An Overview of the Bay of Pigs and its Relevance for Today
“There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history, fully unfold.”
– William Shakespeare
Once again we find ourselves in a situation of crisis, where the entire world holds its breath all at once and can only wait to see whether this volatile black cloud floating amongst us will breakout into a thunderstorm of nuclear war or harmlessly pass us by. The majority in the world seem to have the impression that this destructive fate totters back and forth at the whim of one man. It is only normal then, that during such times of crisis, we find ourselves trying to analyze and predict the thoughts and motives of just this one person.
However, in order to assess such situations, we cannot lose sight of the whole picture, and righteous indignation unfortunately causes the opposite to occur. Our focus becomes narrower and narrower to the point where we can only see or react moment to moment with what is right in front of our face. We are reduced to an obsession of twitter feeds, news blips and the doublespeak of ‘official government statements’.
Thus, before we may find firm ground to stand on regarding the situation of today, we must first have an understanding as to what caused the United States to enter into an endless campaign of regime-change warfare after WWII, or as former Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Prouty stated, three decades of the Indochina war.
An Internal Shifting of Chess Pieces in the Shadows
It is interesting timing that on Sept 2, 1945, the very day that WWII ended, Ho Chi Minh would announce the independence of Indochina. That on the very day that one of the most destructive wars to ever occur in history ended, another long war was declared at its doorstep. Churchill would announce his “Iron Curtain” against communism on March 5th, 1946, and there was no turning back at that point. The world had a mere 6 months to recover before it would be embroiled in another terrible war, except for the French, who would go to war against the Viet Minh opponents in French Indochina only days after WWII was over.
In a previous paper I wrote titled “On Churchill’s Sinews of Peace”, I went over a major re-organisation of the American government and its foreign intelligence bureau on the onset of Truman’s de facto presidency. Recall that there was an attempted military coup d’état, which was exposed by General Butler in a public address in 1933, against the Presidency of FDR who was only inaugurated that year. One could say that there was a very marked disapproval from shadowy corners for how Roosevelt would organise the government.
One key element to this reorganisation under Truman was the dismantling of the previously existing foreign intelligence bureau that was formed by FDR, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on Sept 20, 1945 only two weeks after WWII was officially declared over. The OSS would be replaced by the CIA officially on Sept 18, 1947, with two years of an American intelligence purge and the internal shifting of chess pieces in the shadows. In addition, de-facto President Truman would also found the United States National Security Council on Sept 18, 1947, the same day he founded the CIA. The NSC was a council whose intended function was to serve as the President’s principal arm for coordinating national security, foreign policies and policies among various government agencies.
In Col. Prouty’s book he states,
“In 1955, I was designated to establish an office of special operations in compliance with National Security Council (NSC) Directive #5412 of March 15, 1954. This NSC Directive for the first time in the history of the United States defined covert operations and assigned that role to the Central Intelligence Agency to perform such missions, provided they had been directed to do so by the NSC, and further ordered active-duty Armed Forces personnel to avoid such operations. At the same time, the Armed Forces were directed to “provide the military support of the clandestine operations of the CIA” as an official function.”
What this meant, was that there was to be an intermarriage of the foreign intelligence bureau with the military, and that the foreign intelligence bureau would act as top dog in the relationship, only taking orders from the NSC. Though the NSC includes the President, as we will see, the President is very far from being in the position of determining the NSC’s policies.
An Inheritance of Secret Wars
“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu
On January 20th, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States. Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, he was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.
JFK was disliked from the onset by the CIA and certain corridors of the Pentagon as they knew where he stood on foreign matters and that it would be in direct conflict for what they had been working towards for nearly 15 years. Kennedy would inherit the CIA secret operation against Cuba, which Prouty confirms in his book, was quietly upgraded by the CIA from the Eisenhower administration’s March 1960 approval of a modest Cuban-exile support program (which included small air drop and over-the-beach operations) to a 3,000 man invasion brigade just before Kennedy entered office.
This was a massive change in plans that was determined by neither President Eisenhower, who warned at the end of his term of the military industrial complex as a loose cannon, nor President Kennedy, but rather the foreign intelligence bureau who has never been subject to election or judgement by the people. It shows the level of hostility that Kennedy encountered as soon as he entered office, and the limitations of a President’s power when he does not hold support from these intelligence and military quarters.
Within three months into JFK’s term, Operation Bay of Pigs (April 17th to 20th 1961) was scheduled. As the popular revisionist history goes; JFK refused to provide air cover for the exiled Cuban brigade and the land invasion was a calamitous failure and a decisive victory for Castro’s Cuba. It was indeed an embarrassment for President Kennedy who had to take public responsibility for the failure, however, it was not an embarrassment because of his questionable competence as a leader. It was an embarrassment because, had he not taken public responsibility, he would have had to explain the real reason why it failed. That the CIA and military were against him and that he did not have control over them. If Kennedy were to admit such a thing, he would have lost all credibility as a President in his own country and internationally, and would have put the people of the United States in immediate danger amidst a Cold War.
What really occurred was that there was a cancellation of the essential pre-dawn airstrike, by the Cuban Exile Brigade bombers from Nicaragua, to destroy Castro’s last three combat jets. This airstrike was ordered by Kennedy himself. Kennedy was always against an American invasion of Cuba, and striking Castro’s last jets by the Cuban Exile Brigade would have limited Castro’s threat, without the U.S. directly supporting a regime change operation within Cuba. This went fully against the CIA’s plan for Cuba.
Kennedy’s order for the airstrike on Castro’s jets would be cancelled by Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, four hours before the Exile Brigade’s B-26s were to take off from Nicaragua, Kennedy was not brought into this decision. In addition, the Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, the man in charge of the Bay of Pigs operation was unbelievably out of the country on the day of the landings.
Col. Prouty, who was Chief of Special Operations during this time, elaborates on this situation:
“Everyone connected with the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion knew that the policy dictated by NSC 5412, positively prohibited the utilization of active-duty military personnel in covert operations. At no time was an “air cover” position written into the official invasion plan…The “air cover” story that has been created is incorrect.”
As a result, JFK who well understood the source of this fiasco, set up a Cuban Study Group the day after and charged it with the responsibility of determining the cause for the failure of the operation. The study group, consisting of Allen Dulles, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Attorney General Robert Kennedy (the only member JFK could trust), concluded that the failure was due to Bundy’s telephone call to General Cabell (who was also CIA Deputy Director) that cancelled the President’s air strike order.
Kennedy had them.
Humiliatingly, CIA Director Allen Dulles was part of formulating the conclusion that the Bay of Pigs op was a failure because of the CIA’s intervention into the President’s orders. This allowed for Kennedy to issue the National Security Action Memorandum #55 on June 28th, 1961, which began the process of changing the responsibility from the CIA to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Prouty states, “When fully implemented, as Kennedy had planned, after his reelection in 1964, it would have taken the CIA out of the covert operation business. This proved to be one of the first nails in John F. Kennedy’s coffin.”
If this was not enough of a slap in the face to the CIA, Kennedy forced the resignation of CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell.
In Oct 1962, Kennedy was informed that Cuba had offensive Soviet missiles 90 miles from American shores. Soviet ships with more missiles were on their way towards Cuba but ended up turning around last minute. Rumours started to abound that JFK had cut a secret deal with Russian Premier Khrushchev, which was that the U.S. would not invade Cuba if the Soviets withdrew their missiles. Criticisms of JFK being soft on communism began to stir.
NSAM #263, closely overseen by Kennedy, was released on Oct 11th, 1963, and outlined a policy decision “to withdraw 1,000 military personnel [from Vietnam] by the end of 1963” and further stated that “It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel [including the CIA and military] by 1965.” The Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had the headline U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY ’65. Kennedy was winning the game and the American people.
This was to be the final nail in Kennedy’s coffin.
Kennedy was brutally shot down only one month later, on Nov, 22nd 1963. His death should not just be seen as a tragic loss but, more importantly, it should be recognised for the successful military coup d’état that it was and is. The CIA showed what lengths it was ready to go to if a President stood in its way. (For more information on this coup refer to District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, Jim Garrison’s book. And the excellently researched Oliver Stone movie “JFK”)
Through the Looking Glass
On Nov. 26th 1963, a full four days after Kennedy’s murder, de facto President Johnson signed NSAM #273 to begin the change of Kennedy’s policy under #263. And on March 4th, 1964, Johnson signed NSAM #288 that marked the full escalation of the Vietnam War and involved 2,709,918 Americans directly serving in Vietnam, with 9,087,000 serving with the U.S. Armed Forces during this period.
The Vietnam War, or more accurately the Indochina War, would continue for another 12 years after Kennedy’s death, lasting a total of 20 years for Americans.
Scattered black ops wars continued, but the next large scale-never ending war that would involve the world would begin full force on Sept 11, 2001 under the laughable title War on Terror, which is basically another Iron Curtain, a continuation of a 76 year Cold War. A war that is not meant to end until the ultimate regime changes are accomplished and the world sees the toppling of Russia and China. Iraq was destined for invasion long before the vague Gulf War of 1990 and even before Saddam Hussein was being backed by the Americans in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. Iran already suffered a CIA backed regime change in 1953.
It had been understood far in advance by the CIA and US military that the toppling of sovereignty in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran needed to occur before Russia and China could be taken over. Such war tactics were formulaic after 3 decades of counterinsurgency against the CIA fueled “communist-insurgency” of Indochina. This is how today’s terrorist-inspired insurgency functions, as a perfect CIA formula for an endless bloodbath.
What is the relevance for today? That nothing has changed.
Former CIA Director (2017-2018) Mike Pompeo recently participated in a discussion at the Texas A&M University, on April 15, 2019, where he voluntarily offered the admission that though West Points’ cadet motto is “You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.”, his training under the CIA was the very opposite, stating
“I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses. (long pause) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment”.
Cynthia Chung is the President of the Rising Tide Foundation and a writer at Strategic Culture Foundation, consider supporting her work by making a donation and subscribing to her substack page. This article is a redacted version of the original that was published by Strategic Culture Foundation.