Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reexamined
Edited by James G. Blight and Peter Kornbluh
Lynne Rienner, 1998, 284 pp.
Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Top Secret Report of the CIA Inspector General on the Invasion of Cuba
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
New Press, 1998, 288 pp.
The volume edited by Blight, of Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, and Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, provides the transcripts of an extraordinary discussion between many of the key participants in the tragic Bay of Pigs invasion. What is most striking from this fascinating retrospective is the extent to which illusion permeated the thinking of all parties to the plan, and the conclusion that delusion rather than betrayal was the fundamental cause of the disaster. The participants now believe that the fiasco decapitated the growing and widespread opposition to Castro within Cuba itself, and the recourse to an ill-planned intervention only accelerated and provided justification for more repression.
The devastating inside review carried out by the cia's own inspector general, Lyman Kirkpatrick, in 1961 -- describing bungling and miscommunication at all levels -- can be obtained in the forthcoming Bay of Pigs Declassified. The report, one of the most closely held secret documents of the Cold War and the CIA, was vigorously challenged at the time by the CIA deputy director for planning, Richard Bissell, and his response as well as Kirkpatrick's stringent criticism are sobering reading even 37 years after the event.