1. The Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961
In 1961, the CIA financed and trained a group of Cuban refugees, mostly from Miami, to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro with a ground invasion supported by CIA-supplied B-26 bombers. At the onset, the paramilitary troops, numbering 1,400, overwhelmed local militia after landing at the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on the southern coast of Cuba, but Castro’s forces defeated the troops in just three days.
The failed invasion was an embarrassment for U.S. foreign policy. It also strengthened Castro’s resolve to adopt socialism and cultivate stronger ties with the Soviet Union. The defeat made President John F. Kennedy, then only three months into his presidency, look weak at the height of the Cold War. It set a dangerous precedent. Though Kennedy helped avoid a nuclear war later on during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, his faux pas with the Bay of Pigs operation is indelibly seared into military minds. It’s emblematic of serious U.S. military blunders, and it underpins every strategic decision the U.S. makes.
Then there was the Contra War in Nicaragua | Follow micdotcom