Thursday, April 14, 2011

Obama is making the same mistakes in Libya as JFK did at the Bay of Pigs

From: Bay of Pigs fiasco offers lessons for Obama’s Libya adventure (Canadian Press)

Sadly, Obama is not the first American president to think there’s such a thing as being a little bit militarily pregnant. He might want to give some careful consideration to this weekend’s 50th anniversary of one of the most disastrous examples of what can happen when U.S. military missions are framed in ambiguous gobbledygook. The CIA-backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs is practically a textbook statement of the sort of operation soldiers call FUBAR, Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition, though they substitute a more colorful word for “fouled.”

What became the Bay of Pigs was originally conceived in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration as the low-key spark of an insurgency against Fidel Castro’s communist regime. The CIA would train five dozen or so Cuban exiles as guerrillas, drop them into the island and back them with an offshore propaganda radio station. With some luck, the guerrillas might develop popular support and flower into a full-scale popular insurrection.

As reports of popular discontent with Castro increased, CIA strategists grew bolder: They would land a small army of 1,400 men on a beach in central Cuba. The shock of an invasion might trigger an immediate uprising in Cuba’s cities; if not, the troops could melt away into the nearby Escambray mountains and follow the original plans for guerrilla warfare.

But with John F. Kennedy’s arrival in the White House in January 1961, the plan’s military sinews were replaced with camouflage frills intended to provide political cover. The first thing to go was the landing site, which was changed to the swampy, remote Bay of Pigs. That was disadvantageous fighting terrain, and it offered no place for the invaders to retreat if they didn’t deliver a knockout punch. No matter, wrote one of Kennedy’s advisers in a laudatory memo: “The CIA has done a remarkable job of reframing the landing plan so as to make it unspectacular and quiet.” [JG: What kind of Maui Wawi was this JFK adviser smoking?]

[What we see in Obama's Libya adventure] is the lack of clarity from a president who seems to think he can play soldier without anyone getting hurt. Another recent anniversary Obama might consider: the 191st birthday of William T. Sherman.

He was the Civil War general who warned: “Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.”

[JG: I bet neither JFK or Obama ever heard that statement from General Sherman!]

No comments: