The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, January 19, 1963.


Cuban Coordinating Committee

The following are some further thoughts on the work of the Committee:

1. Future Policy Toward Cuba--As I mentioned to you in my memorandum of January 18,(1) Secretary Vance submitted a paper to the Committee which identified two possible courses of action in trying to overthrow the Castro/Communist regime in Cuba: (1) a policy of applying increasing degrees of political, economic, psychological and military pressures, and (2) a policy of applying political, economic, psychological and military pressures as appropriate opportunities present themselves.(2) In presenting the paper to the Committee, Secretary Vance made it abundantly clear that while he had identified an alternate course of action, the identification did not include an endorsement--he had not yet reached a decision on that question.

While, on the surface, Bob Hurwitch seems to have accepted the consideration of an alternative course of action in the policy paper, he undoubtedly views it coldly. He believes strongly that such factors as (1) our hope to act with full OAS support, and (2) Presidential statements about our non-aggressive intentions, necessarily limit our policy to one of applying pressures as opportunities present themselves; this is neither a "hard" nor "soft" policy but the only politically realistic policy. Deep down, I think he regards the consideration of the so-called "active policy," at best, as a useless exercise and waste of time and, at worst, as an insidious attempt by DOD dreamers to bring to life a policy which will earn battlefield promotions at the expense of U.S. national interest. I can't say yet how far Mr. Cottrell goes along with this view.

On this one, I'm with Secretary Vance. The alternate course of action is substantively worth focusing on. Also, the educational aspect is important. Both Mr. Cottrell and Secretary Vance are new at the Cuban business. If they are to be really effective in their new roles, it seems worthwhile that they think through basic courses of action which may appear to others to be unattractive. The process need not turn out to be either very time-consuming or dangerous.

After you received the phone call from Secretary Vance,(3) I passed your message to Mr. Cottrell. He and Mr. Vance planned to meet late Saturday(4) afternoon to thrash out the policy paper.

2. CIA vis-a-vis the Miami Office (Mr. Crimmins)--I mentioned to you in a previous memorandum that at one meeting, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], the CIA representative, viewed the work of the Miami office in a narrow sense; he obviously was reluctant to see Mr. Crimmins getting involved in CIA business. Bob Hurwitch tells me that this problem is under control. He said (1) that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had simply not gotten the word, (2) that Mr. FitzGerald and others in CIA do have the word, and (3) that there is no need at present to make an issue of this point.

3. Timing of Meetings

The following meetings on Cuba are scheduled for this week:

Monday, 2:00 PM--Cuban Coordinating Committee at State

Wednesday, 10:30 AM--Mr. Cottrell, Secretary Vance, Mr. Helms, Mr. Dungan, with you in your office

Thursday, 10:00 AM--ExCom(5)

4. Papers

Papers for the ExCom meeting(6) will be distributed on Tuesday afternoon.

Gordon Chase(7)

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 1/63. Secret; Eyes Only.

(1) Not found. Back

(2) This paper, in what was apparently a final form, is Document 272. Back

(3) No record found. Back

(4) January 19. Back

(5) January 21, January 23, and January 24. For the account of the Executive Committee meeting originally scheduled for January 24 at 10 a.m. but postponed until January 25 at 4 p.m., see Document 274. No records of the other meetings have been found. Back

(6) See Documents 272 and 273. Back

(7) Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. Back

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