Dr. Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State. (AP Photo)
Henry Kissinger is shown in his White House office in Washington in this undated photo. Notes and transcripts of phone calls Kissinger made in the White House will be opened, giving the public its first look at records that President Nixon's baritone-voiced foreign affairs adviser has carefully guarded for three decades. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1973 file photo, North Vietnam delegate Le Duc Tho, left, and U.S. presidential adviser Henry Kissinger shake hands after their meeting where the Peace agreement was initialed at the International Conference Center in Paris, France. The Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam was signed on January 27, 1973. (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz, File)
FILE - In this June 11, 2013, file photo, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gestures during a birthday reception for his 90th birthday in Berlin, Germany. Kissinger has undergone an aortic valve replacement procedure at a hospital in New York. New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan released a statement saying the 91-year-old ex-diplomat was "resting comfortably" following the procedure on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, Pool, File)
In this Thursday, May 3, 1973 photo, Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's foreign affairs adviser, briefs newsmen on Nixon's annual State the World report to Congress at the White House in Washington. The report states that North Vietnam risks renewed war with the Untied States unless it lives up to the Vietnam cease-fire. As the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam 40 years ago, angry protesters still awaited them at home. North Vietnamese soldiers took heart from their foes' departure, and South Vietnamese who had helped the Americans feared for the future. While the fall of Saigon two years later â with its indelible images of frantic helicopter evacuations â is remembered as the final day of the Vietnam War, Friday marks an anniversary that holds greater meaning for many who fought, protested or otherwise lived it. (AP Photo/Harvey Georges)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger appears at the Richard Nixon Centennial Birthday Celebration in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Dr. Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State for President Richard Nixon, addresses the Richard Nixon Centennial Birthday Celebration in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger leaves after attending the funeral service of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at St Paul's Cathedral, in London April 17, 2013. Thatcher, who was Conservative prime minister between 1979 and 1990, died on April 8 at the age of 87. (AP Photo/Olivia Harris, pool)
File - This Oct. 17, 2013, file photo, shows former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as he attends the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York. New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, where Kissinger has undergone an aortic valve replacement procedure, released a statement saying the 91-year-old ex-diplomat was "resting comfortably" following the procedure on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during an interview by PBS' Charlie Rose, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 25, 2010, to testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "The Role of Strategic Arms Control in a Post-Cold War World". (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Anwar Sadat, right, chats with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prior to their meeting at Sadat's residence in Giza, Cairo, May 10, 1974. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, and Egypt's President Anwar Sadat on their way to conference room to continue their talks. (AP Photo)
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger answers questions from a panel of newsmen in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 1976. Earlier in the day Kissinger delivered an address in Philadelphia discussing the apartheid situation in Africa. (AP Photo/Bill Ingraham)
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife, Nancy Kissinger takes in the sights on Thursday in March 1975 on the Island of Philae during a break from Kissinger?s Middle East peace mission. (AP Photo)
Sen. Stuart Symington charged, March 2, 1971 that Henry A. Kissinger, right, has become ?Secretary of State in everything but title,? exercising more power sand influence than Secretary of State William P. Rogers, left. Rogers and Kissinger are shown here at the White House, Washington in January 1970. (AP Photo)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger walks past a photo of late communist leader Mao Zedong at a photo exhibit on 30 years of China-US diplomatic relations in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Kissinger and former President Jimmy Carter are in Beijing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of US China diplomatic relations which commenced on Jan 1st, 1979. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel, Pool)
Mrs. Nancy Regan with Henry Kissinger at California party shown in February 1979 (AP Photo/ Nick Ut)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrives for a discussion with former Secretaries of State at the taping of CNN's "The Next President: A World of Challenges", Monday, Sept. 15, 2008, at George Washington University in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attends the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize luncheon at the National Press Club, Monday, June 2, 2008, in Washington, where Vice President Dick Cheney, not shown, spoke. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered contingency plans drawn up nearly 40 years ago to attack Cuba, incensed over the small island's deployment of troops to Angola, according to declassified government documents posted online Wednesday.
In several White House meetings, Kissinger advocated for strong action to stop Castro, fearful that his incursion in Africa was making the U.S. look weak. He argued that Cuba's actions were driving fears around the world of a wider race war that could spill over into Latin America and even destabilize the Middle East. In a series of contingency plans that followed, options ranged from a military blockade to airstrikes and mining of Cuban ports. But the documents also warned of heavy risks, including a wider conflict with the Soviet Union and a ground war to defend the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
"I think we are going to have to smash Castro. I don't think we can do it before the election," Kissinger told President Gerald R. Ford, according to a transcript of a Feb. 25, 1976 meeting in the Oval Office. Ford replied, "I agree."
Jimmy Carter ultimately won the 1976 presidential election.
Kissinger, who had returned from a trip to Latin America, and told Ford that leaders in the region "are scared to death about Cuba. They are afraid of a race war."
The documents were declassified by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the request of the National Security Archive, which published them online Wednesday. An account of the episode is being published in a new book, "Back Channel to Cuba," written by William M. LeoGrande, a professor at American University, and Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuban Documentation Project at the National Security Archive.
At another Oval Office meeting on March 15, 1976, Kissinger said "even the Iranians are worried about the Cubans getting into the Middle East countries. I think we have to humiliate them. If they move into Namibia or Rhodesia, I would be in favor of clobbering them."
Nine days later, Kissinger chaired a high-level "Special Actions Group Meeting" at the White House Situation Room to discuss options.
"If there is a perception overseas that we are so weakened by our internal debate so that it looks like we can't do anything about a country of 8 million people, then in three or four years we are going to have a real crisis," Kissinger said.
The contingency plans outlined military options from blocking outgoing Cuban ships carrying troops and war material to airstrikes against Cuban bases and airfields. The documents discussed risks, including the possibility that the Soviet Union would thwart a blockade by seizing or sinking ships. "Escalation to general war could result," one document said.
The contingency plans sounded a cautious note about what sort of Cuban provocation would trigger a U.S. military response. They stated that while the "threshold" should be low if Cuba moves against U.S. territories, it should be "highest" for Africa.