Cold War insanity: you really couldn’t make this up
Have started Michael Dobbs’ recent account of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and am already gripped. But i nearly dropped the book on the floor when i read this paragraph, in the section about the CIA’s Operation Mongoose, headed up by Air Force General Ed Lansdale (photo below).
As the target dates for causing havoc inside Cuba came and went, with nothing much happening, Lansdale came up with increasingly bizarre ideas for overthrowing the Cuban dictator. His latest plan, dated October 15, was for a U.S. submarine to surface off Havana in the middle of the night and fire star shells toward the shore. The shells would light up the nighttime sky. In the meantime, CIA agents would have spread the word around Cuba that Castro was the anti-Christ, and tha the illumination was a harbinger of the Second Coming of Christ. Lansdale suggested that the operation be timed to coincide with All Soul’s Day “to gain extra impact from Cuban superstitions.” CIA sceptics dubbed the scheme “Elimination by Illumination”.
I don’t know where to begin… It is truly insane, patronising, moronic and thoroughly naïve (but apart from various degrees of biblical illiteracy). And that’s just for starters…
For good measure, here’s another:
Another pet Lansdale project was branding the Cuban resistance with the symbol “gusano libre”. Official Cuban propaganda constantly denounced anti-Castro Cubans as “worms” (“gusanos”). Lansdale wanted to turn the rhetoric against Castro, and encourage dissidents to see themselves as “free worms”, subverting the Cuban economy and political system from within through minor acts of sabotage. But the public relations campaign was a flop. Imbued with pride and machismo, Cubans refused to identify with worms, free or not.
One Minute to Midnight, Michael Dobbs, 2009, p12