Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twi-light struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
- President John F. Kennedy, 1961 Inauguration
The Cuban Revolution and the island's subsequent alliance with Communism and the Soviet Union offer a perplexing conundrum of the Cold War. It offers a glimpse at why the movement has not been as readily identified for what it truly is as would seem obvious to so many. Communism has many stories and sub-plots. In reviewing all of them it becomes more difficult to "cartoonize" its effect, and its personalities, with the kind of blanket evil that is easily draped over Hitler and Nazi Germany. What Communism is and was is somehow separated in the minds of some, therefore distancing it from Joe Stalin.
The best way to describe the phenomenon of Communist apology would be to imagine that World War II had ended differently. The scenarios are too many to try and compartmentalize here. The Joseph P. Kennedy appeasement strategy is certainly one logical possibility. The point is, that war could have ended, or stalemated, without the U.S. and the Allies as clear victors. If Germany and the U.S. had developed the Atomic bomb at roughly the same time, the two countries might have called it quits and settled into a different kind of Cold War. Perhaps the Germans might have obliterated London and the Americans returned the favor on, say, Dresden, or Munich, or even Berlin, and the result could have been a cease-fire.
Germany might have held Europe or most of it. Call it Germania. Some years ago a TV movie explored this scenario, with “Old Man Joe” Kennedy elected President. At some point, the West, or what was remaining of it, would have had to deal with Hitler, and the result might have been similar to the dealings with Stalin. This uneasy "peace" might have held, under the suspension of Atomic, hydrogen and nuclear threat, for 50 years. Eventually Hitler would have retired or died. People in the U.S. would have advocated "peace," "understanding," "détente," "normalization," and all the other things the Left wanted during the Cold War with the Communists.
Liberals might view this scenario and say that under these circumstances they would have been the hard-liners fighting the good fight against Fascism, while Hitler's apologists would have been "Right-wing businessmen" vying to do business with the Germans. They would have "secretly and not-so-secretly" agreed that the Fuhrer was a bit extreme but basically "right" in his views about minorities.
This is utter hogwash.
First, there would be no reservoir of goodwill or admiration for a country we had fought a war with, with all the horrors that are associated with war. The Left might point to extremist organizations in the United States such as the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan, and say that from within these ranks would have emerged a groundswell of support for Hitler. This is incongruous. First, the American Nazi Party was a tiny, tiny group. George Lincoln Rockwell ran it out of his mother's house. It received attention because the press chose to spotlight it, but it was never a large movement. As for the KKK, the Left would have a hard time explaining these guys, who in the South were all members of the Democrat Party. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a longtime Democrat spokesman of major repute within party circles, was a Klansman, as was Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, an FDR appointee. It is not a coincidence that the decline of the KKK in the South took place alongside the rise of the GOP in the region. The old segregationist Dixiecrats were just spin-offs of the Democrats.
Southerners who made up the Confederacy and would be the presumed Hitlerites of this alternative Cold War would have been the highest percentage of those fighting against Hitler. That section of the nation always produces the most military personnel. Such circumstances would not produce friendship or kinship. The old Confederacy was still a Democracy, which revered the Founding Fathers, not just a few of whom were Virginians and other "sons of the South." These are not the kinds of people pre-disposed to accept and excuse totalitarianism, dictatorship or Fascism. The liberal analogy that conservatives are aligned with this kind of thought is simply that with which is false. When Pat Buchanan advocates law 'n' order, some liberal columnist will surely say something like, "It sounded better in the original German."
No, the "party of Lincoln," freedom and peace through strength would have emerged as the last line of defense against Nazism in such a Cold War. One false argument is that the Nazis would have been opposed by the liberals more because a larger number of liberals are Jewish. Over time, however, thoughtful Jews would have transferred to the conservatives, which is what happened to some extent when the so-called “neo-cons” opposed radical Islam during the War on Terror.
The Left would have been taken over by the anarchist wing and they would be the ones appeasing instead of fighting. The Middle East situation is the best example, where strong American defense is the only thing protecting Israel. If the traditional Jewish wing of liberalism still held sway, the Left would not be appeasing Middle East terror. The bottom line is conservatives always have been the protectors of American values by protecting the world through a show of strength. Liberals always have been the blame-America crowd who would just as soon internationalize us.
The point of this Hitler/Cold War scenario, however, is to show that instead of the blanket condemnation of Nazism that is easily delivered from all, under different circumstances the view of Nazism would have been fuzzier. This explains why the view of Communism is fuzzier (on the Left; the Right never wavered).
Hitler would have been portrayed by some as a "liberator." For instance, the survivors of Siberia, the gulags, and the collectivist farms had it so bad under Stalin that Hitler could have been made to look better. If you "do the math," it actually ends up this way, since in the "score" of murder, Stalin beat Hitler (Mao beat them both). Many tyrants, Communist and otherwise, might have been "replaced" by Hitler. Some Western pundits would have pointed out how Hitler and Fascism restored schools and health care. This leads to the next point of discussion, Fidel Castro and Cuba.
Nowhere is this example more obvious in the Communist world than Cuba. Cuba was a country of vast inequality and squalor, where a small segment of wealthy elites ignored the needs of the massive poor. It was corrupt and run by the mob. Havana was a virtual porn shop. Live sex shows were all the rage in Havana nightclubs.
Fidel Castro changed all of this. For these reasons he has been sensationalized by the Left, who for over half a century have tried to apologize for him. The only "explanation" of Castro is that he is a monster and an immensely evil human being. The people of Cuba, despite being in a very bad situation prior to Castro, were vastly better off then than they have been during his long dictatorship. That is not in any way an endorsement of Fulgencio Batista or the Mafia, but simply describes how brutal Communism is.
To an American who cannot comprehend such a thing, the poorest black person living in the worst, most violence-prone slums of Watts or Harlem, or in the most decrepit rural hovels of the old segregationist South, had it better than average people living in Communist Cuba. Drive through the slums of Los Angeles and other big American cities. These ghettos are “paradise” in comparison to the old East Germany or modern Havana.
The horrid slums of Latin America, where children prostitute themselves and are subject to the worst abuses, crimes, diseases and despair, approach but do not exceed Communism. In Chile, for instance, many live in squalor. In Cuba, everybody (except the Marxist elite) lives in squalor. The liberals somehow like the fact that all live in squalor instead of just some. In some perverse waqy it is more . . . just.
The Cuban Revolution did not just "happen." The U.S. is not an innocent by-stander of it. America propped up distasteful dictators there, just as they did in other countries. This was the result of a dangerous, imperfect world situation that we found ourselves engaged in. The balance between hegemony and justice, freedom and safety, political alliance and insecurity, can be difficult to maintain. There is a standard that the United States always strives for, every time. This standard is one in which people are free, politically and economically. Circumstances very often dilute our ability to uphold this standard. The result is that many people have found themselves to be pawns in an elaborate chess game. The line between intrusion and help is blurred. The Cold War combined with American military and economic power has made it easy to blame much of the world's woes on the U.S. In so doing, the "alternate Universe" is not seen. That is the Universe in which there is no United States. There are just these places, left to fend for themselves, subject to the whims of their own indigenous peoples, the "leaders" that emerge from whatever Darwinian systems they devise. They are at the mercy of whatever larger entities decide to take advantage of them, and must deal with issues like disease and overpopulation using whatever homegrown prescriptions they invent.
Is there some set of circumstances in which this alternate Universe, the one in which America is not a country, a system, an ideal, is a better place than the one in which America does exist? The the "alternate Universe scenario" is one that conjures up the continuing image of America sanctioned by God.
Doing "God's work" is not easy. The mistakes made are subject to plenty of criticism, some of it rightfully so. U.S. involvement in Cuba has seen its share of mistakes and successes. The struggle began against Spanish colonialism in the late 19th Century. According to some, "victory" was deprived from the people by a U.S. expeditionary force in 1898.
Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti visited the U.S. and wrote, "I have lived inside the monster and I know its entrails . . . Shall we bring the country dear to our hearts, virgin and fruitful, to this frenzied pack of rich against poor . . . white against black . . . Shall we deliver it into this oven of wrath, into these sharp-toothed jaws, into this smoking crater?"
At the time of the Spanish-American War, colonialism was viewed much like Manifest Destiny had been; justification for expansion. The English poet Rudyard Kipling celebrated the event in a poem inviting the U.S. to "Take up the white man's burden." This is such a controversial concept, so easy to vilify today and yet, underneath its veil of racism and oppression, there is the nagging question, "What was the alternative?"
William Randolph Hearst led the jingoistic cheering for the Cuban war, but the free press did not fall in lock step with that way of thinking. Mark Twain wrote that the expedition's U.S. flags' stripes should be painted over in black and the stars replaced by a skull and crossbones.
Cuba became an economic colony of America. U.S. troops returned on several occasions to put down revolts. By 1920, U.S. business interests owned two-thirds of the arable land. In the 1930s, the Mafia moved in. Cuba became a playground, its beautiful women made available to fulfill the lustful fantasies of rich men. Prior to Las Vegas, Havana's gambling and tourist businesses were second to none. After World War II, Cuba became a way station for heroin shipments between Europe and the U.S., the infamous "French Connection."
In response to the economic inequities, Communism always had a foothold among the poor and the disenfranchised. Communists attacked the private homes of capitalists living in the country, away from the protection of the police and military.
Also, in the 1930s, Negro League baseball made its way into Latin America. Few people know that beisbol, which has gained wild popularity throughout the region, was started by black Americans who traveled south at the behest of Latin dictators. The Negro Leaguers, who needed to play year-round in order to make a living, took advantage of good offers and warm winter weather. Dominican strongman Rafael Trujillo recruited Negro League all-stars, warning them if they lost any games executions would ensue. His team went undefeated. The teams often played for American companies operating in the region. Baseball found its way to Cuba, was a huge success, and soon excellent players emerged from the dusty fields of play.
Fidel Castro was a left-handed pitcher, reputed to have decent ability. According to some reports, the Washington Senators (an ironic twist) offered him a contract, but Castro was too involved in his law studies and radical politics to sign. What an interesting twist of fate this offers. If he had come to America and succeeded, his view of everything might have changed. Does former Senator southpaw Castro eventually attain American citizenship and get involved in the U.S. political scene? One can just picture Castro as a Democrat Congressman.
Castro did use beisbol to attract attention to his cause. As a young radical in Havana, he interrupted a game. Dressed in street clothes, he went to the pitcher's mound, took the ball from the pitcher, and motioned the batter to step up to the plate. The hitter was Don Hoak, who was a top third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the regular season. The legend has it that Castro threw one right at Hoak's head.
On July 26, 1953, 160 young militants attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago. Half of them died, most after being tortured. Many went to prison.
"It was not a putsch designed to score an easy victory without the masses," explained Raul Castro, Fidel's brother. "It was a surprise action to disarm the enemy and arm the people, with the aim of beginning armed revolutionary action it marked the start of an action to transform Cuba's political, economic and social system and put an end to the foreign oppression, poverty, unemployment, ill health and ignorance that weighed upon our country and our people."
Fidel himself was captured and imprisoned.
"History will absolve me," was his defense speech. Castro saw injustice in Cuba, and determined to change it with violence. Six years after the ultimate triumph of Mohandas Gandhi, it seems that this educated man had learned little. Although he later held his Communist cards close to the vest, it seems clear even then that his role model was not the pacifist Gandhi, but the Stalinist Stalin. His goal was not equality for the masses, but power for himself. His early tenets were right out of the party line.
"The big landowners, reactionary clergy and trans-national corporations represented by Batista," were the enemy in his eyes. "The national bourgeoisie, capitalists in contradiction with imperialism, but among whom only the most progressive would support a revolution." This statement indicates Castro advocated class warfare against the successful; hoped to dilute faith in God; wanted to reduce international business; correlated making money with immorality; and tellingly implored the "useful idiots," or as he describes them "only the most progressive," to cheerlead for him.
The masses Castro hoped to reach were, "The 600,000 Cubans without work. The 500,000 farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, the 100,000 small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, the 30,000 teachers and professors, so badly treated and paid; the 20,000 small businessmen weighed down by debts; the 10,000 young professional people who find themselves at a dead end. These are the people, the ones who know misfortune, and are therefore capable of fighting with limitless courage."
The problem, as with all problems, is that while Castro effectively identified the problem, he never offered a solution. Were the "20,000 small businessmen weighed down by debt" better off when their small businesses were nationalized by Castro?
Cuba was run by a former Army Sergeant named Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a terrible ruler who was an open partner of the Mafia, who in turn co-existed with large corporations from the U.S. banking, telephone and agricultural industries. Batista saw that Castro had a following, and tried to evoke some "legitimacy" by releasing him, along with other Moncada survivors in May, 1955. Castro was more or less "exiled" to Mexico amid rising repression. In Mexico he met the Argentinean doctor, Che Guevara.
In November of 1956, Castro set sail by yacht for Cuba, proclaiming to his followers that, "We will be free, or we will be martyrs." 82 men waded ashore, where they were strafed by Batista's planes. Pursued by U.S.-supplied troops, there was betrayal within their ranks and they faced ambush.
12 partisans escaped and began guerrilla warfare in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. On August 21, 1958, Castro ordered Che and Camilo Cienfuegos to lead two columns down from the Sierra Maestra. The story of Castro and Che, their close calls with planes, pursuit by American-equipped forces, betrayal by a guide, eventual escape and revolutionary existence in the mountains, began to take on legendary status. They were like ghosts, rebel images in the minds of a repressed people. The revolucion grew among the poor and the peasants. Castro's fighters took the town of Santa Clara, and word of his successes created a frenzy of excitement among the Havana citizenry.
On New Year's Eve, 1958, while Havana partied, Castro's forces made their play, catching Batista's army off guard. It was brilliant, executed perfectly, took a lot of guts, and was popularly supported. Few major events have taken place so quickly.
Batista fled Havana at two A.M., on New Year's Day, 1959, replaced by a military junta. Camilo and Che continued to lead guerrilla columns into Havana. Workers and peasants heeded Castro's call for a general strike, and he was able to seize power.
20,000 died in the revolution. On January 8, 32-year-old Castro entered Havana. He ordered 50,000 rifles and machine guns to be imported to defend the revolution. The rural Cuban population had an average annual income of $91.25 per person. 11 percent of Cubans drank milk, four percent ate meat, two percent had running water, and 9.1 percent had electricity. Three percent had intestinal parasites, 14 percent had tuberculosis, and 43 percent were illiterate. These figures indicate that in Cuba, capitalism had not succeeded, and the long-term goals the U.S. had for the island when they fought the Spanish had failed.
Of course, the conditions in Cuba at its lowest point were considerably better than the conditions of Stalin's collectivist farm population in the 1930s, when millions died. Nevertheless, Fidel Castro and his supporters were willing to embrace that political system with the hopes that it would succeed. In the beginning, they masked their intent just enough to raise the question as to whether they really were Marxists. Castro "went Communist" under the Republicans less than a decade after China had gone down the road to hell under the Democrats (albeit, Castro did not "officially" go to the Marxists until after the Bay of Pigs, a little over two years later).
The decision was made, to back Batista. Considering what history tells us about Castro's political jails, torture chambers and willingness to allow global military instability in order to gather attention for his ego, it appears unquestionable that Batista was the better choice. To use the old saw, he was the "lesser of two evils." Make no mistake, Batista was a bad guy, but if he had stayed there might have been hope on the island. Money, which was the corrupting force in Batista's life, also has the power to do good. Cuba was not a foregone conclusion. In fact, with all the rich Americans who were going there, the chances are very good that over time the poverty of Havana's streets would have become a major outrage. The forces of good that drive America would have demanded a change on those streets.
The Philippines is a country that liberals might point to as one "exploited" by America. It has been exploited to the tune of billions and billions of dollars transferred by us to them. A lot of servicemen have had a lot of uncommitted sex with a lot of Manila bargirls, which has made a lot of Filipino men mad at American men. Poverty is still rampant on their streets. The U.S. propped up a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos and his shoe-buying wife. But America also fought alongside the Filipinos like blood brothers against the Japanese. The Filipino people had ample opportunity to see examples of other countries' "exploitation." Our Naval base was a major boon to their economy, and when for political reasons we were asked to leave, we did just that. The relationship is not perfect, but there is no other major power on Earth that would have made a better partner for the Philippines than the U.S. The bottom line is that the Filipino people have resisted Communism, and now they are resisting terrorism. When all is said and done they are happy that America has been with them, not against them.
Other Latin countries have had legitimate complaints with the U.S. The nature of our relationships with Latin America would be all but impossible to avoid complaint, but they have had the common sense to resist the alternative. Castro did not resist the alternative. His political message was not based on a desire to help the people of Cuba. He thirsted for power like a drug. He lacked morals, and at the heart of his revolution was pure class envy. He wanted to put the "high and mighty" in their place. He hated wealth and American success. He saw in the poverty of Cuba's indigenous population suffering, and determined that such a thing had to be blamed on somebody. Disease and economic deprivation, in his view, simply had to be the sole responsibility of Fulgencio Batista and criminal gambling interests, as if such quirks in the structure of society had never been seen in the history of Mankind. More than 50 years later, he and his utopian vision have managed to create the equality he so desired. Now everybody has nothin'.
The first announcement of the new government was that the casino profits would be directed to welfare programs, which must have made Meyer Lansky's day. "Land reform" was scheduled for May. That term had been the great bogeyman term in Guatemala, where the CIA mistakenly thought it was blatant Stalinist-type redistribution from the wealthy to the people (which in Communism means some apparatchuk). The Leftists, who after Guatemala (and were beginning to hate the CIA more and more) said "land reform" was just sound economic policy. This time, "land reform" really did mean stealing.
Large estates were expropriated and turned into state farms. The American-owned
United Fruit Company was taken over with no compensation. As if no lessons had been learned from the Soviet gruppe, farms were immediately collectivized. The new government offered to let the Americans buy back the property that was stolen from them. The Eisenhower Administration told Castro to take a hike.
Castro was immediately hailed as a hero of the Left. He was invited to New York to address the United Nations, where he made a scathing speech excoriating American “imperialism.” He was then taken to a soiree in Manhattan, where a coterie of fawning political Leftists, theatre types and actual showgirls dressed in full costume bathed him with adoration.
Bay of Pigs
As in China, the big question was, How could this have happened? How could the CIA have allowed it? Who was this bearded Marxist, anyway? Recriminations aside, the Company knew that that their hardest work was now ahead of them. In 1959, they began monitoring telephone conversations of Cuban leaders, and transmitted subversive radio messages to Cuba from Miami, the Bahamas and Central America. Thousands of Cubans escaped the island, and immediately formed up to take it back. The face of Miami changed immediately, from a Southern backwater to a salsa town filled with the most anti-Communist people this side of Budapest. By 1960, saboteurs were operating inside Cuba.
My mid-1960, the U.S. sugar quota from Cuba was cut off. Castro nationalized the mills. In response, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that President Eisenhower launch a military invasion. Visions of the Normandy beaches danced in their heads. Richard Nixon, thinking he would be President when the invasion took place, backed it 100 percent. The CIA and the military went into full-scale operation, training dedicated Cuban exile forces. During the first Nixon-Kennedy debate, having been briefed on the plan but knowing Nixon could not comment on it publicly, JFK charged the administration with negligence in failing to do anything about Castro. Nixon chose not to violate national security, and "lost" the debate (although those listening on radio thought he had won, as opposed to TV viewers mesmerized by Kennedy's looks vs. Nixon's "five o'clock shadow").
When Kennedy "won" the election, he was presented with the invasion plan. He was skeptical of it, and in fact already had healthy doubts about the military rooted all the way back to his Naval career. His Presidential experience would increase his doubts about the armed forces, particularly the top leadership. Negative feelings about the military and CIA would become a Kennedy and Democrat doctrine. It all started with the Bay of Pigs.
As the invasion approached the Cuban coast on April 16, Fidel Castro announced that in fact Cuba was a Communist satellite. At two A.M. on April 17, 1,500 Cuban counter-revolutionaries landed at the Bay of Pigs. Castro directed a counter-attack, using Soviet-supplied weapons. The Committee for the Defense of the Revolution rounded up thousands of anti-Communists.
The invading force suffered from bad planning, compromised intelligence and poor leadership. Some day documents may surface showing what Americans were spying for the Communists. Landing craft found themselves on the wrong beaches. Forces were stranded in the water, facing strafing fire while they slowly disembarked. In the end, however, the operation failed because President Kennedy refused to provide air cover, which would have demonstrated what everybody knew anyway, which is that it was an American operation. It was not thought through. The force was destroyed in less than 72 hours, and the U.S. suffered a major defeat in the Cold War.
Kennedy took responsibility, which is fair since he was the President. After all, he wanted the job. Since it was not his plan, and he was only in office three months when it was put into action, it is fair to say the blame should not be put entirely on his shoulders. However, it was too important an event, with such wide-reaching consequences, to not assess responsibility. It went so badly for so many people (in particular millions of Cubans imprisoned to this day), because of his failure to use the jets that would have turned the tide and allowed the force to succeed, that he must be blamed.
"The anti-imperialist, Socialist revolution could only be one single revolution, because there is only one revolution," Castro explained, confirming conservative suspicion of Communism as being a truly international war, each proxy tied to the other rather than individual acts of aggression against “poor agrarian farmers.” "That is the great dialectic truth of humanity: imperialism, and, standing against it, Socialism. I am a Marxist-Leninist and I shall be a Marxist-Leninist until the last days of my life." Castro then thumped the table in front, imitating Nikita Khrushchev, who took his shoe off to pound for emphasis when he told the U.S. (at the U.N.), "We will bury you."
Some look at the "mistake" of the Bay of Pigs and proffer the fiction that we "turned Castro into a Communist," as if he was not one until we ruffled his feathers. This is ridiculous, and is instructive towards the modern argument that militarists in the U.S. "brought on" terrorism. Just as Castro was a Communist all throughout the revolution, a fact confirmed by thousands of witnesses, terrorists were terrorists before and after 9/11.
It has never been successfully explained why Communists call the U.S. "imperialist," other than it sounds like a good put-down. This, of course, like 99 percent of things Communists ever say, is simply that with which is a lie. The fact that it is a lie is knowledge possessed by millions. They still use the term. Imperialism is another word for monarchism, which the U.S. fought against to become a country. Its framework, which rewards hard work with success regardless of title, name or ancestry, is a major reason why monarchism has all but disappeared as a political entity. England, influenced wholly by America, first abandoned its colonial ambitions and thus its empire, while reducing its monarchy to a mere formality. The single greatest influence in this turn of events was the United States. Certainly the Mafia influence that so infuriated Castro was anything but imperialistic.
With the Bay of Pigs a failure, the Company then stepped its operations into higher gear. Plans for economic sabotage, bacteriological warfare, economic blockade and repeated attempts to assassinate Castro were put into place, some carried further than others.
Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met with President Kennedy in a “summit meeting” in Vienna, Austria. The veteran Soviet politician determined JFK was a “rookie,” badly shaken by the Bay of Pigs, inexperienced and maybe even too incompetent to handle the pressures of his office. He decided to engage in a major escalation of “adventurism,” unthinkable when President Eisenhowre was in office, and equally unthinkable had Richard Nixon succeeded Ike instead of JFK. Instead America had a boyish playboy with no past accomplishments under his belt at the helm.
Khrushchev decided to place intermediate-range missiles in Cuba, doubling the Soviet strategic arsenal. Fidel Castro calculated this to be the best way to make a major statement against the West. He approved the Soviet injstallation of nuclear miussiles, some 90 miles from the Florida coast.
On October 15, 1962 reconnaissance photos revealed missiles under construction. President Kennedy organized the EX-COMM, a group of 12 leading advisors, whio debated over a week’s time. A Naval quarantine was ordered around Cuba. He wished to prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island.
“We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked,” Secretary of State Dean Rusk said when the Sovioets turned from the blockade.
One week later, Kennedy told the nation of the discovery of missile installations and the quarantine of the island. Any launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union, de stated, demanded their removal. Tensions escalated amidst more low-level reconnaissance missions. On October 25 the U.S. pulled the quarantine line back, raised military readiness to DEFCON 2. On the 26th EX-COMM heard from Khrushchev via letter, in which the Soviet Premier emotionally described the horrors of war, and how he did not wish to subject the Russian people to it any more.
On October 27 an American U-2 spy plane was shot down, and a second letter raised doubts over the first; was Khrushchev in charge or had he been deposed by a coup? A new demand that the U.S. remove their missiles in Turkey in exchange for Soviet missiles in Cuba was issued. This was a breakthrough, a way for the Soviets to face face and extricate themselves from the crisis, since the missiles were scheduled from removal in Turkey anyway.
Attorney General Robert Kennedy suggested ignoring the second letter. He contacted Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to tell him of the U.S. agreement with the first. On October 28 Khrushchev announced dismanting of the installations and the hope re-enactment of the Bay of Pigs could be averted. The United States demanded that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba.
"Nuclear catastrophe was hanging by a thread . . . and we weren't counting days or hours, but minutes,” Soviet General and Army Chief of Operations Anatoly Gribkov
The missile crisis was so grave in its consequence that both sides were willing to compromise. America's end of the bargain, along with removing Jupiter missiles from Turkey (aqs planned) was to promise not to invade again. This fact of history has been overlooked by too many.
America’s promise not to invade was accepted. We kept that promise. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there existed no entity to stop the U.S. from invading and conquering Cuba. The only thing preventing this was the decision by America not to do it, based on the principle that they gave their word not to. Had the Communists made such a promise, it only would have been kept by the vigilance of the U.S. military seeing to it that breaking the promise would not be worthwhile. Otherwise, any promises they made were no more believable than Stalin's assurances that Eastern Europe would have free elections.
Res ipsa loquiter.
Of all images and icons of Communism, perhaps none is more infuriating to conservatives than Ernesto “Che” Guevara. He is a conundrum, a reminder that somehow, despite a century’s worth of slaughter, despite so much history and so much horror, somehow Communism does not register on the template of evil the way Nazism or perhaps even slavery and racism do, even though it is just as bad if not far worse.
Known by history by his first name like Marilyn or Michael or Madonna, Che was born in 1928. An Argentine Marxist revolutionary, he became a physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist. Castro brought him in as leading Cuban revolutionary. His good looks and intellectualism captivated the revolkuytionary Left. He was the ultimate in radical chic. His stylized, ubiquitous image is today a counter-cultural symbol of global rebellion on t-shirts worldwide. Many a partygoer enters a happening nightclub where a poster of Che peers out at hot girls and hard-charging revelers who have not the slightest clue a muderer and torturer is so featured. Dr. Guevara’s popularity with the young and the liberal is as disgusting as t-shirts featuring Dr. Josef Mengele would be.
Guevara traveled throughout Latin America, where he was radicalized by and was radically poverty. He determined the reason economic inequalities and the failure of result of capitalism, monopolism, neo=colonialism, and imperialism. He advocated Communist-style world revolution.
Afgter workoing for the Guatemalan Socialist President Jacobo Arbenz, who was assassinated in a CIA-assisted coup d’etat, he moved to Mexico where he met Raúl and Fidel Castro. He joined the 26th of July Movement, sailed to Cuba, and entered the revolution against Fulgencio Batista.
Guevara was made second-in-command, played a major role in revolution. Duriong and after the Cuiban Revolution, Guevara used his medical skills to torture thousands of prisoners and oversaw the murder of many thousands of “war criminals” via firing squad or other methods. While he probably was not responsible for killing and maiming as many humans, by sheer numbers, as Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the “angel of death” at Auschwitz, to discount the comparison is to engage in moral relativism.
He helped Castro consolidate his power in Cuba as Stalin had in the U.S.S.R., by liquidating and imprisoning enemies. It ios interesting to note that he engaged in a bloodthirsty campaign instead of instituting the so called “national health care” that remains the great lie of Castro’s Socialist “paradise.” He wrote diaries, falling in love with himself like the Greek figure of mythology, Narcissus. Apparently thinking himself a god who could not be killed, Che left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution throughout the world. After failing to turn Congo-Kinshasa into a Communist nation (four yeasrs after the CIA-backed assassination of Patrice Lumumba), he attempted Communize Latin America. Frustrated at how he could not turn local populations away from Christianity and Catholicism, he failed again. In 1967 the Central Intelligence Agency caught up to Che, executing him in Bolivia.
He remains a revered martyr of the worldwide Left. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. The Alberto Korda photograph of him entitled Guerrillero Heroico (shown), was declared by the Maryland Institute College of Art as "the most famous photograph in the world.”
The last bastion
Backed by Russia, Cuba was able to stay solvent during the Cold War. There is no doubt that Castro proved to be a charismatic leader in the face of tremendous pressure. However, he remains an example of how difficult it is to find great men in politics. A study of Castro cannot help but increase the admiration of other leaders who overcame adversity; like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately for the beautiful island nation of Cuba, Castro was in the end just another tinpot dictator.
In 1999, about 1,000 of Cuba's ruling elite, foreign diplomats and cultural personalities gathered amid massive security to view Castro's return to the scene of the crime. The event was extremely telling. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs saved Castro. Those two conflagrations between Communism and freedom, occurring in Kennedy's first two years in office, were the best things that could have happened to Fidel.
The invasion failed, hurting American prestige and making Castro a sympathetic figure; the lonely beacon of "Socialist humanity" fending off the imperialists. Regardless of the lack of truth behind this premise, it is a wildly intoxicating image. Many in and out of the U.S. are uncomfortable enough with American displays of power to buy into it.
When the Berlin Wall came down, some thought Castro would go down with it. His survival in the intervening years is an accomplishment. Castro's "popularity" comes from that wing of liberalism identified earlier as "Emma Goldman anarchism." There remains in America and the world a strain of anti-establishment thought that chooses to protest everything.
In 2000, Kevin Costner starred in a film called 13 Days, about the Cuban Missile Crisis. While Fidel is not a subject of the movie, a showing of it was aired in Havana. Costner, supposedly a fairly conservative fellow from the Republican enclave of Orange County, California, came away raving about Castro. During the period prior to September 11, 2001, a coterie of Hollywood bigshots ranging from Steven Spielberg to Jack Nicholson paid homage in the form, of personal visits to Castro, as if he were a liberal potentate, a godfather of their “cause.” Each came away filled with admiration over his intellect, his leadership qualities, and health care system.
Castro hung all of his Socialist prestige on Cuba’s national health care system. It probably would be rated in the upper 20 percent of health care systems in Latin America, which is not a lot to brag about, but it has some merits. Michael Moore made a documentary in which he visited Cuba, attempting to portray the lie that it is better than America’s health care syswtem, a statement so absurd as to be beyond belief, except liberals actually believe it! At least they try to believe it. Deep down nobody can actually believe it, but the idea, the hope, the dream, the fallacy and the myth remains a tantalizing goal of the Left that perhaps, if wished upon long enough and hard enough, somebody could happen. Or not.
When America went to war with Iraq in 2003, large demonstrations were organized. The mainstream press simply chose not to tell the public this, but the Workers' World Party, a Communist organization, organized the great majority of the protests. This organization is a relic of the old Communist Party USA. They no longer espouse the straight Communist line, which is simply been proven too false even for them. But the radicals who loved Communism, or thought it was just some kind of normal human grasp for freedom and quality that went too far, were driven not so much by an ideology but by hate for America. The hatred for America stems from simply feeling that America is just too strong, too powerful, and too successful. These kinds of accomplishments are glaring examples of why they were wrong and the Right was right. They are not yet at the stage where they can freely admit they were wrong, so they search for things to get mad about.
In 1999, this sentiment manifested itself when protests were organized against globalization in Seattle, Washington. The patron saint of these people is Theodore Kaczynsky, the Unabomber, who protested progress and technology. It re-enacts itself whenever the World Trade Organziation mets, usually manifesting in crime and violence. It ghost lioves in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Some anti-war protesters are average citizens who wish to avoid war, and in this respect their opinion is worthwhile and even admirable, regardless of whether one agrees with them or not. But the majority of the protesters are of the "professional" variety, motivated solely by envy. To describe them succinctly is to identify people who are offended by success, because success makes their failures more obvious. There is nothing admirable about that. Barack Obama, using the methods of Saul Alinsky and working with ACORN, rose to power as a community organizer amid this world. This is an extension of the race-extortion methods of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
These people are the ones who deify Castro and hang up posters of Che. If they lived in Cuba, their unorthodox lifestyles and desire to make their feelings loudly, publicly known, would make them the first to land in political jails. To this day, Castro imprisons anybody who attempts even the slightest criticism of him, or tries to achieve any political power. Why people still admire Castro and the thinking behind it is so irrational nobody can really explain it.
Talk show host Michael Savage goes so far as to say it is a mental defect, an actual sickness. This at first seems to be typical Right-wing bluster, but if one were to take away the names, personalities and politics, he might just have something. If a scenario were presented, in which a man leads a revolution and then becomes so corrupted by it that he becomes a mass murderer and prison warden, the average person would quickly identify his evil. Castro's Cuba was George Orwell's Animal House after the fact. People who admire him should be viewed as oddities, like women who pine for imprisoned serial killers. Yet some of these people include major figures of the art world, such as Nobel laureates Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Colombia and Jose Saramogo of Portugal. Oliver Stone went to visit Castro and make a documentary. He determined Castro is one of the wisest men on Earth. His portrayal was so flattering the rabidly loiberal HBO refused to produce it, since it in essence glorified a mass murderer. There is obviously something hypnotic about Castro, a la Hitler, which makes one think maybe the devil is involved in this whole thing. While Leni Reifenstahl has been reviled her whole life for making propaganda films for the Nazis, a guy like Stone goes right out and makes something far more blatantly political than her purely symbolic, quasi-innocent works of the mid-1930s.
Castro's 1999 celebration of the 40th anniversary of the revolution had the odd appearance of a rogue's gallery of Mafioso celebrating the Appalachia conference in prison, or a bunch of murderers celebrating their tradecraft. Wearing his olive-green military uniform, Castro described his victory on January 1, 1959.
"I felt for a moment a strange sense of emptiness," he said, to leave behind the "hard, pure and healthy" life of a guerrilla to take over Cuba, ignoring the fact he left the citizenry to a life of harshness while he lived like a king with a coterie of mistresses prostituted for his needs, and all the other special benefits he gets that the people do not.
"I am not interested in power nor do I envisage assuming it at any time," Castro lied to the crowds in 1959. 40 years later, he held as firm a grip of power on his country as any despot on Earth. In the early 2000s, some private dissent was allowed in Cuba, but in 2003 Castro decided to end it. He rounded up political prisoners, and as those words were spoken they languished in jails, just as Stalin's prisoners did. There was no opposition.
For 50 years, the U.S. imposed an economic embargo on Cuba. There are many demands to lift it. Every administration has wisely chosen not to. Castro is evil, his ideology is evil and defeated, and he deserves to fall, not be propped up by the United States. There is little evidence his Communist economic policies would allow for foreign money to be used effectively for the benefit of his people anyway.
Castro's admirers point out that in addition to Cuba’s "excellent physicians,” illiteracy has been wiped out in Cuba and it is a baseball power. These may be admirable things, but with all due respect this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Reports of literacy, health care and such have the potential of being lies. Maids in hotels that cater to wealthy foreigners make far more money than doctors, so how can it make any sense that the "health care system" is any good? Liberals want to believe a shack with sign that reads "hospital" on it is available for all, meaning they have good health care. If the medicine is scarce, the tools archaic, the doctors poorly trained and the Hippocratic oath an empty promise, then it is not good health care. As for its baseball powers, numerous great baseball players from Cuba have been willing to brave shark-infested waters to come to America and play there. The fact that the populace is close to perpetual starvation is a fact that even Castro's PR people have not hidden. Literacy and "national health care" in Cuba would be 800 percent better off under free market capitalism, as they have been throughout the world.
Right now, the country, despite excellent natural resources, produces little and relies on the tourist trade. Castro, who dressed women in fatigues and propped them up as symbols of Western exploitation, "saved" by his revolution, now oversees a country where tourists can get any kind of action they want at the drop of a hat. In certain hotels, gorgeous Cuban women (and this country is famous for them) dress in sexy outfits and, for the price of a beer and a hot dog, readily perform hardcore sex acts worthy of the most extreme porn movies for these men. The aforementioned "maids" at hotels all happen to be in their 20s and are mouth-watering. The "services" they provide go well beyond cleaning the bathroom. Those who have been there and done that describe it as being like a "kid in a candy store." Is this part of Castro's "success story?"
If Fidel Castro had any decency, he would step down and allow an economic system to take over in which an attractive woman could be educated and use her brains to succeed as an entrepreneur or valuable contributor to a company, instead of a Latina sex fantasy.
In 2000, a young child named Elian Gonzalez was with his mother, who wanted to escape the island, getting on a boat to come to America. The boat went down in the Atlantic, the mother died, but Elian was saved. Castro carted out his father and demanded the boy back, as if living in a Communist hovel was better than staying with successful relatives in Miami. President Bill Clinton decided to do Fidel's bidding. He sent Federal forces in to retrieve Elian. The photo of the frightened boy staring into the barrel of a weapon pointed at his eyes remains a fitting symbol of Bill Clinton's legacy.
Cuban exile leaders in Florida have come to despise Castro with an intensity rarely seen this side of Shiite Muslim Mosques. Recognizing the Democrats were Castro's toadies while the Republicans held the line, the Miami Cuban community became one of the most solid Republican bases in the country. During the 1999 Castro "lovefest" in Havana, exiles scorned the anniversary of "blood and tears," while reminding the world to remember nearly 400 prisoners of conscience who were in Cuban prisons at that time. Reportedly, Castro has greatly added to that number.
The Third World still supports Fidel, as do Russia, North Korea, China and Venezuela. He is a hero in France. The French apparently love dictators as long as they hold their boots to the necks of someone other than them. Portugal and the Vatican sent messages to the 40th anniversary.
In the early 1980s, Castro embarrassed Jimmy Carter, who was pleased when Castro agreed to release all his prisoners. After Carter agreed to take them Castro sent his worst drug dealers, rapists, child molesters and various other charmers in what was called the Mariel Boat Lift. In 1994 tens of thousands of Cubans crossed shark-infested seas to Florida in flimsy boats. Four years later, Pope Paul II came to pay his respects, which in light of recent Catholic Church revelations should raise serious questions about that organization's leadership. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien arrived to kiss Castro's ring. The King of Spain, still smarting apparently from Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, gave Castro whatever little credibility his throne bestows, along with other Spanish-speaking heads of state who think their nation's peasants will give them some points for it. Occasionally something like the Ibero-American Summit in Havana takes place and Castro is carted out to speak to people who have decided that the only reason there is pollution and disease in the world is because of America.
What is forgotten by many is that the people who backed Castro in the revolution wanted Democracy. Instead, they got the motto, "Socialism or death," which does not sound very Democratic. Many got their share of death. Castro actually was a believer in Truman's "Domino Theory." He thought Cuban Communism would influence the rest of Latin America.
Some years ago, a group of women and their young kids were attacked by the Cuban coast guard because they were against Socialism. The women begged for the lives of their children. The coast guard took a high powered hose and washed the people off the deck of the boat and into the water to drown.
College, technical school and specialized education is all free in Cuba. The problem is that these skills cannot be used by citizens to make worthwhile careers for themselves under their system. Public libraries are available in Cuba, but thousands of great books by Western authors are unavailable because they promote ideas that do not square with the Communist ideal. Castro claims nobody living in Cuba is living in poverty, and only five percent of Cubans are unemployed. However, since virtually everybody lives in poverty by Western standards, but the poverty is spread equally, he calls this "no poverty." "Employment" is a title, but there is no money and little future in most Cuban occupations.
Cubans do not have the right to travel in and out of the country, without special permission from the government. They do not have freedom of speech, freedom of expression, or the right to own electronic or print media. Industries are run or owned by the government. Outside of a few old school Leftists, they are an international pariah. The choice to make the United States an enemy has cost this country and its people beyond the stated value of money. Castro's horrid atheism, officially imposed on this once-Catholic country, caused even more deprivation. Cuba is a nation almost without a soul, robbed of traditional family values. Its people live day-to-day, starving for food, opportunity, money, respect and freedom. They are told that because they can get a shot at some free clinic they live in paradise. Fidel Castro is everything American has always stood against, and because of that the world, thankfully, has very few Fidel Castros. But for the people of Cuba, this is an ironic joke played on them every day.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism