… that JFK and the CIA sought advice from Ian Fleming on how to deal with Fidel Castro? —From Red Heat: Terror, Conspiracy, and Murder in the Cold War Caribbean by Alex von Tunzelmann
Excerpt from Red Heat
Earlier that year, Ian Fleming, the author who had created James Bond, went to a dinner party in Georgetown hosted by the presidential hopeful, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy had long been a fan. In 1957, his wife, Jacqueline, had given a copy of From Russia with Love to Allen Dulles, saying, Here is a book you should have, Mr. Director.”77 From then on, it had become a tradition that Dulles and Jack Kennedy would exchange copies of Bond novels as they appeared, Dulles adding comments in the margins. The director of the CIA was not present at this particular dinner party, though at least one other agency official was.
Over dinner, Kennedy asked Fleming what James Bond would do to get rid of Fidel Castro. Fleming replied that Bond would drop leaflets saying that the fallout from American nuclear tests provoked a strange reaction in men with facial hair, reducing them to sexual impotence. All barbudos would immediately shave off their beards, and the revolution would be over.
The next day, this discussion filtered back to Allen Dulles, who apparently took it seriously. He telephoned to set up a private meeting with Fleming. To his disappointment, the author had already left the country. Shortly afterward, the CIA agent David Atlee Phillips remembered being told of a box of cigars, impregnated with a strong depilatory, that would be given to Fidel and would make his beard— indeed, all his body hair— fall out.78 The agency also developed a thallium powder, which could be dusted on his shoes to the same effect.
Jack Kennedy had been a critic of Foster Dulles’s aggressive foreign policy for many years. In the 1950s, he had taken a progressive line on Latin America. “If we persist in believing that all Latin- American agitation is Communist inspired— that every anti- American voice is the voice of Moscow— and that most citizens of Latin America share our dedication to an anti- Communist crusade to save what we call free enterprise for the Free World,” he had told a Democratic audience in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the end of 1958, “then the time may come when we will learn to our dismay that our enemies are not necessarily their enemies, and that our concepts of progress are not yet meaningful in their own terms.” He had expressed strong support for the principle of nonintervention. He had described Fidel Castro as “part of the legacy of Bolívar,” the great liberator of Latin America. But as Cuba went left ward, and Eisenhower’s administration appeared to be taking little action— for the general public knew nothing of the planned Mafia hits, nor of the men training in Guatemala— Kennedy saw a chink in the Republicans’ armor.
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