Skip to content

Bay of Pigs

Leader: Kennedy Date: 17–20 April 1961


In 1960 Dwight D. Eisenhower directed the CIA to organize and train Cuban exiles to execute an attack on Cuban ground. The goal was for this attack to look like an act of defiance from local dissidents rather than from the US.

One very interesting note here was that this entire plan was in no way necessary and was a HUGE risk PR wise.

The Castro regime had been a source of irritation to the US government, even though the President and his advisers did not consider it a direct threat to American security.

There was no serious threat from the small neighboring country of Cuba. This was simply a poke and turned into a massive failure.

Public Relations

The biggest risk to this plan (which seems to have been overlooked) was how the US was viewed by the world. There were too many political parties that knew about this plan (specifically those actually involved in it being Cuban dissidents, Nicaraguan gov. etc.) for it to be kept a secret. It was obviously out when papers began to run stories on it, but the government continued to double down.

An interesting strategy here has to do with Adlai Stevenson, the US representative to the UN at the time. Before this fiasco he was seen as a trustworthy and noble character, but those planning this invasion made sure he was kept in the dark. This was probably because he was so honorable, and that he was representing the US publicly. In doing so he vouched for the government and made it very clear the US had no part in the invasion when in fact we had. Really shows how horribly they had planned this, and how little they thought about potential consequences.

Invulnerability with confidence

I just read a small tid bit about how Kennedy had an insane amount of momentum behind him before getting into office. So much so that it started affecting the people around him and began giving them a sense of invulnerability by just being in his presence.

Great success and heavy momentum must be met with caution.

This happens often when a group shows signs of success and becomes cohesive. Often there is boundless admiration for the leader. This may sound good, but this admiration should be bounded... it should be realized when it has become too much and met with humility.

While this is amplified in settings such as sports and casual groups, it does not often occur in serious settings like business or politics. Instead...

In group meetings, this groupthink tendency can operate like a low-level noise that prevents warning signals from being heeded.

which is much more dangerous!

Esperit de corps

came across a very encompassing quote that I think describes Janis' Thesis very well.

The more amiability and espirit de corps among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater is the danger that independent cortical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out-groups.

  • Parkinson

What's most interesting here is that Janis' isn't analyzing the ill effects of inclusive groups. Instead he is looking at the less obvious and more dangerous effects of specifically cohesive and affable groups.

Cohesive groups that get put under stress often put their cohesiveness membership, and loyalty to the group above all else.