The Situation Room.
The CIA had experience toppling anti-American foreign leaders. In 1960, the agency enlisted the aid of Mafia figures to assassinate Fidel Castro. By the time Kennedy became president, multiple attempts had been made. There is no direct evidence that President Kennedy knew of these activities, but if he knew, what should he have done? Later, in 1976, President Ford would ban the assassination of foreign leaders by executive order.
In 1960, the Eisenhower Administration approved the CIA plan to equip and train Cuban exiles to invade and overthrow Castro’s government in Cuba. The CIA had previously assisted in the overthrow of governments in Iran and Guatemala and felt confident it could do the same in Cuba. The plan was developed in secret. When Kennedy assumed the presidency in 1961, he was briefed on the plan and had to decide what to do with it.
Shortly after coming to power in Cuba, Fidel Castro began to informally align his policies with those of the Soviet Union. In 1961, after Castro’s government nationalized foreign-owned property in Cuba, the United States cut diplomatic ties with Cuba.
In August 1962, the CIA notified President Kennedy that it suspected the Soviet Union was deploying missiles to Cuba. In October 1962, a U.S. reconnaissance plane photographed the missile bases under construction in Cuba.
In an attempt to keep East Berliners from leaving Communist East Germany to escape to the West, they built a wall in Berlin dividing East Germany and West Germany in August 1961. In October, the Soviet Union explodes a test hydrogen bomb, the largest detonated in history, over the Arctic Sea, and the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year causes further tension.
Now take 5-10 minutes and evaluate Kennedy’s decisions. Do you think he handled these situations in the correct manner? Why or why not?
Did the decisions your group decide on match Kennedy’s?