601. Memorandum from McGeorge Bundy to President Kennedy, January 211

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Your Discussion Before the NSC Tomorrow

The following topics are set down in random order and you will surely want to organize them your own way.

1. Cuba

This is surely the biggest event of 1962, and no one has yet heard your personal judgment of its meaning for the Executive Branch. The following are questions that I for one would ask:

A. What do we expect and not expect as a result in our own attitude toward the world—are we in fact more determined to act on our own best judgment?

[Typeset Page 1576]

B. What balance do you assess as between restraint in action and determination to act firmly where necessary?

C. How do we estimate the behavior and response of other Governments—The British, the French, the OAS, the Soviets themselves?

D. Would you be willing to say a word about the way the whole Executive Branch responded to this crisis? It is true that each part responded in its own way—the JCS with plans for war and the USUN with plans for negotiation—but in fact they all responded and worked in single-minded support of policies which you set, and this is really more important than any difference of judgment. Even the press behaved in a highly cooperative way until the pressure was off and the post mortems began.

E. We still have Cuba with us, and the fact is that a series of rather low-key recommendations will be coming to the Executive [Facsimile Page 2] Committee from Cottrell’s new office. You may want to give some hint of your own judgment of this problem.

F. The post mortem problem is still with us and will have been stirred tomorrow by Stewart Alsop’s Post Script. You may want to say a word about your view of such post mortems.

[Here follows the remainder of the memorandum.]

McG. B.
  1. Topics for President’s discussion before NSC at January 22 meeting including President’s personal judgment of the events in Cuba. Top Secret. 2 pp. Kennedy Library, NSF, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSC Meetings, No. 508, 1/22/63.