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U.S. Preemptive Strike & Assassination Plans From Cuba to Iraq: JFK's Legal Counsel Ted Sorensen Debates Cuba Historian Jane Franklin

October 04, 2002


Would a U.S. unilateral invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein mark a radical break in US foreign policy? In a recent Reuters article titled "Iraq Invasion Would Reshape US Foreign Policy," reporter Alan Elsner argues that launching aggressive first strikes against potential future threats marks a stark change from the U.S. Cold War doctrine of deterrence and containment

In a speech made at West Point in June this year, President Bush outlined his plans for a pre-emptive strike doctrine. He said: "Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

What impact will Bush’s preemptive strike doctrine have on foreign policy and US relations with the UN, and other nations? How does it compare to Washington’s plans against Cuba a generation ago?

In October 1962, Washington pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war, in what is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The events brought to a head the ongoing attempts by the US to overthrow the Cuban government.

At a White House meeting on November 3, 1961, Kennedy authorized the development of a new program designed to destroy the Cuban Revolution. The project was code-named Operation Mongoose.


  • Ted Sorensen, Policy advisor and Legal Counsel to President John F. Kennedy.
  • Jane Franklin, Historian and author of "Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History."

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