1961: How to Learn from a Defeat: The Bay of Pigs Invasion

1961: How to Learn from a Defeat: The Bay of Pigs Invasion
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On this day the disastrous American invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba began. Namely, the Bay of Pigs (Spanish: Bahía de Cochinos) is a marine bay on the southern coast of Cuba. The American plan was to deploy Cuban emigrants that the CIA trained for warfare, after which they would start a civil war and bring down Castro’s government in Cuba.

Approximately 1,400 immigrants landed. The Cubans opposed the invasion, the famous Che Guevara among them, and managed to completely defeat the attackers in three days. For the Americans, it was a great defeat and a national disgrace. Interestingly, the U.S. president at the time was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who had entered into office only three months earlier and was therefore still inexperienced.

The defeat at the Bay of Pigs was an important experience for President John F. Kennedy, and he was very cautious in the future when receiving advice from his generals. This experience proved to be useful in later Kennedy’s successful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis.

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