1958 Memo to the President

This paper assignment requires students to adopt the perspective of the U.S. Secretary of State or the White House Chief of Staff in order to synthesize the facts of events leading up to the Cuban revolution and propose policy options to the president. The instructions to students are below.  To see the syllabus, which contains the readings referred to in the paragraph below, click "Resources."

FIRST PAPER (7-8 pp.): You are an Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State or to the White House Chief of Staff. It is 1957 or 1958. You chair a meeting called to forecast events in Cuba. Write a memorandum to your boss. First, summarize briefly what you as the Adviser think are the facts; cite and refer to primary documents from WEEK 4 of the course. Second, sketch two policy options that emerge from the discussion. Assume that all public statements made by Cuban rebels are known to you as Adviser but assume also that the private correspondence in the Franqui and Guevara readings is not. Third, step outside of your role as Adviser: identify what difference (if any) it would have made for the statement of the facts or for either option if the private correspondence had been public. Refer to primary readings from the course. A good argument anticipates the objections that other reasonable people will raise.