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The Bay of Pigs is an important historical event which occurred during the Cold War in 1961. It involved unsuccessful attempts by the United States to overthrow Fidel Castro's Cuban government through military support of guerillas. This strategy was developed by President Eisenhower in 1960 and was later adopted by President Kennedy when he came into power. Eisenhower's plan was to train, equip and lead exiles in Cuba to overthrow the government with assistance from the CIA (The NSA Website, 2010). However, a variety of factors including lack of political goodwill, poor military strategies and assumptions by the CIA led to the defeat of exiles and embarrassment to the US government. These mistakes also led to the loss of life by many United States and Cuban military forces and civilians. It also boosted the Cuban resolve to fight the western powers in their quest to crush it.
The Bay of Pigs plays an important historical role both to Cubans and to people all over the world. It reveals how political ideology may lead to war between countries and how poor military strategies may lead to loss of innocent lives. It is important to analyze the event in more detail in order to understand the roles played by the US and Cuba in the invasion. This paper will discuss the Bay of Pigs invasion, factors which led to the defeat of US forces and lessons learned from the historical event. The discussed issues will be summarized at the end.
The Bay of Pigs invasion
As has been discussed, this invasion was carried out in 1961 and it involved support by the US government on Cuban exiles in attempts to overthrow the Cuban government. The United States had an objective of replacing the current Cuban leadership with one which was more acceptable to US and one which was devoted to the people's interests. Initially, the plan was to attack Cuba from the Trinidad City which had a defensible beachhead and had good port facilities but this plan was rejected. The Bay of Pigs was selected as an attack site due to the presence of an airfield and the fact that it was far from civilian populations. The CIA helped develop the Cuban Revolutionary Council which was tasked with the responsibility of overthrowing the government. Cuban exiles were consequently trained in Useppa Island by the CIA in 1960 and at other different facilities.
However, the Cuban leadership anticipated an invasion due to various factors including press releases and military activities by the US. Cuba also had an effective intelligence network which gathered information on the impending attack. Russian intelligence agents also warned Cuba of the attack and this enabled the country to strengthen its military forces and prepare to defend itself. The US planned a diversionary landing at Oriente as a strategy to catch the Cubans by surprise but this plan changed after Cubans were spotted on the beach. Subsequently, the US attacked Cuban air force using airplanes which had markings similar to those of Cuban rebel groups. The following day, the major attack was made against Cubans at the Bay of Pigs. However, the arrival of the troops was broadcasted to the Cuban forces and this helped them plan their resistance. Americans used air and ground forces to attack Cuba but by the end of the third day, it was clear that they could not win the war and a retreat was ordered. Several people lost their lives in both US and Cuban forces as a result of the invasion.
Reasons they Bay of Pigs invasion did not succeed
There are different reasons why this invasion did not succeed and some of these will be discussed below;
Lack of political will
The plan by the United States to attack Cuba and change its leadership was discussed many years before the Bay of Pigs incident. The previous president Eisenhower had developed the plan with assistance from the CIA and other special forces. Many leaders across the world felt threatened by Castro's regime which encouraged socialist ideology and which oppressed its people through limiting the democratic space. This formed the basis of developing a plan which would overthrow Castro's regime (Faria, 2002). However, the implementation of the plan clearly shows that there was lack of political will and support since many aspects of Eisenhower's plan were not followed. For instance, there was an exit strategy which was not applied during the Bay of Pigs attack. The military skills used were also ineffective in destroying Cuba's air defenses. The poor implementation of the plan due to lack of political will led to the embarrassment of the US government after it lost its bid to overthrow the Cuban political leadership.
Poor military strategies and assumptions
There was a very poor execution of the Bay of Pigs strategy. The United States is a superpower which has a very advanced military structure both in terms of personnel and equipment. However, the implementation of the Bay of Pigs attack was very poor and this was attributed to the many assumptions made during the war. One of these assumptions was that Cuba had a relatively weak air force which could be weakened by one strike. Another assumption was that Cuba had no knowledge of the attacks and that it would be caught by surprise. This was a wrong assumption since as earlier discussed, Cuba had a variety of sources which informed it of the impending attack by the US. Subsequent evidence actually shows that the CIA had knowledge that Cuba was aware of the impending attack but intentionally hid this information (Rodriguez, 2006). The third assumption made was that the guerillas that were being supported by the US government were actually strong and could actually win the war with little support from the US. This proved to be a false assumption and it led to the loss of many lives during the Bay of Pigs attack. These two reasons are the major reasons why this attack was not successful.
Issues arising from the Bay of Pigs war
There are certain important issues which arise from the Bay of Pigs attack and these will be briefly discussed below;
Sovereignty of a nation
Sovereign states are entities which can govern themselves without external influence from other states. States which are sovereign are capable of making internal decisions which should not be questioned by other states if they are arrived into in a democratic way. Foreign states are expected to support such decisions and any external influence exerted by them may be seen as external aggression. The decision by the US to overthrow the Cuban government can be said to be an act of war (Triay, 2001). Cuba is a sovereign state capable of making its own decisions. The US intentionally provoked the Cuban government by aiding guerillas to overthrow it. This can be seen by some as breaking its own constitution which aims to ensure freedom and justice is embraced by all. It is an act of war which may cause fatalities to both countries in the event that Cuba had declared war against the US. The fact that the strategy was implemented poorly is even more embarrassing to the United States. Future political decision should conform to the constitution and they should be implemented effectively to ensure that they are successful.
It has been discussed that one of the major reasons why the US was not successful in overthrowing Cuba was that poor military strategies were used. The US ignored useful intelligence and made many assumptions, most of which turned out to be false. This is a serious threat to the United States since it shows that there is ineffectiveness in its military resources. The US is a superpower and it is expected to make effective decisions regarding the military activities. When such mistakes are made, this may show that the US may be ineffective in defending itself from external aggression. It is important for the US to investigate and learn mistakes which were made during the Bay of Pigs was in order to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated. This will ensure that the US military is the best in the world.
The Bay of Pigs war has been evaluated in detail. It is clear that the US wanted to overthrow Castro's regime due to various reasons including his ideology and lack of democracy in Cuba. The US aimed at achieving this through supporting guerillas in Cuba with both equipment and personnel. President Eisenhower developed this plan which was implemented by President Kennedy. However, there were certain weaknesses which arose when implementing the plan. These weaknesses included making several numerous assumptions, poor use of intelligence and lack of political will. These three factors led to the defeat of the US forces and Cuban guerillas. Although the US military personnel and equipment far surpass those possessed by Cuba then, it was unable to overthrow the Cuban government. This shows a weakness in the military resource which may threaten safety of the country in the long term. The attack on Cuba by the United States may be seen as an act of war since it constitutes external aggression. This may also be viewed to be an act which is inconsistent with the constitution.
It is important for the US to re-evaluate its military strategies if it is to successfully achieve objectives in future wars. The current cases which include Iraq and Afghanistan have provoked resentment from the public since the main objectives of going into war were not achieved. It is also important to investigate evidence which showed that the CIA was aware that Cuba had precise information of the dates they would be attacked but they did nothing about it. This will save the United States from future embarrassment which may occur due to neglect of intelligence or the use of poor military strategies.