A reader writes:
I respect your choice of Eisenhower as #1 president for the past century, but I do have to dispute one point you made: Eisenhower not only would have proceeded with Bay of Pigs, but was the final authority in the creation and structuring of the plot from the beginning. While the CIA and Dulles crafted the plans that led eventually to the idea of invasion, Eisenhower approved all of their machinations and saw that they were funded. Finally, the invasion idea itself was either concocted by Eisenhower or enthusiastically endorsed by him, and he and was prepared to persuade President-elect Kennedy of the invasion plan's likely success.
Did Eisenhower not, in 1953, authorize a CIA mission to depose Mossadegh in Iran? Did he not, in 1954, authorize the CIA mission that led to the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala? The success of these actions, which had long-term negative consequences in both Iran (and we are still dealing with that today) and Guatemala, was a huge part of the reason that elements within the U.S. government were confident of the success of the Bay of Pigs.
They are the precursors to the Bay of Pigs, but even leaving aside their role in setting the stage for the Bay of Pigs, the CIA's involvement in the overthrows of Mossadegh and Arbenz had huge negative consequences long-term for the United States and for the respective countries involved. Given that this is the case, why do you insist on holding onto this image of Eisenhower as a passive president who avoided the very kinds of entanglements that his government, in many respects, pioneered in the 1950s? I think your view of Eisenhower is far too romantic and uncritical.
Another adds to the list:
In 1958, Eisenhower and the U.S. military got involved in Lebanon to protect the regime from what he deemed as a threat by international Communism. When the Eisenhower Doctrine is considered, it would make perfect sense for Eisenhower to proceed with the Bay of Pigs invasion. Quote from Eisenhower’s 1957 speech that outlined the doctrine:
… to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism.