James Perry – The Necessary Failure: the Bay of Pigs in Global Context

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Event Date: 29 April – 1 May 2011
East Midlands Conference Centre
University of Nottingham  
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RJ



Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory


James Perry (Senior Analyst, Northrop Grumman) – The Necessary Failure: the Bay of Pigs in Global Context

The crises in Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean in early 1961 are usually examined in isolation from one another, and this creates a misleading view of the Kennedy administration’s management of these crises.  The policymakers fully understood that decisions taken with respect to one region necessarily affected all the others.  The tension between the competing demands of each crisis was exacerbated by the enormous distances between the crisis zones, and by the limited military resources available.  Forces allocated to one region were unavailable for contingencies that might develop in the other regions.  Moreover, Kennedy had very little leeway in resolving these crises, because he took office with the crises already in progress and with planning for paramilitary operations in Laos and Cuba well advanced.  Nonetheless, by early February 1961, Kennedy had evolved a global strategy to resolve these crises.  This, in turn, prompted Soviet countermoves that forced Kennedy to alter his original plans.  Far from being an unmitigated disaster, the defeat at the Bay of Pigs was the “least worst” outcome for Kennedy.  Indeed, the sacrifice of the Cuban exile brigade was necessary from the standpoint of Kennedy’s global strategy in early 1961, and thus I describe the episode as “The Necessary Failure”.

James D. Perry is a Senior Analyst for a major aerospace corporation.  He conducts research and analysis to support company programs and senior company leadership.  He has special expertise in unmanned aircraft and their role in major conflicts, irregular warfare, and homeland security.  Previously, he worked for Science Applications International Corporation, where he conducted long-range assessments of the political, military, and technological developments that affect national security for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the military services, and other government clients.  At SAIC, he developed and conducted numerous workshops and wargames on the problems of anti-access, military innovation, transformation, experimentation, and asymmetric warfare.  He has an MA in Security Policy Studies and a PhD in History from George Washington University, and was a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.

Contact information: 1620 Greenbriar Court, Reston, Virginia 20190

Email: ajdperry@hotmail.com

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