds one of the most honest statements you’ll find in the volumes of meetings and plans and memos and briefings: “A great many people simply do not at this moment see that Cuba presents so grave and compelling a threat to our national security as to justify a course of action which much of the world will interpret as calculated aggression against a small nation in defiance both of treaty obligations and of the international standards we have repeatedly asserted against the Communist world.” Here Schlesinger makes a good point that is even more relevant today.

Next: How to lie to the nation and blame it on the CIA.

Peace.

4 Comments:

Blogger gomerdomer said...

j.a. sierra: hello, was ronald guy a memeber of the bay of pigs invasion force who spent time in a cuban jail and was given the medal of honor by kennedy afterwards?

10:02 AM, November 11, 2009  
Blogger gomerdomer said...

member....was he mentioned in the warren commission report? me.dillon,m.d.

10:03 AM, November 11, 2009  
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7:55 PM, March 22, 2010  
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