April 07, 2016
Slow Learners

Fifty-five years ago today the sainted John F. Kennedy almost blew up the world. It was on this day in 1961, that he launched his unconstitutional, unnecessary, stupid, incompetent, and insane invasion of Cuba.

I wasn’t totally surprised by this top-secret CIA invasion, and Castro might have had an inkling too. This is from I.F. Stone’s Weekly of January 16, 1961:

Near Guatemala’s Pacific Coast, 35 miles from the Mexican border, lies a new solidly paved, closely guarded airstrip … Could it be the base for a cooperative U.S.-Guatemalan-Cuban exile airborne military operation against Fidel Castro? Los Angeles Mirror Aviation Editor Don Dwiggins heard about the strip and broke a story reporting it had been built with U.S. funds in a mysterious ‘crash’ program .… On the subject of U.S. participation, no official in Washington had a word to say.”

—Time Magazine, Jan. 6.

“Each week a plane leaves Miami International Airport with 50 to 60 young Cubans bound from local staging areas for one of three secret training camps … As a part of the same operation, veteran fighter pilots, recruited from among defectors from Castro’s own air force and from Latin American countries, are training at what was once a dilapidated airstrip in Guatemala.”

New York Daily News, Jan. 9.

U.S. Helps to Train Anti-Castro Forces
At Secret Guatemalan Air-Ground Base

New York Times, page 1 headline, Jan. 10.

President Kennedy’s finest hour is generally considered to be his role in subsequently cleaning up his own bloody mess, the Cuban missile crisis. Fortunately for mankind, Premier Khrushchev chose to withdraw his missiles to avoid nuclear war. The choice cost him his job, but saved the world.

It has taken our nation more than half a century to end — or at least begin to end — the folly of the Cuban policy that Kennedy left us. At that rate it we won’t be able to shake ourselves loose of Bush’s unconstitutional, unnecessary, stupid, incompetent, and insane invasion of Iraq until 2051.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at April 07, 2016 03:57 PM
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You know what struck me in that picture? Look how long his fingers are!

Posted by: Mamasan on April 7, 2016 4:55 PM

Hey, hey, HEY, just hold it a second, Doolittle. Hold it one damn sec. That operation was planned and recruited for under the Eisenhower administration. JFK inherited it. Maybe he could have pulled the plug in time. But if he had, he then would have been accused forever of scuttling an operation that "could have ended communism in the Western Hemisphere." And had Khrushchev installed the missiles anyway, it would have been made to appear Kennedy's fault for not getting rid of Castro when the machinery to do so was already in place, or some such crap.

Much to Kennedy's credit, it became increasingly difficult to sucker him into other such operations, and led to presidential pronouncements that "War is too important to be left to the generals," presumably including the general screw-ups who ran the Cuban operation and the intelligence that seemed to justify it at the time.

Let me go a daring step further and assert that had JFK not been assassinated, the Viet Nam war would not have happened. Oh yeah, we had military and black operations in Viet Nam. But given what happened at the Bay of Pigs, I'm certain Kennedy would have not responded like LBJ to the Gulf of Tonkin. It seems to me, JFK was too smart to make the same mistake twice. And the proof of the pudding is that instead of throwing more troops at Cuba, the way LBJ did in Viet Nam at the urging of his generals, Kennedy ended the operation.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Posted by: NewYork Crank on April 8, 2016 1:33 PM

We'll be cleaning up, if we clean it up at all, after Bush for a lot longer than that.

And it is my ongoing observation that we continue, even under the current adminstration, to upgrade our nuclear capacity's, replacing - not eliminating, replacing - obsolete technologies.

I often think "the left" over romanicizes JFK, but I was only ten. It's a history I lived through, indeed one that had profound influence but one that needs to be read to understand. In this age of corporate and education one not necessarily "forgotten".

Posted by: Ten Bears on April 9, 2016 3:46 PM

Basically I agree with you, Crank. But I don't forgive JFK at all for picking up and running with the Dulles/Eisenhower plan to invade Cuba. I suspect Kennedy's reasoning had less to do with looking soft on communism than it did with the hold Allen Dulles and Hoover had over him due to their knowledge of his private life. Not that I have any real evidence, but I can't think of any other reason to keep the murderous Dulles on as CIA director.

Moving on to your main point, I found Kennedy's inaugural address to rank right up there with Trump when it comes to mindless saber-rattling. But I agree that he was, unlike George W., capable of learning from his mistakes. The American University speech supports this interpretation. He was getting out from under the shadow of his revolting father, and I suspect he was on the way to ending our military involvement ("advisors?" Yeah, right) in Vietnam.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on April 11, 2016 4:32 PM

You guys should check out David Talbot's book, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government.

Posted by: H. on April 13, 2016 2:25 AM
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