Speed Reads

A little piece of history

Henry Kissinger had serious plans to bomb and 'smash' Cuba

Few people probably remember that Cuba sent troops to the African nation of Angola in 1976. But Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State at the time, was so irked that he had a top secret committee of senior officials draw up plans to "clobber" and "smash Cuba," including dropping bombs on Havana, newly released documents show.

"I think sooner or later we are going to have to crack the Cubans," Kissinger told President Gerald Ford at a 1976 White House meeting attended also by then–Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library released the newly declassified documents at the request of the research organization National Security Archive.

Cuba's military assistance to Angola, to help the new nation fight off South Africa and right-wing militants, came just months after Kissinger had sent two deputies to a July 1975 secret meeting in New York City's Pierre Hotel with Fidel Castro's representatives to discuss normalizing relations, the National Security Archive says, citing a new book by Cuba expert William LeoGrande and the National Security Archive's Peter Kornbluh.

Kissinger wanted to attack Cuba after the 1976 election, which Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, rendering the plans moot. "These were not plans to put up on a shelf," LeoGrande tells The New York Times. Adds Kornbluh: "Nobody has known that at the very end of a really remarkable effort to normalize relations, Kissinger, the global chessboard player, was insulted that a small country would ruin his plans for Africa and was essentially prepared to bring the imperial force of the United States on Fidel Castro's head."

It isn't clear why the secretary of State was ordering up war plans.