The Jaded Prole

A Progressive Worker's Perspective on the political and cultural events of our time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Impending Change in US Cuba Relations

The relationship between the US and Cuba seems to be warming as the obsolescence of the embargo becomes increasing apparent and costly to the US. Here is an insightful and informative look inside the process from the recent reflections of Fidel Castro:

It is not known how many people in the United States write to Obama and how many different issues they put to him. Obviously, he cannot read all the letters and tackle every issue, because neither the 24 hours of the day and the 365 days of the year would be enough. What is a fact is that advisors, backed up by computers, electronic equipment and cell phones, reply to all the letters. Their content is recorded and the replies, supported by many statements made by the new president during his nomination and election campaign, exist beforehand.
In any event, letters have their influence and weight in U.S. policy given that, in this case, it does not concern a corrupt, lying and ignorant politician like his predecessor, who despised the social advances of the New Deal.
That is why my attention was caught by a dispatch from Washington, published yesterday, April 14, by the DPA news agency.
"A group of retired high-ranking U.S. officers have urged President Barack Obama to support and sign a Congressional initiative to end the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans, arguing that the embargo of the island does not serve Washington’s political and security aims.
"’The embargo has inspired a significant diplomatic movement against U.S. policy,’ note the 12 high-ranking retired officers, who include Barry McCaffrey, the ‘drug tsar’ during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence B. Wilkerson, in a letter made public in Washington today.
"’As military professionals, we understand that America's interests are best served when the United States is able to attract the support of other nations to our cause,’ the officers state in the letter, sent to Obama on Monday, the day that the U.S. president announced the end of restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuban Americans, but not for all of the country’s citizens, as progressive sectors are demanding.
"In the view of these officers, the bill called the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, submitted to the House of Representatives by Democrat Bill Delahunt, is an important first step toward lifting the embargo.
"A type of policy, they add, ‘more likely to bring change to Cuba’ and also to change Washington’s international image.
"’Around the world, leaders are calling for a real policy shift that delivers on the hope you inspired in your campaign,’ the officers sustain.
"’Cuba offers the lowest-hanging fruit for such a shift and would be a move that would register deeply in the minds of our partners and competitors around the world,’ they add.
The news, located among 315 pages of cables seemed to be somewhat insignificant. However, it approaches the crux of the problem that promoted four Reflections in less than 24 hours related to the Americas Summit, which begins in 48 hours.
In the United States, politicians launch wars and the military has to make them.
Kennedy, inexperienced and young, decreed the blockade and the Bay of Pigs invasion, organized by Eisenhower and Nixon, who knew less about wars than he did. The unexpected setback led him to new and misguided decisions which culminated in the October Missile Crisis, from which, however, he emerged gracefully but traumatized by the risk of a thermonuclear war, which was very close, as the French journalist Jean Daniel told me. "He’s a thinking machine," he added, in praise of the president, who had deeply impressed him.
Later on, enthused with the Green Berets, he sent them to Vietnam, where the United States was supporting the restoration of the French colonial empire. Another politician, Lyndon Johnson, took that war to its final consequences. In that inglorious adventure, more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives, the Union squandered no less than $500 billion when their value in gold fell 20 times, killed millions of Vietnamese and multiplied solidarity with that poor Third World country. Military service had to be replaced by professional soldiers, distancing the public from military training, which debilitated that nation.
A third politician, George W. Bush, protected by his father, executed the genocidal Iraq war that accelerated the economic crisis, making it more acute and profound. Its cost in economic figures rises to trillions of trillions of dollars, a public debt that will fall on new generations of U.S. citizens in a convulsed world full of risks.
Are those affirming that the embargo affects the security interests of the United States right or not?
The officers who wrote the letter are not appealing for the use of arms, but to the battle of ideas, something diametrically opposed to what the politicians have done.
In general, U.S. military personnel who defend the economic, political and social system of the United States, have privileges and are very well remunerated, but they are concerned at not becoming involved in the theft of public funds, which would result in discredit and a total lack of authority in terms of their military undertakings.
They do not believe that Cuba constitutes a threat to U.S. security, as others have attempted to portray us to U.S. public opinion. It was the governors of that country who converted Guantánamo base into a refuge of counterrevolutionaries or émigrés. Worse than that, they converted it into a torture center which they made famous as a symbol of the most brutal negation of human rights.
The military is also well aware that our country is a model in the war on drug trafficking and that no act of terrorism against the United States has ever been permitted from our territory.
As the Congressional Black Caucus was able to confirm, including Cuba on the list of terrorist countries is the most dishonest act ever made.
As well as Senators Lugar, Delahunt, the Caucus and other influential members of Congress, we thank those who wrote the letter to Obama.
We do not fear dialogue; we do not need to invent enemies; we do not fear a debate of ideas; we believe in our convictions and with them, we have learned to defend and will continue to defend our homeland.
With the fabulous advances in technology, war has turned into one of the most complex sciences.
That is something that U.S. soldiers understand. They know that it is not a matter of order and command in the style of the old wars. Today the adversaries quite probably never see each other’s faces; they can find each other at thousands of kilometers of distance; the most lethal weapons are fired by programs. Man barely participates. Decisions are calculated beforehand and lacking in emotion.
I have met a number of them, now retired, who have dedicated themselves to the study of military science and wars.
They do not express hatred or antipathy toward the little country that has fought and resisted confronting such a powerful enemy.
There currently exists in the United States a World Security Institute with which our country has contacts and academic exchanges. The one that existed 15 years ago was the Center for Defense Information (CDI). A CDI delegation made its first visit to Cuba at the end of June 1993. From that date to November 19, 2004, there have been nine visits to Cuba.
Up until 1999 the delegations were, in the main, made up of retired military officers.
In the October 1999 visit the composition of the delegations began to vary, reducing the presence of military personnel. From visit No. 5, all the delegations were led by the eminent researcher Bruce Blair, a security policy expert, specialized in control and command nuclear forces. A consultant professor at Yale and Princeton Universities. He has published countless books and hundreds of articles on the subject.
In that way, I came to know officers who assumed important roles in the U.S. armed forces. We didn’t always agree with their points of view, but they were always amiable. We had wide-ranging exchanges on historical events in which they had participated as soldiers.
The visits continued in 2006, but I had had the accident in Santa Clara and later fell gravely ill.
Of the 12 retired officers who signed the letter to Obama, one of them took part in those meetings.
I knew that in the last meeting that took place they said, in all frankness, that the military had no intention of attacking Cuba militarily; that there was a new political situation in the United States, derived from the weakness of the administration given its failure in Iraq.
It was clear to the compañeros who met with the U.S. delegation that they felt badly led and were ashamed at what was happening, although nobody could offer any guarantees on the political adventurism of the president of the United States, which he maintained up until the last day of his administration. That meeting took place at the beginning of March 2007, 14 months ago.
Bruce Blair must know much more than me on the thorny issue. His brave and transparent conduct always impressed me.
I did not want these data to remain in the archives awaiting the time when they would be of no interest to anybody.

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