Memo: Justifying U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered whether America should launch a military invasion of Cuba. This image depicts a top-secret, now-declassified draft document which lays-out possible scenarios.  

It attempts to justify military action and describes the importance of covert activities which make it seem, to the rest of the world, that Cuba’s leaders were acting rashly and irresponsibly.  The memo was drafted before the U.S. federal government realized that the Soviet government was planning to install ballistic missiles in Cuba.

Split into paragraphs here, for easier reading, the document states as follows:

Subject: Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS)

1. Reference is made to memorandum from Chief of Operations, Cuba Project, for General Craig, subject: "Operation MONGOOSE", dated 5 March 1962, which requested brief but precise description of pretexts which the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.

2. The projects listed in the enclosure hereto are forwarded as a preliminary submission suitable for planning purposes. It is assumed that there will be similar submissions from other agencies and that these inputs will be used as a basis for developing a time-phased plan. The individual projects can then be considered on a case-by-case basis.

3. This plan, incorporating projects selected from the attached suggestions, or from other sources, should be developed to focus all efforts on a specific ultimate objective which would provide adequate justification for US military intervention.

Such a plan would enable a logical build-up of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create the necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale, directed at other countries as well as the United States. The plan would also properly integrate and time phase the courses of action to be pursued.

The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere...

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image described above, online courtesy the U.S. National Archives and the National Security Archive at George Washington University.



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