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he Cold War brought out the worst in both the Capitalist West and the Communist East. Weapon development had reached a point where the entire population of our planet could be wiped out in case of a conflict. As a result, political outmaneuvering was key when trying to gain an advantage over the other side.

This political outmaneuvering was done in some very dubious ways, as seen with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, where they claimed they were propping up the Afghanistani socialist government. America is not innocent of this as they too used very evil and dubious tactics to justify their anti-communist agenda, of which Operation Northwoods is perhaps the most despicable.


During the 60s the Cold War reached a peak. In 1961 the US stationed PGM-19 Jupiter medium-range nuclear warheads in Turkey and Italy. These missiles had the capability to easily strike Moscow in case of a conflict, a danger that couldn’t be overlooked by the current Soviet premier Никита Хрущёв (Anglicised: Nikita Khrushchev).

Surveillance pictures of the Soviet missile sites taken by US U-2 spyplanes. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In response to this deployment of medium-range nukes so close to their border, Khrushchev decided that he needed a deterrent of similar proximity; this is where Cuba comes in. The relatively young communist country was eager to make friends with the communist superpower of the east and thus agreed to house Soviet medium-range nukes.

The Soviets would go on to build 9 sites that housed the Soviet R-12 medium-range missiles and the R-14 intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

It is safe to say that the Cubans got very close to the Soviets during the Cold War. This was a big problem for the US as their policy of containment seemed to have failed. It was a disgrace for the Capitalist superpower to have a Socialist Nation at their doorstep; thus, a plan was needed to placate or even outright remove the problem. For this, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff came up with Operation Northwoods.

Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods proposed getting public support for an invasion of Cuba by blaming the Cuban government for terrorist acts that would actually be perpetrated by the US government.

Painting of Lyman Lemnitzer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of this plan’s creation. Source: Wikimedia Commons

These terrorist acts included blowing up both military and civilian US ships, perpetrating terrorist attacks in US cities as well as hijacking and shooting down planes.

After these actions, evidence would be fabricated to show that the Cuban government actually perpetrated the attacks rather than the US government, giving the superpower justification for a full-scale invasion of the Caribbean island. An excerpt from the proposed plan stated:

“The desired result from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.”

John F. Kenedy

We have talked before about the genius of John F. Kennedy and how he dealt with the two biggest crises of the Cold War during his presidency, so it is not surprising that when the proposal for Operation Northwoods reached his desk, he was a bit more than skeptical.

John F. Kenedy during a press conference. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In a show of empathy and high regard for human life, the then president quickly dismissed any proposal of such actions. Operation Northwoods and other similar operations would be disregarded by JFK as a non-option in this conflict.

The documents describing the operation were only released to the public on 18 November 1997 by the JFK Assassination Records Review Board, and even then, only some parts of the plan were released. It was only on 30 April 2001 that the operation’s documents were published online in full by the National Security Archive, revealing the truth to the whole world.

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