99. Editorial Note

On July 12, the Deputy Director for Intelligence of The Joint Staff, Major General Robert A. Breitweiser, transmitted a memorandum entitled “United States Prestige” to the Director of The Joint Staff, Lieutenant General Oliver S. Picher. In the memorandum, Breitweiser distinguished between “prestige” and “popularity”, and noted that U.S. military or political intervention in Latin America, despite its unpopularity, would not necessarily impair U.S. prestige.

In fact, Breitweiser wrote: “the continued failure of U.S. efforts to secure the freedom of the abducted Navy and Marine personnel on Cuba is unspectacularly but seriously eroding our national prestige not only in Latin America but also in other areas of the world.” Any decision to undertake military action to secure the release of the kidnapped Americans should take into account the certainty that the Soviet Union would exploit such a move with propaganda “designed [Page 149] to destroy the world image of the United States as a peaceful and noncolonial power”, and the necessity of using sufficient force to ensure success.

The memorandum concludes: “it is our belief that, with good political and psychological preparation and the employment of adequate forces, U.S. military action to recover the American captives could, although unpopular, actually enhance U.S. prestige. However, we believe that the military problem itself is difficult, and a major miscalculation in the political and psychological build-up could cause the operation to boomerang.”

The full text of the memorandum is published in Declassified Documents, 1981, 150A.