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Bay of Pigs: How groupthink led to a military failure

Published on June 28, 2018 Originally recorded 2011   10 min
0:04
Irving Janis wrote a famous book in 1972, analyzing important group decisions made by the advisers to US presidents. Probably, his most famous example is the decision by the advisers to President John F. Kennedy to assist in the ill-fated invasion of Cuba in 1961. Here's the story. In 1960, then President Eisenhower asked the CIA to organize Cuban exiles into an invasion force to take back Cuba from the Castro regime that had led a successful revolution. Eisenhower was seeking to solve two problems; what to do about a new communist country, only 90 miles from Florida? And what to do about a large number of Cuban exiles who were forcefully advocating some sort of action? It seemed ideal to have the Cuban exiles take Cuba back from Castro. When Kennedy became president in early 1961, the head of the CIA and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed him of the plan to invade Cuba. Over the next three months, his advisory group, which later came to be called the National Security Council, met to discuss the invasion and eventually approved a version of the CIA's plan. The invasion took place in April at a location called the Bay of Pigs, and was a disaster. Many in the Cuban exile force were killed or captured. Those captured were essentially ransomed by the US in exchange for money and medical supplies. The international reputation of the US suffered greatly from conducting war by proxy trying to hide it and losing anyway. The president is quoted as saying, "How could we have been so stupid?" Ted Sorensen, a key adviser who also wrote a book about his time as a presidential adviser, said there were "A shocking number of blunders in the whole decision making process".
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Bay of Pigs: How groupthink led to a military failure

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