Tag Archives: Cold War

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 17, 1961

Brigade  2506

Newly-elected Presidents inherit both the good and bad of their predecessors. Even though a new President must approve their continuance, once underway, plans and policies, carry a bureaucratic momentum.

In April 1960, the Central Intelligence Agency had recruited 1,400 members of the Frente Revolucionario Democratico (FRD), an active group of Cuban exiles who had fled Cuba when Castro took power.

The group formed the Brigade 2506 and on April 17, 1961, more than 1,000 CIA-trained Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba intending to overthrow Fidel Castro’s recently established government.

The plan failed completely and the negative long-term impact is still part of Cuban-American relations.

Bay of Pigs Invasion


17 March 1960: President Eisenhower approved a document at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC). The stated first objective of the plan (“A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime”) began as follows: Objective: The purpose of the program outlined herein is to bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S. in such a manner to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention.(my emphasis)

18 August 1960:  President Eisenhower approved a budget of $13 million for the operation.

By 31 October 1960:  most guerrilla infiltrations and supply drops directed by the CIA into Cuba had failed, and plans to mount an amphibious assault replaced further developments of guerrilla strategies. 

18 November 1960: CIA Director Allen Dulles and CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell first briefed President-elect John Kennedy on the plans. Dulles was confident that the CIA was capable of overthrowing the Cuban government.

29 November 1960: President Eisenhower met with the chiefs of the CIA, Defense, State, and Treasury departments to discuss the idea of an invasion. Those present expressed no objections and Eisenhower approved the plans. He hoped to persuade Kennedy of the plan’s merit.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Pre-Invasion Issues

One of President Kennedy’s main concerns, was that the operation remain covert not just to Castro but disassociated from the United States.

Not surprisingly a number of Castro’s agents were among the Brigade and they shared the intelligence that they collected on the upcoming invasion.

The planned invasion site was the town of Trinidad. It offered a US-friendly population, a good port, and nearby mountains to escape to if necessary.

As the invasion date grew near, Kennedy grew nervous about the site. It was too associated with the United States making it difficult to deny US culpability. He demanded a change.

A month before the invasion, the CIA decided on Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). Unfortunately, this was a place Castro knew well and whose population loved Castro.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Phase One–Air Attacks

The plan had three phases and early in the morning of April 15 six Cuban-piloted B-26 bombers struck two airfields, three military bases, and Antonio Maceo Airport in an attempt to destroy the Cuban air force.

This phase was successful: the attack destroyed most of Castro’s combat aircraft.

Castro raised complaints to the UN. The US denied all.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Phase Two–Second Air Attacks

April 16 was Phase Two: a second bombing of targets. But the UN attention to the initial attack worried Kennedy and he cancelled Phase Two.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Phase Three–Land Invasion

April 17. The landing did not go well. Many men lost their equipment because of the rough approach to the shoreline.

From an article at the CIA siteOnce ashore, they were met instantly by Cuban armed forces who outnumbered them. The salvaged and undamaged Cuban planes that had survived the April 15 strikes, the very planes that should have been destroyed that morning had Kennedy not canceled the planned strike, were now flying overhead wreaking mayhem on the Brigade.

The invasion did not go as planned, and the exiles soon found themselves outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered and outplanned by Castro’s troops.

From there things got worse. Rescue attempts went poorly. A few from the Brigade escaped, but Cuban forces captured most of the Brigade.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

JFK Shows Some of his Cards

April 24, 1961: President Kennedy accepted “sole responsibility” for the invasion, but on November 30 he authorized an aggressive covert operations (code name Operation Mongoose) against Fidel Castro in Cuba. Air Force General Edward Lansdale led the operation.

Operation Mongoose was to remove communists from power, including Castro and it aimed “for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962”.

US policy makers also wanted to see “a new government with which the United States can live in peace”.

April 14, 1962: a Cuban military tribunal convicted 1,179 Bay of Pigs attackers.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

James Donovan

President Kennedy tapped James Donovan to negotiate the release of the prisoners. This the same James Donovan who had just successfully negotiated the release of Gary Powers from the U2 incident on February 10, 1962. 

Donovan made several trips to Cuba and Castro. Their relationship was a good one

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Cuban Missile Crisis

but  the far more historic and nearly apocalyptic Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 intervened their negotiations.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Back to Donovan

Due to Donovan’s personality, the negotiations continued following the crisis.

While playing cards with the President of Pfizer Pharaceuticals, Donovan continued to think about what would succeed with Castro and the idea of exchanging the prisoners for much-needed medicine and food  might work.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

It did

On December 21, 1962, Castro and Donovan signed an agreement to exchange the 1,113 prisoners of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion for $53 million in food and medicine and on December 23, Cuba released the participants in the Bay of Pigs.

Bay of Pigs Invasion


Jim Rasenberger summed up the invasion and its aftermath in his well-received book, The Brilliant Disaster:

In the early hours of April 17, 1961, some fourteen hundred men, most of them Cuban exiles, attempted to invade their homeland and overthrow Fidel Castro. The invasion at the Bahia de Cochinos — the Bay of Pigs — quickly unraveled. Three days after landing, the exile force was routed and sent fleeing to the sea or the swamps, where the survivors were soon captured by Castro’s army. Despite the Kennedy administration’s initial insistence that the United States had nothing to do with the invasion, the world immediately understood that the entire operation had been organized and funded by the U.S. government. The invaders had been trained by CIA officers and supplied with American equipment, and the plan had been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president of the United States. In short, the Bay of Pigs had been a U.S. operation, and its failure — “a perfect failure,” historian Theodore Draper called it — was a distinctly American embarrassment. Bad enough the government had been caught bullying and prevaricating; much worse, the United States had allowed itself to be humiliated by a nation of 7 million inhabitants (compared to the United States’ 180 million) and smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. The greatest American defeat since the War of 1812, one American general called it. Others were less generous. Everyone agreed on this: it was a mistake Americans would never repeat and a lesson they would never forget.

Apparently we did. Several more times. And still are.

Bay of Pigs Invasion


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Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks

April 2, 1958

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks
Cartoon about the Bolsheviks


Jack Kerouac Reads from “On The Road”
Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks

Bolshevik Revolution

When the Bolshevik Revolution began in 1917, the capitalistic economies of the world saw the uprising as a threat to their systems. The Bolsheviks challenged the notion of private property, private business, and personal self-determination.

When the nuclear arms race began after World War II, exemplified in particular between the United State and the Soviet Union, propaganda on both sides successfully demonized their enemy.

As Americans the suffix “-ik” became associated with Communism and thus with evil intentions. When Senator Joseph McCarthy announced that he had incontrovertible evidence of Communist infiltration into the government and the arts, he launched hearings through the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Committees hearings and accusations damaged the careers of dozens of American citizens.

A corollary of the US-Soviet arms race was the space race. While on paper it looked like a race to get humans into space, the unspoken government goat was to design a nuclear bomb delivery system. 

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks


On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 and Americans had  another Communist -ick to hate (NYT article).

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks
replica of Spunik 1 at US Air and Space Museum
Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks

The Beats

In reaction to the horrors of World War II and the increasing emphasis of the American Dream equaling American Consumerism (the antithesis of Soviet Communism), some young Americans like Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady (future hippie and driver of Furthur), and many others developed a literary view and philosophy that de-emphasized conspicuous consumerism. They deliberately did not fit in.  According to the Wikipedia entry, “Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948 to characterize a perceived underground, anti-conformist youth movement in New York.” Oxford Dictionaries site(see also )

Boshevik Sputnik Beatnik


Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks
Herb Caen

Traditionalist already viewed the Beats with suspicion when Herb Caen, a well-known and popular San Francisco Examiner columnist, published a column on April 2, 1958. In it he wrote, “Look magazine, preparing a picture spread on S.F.’s beat generation (oh, no, not AGAIN!) hosted a party in a No. Beach house for 50 beatniks, and by the time word got around the sour grapevine, over 250 bearded cats and kits were on hand, slopping up Mike Cowles’ free booze. They’re only beat, y’know, when it comes to work.”

The term took hold immediately and the San Francisco Beats, already discriminated against, now carried the additionally negative Communist association.

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks

Ever ready to take advantage of a popular coinage, the media was able to convert the negative image of the beatnik into one to ridicule and have fun with. The Halloween costume.  The TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in which Bob Denver played Maynard G Krebs, the lazy air-head beatnik. Denver’s acting career, as successful as it was, never recovered as his even more successful character on Gilligan’s Island  is simply the same beatnik without the costume.

Beatnik, beatnik, beatnik, beatnik, beatnik, beatnik

Bosheviks Sputniks Beatniks


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November 7 Peace Love Activism

November 7 Peace Love Activism

Black History

Abolitionist Elijah P Lovejoy murdered
November 7 Peace Love Activism
Wood engraving of the November 1837 pro-slavery riot in which Elijah Lovejoy was murdered.
November 7, 1837: abolitionist, clergyman and editor Elijah P. Lovejoy was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Ill., as he defended his newly delivered printing press. Lovejoy was a Presbyterian minister, journalist, and news editor first established a newspaper called the St. Louis Observer in St. Louis, Missouri but was eventually run out of town for his critical editorials about slavery and other religions. He established a new newspaper in Alton, Illinois called the Alton Observer. On three occasions a pro-slavery mob destroyed his printing press for his strongly abolitionist views. When they attempted to destroy the final printing press, Lovejoy tried to intervene but was shot five times by the angry mob who were armed with shotguns. Lovejoy then was viewed as a martyr for the abolitionist movement and inspired antislavery ideas in the North. No one was ever convicted for his murder. (see Feb 6)
Successful Slave revolt
November 7, 1841: a slave revolt occurred on a slave trader ship, the 'Creole,' which was en route from Hampton, Va., to New Orleans, La.,. Slaves overpowered crew and sailed vessel to Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom. (Slave Revolts, see December 26, 1848; Black History, see August 1842)
Scottsboro Tavesty
November 7, 1932: in Powell v. Alabama by a vote of 7 -2, Supreme Court reversed the convictions. The Court ruled that the defendants were denied the right to counsel, which violated their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The cases were remanded to the lower court. (Scottsboro, see Scottsboro; Right to counsel, see May 23, 1938)
Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City v. Dawson
November 7, 1955: a per curiam order by the US Supreme Court affirming an order by theUS Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that enjoined racial segregation in public beaches and bathhouses. The case arose from a challenge to segregation at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland. (see ff)
Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company
November 7, 1955: the Interstate Commerce Commission, in response to a bus segregation complaint filed in 1953 by a Women's Army Corps private named Sarah Louise Keys, broke with its historic adherence to the Plessy v. Ferguson separate but equal doctrine and interpreted the non-discrimination language of the Interstate Commerce Act as banning the segregation of black passengers in buses traveling across state lines. (see Nov 9)
Cleveland’s first Black mayor
November 7 Peace Love Activism
Carl Stokes
November 7, 1967: Carl B. Stokes elected mayor of Cleveland becoming the first African American mayor of a major US city. (see Dec 29)
November 7, 1972: Nixon reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote and crushing the Democratic nominee, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Also, Barbara Jordan of Houston and Andrew Young of Atlanta, become the first African Americans from the south elected to Congress since Reconstruction. (BH, see Nov 23; Nixon, see January 8, 1973)
NYC’s first Black mayor; Virginia’s first Black governor
November 7 Peace Love Activism November 7 Peace Love Activism
November 7, 1989: David Dinkins elected first African American mayor of New York City; Douglas Wilder wins the Virginia governor's race, becoming the first elected African American governor. (see Dec 7)
Interracial marriage legal in Alabama
November 7, 2000: Alabama became the last state to officially legalize interracial marriage. By November 2000, interracial marriage had been legal in every state for more than three decades after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Loving v. Virginia (1967) - but the Alabama State Constitution still contained an unenforceable ban in Section 102: "The legislature shall never pass any law to authorise or legalise any marriage between any white person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro." The Alabama State Legislature clung to the old language as a symbolic statement of the state's views on interracial marriage; as recently as 1998, House leaders successfully killed attempts to remove Section 102. When voters finally had the opportunity to remove the language, the outcome was close: although 59% of voters supported removing the language, 41% favored keeping it. Interracial marriage remained controversial in the Deep South, where a 2011 poll found that a plurality of Mississippi Republicans still support anti-miscegenation laws. (Alabama results) (see Dec 16)
University of Missouri football
November 7, 2015: dozens of black University of Missouri football players said that they would boycott all football-related activities — including games — until the university’s president, Timothy M. Wolfe, steps down or was removed. At issue, the players and other student activists said, were recent instances of racism directed at black students and a lack of action from administrators that the students contend have combined to create an intolerable atmosphere on campus. Wolfe resigned on November 9.


Harvard protests
November 7, 1966: Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara faced a student protest when he visited Harvard University to address a small group of students. As he left a dormitory, about 100 demonstrators shouted at him and demanded a debate. When McNamara tried to speak, supporters of the Students for a Democratic Society shouted him down. McNamara then attempted to leave, but 25 demonstrators crowded around his automobile so that it could not move. Police intervened and escorted McNamara from the campus. (click >>>Harvard) (see Nov 15)
Draft deferments cancelled
November 7, 1967: the Selective Service Commission announced that college students arrested in anti-war demonstrations would lose their draft deferments. (click >>> draft) (see Nov 11)
November 7, 1973: both the House and Sentate passed the War Powers Act, overriding President Nixon's veto.


November 7, 1991:  the last oil well fire in Kuwait is extinguished. (see April 14 - 16, 1993)

Medical marijuana/Feminism

November 7, 2000: the Presidential election ended without a clear winner. Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected to the United States Senate, becoming the first First Lady of the United States to win public office

Fifty-four percent of voters in Colorado approved Amendment 20, which amended the state’s constitution to recognize the medical use of marijuana. The law took effect on June 1, 2001. It removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physician. The law established a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients...

 Sixty-five percent of voters in Nevada approved Question 9, which amended the states' constitution to recognize the medical use of marijuana. The law took effect on October 1, 2001. The law removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who have 'written documentation' from their physician... The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients." (election, see Nov 26; Feminism, see Jan 22, 2001; Marijuana, see May 14, 2001)

November 7 Peace Love Activism


Initiative Measure 416
November 7, 2000: anti-gay forces in Nebraska push through the discriminatory Initiative Measure 416 at the ballot, constitutionally prohibiting the state from respecting any form of family status or recognition for same-sex couples. (see Nov 27)
Briggs Initiative defeated
November 7, 1978: Voters rejected the Briggs Initiative by more than a million votes John Briggs had dropped out of the California governor's race, but received support for Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative, a proposal to fire any teacher or school employee who publicly supported gay rights. Harvey Milk campaigned against the bill and attended every event hosted by Briggs. In the summer, attendance had greatly increased at Gay Pride marches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, partly in response to Briggs. President Jimmy Carter, former Governor Ronald Reagan, and Governor Jerry Brown speak out against the proposition. (see April 1, 2001)
Same-sex marriage denied
November 7, 2006: constitutional amendments denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry passed in seven more states - Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Arizona becomes the first state to reject an anti-gay marriage amendment at the ballot. (see Dec 14, 2006)
slowly but surely things changed…
November 7, 2013: the US Senate approved a ban on discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, voting 64 to 32 in a bipartisan show of support that was rare for any social issue. It was the first time in the institution’s history that it had voted to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the country’s nondiscrimination law. (see Nov 15)

Voting rights

November 7, 1893:  passage of a referendum made Colorado the first state to grant women the right to vote.(F, see Dec 8)
November 7 Peace Love Activism

In 1897 Josephine Dodge founded the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Dodge was the first president, the NAOWS believed that woman suffrage would decrease women’s work in communities and their ability to effect societal reforms. Active on a state and federal level, the group also established a newsletter, Woman’s Protest( reorganized as Woman Patriot in 1918), that was a bellwether of anti-suffrage opinion. In 1918 the NAOWS moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., where it operated until its disbandment following the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Woman Patriot continued to be published through the 1920s, generally opposing the work of feminists and liberal women’s groups.(Feminism, see  March 18, 1898;  VR, see April 25, 1898)

Domestic terrorism

November 7, 1922: Oregon voters approved the Compulsory Education Act, a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored initiative, which required children between the ages of 8 and 16 to attend public schools. The law was motivated by KKK anti-Catholic bias and would have effectively closed down parochial schools in the state. In the 1920s the Klan was a major force in many states outside of the South, and was particularly active with regard to anti-Catholic bias. On June 1, 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional because it interfered with the right of parents to control the education of their children.(T, see June 14, 1924; Oregon, see June 1, 1925)

Cold War

November 7, 1957: the final report from a special committee called by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to review the nation's defense readiness indicated that the US was falling far behind the Soviets in missile capabilities, and urged a vigorous campaign to build fallout shelters to protect American citizens.(see Nov 17)

November 7 Music et al

November 7 – December 11, 1960: The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart comedy album returns to Billboard #1.

Sexual Abuse of Children

November 7, 2002:  U.S. Roman Catholic bishops picked Kathleen McChesney , the FBI's top-ranking woman, to head a new office charged with making sure American church leaders adhere to clerical sex abuse policy. McChesney was named director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection, a critical post as the bishops try to re-establish their credibility. (see Nov 13)


November 7, 2013: Jesse M. Furman of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that New York City had violated the rights of about 900,000 of its residents with disabilities by failing to accommodate for their needs during emergencies, Furman found that the city, through “benign neglect,” was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. (see Nov 8)

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