A Good-bye Kiss to the Blockade?

3-31-09, 11:00 am

Original source: CubaNews

“The embargo on Cuba has been in place for almost 50 years. Although it may have been an appropriate policy response to the Cuban Revolution in the milieu of the Cold War, the reality of the 21st century calls for its abolishment.”

That assertion is made in article by Colonel Glenn Alex Crowther entitled “Kiss the Embargo Goodbye,” published in the [February 2009] monthly newsletter of the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the US Army War College, a branch of the US government’s Defense Department.

“It is time to kiss the embargo goodbye, while maintaining an unyielding stance that democracy is the only acceptable form of government in the Western Hemisphere,” the article states, thereby reasserting a supposed US right, recognized by no one else, to determine what form of government its neighbors should have.

According to Colonel Crowther’s interpretation of the history of Cuba: “On January 1, 1959, in the wake of several notable victories by insurgents, the dictator Batista fled Cuba for exile. His government, isolated from both the Cuban people and the US Government because of its repressive policies, collapsed. Fidel arrived in Havana on January 9, 1959. He and his comrades took power in the face of a total government vacuum.”

Crowther states that “the United States initially responded in a conciliatory manner; however, mutual antipathy prevented rapprochement. The United States responded with support for the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Cuba then allowed the Soviet Union to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. Fidel also initiated a policy of exporting revolution to the rest of the Western Hemisphere and a few countries in Africa. His Argentine lieutenant, Ernest ‘Che’ Guevara, promised ‘one, two, one hundred [sic] Vietnams.’”

Later, according to Crowther, the triumph of the Sandinistas against the dictator Somoza was the only confirmation of the Cuban theory of guerrilla foco, which, nonetheless failed in Nicaragua because the US intervened to defeat the revolutionaries, and it continued to intervene throughout Latin America against all “fidelista-inspired revolutions.”

In this context, “it was not surprising that the United States sought to punish the Cuban regime. Among other responses, the United States declared a commercial, economic and financial embargo on Cuba on February 7, 1962.” The immediate justification “was the expropriation of properties owned by US corporations and citizens; however the long-term goal was to destabilize Cuba and hopefully cause regime change.”

The author asserts that because of the support that the Soviet Union gave to Cuba, the blockade could not overthrow the revolution, but it did succeed in doing great damage to the Cubans and preventing them from providing “even more support to world-wide revolutions.” During the Cold War, one of the tactics used by the United States to wear down the USSR was to force it to provide aid to Cuba, and that motive for the embargo has lessened with the end of the Cold War.

In Crowther’s opinion, “the only reasons for supporting the embargo” are: (1) to force Cuba to reform and (2) to accede to the demands of the Cuban community in Miami. They were the ones who argued in favor of the 1992 Torricelli Law (the Cuban Democracy Act) and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act (Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act), aimed at bolstering the blockade.

The first reason, the need to keep up the pressure to force Cuba to reform, has “manifestly failed,” writes Crowther. “Not only did the embargo fail,” the article states, “but it is not in step with our policy towards other communist regimes who were our opponents during the Cold War,” citing the examples of China, Vietnam, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The second reason, the desire of Miami Cubans to maintain the embargo, “has slowly gone the way of the Cold War,” Crowther writes, and notes that the positions of the Cuban diaspora regarding ties with their country of origin have become more variegated.

He adds, as if this were a great discovery, that the blockade increases the Cuban people’s mobilization against US intervention in their internal affairs, although he justifies this with the old lies that portray the Cuban defensive actions as the “tyranny” of “the Castro regime.”

Lifting the blockade, he states, would project the US before the international community as “magnanimous and inclusive. Maintaining it makes us look petty and vindictive to the rest of the world.”

The article’s author, a Research Professor of National Security Studies at the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, argues that “we cannot convince anyone that Cuba is a threat to the United States, nor can we make the case internationally that more of the same will have a positive impact. Lifting the blockade would signal that we are ready to try something different” to achieve change.

Crowther assumes that as soon as the blockade is lifted the market for US goods and services will open up, and he dreams of a bourgeoisified and consumerist society that will covet US appliances and gadgets when the blockade ends, as happened “in Iraq in 2003.”

It is outrageous that there are those who call for lifting the blockade, not because for a half century it has been an unjustifiable crime committed against the Cuban people, but rather because it has been ineffective in achieving the foul aims that gave rise to it.

--A CubaNews translation by Will Reissner. Edited by Walter Lippmann.