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Summer 2023 articles

Neither Peace nor War—U.S.-Cuban Political Coexistence from 1963 to 1964

Krzysztof Siwek

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the circumstances of the political coexistence of the United States with Cuba following the Cuban Missile Crisis and preceding the full U.S. engagement in Vietnam. The article reveals that the Cold War conditions of U.S.-Cuban- Soviet interdependence determined the international credibility of the United States and led to the U.S.-Cuban political stalemate. A political coexistence of the two states, under managed conditions of neither peace nor war, assured the benefits of reasonable security and long-term international credibility as well as political identity to both the United States and Cuba.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations b (...)
  • 2 Håkan Karlsson and Tomás Diez Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy and the “Multiple Path” Po (...)

1The concept of a political coexistence between the United States and Fidel Castro’s Cuba, developed in the mid-1960s, has frequently been underestimated in international historiography. Despite the fact that the 2015 study by William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh described in detail a course of U.S.-Cuban political contacts, the broader political and foreign policy background behind the bilateral dialogue continues to be understated and inadequately addressed.1 Even the most recent publications by Håkan Karlsson and Tomás Diez Acosta lack exhaustive reference to the origins of the United States’ twofold approach to Cuba developed soon before the American involvement in Vietnam.2 Therefore, the objective of this article is to reveal how the specific conditions of the Cold War following the Missile Crisis in 1962, combined with requirements of the credibility of the U.S. among the global public, affected the idea and practice of the United States’ political coexistence with Castro's government.

  • 3 Alexandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1 (...)

2Undoubtedly, foreign policy failures, like the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 in addition to meaningless anti-Castro covert operations, expanded by the administration of President John F. Kennedy, prompted an approach of neither war nor peace with Cuba. Moreover, the United States’ approach of non-aggression followed the inclusion of Cuba into a trilateral relationship with both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.3

  • 4 Petra Goedde, The Politics of Peace: A Global Cold War History (New York: Oxford University Press 2 (...)

3An important question remains, however, concerning the relationship between the Cuban issue and the international credibility of the United States as a global power leading ‘the Free World.’ The value of liberty was, in fact, closely associated by Americans with another universal notion of peace, communicated to the world as a part of struggle with the rival advocates of peace in the Soviet Union.4 Addressing the context of the global responsibility of the United States might clarify a dissonance of American public anti-communist attitude coupled with confidential conciliatory overtures to Castro’s government in the period from 1963 to 1964. Moreover, the question of the United States’ ideological constraints in relation to Cuba should also be addressed. Since considerable embarrasement in dealing with Castro’s Cuba revealed a peculiar entanglement of the U.S. domestic and foreign policies, this connection of external with internal matters ultimately affected both countries’ political sovereignty and identity. This study thus contributes to understanding of the impact of the Cold War committments of the United States on the Cuban issue and presents their close relationship with the American internationalist image, which remained competitively close to Castro’s own revolutionary objectives. Ultimately, it might be possible to explain reasons behind a permanent state of tension between the two countries, which nevertheless avoided an open war for decades.

2. The Meaning of the United States’ Political Coexistence with Cuba

  • 5 Geoff R. Berridge, Talking to the Enemy: How States without ‘Diplomatic Relations’ Communicate (Lon (...)

4The state of the U.S.-Cuban political coexistence consisted of several qualities that constituted a perpetuated condition of suspense between war and peace. According to Beoff Berridge, this new form of unconventional diplomacy became a feature of international diplomacy in the 1960s mainly due to the ‘nonrecognition policy’ of the United States applied toward the nation’s Cold War adversaries.5

  • 6 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 15.

5Notably, despite severed relations, the United States has never withdrawn recognition from Castro’s regime, allowing informal communication and political dialogue between the two states behind the public dynamic of conflict. Therefore, the U.S.-Cuban coexistence contained a formally undeclared, although carefully managed, hostility driven primarily by both the U.S. and Cuban public policies at home and political commitments abroad. Consequently, their coexistence involved a perception of the Cuban problem by the United States as internal as well as external issue. In Cold War terms, the U.S. approach to Cuba became a manageable ‘flexible response’ in place of a nuclear one and was thus expected to limit Soviet actions around the world without the risk of global war.6 As a result, the same Cold War responsibilities and public image which inspired bilateral enmity hindered the United States’ ability to act aggressively and efficiently against Castro’s government. Ultimately, a condition of neither war nor peace developed into permanent crisis management by the United States around Cuba with little chance for settlement but also without the threat of global nuclear exchange.

  • 7 Ibid., 49.

6Control over dangerous and unpredictable political dynamics through bureaucratic management and scientific expertise was a peculiar feature of the U.S. administration’s theoretical models. As noted by Håkan Karlsson and Tomás Diez Acosta, it was a “multiple path” policy involving limited subversive actions against Castro’s government in addition to creating channels of communication with the Cuban leader, which made the American policy look ambivalent and contradictory.7 The policy was partly a result of Kennedy’s attempt to coordinate and regulate through interdepartmental groups the Cuban policies of his administration following the Missile Crisis. In fact, it was the global commitment of the United States to ‘liberty and peace’ which effectively modified the previously more aggressive course of the U.S. administration toward Cuba. Moreover, by accepting limits on American influence, the United States expected the East-West framework to moderate conflict with Cuba into a predictable order which would allow a simultaneous low-profile ‘war of attrition,’ searching for peaceful coexistence, and, possibly, a reversal of Castro’s ties with the Soviets. The latter remained, however, a distant perspective since the Soviet presence had more impact on the United States’ domestic than international image whereas the policy on Cuba was closely tied to global relations with the U.S.S.R.

  • 8 Thomas Tunstall Allcock, Thomas C. Mann: President Johnson, the Cold War and the Restructuring of L (...)
  • 9 Jack B. Pfeiffer, The Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume III: Evolution of CIA’s Anti-Castro Policies, 1 (...)
  • 10 Jules R. Benjamin, The United States and the Origins of the Cuban Revolution: An Empire of Liberty (...)
  • 11 Berridge, Talking to the Enemy, 130 - 133.

7The United States’ international commitments in the struggle against communism were the principal reasons behind the actual political coexistence with Cuba. Credible defence of allies in the ‘Free World’ as well as gaining influence in the Global South required application of special measures against Castro’s government without the risk of open war with Cuba and the Soviet Union. The American idea of the transformative power of modernization involved a belief that containment of communism could be achieved through stimulation of economic growth and ‘vital forces’ of Latin America in the spirit of American Revolution and New Deal.8 Accordingly, the United States treated Castro’s Cuba as a kind of rebel or criminal who had broken the rules-based order, rather than as a legitimate enemy deserving equal status of political sovereignty. Despite recognition of Castro’s regime, Washington refused to maintain diplomatic relations with Havana, thus reserving its own right to intervention into Cuban affairs.9 Nevertheless, the U.S. administration resorted to economic sanctions, sabotage, covert actions, a naval blockades and secret contact with Cuba instead of direct aggression. The apparent American objective was not to make war against Cuba, but to penalize Cuban leadership through a mixture of policing, punishment, disciplining, and other administrative measures. The U.S.-Cuban restrained hostility remained thus closer to a state of civil war than to any form of bilateral conflict of two independent entities. Moreover, since the U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War remained heavily influenced by moral principles of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ Castro’s ‘felony’ of rebellion against the United States, followed by establishing ‘treacherous’ ties to Moscow, required a form of a police action to either remove the Cuban leader or discipline and manage his behaviour in order to make the Cuban regime predictable and acceptable for Washington.10 In other words, for the United States, Castro’s Cuba deserved neither war nor formal recognition, since any of these acts could only be applied to sovereign entities. An advantage of this suspended relationship between hostile powers was the ability to conceal from public view the true objective of the two states’ foreign policies, which allowed them to restrain their hostility and prepare accommodation within a bureaucratically controlled environment.11 It was paradoxical that under this insolvable condition of managed conflict, which affected the ideological credibility of both states, political coexistence remained the pragmatic effect of the U.S.-Cuban political dynamics.

3. Kennedy’s “Multipath Policies” in 1963

  • 12 Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba: Political, Diplomatic and Economic Problems, Memorandum for the President (...)
  • 13 Van Gosse, Where the Boys are: Cuba, Cold War America and the Making of a New Left, (New York: Vers (...)
  • 14 Schlesinger, Cuba: Political, Diplomatic and Economic Problems.

8A political reconciliation with Cuba designed to break Castro's ties with the Soviet Union was considered by the U.S. administration from at least 1961. It was Arthur Schlesinger, the Special Assistant to President Kennedy, who believed in a “new image of the United States before the world,” composed of “reasonableness and firmness” combined with “dedication to social progress” and “tough-minded idealism of purpose.”12 Although the United States emerged as a dominant global power after 1945, it still sought renewal of both the political and moral basis of its own liberal credibility against communist adversaries. Public confrontation with Castro’s Cuba corresponded with American progressive anti-communism associated with opposition to all forms of dictatorship. At the same time, the conflict threatened to harm revolutionary legitimacy and democratic principles of the United States, so badly needed to effectively counteract anti-American movements in the Global South that could be exploited by the U.S.S.R. or communist China.13 Accordingly, Schlesinger called for the U.S. restraint in relation to Cuba that would contribute to “reawakening world faith in America.”14

  • 15 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 67-70.
  • 16 McGeorge Bundy, Further Organization of the Government for dealing with Cuba, 4 January 1963, FRUS (...)
  • 17 Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Pre (...)
  • 18 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 66.
  • 19 Arthur Schlesinger, Cuban Covert Plan, Memorandum for Mr Richard Goodwin, July 8 1961, FRUS, 1961-1 (...)

9Soon after the Bay of Pigs failure, a communication with the Cuban government was first established by the White House aide Richard Goodwin and the U.S. negotiator James B. Donovan, then further developed in 1963 by news correspondent Lisa Howard, who acted as a messenger between Washington and Havana.15 Ultimately, it was the aftermath of the confrontation over Soviet missiles in 1962, involving President Kennedy's commitment to non-aggression towards Cuba, that encouraged him to the idea of establishing direct diplomatic contact with Castro as a means of pacifying tensions around Cuba and, eventually, breaking the island's political and military ties to the Soviet Union.16 However, the reason behind the United States’ contact with Castro was not just a geopolitical consideration of containing or removing the Soviets. The concept of ‘dialogue’ was determined primarily by the public anticommunist course of the United States, which treated Cuba as a ‘close enemy’ subject to sanctions for ‘defection’ from ‘the Free World’ but also sought to keep the conflict manageable within the U.S.-Cuban-Soviet triangle.17 Accordingly, Castro's Cuba was seen as both foreign and domestic issue. As Donovan claimed, the American “people” would tolerate neither a Soviet satellite nor a U.S. satellite since the “average citizen could not see involving the U.S. in nuclear warfare to vaguely restore Cuba to Batistaville.”18 Actually, according to a CIA estimate, the Alliance for Progress had “many of the same objectives” as Castro’s revolution, and although the Kennedy administration would respect the “integrity” of the latter, it also needed to authenticate and reinforce the United States’ own progressive credibility worldwide. Since the Cuban communist turn was seen as a “betrayal of their own revolution,” Castro's committment to the “international communist movement” inspired “our basic national policy of rescuing the Cuban Revolution,” according to Schlesinger.19 Consequently, Castro's anti-American policy was estimated by the Kennedy administration as an unauthorized rebellion rather than in terms of a sovereign right to self-determination. Still, an interdependence of both states in a form of managed hostility envisaged a public conflict concurrently with a secret accommodation in order to keep those hostilities under control.

  • 20 Samuel T. Francis, Leviathan and its Enemies: Mass Organisation and Managerial Power in Twentieth-C (...)
  • 21 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 64.
  • 22 Eric Gettig, “Cuba, the United States and the Uses of the Third World Project, 1959-1967,” in: Thom (...)

10Notably, the idea of the U.S. dialogue with Cuba did not emanate from any particular peaceful notion of the Kennedy administration, but derived from a postwar consensus liberalism of the American political establishment.20 A 'consensus' was thus reflected in a common attitude to the Cuban question, perceived as a political rather than military threat and as symbolic opposition to the United States as a progressive power on a global scale. The U.S. approach to Castro was thus accurately described by Under Secretary of State George Ball as an “effort to undermine this symbol” and eliminate its influence in Latin America.21 Foreign policy makers in Washington viewed Cuba within a large framework of global struggle with communist aggression, which required the disappearance of the Soviet presence on the island without the risk of world war. As noted by Eric Gettig, the United States pursued an internationalist goal of channelling Latin America and the Global South toward institutional frameworks acceptable for Washington, while Cuba sought to overcome its U.S.-imposed isolation by drawing southern nations together in rival, militant internationalism set against ‘American imperialism.’22 As a result, the U.S. global ‘crusade’ against communism met an uneasy opposition in a parallel Cuban campaign in the Global South Therefore, although hardly attainable in real terms, separating Castro from the Soviets and facilitating the end of his support for Latin American revolutions remained consensual goals of the Kennedy administration seeking to affect Cuban policies and earn the U.S. public success in both the international and domestic realms.

  • 23 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 70.
  • 24 Instructions for James Donovan, February 1963, CIA FOIA, Electronic Briefing Book.
  • 25 John Fiztgerald Kennedy, Address before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations, September (...)
  • 26 Cuba: Possible Courses of Action, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, September 20 1963, National Security Fi (...)

11Although a concept of discussion with the Castro regime was reluctantly received by the CIA director John McCone and other high-level officials, there was no apparent resistance from the intelligence community to secret reconciliation with Cuba.23 Contrary to the claims of Kornbluh and LeoGrande, the CIA advocated a mission by Donovan in 1963 to encourage Castro towards “re-establishing amicable relations with the U.S.,” since he had become “disillusioned with his Soviet friends,” while “the Alliance for Progress ha[d] many of the same objectives as his revolution.”24 What mattered for the Kennedy administration was the enhancement of a global “special responsibility” of the United States, by making Cubans “secure the fruits of the revolution that have been betrayed from within and exploited from without.”25 Turning Castro into a kind of symbolic threat called the “Tito of the Carribbean” was desired not only to prevent “another Cuba” in Latin America but also to relieve the Kennedy administration of the “whole Cuban mess” in the eyes of the world and the American public opinion. Renunciation of violence against Cuba by the United States combined with public committment to political democracy and ‘peaceful revolution’ derived from the United States’ concern about both its global and domestic credibility.26

  • 27 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 68-69.

12There was very little credibility and effectiveness, however, in policies based on public relations appearance instead of facts. While Robert McNamara emphasized a need to “upset Castro” through the U.S.-inspired military provocations and economic war, McGeorge Bundy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy preferred “actions” and “doing something” against Cuba.27 What was in common with all these proposals was a perfect awareness on the part of Kennedy’s associates that any measures taken would be completely futile and inefficient in affecting Castro’s decisions or removing him from power. At the same time, the concept of neither peace nor war concealed an uneasy perception of Cuba as both an internal and foreign issue for the United States—one that could perpetuate an insoluble state of tension.

  • 28 Ibid., 18-20.
  • 29 McGeorge Bundy, A Sketch of the Cuban Alternatives, Memorandum for the Standing Group, 21 April 196 (...)

13The U.S. ambivalence regarding means and goals in relation to Cuba also reflected a broader incoherence of the Kennedy administration’s policymaking process. In January 1963, Sterling J. Cottrell, as a new Coordinator of Cuban Affairs working closely with the President and other departments, suggested a reduction of American objectives to protecting the security of the United States and the Western Hemisphere against Cuban and Soviet aggression.28 This idea of practical coexistence with Castro’s Cuba was opposed by the Department of Defense, which was still focused on overthrowing the communist government. While Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and CIA Director John McCone emphasized new measures to “eliminate the Castro regime,” Edwin M. Martin of the State Department and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy preferred a more passive policy of economic pressure on Cuba as a way to isolate the country within the Western Hemisphere and remove Soviet forces from the island. According to Bundy, the U.S. goal should focus on forcing Castro’s choice “between his overthrow and an accommodation on terms acceptable to us.”29 Implicitly, it was only the second alternative that was conceivable for both the Kennedy administration and Castro alike. Although there was no visible consensus among the administration officials regarding political coexistence with Cuba, the main content and objectives of Kennedy’s policies consequently pursued a modified course of “limited ends,” motivated by global responsibilities of the United States as suggested by Bundy and Under Secretary of State George Ball. Notably, the United States’ intention now was not to remove Castro from power, but to moderate and discipline his foreign policy behavior.

  • 30 Lisa Howard’s Interview with Fidel Castro, Memorandum for McGeorge Bundy, 3 May 1963, LBJ Library, (...)
  • 31 Jorge I. Domínguez, To Make a World Safe for Revolution: Cuba’s Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Harvard (...)
  • 32 Gettig, Cuba, the United States, 243-246.
  • 33 Charles Wright Mills, “Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba,” in: The United States, Cuba and the (...)

14Unfortunately, there was a restrained understanding in Washington for the Cuban foreign policy objectives, which were difficult to reconcile with most of the U.S. terms. In fact, Castro, in his disscussion with Lisa Howard in 1963, rejected the U.S. condition of ending anti-U.S. subversion in Latin America since, in his opinion, revolutions depended upon objective social conditions and thus “could not be exported.”30 Meanwhwile, he defended Cuban support for leftist movements and simultaneous cooperation with the U.S.S.R. as a legitimate policy of deterrence, similar in form to the U.S. Cold War containment doctrine designed to increase the cost and risk of possible aggression by an adversarial power. On the other hand, Jorge I. Dominguez claims that the origin of Castro’s Latin American course had very little to do with a response to the confrontational American policy since the Cuban leader apparently believed in the uncontrollable “march of history” toward international revolution regardless of superpower politics by both the United States and the Soviet Union.31 Moreover, Castro had been engaged since 1959 in an internationalist political campaign to coordinate Latin American revolutionary processes with African and Asian national liberation movements and non-aligned states under a common tricontinental opposition to the U.S.-led ‘imperialism.’32 So-called Third World ‘solidarity’ was pursued by Havana with even more commitment after Castro’s disillusionment with the Soviet withdrawal of missiles from Cuba in 1962. Under these circumstances, the United States could hardly affect Cuban actions abroad through any kind of ‘multipath policy’ besides direct military invasion. Castro’s motives were therefore incomprehensible even for American sympathizers of the Cuban revolution like Charles W. Mills and William A. Williams, who tried to encourage U.S. political and economic support for building “human and socialist” change in Cuba as corresponding with the revolutionary, democratic and anti-colonial tradition of the United States.33 Nevertheless, they correctly noted a disturbing U.S. constraint in a struggle with the Cuban revolution, which remained so close ideologically to liberal conceptualizations of social progress, self-determination, economic growth and, last but not least, political internationalism.

  • 34 Fursenko and Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble, 336-338.
  • 35 Arthur Schlesinger, Statement by Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson, United States Representative, in Pl (...)

15It was hardly coincidental that the international conditions for bilateral political dialogue between the United States and Cuba further improved after Kennedy’s speech at the American University in June 1963.34 At the same time, U.S. Cold War responsibilities required a strong anti-communist public policy that made any political dialogue with Cuba possible only behind the scenes. Kennedy’s approach to Cuba was thus conducted carefully, like “porcupines making love,” in the words of Donovan, which allowed the United States to develop a notion of turning Cuba towards a neutral position similar to that of Yugoslavia with Castro as a so-called ‘Tito of the Caribbean.’ Although the internal communist system in Cuba was frequently condemned by the U.S. officials, who publicly stressed a need for democratic change, Cuban communism, apparently, was no longer an obstacle for bilateral coexistence.35

  • 36 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 64.
  • 37 Fidel Castro, Interview of U.S. Newswoman with Fidel Castro Indicating Possible Interest with Rappr (...)

16On the other hand, any ‘broad political issues’ like Cuban ties with the Soviets and subversion in Latin America remained ‘non-negotiable’ for both Washington and Havana.36 Soon before his long visit to the Soviet Union in April 1963 Castro openly rejected the concept of a ‘Tito of the Carribbean’ because, he said, “neutrality was not our goal” in the Cold War conditions of managed security balance between the United States, Cuba and the U.S.S.R.37 Since none of the three actors was able to conduct its foreign policies without restraint, all of them seemed to expect that trilateral interdependence could ensure their international security and public credibility. Therefore, the only question left for consideration was a ‘technical’ matter of keeping U.S.-Cuban tensions within the secure limit required for public policy.

  • 38 Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 241.
  • 39 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 70.

17Accordingly, in the middle of September 1963, the Undersecretary of State Averell Harriman decided to begin backstage discussions with Castro’s government—ostensibly to undermine Soviet influence in Cuba and all of Latin America.38 In fact, as Gordon Chase declared, the measure served to “solve our Cuba problem” and to “neutralize our worries” without eliminating Castro as the public enemy of the United States. Rather than a “radical reconsideration of the U.S. policy toward the Cuban revolution,” it was considered confirmation of a troublesome relationship of the foreign and domestic policy of the United States as well as worrying convergence of American progressive ideas with Castro’s revolution.39

  • 40 Memo, William Attwood to Gordon Chase, 11/8/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - C (...)
  • 41 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 155-156.
  • 42 William Attwood, Memo, 9/18/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cub (...)
  • 43 William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of Cold War (New York: HarperCollins, 1987), 256.
  • 44 Carlos Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm: Castro, Khrushchev, Kennedy and the Missile Crisis (New Yo (...)

18The establishment of contact with the Cuban representatives was assigned to William Attwood, a former U.S. ambassador to Guinea with sufficient enthusiasm for persuading Global South leaders to change their Cold War alliances in favor of the West.40 Referring to his experience, he urged the Kennedy administration to enter into a political dialogue with Castro as the optimal strategy by which to improve the international image and authority of the United States in Latin America, which sustained a rising tide of anti-American nationalism combined with leftist radical ideology.41 Indeed, the latter circumstances generated fertile ground for revolutionary movements supplied by both Cuba and the Soviet Union. Therefore, Attwood maintained that an ongoing U.S.-Cuban conflict “freezes us in the unattractive posture of a big country trying to bully a small country.”42 His previous encounter with Castro led him to believe that the U.S. non-intervention into his internal ‘revolutionary programs’ might allow Castro to genuinely pursue “normal diplomatic and commercial relations with us.”43 Still, a rapprochement with Cuba remained conditional since it required “the evacuation of all Soviet bloc military personnel, an end to subversive activities by Cuba in Latin America” and, last but not least, “adoption by Cuba of a policy of non-alignment.” Although the latter demand clearly referred to the concept of the ‘Tito of the Caribbean,’ a Soviet factor in the U.S.-Cuban talks seemed inevitable at this stage. Therefore, Attwood referred to Harriman’s message, given to the U.S. delegation at the United Nations, pronouncing that “many agreements would be reached with the Soviet Union in the next 10 years” in which “it was clear he was referring to Cuba.”44 In other words, a previous threat of Moscow’s committment to Castro could now turn into an asset for Washington as increased Soviet control over Cuban foreign policy. This apparent dissonance of the U.S. goals regarding the Soviet presence revealed an ambiguous American political outlook on Cuba, shaped by Cold War circumstances which transcended the island’s national sovereignty within the East-West crisis management.

  • 45 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 151-153.
  • 46 Edwin Martin, Cuba, Memorandum for Mr. McGeorge Bundy, 11/8/1963, LBJ Library; McGeorge Bundy, Memo (...)

19However, the position of the Department of State towards the prospect of talks with Castro remained more restrained. According to the Department’s estimate it was, actually, more convenient for the United States to keep Moscow carrying the burden of economic assistance to Cuba than to accommodate Castro.45 There was a general concern that U.S.-Cuban reconciliation without a spectacular political break by Castro from the Soviets would advance the international prestige and respectability of communist Cuba and the Soviet Union, thus undermining the legitimacy of the Alliance for Progress and the whole Inter-American System. In the opinion of Edwin M. Martin, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, obtaining a clear declaration from Castro regarding his ties to the Soviets and subversion in Latin America remained a prerequisite of any discussions about normalization.46 A likewise skeptical estimate was maintained by McGeorge Bundy, who shared Martin’s view that there was very little for the United States to gain from negotiating with Castro without his readiness to meet the two previously mentioned demands of Washington.

  • 47 McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum for the Record, Noember 12 1963, National Security Files - Country Files (...)
  • 48 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 155.

20The question remains, however, to what extent U.S. claims regarding the Soviets and Cuban subversion were genuine and valid as a response to real security and geopolitical threats. In fact, Bundy reserved the right to refuse recognition of any terms of coexistence with Cuba by saying that “reversals of these policies [by Cuba] may or may not be sufficient” for reconciliation with the United States.47 Since particular goals of breaking ties with the Soviets or ending Latin American subversion were non-negotiable for Washington and Havana alike, they accounted for a spectacle of managed hostility. First and foremost, for State Department officials it was the U.S. “posture” in Latin America and around the world that would be seriously prejudiced in case of any impression of the U.S. “surrendering to communist pressure.”48 American internationalist credibility, symbolized by the Alliance for Progress, could only become legitimate globally as a successful alternative to Cuban and Soviet internationalism. It seemed that the United States’ ‘special responsibility’ to contain communism and its global Cold War credibility relied on Cuba’s simultaneous anti-American committment.

  • 49 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Address in Miami Before the Inter-American Press Association, 18 November (...)
  • 50 Ibid.

21Ultimately, it was President Kennedy himself who arranged an atmosphere for the ongoing contact between Attwood and Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban ambassador at the United Nations, by appealing to the allegedly common progressive purpose of the two ‘revolutionary’ states. In one of his last speeches, delivered in Miami on November 18, 1963, Kennedy combined the ideas embodied in the Alliance for Progress with the program of the Cuban revolution by claiming that the latter’s goals “proclaimed in Sierra Maestra were betrayed in Havana.”49 He blamed Castro for “the self-inflicted exile of Cuba from the society of American Republics” through destroying the “hope for freedom and progress” expressed by the “genuine Cuban revolution” originally devised against “the tyranny and corruption of the past.” By publicly challenging the ‘progressive’ promise of Castro’s ideology, he implied that it was the United States that remained truly committed to the revolutionary principles. Since Castro’s Cuba represented a deceit of “the promises of abundance under tyranny,” then only “we ourselves can prove that democratic progress is the surest answer to the promises of the totalitarians,” Kennedy said. Despite his apparently hardline anti-communist rhetoric, Kennedy downgraded the Cuban threat from the position of moral, political and economic advantage of his own country, whose only goal now was to “prevent the establishment of another Cuba in this hemisphere.” Implicitly, the political existence of the ‘first’ Cuba seemed undeniable and tolerable for the United States. Only the public perception of Cuba by the United States as a victim of “foreign imperialism” and an instrument of the Soviet policy remained an obstacle which “divides” Washington and Havana. Removing this “barrier” could presumably allow the Kennedy administration to “work with the Cuban people in pursuit of those progressive goals.”50 Still, the overtone of Kennedy’s speech was ambiguous enough to read his message as both a call to rebellion against the Castro regime and a conciliatory gesture.

  • 51 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 161-162.
  • 52 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, quoted in: Jean Daniel, “Two Interviews: Castro’s Reply to Kennedy Comment (...)

22Due to the reluctance of the Department of State to public negotiations with Castro, Kennedy made endeavours to send a confidential message to the Cuban leader through French journalist Jean Daniel.51 In November 1963, Daniel delivered to Castro a confidential statement of Kennedy’s position regarding Cuba, deprived of usual public relations cliches, stating that “The United States now has the possibility of doing as much good in Latin America as it has done wrong in the past” since “we alone have this power—on the essential condition that Communism does not take over there.”52 Although Kennedy admitted the United States’ responsibility for “economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation” of Cuba in the past and the need to “pay for those sins,” he emphasized that “the problem has ceased to be a Cuban one, and has become international,” involving the Soviet Union and affecting Cold War geopolitics since Castro had, according to Kennedy, “agreed to be a Soviet agent in Latin America.”

  • 53 Maurice Halperin, The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1 (...)

23It was trivial to claim, as Maurice Halperin did, that Kennedy’s message amounted to an effective resignation of the United States from restoring in Cuba the political and social order preceding Castro’s takeover in 1959.53 The concept of turning to the past was never seriously contemplated in Washington. The most important was the President’s admission that policy toward Cuba depended on the Cold War conditions that involved an ongoing effort of the United States to sustain their public credibility as the leader of the ‘Free World.’ As a result, Kennedy only wished to reduce the scope of the Soviet military presence in Cuba to an ‘acceptable limit.’ On the other hand, he was confidentially declaring his readiness to come to terms not only with the irreversibility of the Castro regime but also with the durability of Cuban political ties with Moscow. It appeared that both the United States and Cuba were dependent upon international commitments which crippled their sovereign action in relation to each other.

  • 54 Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 242.
  • 55 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, quoted in: Stephen G. Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area in the World: John F. (...)

24As a matter of fact, the U.S. initiative was designed not as much to accommodate Castro as to advance an international image of the progressive mission of the United States in Latin America and the Global South. In other words, Kennedy wished to downgrade the Cuban problem by reducing the publicity and international appeal of Castro’s ideology through encouragement of the political neutrality of Cuba similar to that of Yugoslavia.54 From Kennedy’s perspective, the coexistence of the United States with Castro as the ‘Tito of the Caribbean’ was the optimal solution that could contribute to maintaining the United States’ global position and improve their international public credibility. Kennedy’s dedication to “certain responsibilities in the Free World” was sought in a publicized success against the communist threat, particularly in Latin America. Thus, the uncovering of the alleged Cuban subversive efforts in Venezuela in November 1963 was received by Kennedy with satisfaction regarding the U.S. intelligence’s “great work” since, he said, “maybe we’ve got him [Castro] now.”55 These statements were in no way inconsistent with his previously conciliatory tones. Shortly before his fateful trip to Dallas, Kennedy welcomed the prospect of engaging Latin American states into anti-Cuban sanctions that would relieve the U.S. administration of the burden of unilateral hostility toward Castro’s regime. A public denounciation of Cuban subversion in Latin America could affect a bilateral coexistence acceptable to the United States.

  • 56 Fidel Castro, quoted in: Daniel, Two Interviews.
  • 57 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 135-136.
  • 58 Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm, 185.
  • 59 Ibid.

25Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not live to receive any response from the Cuban leader, who reacted to the assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, by telling Daniel that “everything [was] going to change,” since Kennedy’s death was “an extremely serious matter” affecting the international situation.56 But despite Castro’s pessimistic prediction, both Kennedy and his successor wanted more to avoid war than to ‘make peace’ with Castro and preferred to maintain unalterable objectives regarding Cuba. The U.S. administration was focused on the limited goals of keeping Cuba from effecting radical revolutionary changes in Latin America and on countering Cuba’s influence without engaging in a military invasion. Despite strong voices in Washington in favor of an overthrow of Castro, as emphasized by some historians, most of the Kennedy administration’s goals regarding Cuba remained unattainable and largely symbolic. Apparently, simultaneous covert actions aimed at the Cuban leadership or economy combined with seeking agreement with Castro made the U.S. ‘multiple path’ attitude seem incomprehensible, illogical and ambivalent.57 In fact, American policies were usually only ‘made to appear’ warlike by application of subversive means bordering military confrontation and political pressure in the name of ‘doing something’ against Castro, while carefully keeping the conflict under manageable control. Even ambassador Lechuga believed in the continuation of the backstage U.S.-Cuban discussions, because a significant sector of the U.S. government “thought it might be possible to achieve the same goals with some kind of understanding with the Cuban government.”58 In his opinion, “those initiatives showed that the United States was at a crossroads and had no clear idea of which path to take.”59 What was missing from Lechuga's estimate, however, was the fact that the very same committment of the United States to enhance its international and domestic prestige blurred particular U.S. political goals regarding Cuba.

4. Towards Practical Coexistence in Johnson’s Policies

  • 60 Halperin, The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro, 298.
  • 61 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 162-164.

26Despite the death of President Kennedy, the U.S.-Cuban talks in the fall of 1963 appeared to have permanently pacified the relationship between Washington and Havana. As Halperin stated, the conflict between the two countries was reduced to a stalemate which “developed as the alternative to a return to normal relations.”60 Although the U.S. policy towards Cuba remained publicly hostile, it apparently evolved into practical coexistence. A stalemate “turned out to be of no particular benefit to the United States,” but it was also not a failure for Cuba or the Soviet Union. Conflict around Cuba required moderation, since both reconciliation with Castro and covert actions against him were now seen as risky for the public image of the U.S. administration.61 It must be noted that all sides appeared to benefit from a state of managed conflict, which secured their comparable and embarrassing principles of democracy, progress and revolution as standards of international credibility.

  • 62 William O. Walker, “The Struggle for the Americas: The Johnson Administration and Cuba,” in: Beyond (...)
  • 63 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 7.

27The new administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson between 1963 and 1964, although publicly committed to the anti-communist credentials abroad, continued the previous policy towards Cuba aimed at easing bilateral tensions while gathering Latin American support for the isolation of Havana.62 It sustained an assumption that the Cuban revolutionary subversion in the Western Hemisphere no longer directly threatened the interests of the United States. Moreover, Johnson wanted to adopt a Rooseveltian concept of non-intervention in Latin American affairs combined with a belief in the transformative power of modernization through international cooperation based on a New Deal model.63 While maintaining a strong anti-communist trajectory, the administration refrained from the revolutionary rhetoric of rapid social change and immediate democratization of the Western Hemisphere.

  • 64 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 139.
  • 65 Nicola Miller, Soviet Relations with Latin America, 1959-1987 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres (...)
  • 66 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.
  • 67 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 83-84.

28This more passive attitude was confirmed in late November 1963 by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which denied both Cuban and Soviet involvement in the arms trade in Latin America, pointing instead to the culpability of other regional players who engaged in arms trafficking.64 The same U.S. sources justified a restrained position on Cuba due to the alleged consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was followed by a diminishing appeal of the ideology of ‘Fidelism’ in Latin America, which was replaced by ‘indigenous revolutionists’ without any association with the Soviet Union. Notably, the State Department apparently disregarded a threat posed by the growing anti-American sentiment in Latin America.65 The only real danger to the United States did not derive from Cuban-Soviet policies, but from their international reception, which was harmful to the United States’ global leadership. On the other hand, in contrast to the Kennedy administration, President Johnson and his associates had a less spectacular but more realistic concept of the projection of U.S. power in Latin America involving a notion of limits to Washington’s influence in the region.66 While Latin America needed “spirit, optimism and hope,” in the words of President’s aide Thomas Mann, the United States deserved “more realism” in the form of effective policy. A sense of diversity of nations’ social-economic cultures and needs called for more “specialized knowledge” instead of indiscriminate universalism. At the same time, the Johnson administration, like that of his predecessor, primarily feared “appearing soft on anything, especially Cuba” in the eyes of the world and the “skeptical American public.”67

  • 68 Castro, quoted in: FBI Cable, Mexico Legat to Headquarters, 27 November 1963, in: The Investigation (...)
  • 69 Chase, Cuba - Item of Presidential Interest, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 11/25/1963, National Securit (...)
  • 70 Chase, Bill Attwood's Activities, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 12/3/1963, National Security Files - Co (...)

29Another point affecting the attitude of President Johnson towards Castro’s government was public speculation about Cuba’s complicity in the assassination of President Kennedy. The F.B.I. report from Mexico of November 27, 1963, cited the statement of a “former Cuban diplomat” who claimed that during a reception at the Brazilian embassy in Havana in September 1963, Castro had issued a warning by saying, “let Kennedy and his brother Robert take care of themselves since they too can be the victims of an attempt which will cause their death.”68 These words might have been received in Washington as Cuba’s response to the covert attempts by the U.S. to overthrow the Castro government. Officially, however, the U.S. administration was not committed to exploring the so-called ‘Cuban trace’ in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination. In the opinion of Chase, the popularized news that “Lee Oswald [Kennedy’s alleged assassin] has been heralded as a pro-Castro type, may make rapprochement with Cuba more difficult.”69 The problem of Oswald’s Cuban connections, however, appeared only briefly in the correspondence of Johnson administration officials. Already at the beginning of December 1963, Bundy assured Chase that the Oswald case would not jeopardize further talks with the Cubans being led by William Attwood.70

  • 71 Lyndon Baines Johnson, quoted in: R. Dallek, Flawed Giant, 53.
  • 72 Gordon Chase, Cuba - Item of Presidential Interest.
  • 73 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 84.

30However, Johnson’s suspicion of a Cuban-inspired plot induced him to calm political tensions around Castro. He did not hesitate to hold Kennedy responsible for creating a threat to U.S. security because “We had been operating a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean.”71 At the same time, Johnson, like his predecessor in 1962, felt pressure to conduct firm anti-communist foreign policy in order to earn a reputation of “being successfully nasty to Castro and the Communists.”72 Therefore, his vulnerability to public accusations of ‘going soft’ on communism left him very little room for political manoeuvre in the Cuban question before the election of 1964. Indeed, any contacts with Castro’s government remained politically risky during an election year, but it was certainly not a brief electoral political consideration that hindered a U.S.-Cuban reconciliation, as some authors claim.73 The question of anti-communist political apppearance was a permanent factor in U.S. policymaking on Cuba.

  • 74 Johnson, quoted in: Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 244.
  • 75 Ibid.
  • 76 Max Frankel, “President Asks Review On Cuba. New Ways to Combat Castro in the Hemi-sphere and on Is (...)
  • 77 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 67.

31A crucial trial of Johnson’s Cuban policy was his reaction to a discovery of Cuban weapons caches on the Venezuelan coast in November 1963. In a report to Senator J. William Fulbright, the President threatened to “pinch their [Cuban] nuts more than we’re doing.”74 Contrary to the previously mentioned analysis by the State Department, he believed that Cuba was “shipping arms all over the damned hemisphere,” which required the United States “to evolve more aggressive policies.”75 Still, Johnson’s reference to aggression had very little in common with unilateral interventionism, since his idea was to transfer U.S. anti-Cuban policies to multilateral bodies, like the Organization of American States (O.A.S.). A subsequent accusation by the Venezuelan government against Cuba leading to the diplomatic intervention of the O.A.S. in Caracas allowed the Johnson administration to keep a low profile regarding Castro while Latin American countries were engaged in anti-Cuban sanctions.76 Under these circumstances, Johnson continued to conduct undercover diplomacy with Havana on the condition that it served U.S. relations with the rest of Latin America.77

  • 78 Chase, US Policy Towards Cuba, The White House, 12/2/1963, Cuba - US Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 (...)
  • 79 Fidel Castro, Discurso pronunciado en el acto de Graduacion de Trescientas Maestras del Instituto P (...)
  • 80 Chase, Bill Attwood's Activities, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 12/2/1963, National Security Files - Co (...)
  • 81 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 87.

32In early December 1963, Chase concluded that the present “isolation measures probably hurt him [Castro], economically and politically” thus inspiring his “genuine desire” to negotiate.78 Indeed, the Cuban leader himself declared publicly on December 6, 1963, that “Whenever [the United States] wish to talk to Cuba, let them come and honestly discuss,” since “we have stated the indispensable prerequisites for a peaceful atmosphere around Cuba.”79 Despite referring to the demands of lifting the U.S. economic embargo and the evacuation of Guantánamo naval base, which were unacceptable for Washington, Castro authorized Carlos Lechuga, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, to hold further discussions with Attwood. Thus, according to Chase, “[Kennedy’s] assassination has not changed Castro’s mind about talking to the U.S.”80 On the other hand, the Cuban leader failed to understand that Johnson’s “hostile actions” and “rhetorically hardline position” went beyond any electoral considerations.81 In his contact with U.S. officials, Castro favored the secret diplomacy of traditional power politics, while the United States was engaged in a more ‘revolutionary’ policy of managerial globalism.

  • 82 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 98-99.
  • 83 Michelle Getchell, Cuba, the USSR and the Non-Aligned Movement: Negotiating Non-Alignment in: Latin (...)
  • 84 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 92.
  • 85 Chase, US Policy Towards Cuba.

33In fact, U.S. scepticism regarding further negotiations with Cuba was determined primarily by the international Cold War commitments of Washington related to the Soviet Union and Latin America. Moreover, there was an ideological background of the U.S. hostility toward Cuba mentioned by Robert Sayre, Bundy’s aide, who epmhasized a fundamental clash of Castro’s ‘world revolution’ with comparable U.S. universalist principles.82 However, the objectives associated with the U.S. political committments like ‘ejecting’ the Soviets from Cuba or ending Latin American subversion appeared meaningless in themselves, since they only served to enhance global U.S. credibility. From a geopolitical perspective, however, there was important substance in American claims to control over Cuban foreign policy. Cuban association with the Non-Aligned Movement and Castro’s support for Latin American revolutionaries posed a serious risk to stability of the U.S.-led Inter-American System and Washington’s influence in the Global South.83 It was paradoxical that both the United States and the Soviet Union were frustrated by Cuba’s internationalist ‘solidarity’ with national liberation and revolutionary forces on a global scale. Under these conditions, it seemed contradictory that Chase had hoped for symbolic removal of the Soviet military to score a Cold War public success while Secretary of State Dean Rusk expected Moscow to “caution Castro not to inflame the situation into a major crisis.”84 Although Chase emphasized that “we should never close the door completely to possible accommodation with Castro on U.S. terms” it remained a leading public policy premise that “we do not intend to coexist with a Soviet satellite in this hemisphere.”85 The goals of the U.S. administration were crippled by the simultaneous need for a spectacular Cold War success against communism and practical use of the Soviets to manage tensions with Cuba.

5. The Cold War and ‘Positive Containment’

  • 86 Castro, quoted in: Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations.
  • 87 Szyfrogram nr 1362 z Moskwy, 2 lutego 1964 r., Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.
  • 88 Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations.
  • 89 Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill: The U (...)
  • 90 Volker Skierka, Fidel Castro: Biografia (Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 2008), 152.
  • 91 Chase, U.S. Policy Towards Cuba.

34It was hardly a coincidence, that during Castro’s visit to the Soviet Union in January 1964 he maintained that Cuba had “always advocated the normalization of its relations with the United States.”86 At the Moscow meeting, both Castro and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed that “Johnson had no intention of organizing an armed attack on Cuba.”87 Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence noted with suspicion that Castro’s conciliatory overtone was regularly accompanied by simultaneous warming of Cuba’s relations with the Soviets.88 In March of 1964 the C.I.A. quoted Cuban Foreign Minister Raul Roa as saying that the U.S.-Cuban conciliation was primarily a desire of Khrushchev.89 Notably, Eastern Bloc countries were increasingly restless with Castro’s “nationalist presumption” combined with “his underestimation of the international constellation of forces around Cuba and the effectiveness of the policy of peaceful coexistence.”90 However, a sense of Cuban-Soviet collusion discouraged the Johnson administration from any politically disputable dialogue with Castro’s government that might negatively affect the Cold War anti-communist principles of the United States. On official terms, a ‘no-invasion policy’ established in 1962 remained the only U.S.-Cuban compromise acceptable to American public opinion.91

  • 92 Castro, Discurso pronunciado en la concentracion conmemorativa del Quinto Aniversario de la Revoluc (...)
  • 93 Despite Johnson’s declaration of the will to negotiate a new deal on control over the Panama Canal, (...)
  • 94 Rabe, The Most Dagerous Area, 187.
  • 95 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 96-100.
  • 96 Johnson, quoted in: Dallek, Flawed Giant, 95.

35Moreover, the U.S. policy towards Cuba was subordinated to the issue of Washington’s political posture in Latin America. Shortly before his Moscow visit in January 1964, when Castro stated a desire to “live in peace with every government of Latin America, including the United States,” a conflict broke out in the Panama Canal Zone over the political status of this territory.92 The dispute ostensibly centered around the right to fly a Panamanian flag, but quickly turned into riots leading to a breach of U.S.-Panamanian diplomatic relations on January 10, 1964.93 Although there was no evidence of Cuban involvement in these developments, the United States usually credited Havana with responsibility for anti-American sentiments in Latin America.94 In fact, the Johnson administration reacted with restraint not only because of international and domestic considerations. Contrary to congressional calls for an aggressive U.S. response, the President and his advisers were more dedicated to a peaceful solution while blaming conservative Panamanian leadership, instead of Cuban or Soviet communists, for eruption of riots.95 Despite the previous Cuban revolutionary subversion in Panama, Johnson declined to resolve the conflict by force. Since he felt that “Most of Latin America is against us,” the United States had few options other than to respect the rising tide of national sentiments in the region.96

  • 97 Memo, Bromley Smith, January 1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ (...)
  • 98 Memo, Gordon Chase to Bromley Smith, 1/22/1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965 (...)
  • 99 Attwood, The Twilight Struggle, 263.
  • 100 Chase, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Eastern Caribbean Federation, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 2/2/1964, L (...)
  • 101 Ibid.
  • 102 Attwood, The Twilight Struggle, 263.

36Both the Soviet and Latin American developments of early 1964 contributed to the Johnson administration’s ambiguous position concerning political contact with Castro’s Cuba. Accordingly, Bromley Smith, the executive secretary of the National Security Council, suggested to presidential assistant Bill Moyers that “any contact between Attwood and Castro representatives should be avoided” in light of the recently announced Soviet-Cuban trade agreement.97 Since the political position of the Cuban leader was deemed too strong after his visit to the Soviet Union, Chase ordered Attwood to terminate his encounters with Lechuga.98 But despite rising opposition from the President and the Department of State to negotiations with Castro, Attwood could not hide his regret that there was “no desire among the Johnson people to do anything Cuba in an election year.”99 The United States’ public image and Cold War credibility associated with the presidential campaign appeared to have ruled out any open discussions with Castro until November 1964.100 It must be emphasized, however, that Chase favored reaching an agreement with Cuba as an interesting solution for 1965 when, he believed, “we may yet break Castro off the [communist] Bloc,” bringing about “one of the truly great victories of the 20th century.”101 Moreover, Attwood consulted directly with President Johnson, who declared to have “read [his] chronological account of our Cuban initiative with interest.”102

  • 103 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 91.
  • 104 Ibid., 93.
  • 105 Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations; R. Dallek, Flawed Giant, 91.
  • 106 Castro, Verbal Message given to Miss Lisa Howard of ABC News on February 12, 1964 in Havana, Cuba i (...)
  • 107 Ibid.

37Although aware of the political responsibilities of the Johnson administration in a Cold War challenge, Castro attempted to provoke a response from the U.S. officials precisely during this sensitive campaign period. Under these conditions in February 1964, Cuban authorities decided to cut off water supplies to the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo, presumably over a dispute about Cuban fishing boats on U.S. territorial waters.103 In the opinion of Robert Dallek, a belief of Johnson that the crisis was caused by the Soviets to “push me a little and see what my response would be” demonstrated his insecurity regarding foreign affairs in Cold War conditions104. As a matter of fact, in a television interview, Castro calmed the situation, explaining that “there never was any intention” to cause an incident with the United States, though the Johnson administration rightly perceived the Cuban challenge as a kind of test of the United States’ reaction.105 Although there was no evidence of any Soviet inspiration for the Cuban move, it could be interpreted more as a message to Johnson. Indeed, shortly thereafter Castro confirmed his benign motives to U.S. journalist Lisa Howard during her visit to Cuba, declaring that he “earnestly desired” Johnson an election victory in November.106 In a message addressed to the President himself, the Cuban leader implied that even the recent crisis in Guantánamo could contribute to Johnson’s anti-communist political credibility. By declaring his will to do “anything I can do to add to his [Johnson's] majority,” Castro suggested creating conditions in which the U.S. President would “feel it necessary during the campaign to make bellicose statements about Cuba or even to take some hostile action.”107 This way, an open proposal was made to turn the U.S.-Cuban hostility into a pure public relations issue that might, however, contribute to the real domestic and international interests of both governments.

  • 108 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 68.
  • 109 Ibid.
  • 110 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 99-100.
  • 111 Caribbean: Cuba, Policy Planning Council, 2/13/1964, Cuba - U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – Ju (...)
  • 112 Ibid.
  • 113 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 94.

38According to William O. Walker, U.S. officials began to notice Cuban government’s pragmatism, which focused solely on the defense of its sovereignty.108 Along these lines, Johnson was convinced that the mere political isolation of Castro’s Cuba by the O.A.S. ensured the implementation of an “American mission to the Third World”.109 The sanctions regime of the O.A.S. could relieve the United States from a need to apply unilateral ‘punishment’ of Cuba, thus easing bilateral tensions.110 A similar tone of U.S. disengagement from anti-Cuban policies prevailed in the report of the Policy Planning Council drawn up in February 1964, in which the Castro government was presented as an irreversible reality despite representing “a successful challenge for the United States” in a “denial of all our hemispheric policy”.111 Some opinions of the Council even stressed a need for U.S. tolerance for Castro’s “raison d'être” in foreign policy, since ending the agitation for revolution by Cuba would mean the same as to “stop breathing.”112 Under these conditions, the Johnson administration could not deny that even the Soviet influence on Castro remained limited, as evidenced by Moscow’s helplessness in the face of “Albania, North Korea, and North Vietnam.” Thus, any U.S. attempt to persuade the Soviet Union into restraining or controlling Cuban hostility towards the United States appeared pointless and ineffective. However, the Johnson administration favored a policy of increasing the political and economic cost of Moscow’s interference in the Global South that could, at least, discourage the U.S.S.R. from supporting a revolutionary insurgency in Latin America. By establishing a kind of political compromise with communist Cuba, the Johnson administration expected to bring “an end to our Cold War with the Soviets.” Surprisingly, the President’s claim corresponded with Castro’s message to Johnson passed through Lisa Howard in June 1964 that “all our crises could be avoided if there was some way to communicate.”113 In this sense, a risk of war would be managed by coordinated effort within the East-West settlement without a threat of embarrassing ‘compromise’ between the United States and communist world.

  • 114 Szyfrogram nr 1589 z Hawany, 10 lutego 1964, Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.
  • 115 Ryszard Krystosik, Notatka – aktualne zagadnienia polityki Stanów Zjednoczonych wobec Kuby, Waszyng (...)
  • 116 Ibid.

39Symptomatically, in the mid-1960s, some communist bloc governments appeared to perceive the U.S.-Cuban stalemate as a permanent result of the failed, aggressive policies of the Kennedy administration. The Polish embassy in Havana, in a dispatch to Warsaw from February 10, 1964, assessed that although the United States still envisaged an anti-Cuban program, they were no longer anticipating any direct bilateral confrontation. The main objective of the Johnson presidency was now to engage political and economic efforts of Latin American countries “on the Cuban problem as the main controversy on this continent.”114 The matter was further elaborated on by Ryszard Krystosik, a counselor of the Polish embassy, in a memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which he looked forward to the ultimate breakdown of the U.S. policy of “tightening the economic noose around Cuba.”115 According to his estimate, the policy of the Johnson administration “would focus on strengthening the political unity and discipline among the Latin [American] partners and improvement of the failing Alliance for Progress, a program now greatly cherished by Johnson.”116 In other words, the United States needed Castro’s Cuba as a predictable public enemy to pursue their Latin American political goals without risking a major conflict with Havana that could constrain Washington’s moves and damage its political image. The U.S. sought more pragmatic stability and security of the region instead of an ideological challenge to the Cuban revolution as emphasized by the Kennedy administration.

  • 117 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.
  • 118 Johnson, Remarks on the Third Anniversary of the Alliance for Progress, March 16 1964, The American (...)
  • 119 Ibid.
  • 120 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 176–177.

40In fact, President Johnson did not hesitate to pronounce his misgivings about the Alliance for Progress as an agency of universal democratic change and liberal values for Latin America. In the opinion of Thomas Mann, Special Assistant to the President responsible for Latin American affairs, the United States had limited capability to effect immediate democratization and development of this region.117 Raised in the New Deal era of the ‘Good Neighbour Policy,’ he stressed economic integration of Latin America and multilateral isolation of Cuba in place of direct U.S. interventionism. On the third anniversary of the program’s announcement on March 16, 1964, Johnson stated that “Progress cannot be imposed by foreign countries,” since “Progress cannot be purchased with large amounts of money or even with large amounts of good will.”118 Indicating the United States’ withdrawal from the active promotion of democracy and social transition, he stressed that political-social reforms in any Latin American country, though inevitable, “depend upon a willingness of that country to mobilize its own resources, to inspire its own people.”119 Accordingly, a redefinition of the Alliance for Progress agenda proposed by Johnson implied a certain criticism of the ideological premises of Kennedy’s policy toward Cuba, with its claim of a “peaceful revolution” mandating U.S. interference in another country’s internal affairs.120

  • 121 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 72.
  • 122 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 75.

41This practical outlook was shared by Mann, who suggested a need for reduction of the ideological appeal of Castro’s Cuba by adjusting the U.S.-Cuban hostility to mutual non-aggression.121 Because the U.S. armed intervention against Cuba remained inconceivable, Washington’s interests in the region, defined by their purely military security and economic sense, were associated with the defensive capabilities of Latin American states themselves. Moreover, Mann was, in his social-economic position, “very Fabian” in his Latin American concepts and willing to introduce “cautious, moderate socialism” like development aid, tax reform and stabilized commodities prices instead of free market orthodoxy122. His belief in democratic development through economic forces made him not only close to the American liberal tradition, but also to progressive outlooks represented by the American and Global South left. A competitive ideological relation between the Alliance for Progress and the Cuban revolutionary internationalism seemed apparent.

  • 123 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 184; Tomasz Knothe, Ameryka Łacińska w polityce USA, 1945-1975 (Wroc (...)
  • 124 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 82-83.
  • 125 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 98-99.
  • 126 Chase, Cuba, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 3/11/1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 19 (...)

42Ultimately, in March 1964, Mann addressed the U.S. diplomatic corps in Latin America, emphasizing the priority of the military security policy to protect the investment of U.S. private capital that would be combined with the struggle against the radical left in this region.123 Thus, the so-called ‘Mann Doctrine’ not only ruled out any coercive democratization of Latin American states, but also implied the principle of the U.S. non-intervention in the political affairs of Cuba. Although received with criticism by U.S. liberal press “crusaders” for alleged resignation from “democratic development”, the American course only acknowledged the fact that some Latin American “democrats” could hardly be distinguished from denounced dictators.124 A conclusion might be drawn that the announced policy was a result of the U.S.-Cuban political cease-fire of the mid-1960s and it significantly contributed to a mutual de-escalation of hostility, reducing the risk of a direct conflict between Washington and Havana. As Adam Watson, the British ambassador in Havana, believed, both sides could only reach an understanding to “reduce their activities directed against the other's position.”125 Acoordingly, Chase wanted Castro to “stop his subversion [in Latin America] and break his tie-line with the [Eastern] Bloc”126 in return for U.S. non-intervention.

  • 127 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 96.
  • 128 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 72.

43The apparent indifference of Washington toward democratic principles and political systems in Latin American states seemed to favor U.S. accommodation of Castro’s government despite the continued commitment of the Johnson administration to combatting armed leftist movements.127 Notably, the Department of State could only tolerate more political independence of Latin American states and provide them with economic aid in line with Mann’s proposals, since this course presumably limited the Cuban ideological challenge to U.S. domination in the Western Hemisphere.128 As a matter of fact, the Johnson administration could hardly control the policies of Latin American army officers who deposed civilian governments. On the other hand, a military coup in Brazil in April 1964, which removed the left-leaning President João Goulart from power, contributed to the U.S. objective of reducing the revolutionary appeal of communist Cuba, since Brazil had previously been a crucial ally of Castro.

  • 129 LeoGrande, Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 103.
  • 130 Ibid.
  • 131 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 78.

44By withdrawing its direct support for democratic change or a ‘peaceful revolution’ in Latin America, the Johnson administration still effectively secured essential political and economic interests of the United States in the region. Isolation of Cuba by the O.A.S. turned the U.S.-Cuban dispute into a hemispheric and global dimension without raising “suspicion throughout Latin America that the U.S. might make a deal with Cuba,” in the words of Under Secretary of State George Ball.129 Practical reconciliation could never be made public, since any publicity “could provide a propaganda line useful to Communists” and harmful to the anti-communist credibility of the United States.130 Indeed, in the words of Mann, it was an almost unattainable art of political management to “tell American people the truth” about the limits of U.S. power in Latin America without tarnishing its own image.131 From the U.S. perspective, then, it was not Castro’s Cuba itself, but the ‘Cuban model’ that had to be deprived of political and economic respectability.

  • 132 Odd Arne Westad, Conclusion: The Third World in Latin America in: Latin America and the Global Cold (...)
  • 133 Chase, U.S. Policy Towards Cuba.
  • 134 Ibid.
  • 135 Wiesław Dobrzycki, System międzyamerykański (Warszawa: Wydawn, 2002), 202.

45It should be mentioned, however, that geopolitical dynamics related to Cuban-Soviet ties and Castro’s competitive internationalist credibility within ‘Third World solidarity’ affected the U.S. policies.132 In this sense, Johnson’s objectives regarding Cuba were not different from Kennedy’s. As Chase indicated, the main guideline of the U.S. relation to Castro’s government amounted to “keep[ing] Cuba in perspective and in a low-key” mode.133 The leading imperative of Washington was to publicly convey “the sense that it recognises the threat” posed by Cuba, that it is “efficiently” and “successfully” engaged in “controlling the threat” while decreasing a public sense of any “high danger” stemming from Castro’s regime134. By maintaining a practical ‘no-invasion’ policy combined with the isolation measures applied through the O.A.S. resolution in July 1964, the United States wished to create the conditions for easing bilateral tensions that could open the door for mutually beneficial accommodation.135

  • 136 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 103-107.
  • 137 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 265; Peter Felten, “Yankee, Go Home and Take Me with You: Lyndon Johnson and (...)
  • 138 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 8.
  • 139 U.S. Policy Towards Cuba, April to November, 1964, 3/22/1964, Cuba - U.S. Policy, Vol. 1, February (...)
  • 140 Cuba: United States Policy, National Policy Paper, July 15 1968, Declassified Documents Reference S (...)
  • 141 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 113-117.

46Although Johnson’s election victory in 1964 was not followed by the political accord with Cuba as expected by Chase, the U.S. policy of preventing ‘another Cuba’ nevertheless translated into a practical coexistence between Washington and Havana. Since foreign policies and Cold War committments of the two states became recognized as non-negotiable, only ‘non-political’ issues and ‘technical’ arrangements remained attainable. A migration agreement following the Camarioca Crisis in 1965 confirmed a turn of the U.S. policy on Cuba into managerial mode which put their tensions under desired control.136 Nevertheless, the anti-communist public image of the United States determined the official policy of isolation of Castro’s regime and prompted the U.S. military intervention in the Dominican Republic in April 1965.137 Eventually, the United States turned its attention to South-East Asia, hindering any active policy of either accomodation or aggression towards Cuba. No doubt, the crisis around the Dominican Republic and an escalating conflict in Vietnam embodied Cold War security fears about alleged expansion of communism in the Global South, but the same fears undermined previous U.S. non-intervention pledges, since, as claimed by Thomas Allcock, “any form of communist influence was considered intolerable.”138 However, analyses by Johnson’s National Security Council and the Department of State continued to acknowledge that Cuba no longer threatened the United States.139 A similar appeasing tone was voiced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman J. William Fulbright. Instead of a policy ‘revision,’ the approach of the United States was defined by the National Policy Paper in 1968 as “hostile coexistence” with Castro’s regime.140 A tolerable ‘modus vivendi’ was recognized in the allegedly sensible concept of ‘positive containment,’ assuming that Cuba was not “a mortal security threat,” while Castro’s anti-American policy became a “manageable problem.”141 As a result, the United States resorted to modification of Cuban ‘behavior’ through economic and political pressure rather than decisive actions regarding war or peace.

6. Conclusion

  • 142 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 153-154.
  • 143 M. Tarczewski, Notatka dot. amerykańskiej polityki wobec Kuby, Ambasada Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej L (...)
  • 144 Schlesinger, Cuban Documents, Memorandum from the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to th (...)
  • 145 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.

47In a brief period from 1963 to 1964, following the Missile Crisis and preceding the United States’ engagement in South-East Asia, a state of neither peace nor war between the United States and Cuba developed into a factual political coexistence of the two countries, despite their public hostility determined by the Cold War global circumstances. Although the Kennedy and Johnson administrations failed to turn Castro into a ‘Carribbean Tito,’ the established bilateral contact allowed for a decrease in tension around Cuba without compromising the United States’ anti-communist global credibility. Internationalization of the Cuban issue within the U.S.-Cuban-Soviet relationship precluded both open political dialogue and open war between Washington and Havana. Both geopolitical and ideological factors of the Soviet presence in Cuba, combined with Castro’s subversion in Latin America and his Global South alliances, ruled out U.S.-Cuban reconciliation142. Nevertheless, Cuba’s international prestige as a communist revolutionary threat, secured by the Soviet protection, seemed to validate and legitimize the global position of the United States as a rival progressive power. It was because of their mutual and manifest hostility that both states coexisted in an almost interdependent relationship. As one of the Polish diplomats in Washington noted, the apparent hardline policies of the United States against Cuba concealed an actual “determination to prevent an armed conflict.”143 Far from being a “lost opportunity for peace,” as claimed by Kornbluh and LeoGrande, the United States and Cuba managed to secure their public global position as a result of a controlled enmity. Symbolic measures designed against the image of a Cuban threat were believed to contribute to the U.S. prestige more effectively than any genuine relations with the Castro regime. There was, however, as Arthur Schlesinger stated, a relevant question regarding “the effects of this symbolism” on the U.S.-Cuban political reality.144 Moreover, the problem remained, in the words of Thomas Mann, how to convince the American nation that in foreign policy and international relations “miracles don’t happen.”145

  • 146 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 154.
  • 147 Francis, Leviathan and its Enemies, 512-516.
  • 148 Eline Van Ommen, “Isolating Nicaragua’s Somoza: Sandinista Diplomacy in Western Europe, 1977-1979,”(...)

48As a result, under conditions of a mutual political stalemate, any genuine solution to their conflict became increasingly undesirable for both the United States and Cuba. In fact, the crucial objectives of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations regarding an end to the Cuban cooperation with the Soviet Union and to its subversion in Latin America seemed inconceivable and non-negotiable from the United States’ as well as Cuban ideological perspectives.146 The American objective was not so much to overthrow the Cuban government, but to reduce the Castro model’s international impact while keeping the secure image of Cuba for the benefit of America’s own prestige and legitimacy. It might be even assumed that for the United States, any particular goals or tangible results regarding Cuba were deemed secondary to publicly credible ‘crisis managment’ within the Cold War conditions. The utopian premises of ‘managerial globalism’ of the 1960s implied exporting Western economic and social development to Global South countries as a universal, ‘scientific’ solution to communist threat.147 Thus, an open reconciliation of the United States with Castro’s communist regime remained contrary to the public anti-communist commitments of the leader of the ‘Free World.’ Unfortunately, these international burdens imposed a limit to the U.S. power in the closest neighborhood and substituted Cold War credibility for clear political objectives regarding Castro’s Cuba, in a mode similar to the following engagement in Vietnam. A continuing curtailment of U.S. power abroad was further exemplified in the 1970s in the Western Hemishpere by the development of anti-American non-state actors without a bipolar East-West identity, like the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in their efforts for Western European support.148 Even the most powerful states no longer held a monopoly on the distribution of power through appealing liberal internationalist notions of ‘democracy, social justice and political pluralism.’ However, when almost every political entity could claim its right to represent progress, justice and democracy, a state of the bipolar Cold War itself transformed into a peculiar global civil war without determined frontiers.

  • 149 Schlesinger, Cuban Documents.

49At the same time, a disturbing analogy of the U.S. progressive image with Cuban revolutionary ideology reflected a deeper entaglement of foreign and domestic affairs of the United States. In the words of Schlesinger, measures applied toward Cuba were self-deceptive in the sense that they formed “a partial answer to the problem of domestic politics but a most inadequate answer to the real problem.”149 The U.S. liberal concept of a ‘revolution betrayed’ by the ‘closest of enemies’ translated into a notion of reduced political sovereignty of Cuba, which simultaneously hindered the U.S. capacity for any action—conciliatory and aggressive alike. Consequently, the United States and Cuba plunged into an ambiguous and apparently unresolvable antagonism whose public advantages seemed to prevail over open reconciliation and war. Therefore, a political coexistence with the Castro regime, under conditions of a permanent, though managed, state of tension determined the approach of the United States toward Cuba for the following decades.

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Notes

1 William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

2 Håkan Karlsson and Tomás Diez Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy and the “Multiple Path” Policy Toward Cuba (New York: Routledge, 2020); Idem, The Johnson Administration’s Cuba Policy: From “Dirty War” to Passive Containment (New York: Routledge, 2021).

3 Alexandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1964 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997), 319-323.

4 Petra Goedde, The Politics of Peace: A Global Cold War History (New York: Oxford University Press 2019), 193-194.

5 Geoff R. Berridge, Talking to the Enemy: How States without ‘Diplomatic Relations’ Communicate (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd., 1994), 1-8.

6 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 15.

7 Ibid., 49.

8 Thomas Tunstall Allcock, Thomas C. Mann: President Johnson, the Cold War and the Restructuring of Latin American Foreign Policy (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2018), 7.

9 Jack B. Pfeiffer, The Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume III: Evolution of CIA’s Anti-Castro Policies, 1951-January 1961, (Central Intelligence Agency, 1979; David M. Barrett, Villanova University, 2005), 190-197.

10 Jules R. Benjamin, The United States and the Origins of the Cuban Revolution: An Empire of Liberty in an Age of National Liberation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 196.

11 Berridge, Talking to the Enemy, 130 - 133.

12 Arthur Schlesinger, Cuba: Political, Diplomatic and Economic Problems, Memorandum for the President, April 10 1961, FRUS 1961-1963, Vol. X, 1961-1962.

13 Van Gosse, Where the Boys are: Cuba, Cold War America and the Making of a New Left, (New York: Verso, 1993), 213.

14 Schlesinger, Cuba: Political, Diplomatic and Economic Problems.

15 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 67-70.

16 McGeorge Bundy, Further Organization of the Government for dealing with Cuba, 4 January 1963, FRUS 1961-1963, Vol. XI, 261.

17 Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 236-237.

18 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 66.

19 Arthur Schlesinger, Cuban Covert Plan, Memorandum for Mr Richard Goodwin, July 8 1961, FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. X, Cuba, 1961-1962.

20 Samuel T. Francis, Leviathan and its Enemies: Mass Organisation and Managerial Power in Twentieth-Century America (Arlington: Washington Summit Publishers, 2016), 426-435.

21 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 64.

22 Eric Gettig, “Cuba, the United States and the Uses of the Third World Project, 1959-1967,” in: Thomas C. Field Jr. (ed.), Latin America and the Global Cold War (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2020), 242.

23 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 70.

24 Instructions for James Donovan, February 1963, CIA FOIA, Electronic Briefing Book.

25 John Fiztgerald Kennedy, Address before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations, September 20, 1963, The American Presidency Project.

26 Cuba: Possible Courses of Action, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, September 20 1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders, LBJ Library.

27 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 68-69.

28 Ibid., 18-20.

29 McGeorge Bundy, A Sketch of the Cuban Alternatives, Memorandum for the Standing Group, 21 April 1963, FRUS 1961-1963, Vol. XI, 320.

30 Lisa Howard’s Interview with Fidel Castro, Memorandum for McGeorge Bundy, 3 May 1963, LBJ Library, National Security Files – Country Files, Cuba – Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963-1965, Box 21.

31 Jorge I. Domínguez, To Make a World Safe for Revolution: Cuba’s Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 145-146.

32 Gettig, Cuba, the United States, 243-246.

33 Charles Wright Mills, “Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba,” in: The United States, Cuba and the Cold War: American Failure or Communist Conspiracy? ed. by E. D. Langley (Lexington: D. C. Heath and Company, 1971), 23-30; William A. Williams, The U.S., Cuba and Castro: An Essay on the Dynamics of Revolution and the Dissolution of the Empire (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1962), 156.

34 Fursenko and Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble, 336-338.

35 Arthur Schlesinger, Statement by Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson, United States Representative, in Plenary Session, in reply to the statement by the Cuban Representative, 10/7/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders, 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

36 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 64.

37 Fidel Castro, Interview of U.S. Newswoman with Fidel Castro Indicating Possible Interest with Rapprochement with the United States, Memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence, 1 May 1963, LBJ Library, National Security Files – Country Files, Cuba – Contacts with Cuban Leaders, 1963-1965, Box 21.

38 Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 241.

39 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 70.

40 Memo, William Attwood to Gordon Chase, 11/8/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

41 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 155-156.

42 William Attwood, Memo, 9/18/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

43 William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of Cold War (New York: HarperCollins, 1987), 256.

44 Carlos Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm: Castro, Khrushchev, Kennedy and the Missile Crisis (New York: Ocean Press, 1995), 201.

45 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 151-153.

46 Edwin Martin, Cuba, Memorandum for Mr. McGeorge Bundy, 11/8/1963, LBJ Library; McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum for the Record, 11/12/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

47 McGeorge Bundy, Memorandum for the Record, Noember 12 1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, LBJ Library.

48 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 155.

49 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Address in Miami Before the Inter-American Press Association, 18 November 1963, The American Presidency Project.

50 Ibid.

51 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 161-162.

52 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, quoted in: Jean Daniel, “Two Interviews: Castro’s Reply to Kennedy Comments on Cuba,” The New York Times, 11 December 1963.

53 Maurice Halperin, The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), 290-291.

54 Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 242.

55 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, quoted in: Stephen G. Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area in the World: John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 107.

56 Fidel Castro, quoted in: Daniel, Two Interviews.

57 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 135-136.

58 Lechuga, In the Eye of the Storm, 185.

59 Ibid.

60 Halperin, The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro, 298.

61 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 162-164.

62 William O. Walker, “The Struggle for the Americas: The Johnson Administration and Cuba,” in: Beyond Vietnam: The Foreign Policies of Lyndon Johnson, ed. by Henry William Brands (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999), 75.

63 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 7.

64 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 139.

65 Nicola Miller, Soviet Relations with Latin America, 1959-1987 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) 51-52.

66 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.

67 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 83-84.

68 Castro, quoted in: FBI Cable, Mexico Legat to Headquarters, 27 November 1963, in: The Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies, Book V, 23 April 1976 (Ipswich 2007).

69 Chase, Cuba - Item of Presidential Interest, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 11/25/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba - Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

70 Chase, Bill Attwood's Activities, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 12/3/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba -Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

71 Lyndon Baines Johnson, quoted in: R. Dallek, Flawed Giant, 53.

72 Gordon Chase, Cuba - Item of Presidential Interest.

73 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 84.

74 Johnson, quoted in: Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 244.

75 Ibid.

76 Max Frankel, “President Asks Review On Cuba. New Ways to Combat Castro in the Hemi-sphere and on Island Viewed as Goal,” The New York Times, Dec. 9, 1963; S. G. Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 108.

77 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 67.

78 Chase, US Policy Towards Cuba, The White House, 12/2/1963, Cuba - US Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

79 Fidel Castro, Discurso pronunciado en el acto de Graduacion de Trescientas Maestras del Instituto Pedagogico “Makarenko” y Fin de Curso de Diez Mil Campesinas de la Escuela “Ana Betancourt”, en la Ciudad Deportiva, el 6 de diciembre de 1963.

80 Chase, Bill Attwood's Activities, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 12/2/1963, National Security Files - Country Files, Cuba-Contacts with Cuban Leaders 1963–1965, Box 21, LBJ Library.

81 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 87.

82 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 98-99.

83 Michelle Getchell, Cuba, the USSR and the Non-Aligned Movement: Negotiating Non-Alignment in: Latin America and the Global Cold War, 153-157.

84 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 92.

85 Chase, US Policy Towards Cuba.

86 Castro, quoted in: Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations.

87 Szyfrogram nr 1362 z Moskwy, 2 lutego 1964 r., Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.

88 Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations.

89 Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 26.

90 Volker Skierka, Fidel Castro: Biografia (Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 2008), 152.

91 Chase, U.S. Policy Towards Cuba.

92 Castro, Discurso pronunciado en la concentracion conmemorativa del Quinto Aniversario de la Revolucion, en la Plaza de la Revolucion, el 2 de enero de 1964.

93 Despite Johnson’s declaration of the will to negotiate a new deal on control over the Panama Canal, the regulation was introduced only by the Carter-Torrijos treaty of September 1977. It decided to abolish the Canal zone, leaving the U.S., however, the right to manage and defend this territory; Artur Gruszczak, Ameryka Środkowa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Trio, 2007), 289.

94 Rabe, The Most Dagerous Area, 187.

95 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 96-100.

96 Johnson, quoted in: Dallek, Flawed Giant, 95.

97 Memo, Bromley Smith, January 1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

98 Memo, Gordon Chase to Bromley Smith, 1/22/1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

99 Attwood, The Twilight Struggle, 263.

100 Chase, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Eastern Caribbean Federation, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 2/2/1964, LBJ Library; Idem, Mrs. Lisa Howard, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 3/10/1964, Cuba-US Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

101 Ibid.

102 Attwood, The Twilight Struggle, 263.

103 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 91.

104 Ibid., 93.

105 Castro on Normalization of U.S. - Cuban Relations; R. Dallek, Flawed Giant, 91.

106 Castro, Verbal Message given to Miss Lisa Howard of ABC News on February 12, 1964 in Havana, Cuba in: Kennedy Sought Dialogue with Cuba. Initiative with Castro Aborted by Assassination,” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 103.

107 Ibid.

108 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 68.

109 Ibid.

110 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 99-100.

111 Caribbean: Cuba, Policy Planning Council, 2/13/1964, Cuba - U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

112 Ibid.

113 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 94.

114 Szyfrogram nr 1589 z Hawany, 10 lutego 1964, Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.

115 Ryszard Krystosik, Notatka – aktualne zagadnienia polityki Stanów Zjednoczonych wobec Kuby, Waszyngton dnia 17 marca 1964 r., Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.

116 Ibid.

117 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.

118 Johnson, Remarks on the Third Anniversary of the Alliance for Progress, March 16 1964, The American Presidency Project.

119 Ibid.

120 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 176–177.

121 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 72.

122 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 75.

123 Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area, 184; Tomasz Knothe, Ameryka Łacińska w polityce USA, 1945-1975 (Wroclaw: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1976), 122.

124 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 82-83.

125 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 98-99.

126 Chase, Cuba, Memorandum for Mr. Bundy, 3/11/1964, Cuba-U.S. Policy, Vol. 2, December 1963 – July 1965, Box 29, LBJ Library.

127 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 96.

128 Walker, The Struggle for the Americas, 72.

129 LeoGrande, Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 103.

130 Ibid.

131 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 78.

132 Odd Arne Westad, Conclusion: The Third World in Latin America in: Latin America and the Global Cold War, 397-398.

133 Chase, U.S. Policy Towards Cuba.

134 Ibid.

135 Wiesław Dobrzycki, System międzyamerykański (Warszawa: Wydawn, 2002), 202.

136 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 103-107.

137 Dallek, Flawed Giant, 265; Peter Felten, “Yankee, Go Home and Take Me with You: Lyndon Johnson and the Dominican Republic,” in: Beyond Vietnam, 100.

138 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 8.

139 U.S. Policy Towards Cuba, April to November, 1964, 3/22/1964, Cuba - U.S. Policy, Vol. 1, February 1964 – May 1964, Box 29, LBJ Library.

140 Cuba: United States Policy, National Policy Paper, July 15 1968, Declassified Documents Reference System, Roosevelt Study Center.

141 LeoGrande and Kornbluh, Back Channel to Cuba, 113-117.

142 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 153-154.

143 M. Tarczewski, Notatka dot. amerykańskiej polityki wobec Kuby, Ambasada Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej w Waszyngtonie, dnia 15 maja 1964 r., Archiwum MSZ w Warszawie.

144 Schlesinger, Cuban Documents, Memorandum from the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen), September 24 1962, FRUS 1961-1963, Vol. X, Cuba, 1961-1962.

145 Allcock, Thomas C. Mann, 80.

146 Karlsson and Acosta, The Last Year of President Kennedy, 154.

147 Francis, Leviathan and its Enemies, 512-516.

148 Eline Van Ommen, “Isolating Nicaragua’s Somoza: Sandinista Diplomacy in Western Europe, 1977-1979,” in: Latin America and the Global Cold War, 367-387.

149 Schlesinger, Cuban Documents.

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References

Electronic reference

Krzysztof Siwek, Neither Peace nor War—U.S.-Cuban Political Coexistence from 1963 to 1964European journal of American studies [Online], 18-2 | 2023, Online since 03 July 2023, connection on 19 April 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ejas/20416; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.20416

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About the author

Krzysztof Siwek

Krzysztof Siwek (b. 1982), PhD, assistant professor at the Institute of History of the University of Wrocław since 2011; research interests include U.S. foreign policy, with particular emphasis on the role of Latin America, Poland and East Central Europe, and territorial issues, U.S. political philosophy, the history of Silesia, Poland and Europe in the twentieth century, as well as social and cultural history; contact: krzysztof.siwek@uwr.edu.pl.

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