2. Deciding How to Decide

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

—Louis Pasteur

In April 1961, President John F. Kennedy made the decision to authorize U.S. government assistance for the Bay of Pigs invasion—an attempt by 1,400 Cuban exiles to overthrow the Castro regime. Three days after the brigade of rebels landed on the coast of Cuba, nearly all of them had been killed or captured by Castro’s troops. The invasion was a complete disaster, both in terms of the loss of life and the political damage for the new president. Nations around the world condemned the Kennedy administration’s actions. As the president recognized the dreadful consequences of his decision to support the invasion, he asked his advisers, “How could I have been so stupid to let ...

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