MIAMI – Former Miami Herald reporter Frances Robles has a fascinating piece that appeared today (Oct. 1) in The New York Times titled “Kissinger drew up plans to attack Cuba, records show.” The reason for Kissinger’s ire against Cuba, Robles writes, was “Cuba’s military incursion into Angola” that in 1976 led him to convening “a top-secret group of senior officials to work out possible retaliatory measures in case Cuba deployed forces to other African nations…”
The information obtained by Robles comes from documents declassified by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the request of the National Security Archive. This fascinating moment is also depicted in the recently released book, Back Channel to Cuba, written by William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, and Peter Kornbluh, the director of the archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. It is just another example of the tense relationship between the two countries since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
In her article Robles says that “officials outlined plans to strike ports and military installations in Cuba and to send Marine battalions to the United States Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to ‘clobber’ the Cubans, as Mr. Kissinger put it, according to the records. Mr. Kissinger, the documents show, worried that the United States would look weak if it did not stand up to a country of just eight million people.
“‘I think sooner or later we are going to have to crack the Cubans,’ Mr. Kissinger told President Ford at a meeting in the Oval Office in 1976, according to a transcript.”
Kissinger’s aggressive language appears throughout when the former secretary of state discusses plans for Cuba with President Ford. “He [Kissinger] was infuriated by the fact that Fidel Castro had passed up a chance to normalize relations with the United States in favor of pursuing his own foreign policy agenda,” Kornbluh revealed to Robles. The Archive findings has Kissinger blurting out “I think we are going to have to smash Castro,” at one point in the discussion with the President.
Robles, in her New York Times piece, writes, “Mr. Kissinger, who was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977, had previously planned an underground effort to improve relations with Havana. But in late 1975, Mr. Castro sent troops to Angola to help the newly independent nation fend off attacks from South Africa and right-wing guerrillas.”
In her account of the released documents, Robles writes “‘Nobody has known that at the very end of a really remarkable effort to normalize relations, Kissinger, the global chessboard player, was insulted that a small country would ruin his plans for Africa and was essentially prepared to bring the imperial force of the United States on Fidel Castro’s head,’ Mr. Kornbluh said.
“‘You can see in the conversation with Gerald Ford that he is extremely apoplectic,’ Mr. Kornbluh said, adding that Mr. Kissinger used ‘language about doing harm to Cuba that is pretty quintessentially aggressive.’
“‘The plans suggest that Mr. Kissinger was prepared after the 1976 presidential election to recommend an attack on Cuba, but the idea went nowhere because Jimmy Carter won the election,’” Mr. LeoGrande told Robles.
To read the New York Times article written by Frances Robles, click here.
To access the information on the National Security Archives, click here.