April 16, 2021 marks the 60thanniversary of the CIA-led invasion at the Bay of Pigs. The paramilitary attack defined U.S. hostility toward Fidel Castro’s Cuba and has become an enduring, iconic, symbol in the complicated history of U.S. policy toward the Cuban revolution.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Kornbluh organized a major conference in Havana on the 40thanniversary of the invasion, bringing retired CIA officials, members of the exile invasion force, and the surviving members of the Kennedy White House—among them Arthur Schlesinger, Ted Sorenson, and Richard Goodwin—to meet with Fidel Castro and his military commanders and reassess this dramatic episode. Kornbluh will share how that conference was able to use history to create a different history for the future.
Fast-forward to 2021: As the Biden Administration undertakes a review of its predecessor’s approach to Cuba and considers restoring the Obama Administration policy of engagement, what are the lessons from the Bay of Pigs continue to resonate in Washington and Havana? Peter Kornbluh shares his assessment of how the history of the failed invasion six decades ago informs the policy deliberations of the present day.
Peter Kornbluh has worked at the National Security Archive since 1986. He currently directs the Archive's Cuba and Chile Documentation Projects. He was co-director of the Iran-Contra documentation project and director of the Archive's project on U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. From 1990–1999, he taught at Columbia University as an adjunct assistant professor of international and public affairs. His most recent book is Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, a Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year. He is the author/editor/co-editor of a number of Archive books: the Archive's first two documents readers: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 and The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History, both published by the New Press, and Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba. His articles have been published in Foreign Policy, The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other journals and newspapers. He has appeared on national television and radio broadcasts, among them "60 Minutes," "The Charlie Rose show," "Nightline," CNN, "All Things Considered," and "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.