47. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy0

Here, in sharp form, are the issues on Cuba. Bissell and Mann are the real antagonists at the staff level. Since I think you lean to Mannʼs view, I have put Bissell on top.1

On balance I think the gloomier parts of both papers are right. Diplomatic and public opinion are surely not ready for an invasion, but Castroʼs internal strength continues to grow. The battalionʼs dispersal would be a blow to U.S. prestige, but we should today have a hard time at the U.N. if it goes in.

The one hope I see is in an early—even if thin—recognition of a rival regime. I think if a Government-in-Exile can be surfaced promptly we could and should follow Mannʼs suggestion of working toward its recognition fairly soon. (We could also put in a full trade embargo against Castro, and you could sorrowfully read him out of the liberal family in a strong and factual speech about his outrages.) Then, conceivably, we could hold back Bissellʼs battalion for about three months and even build it up somewhat. And when it did go in, the color of civil war would be quite a lot stronger.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/61-4/61. Top Secret.
  2. See Documents 45 and 46.