Thursday, 4 October 2012

Loving the Bomb!

The Cuban revolution of 1959 was met with a three-pronged assault from the colossus less than 100 miles north. A campaign of assassination attempts against the leadership combined with economic strangulation and terrorist attacks. It was in 1961 that Fidel Castro finally declared Cuba to be in the grips of a socialist revolution worth defending with rifles. This was just after the US had bombed two Cuban airports. It wasn't over yet, the Bay of Pigs came soon after and it was over in about 72 hours. The Americans were humiliated and the Cubans quickly exchanged the people they had captured for food and medicine. It wasn't forgotten. After that the Commandante climbed into bed with the Russian politburo and reluctantly agreed to park nuclear weapons on the island as a deterrent to another US invasion. The governing party became the Cuban Communist Party within a few years and the regime began to follow the Soviet model of really existing socialism.

Fidel Castro had reluctantly accepted nuclear weapons from Russia in order to secure Cuba from another invasion and to strengthen the socialist camp. In his typical flamboyance Fidel would have preferred a triumphant display, perhaps a parade of his newfound nuclear might through the streets of Havana. Instead the CIA discovered the weapons from the air and the world was soon on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. This is no exaggeration, as we now know; it was the most dangerous moment in history for our species. The bureaucrats were well aware that this was the case at the time. If it wasn’t for a Russian submarine commander who countered the orders of two other commanders then nuclear-tipped warheads would have been fired at the US. Two of them had made the decision under the assumption that a war had begun, they were under attack from a US destroyer at the time. Thankfully the decision was overruled by Vasili Arkhipov. That could have been the end.

If the Russians had let-off the warheads it would have provoked a full nuclear response from the US. Moscow would have been taken out and then London would have been taken out in retaliation, it would have escalated from there. Near total annihilation in a matter of minutes. This case demonstrates the incredible danger of living in a world of nuclear weapons, we're not as in control of these radioactive toys as we like to think. By and large it is automated systems which have the power to land a mushroom cloud on the horizon. There have been many times where we have come close to the edge, but there has always been someone around to step in. Sooner or later there isn't going to be a human intervention to save the day. It may only be a matter of time as Chomsky reminds us. Disarmament isn't just the moral action at this point, it's vital for the chances of human survival in the long-term. There's no point making sure that we destroy what's left after a nuclear strike takes us out.

A deal was soon cut, the yanks shipped out the nukes they had in Turkey and the ruskies did the same in Cuba in return for a promise that the US would never invade Cuba again. JFK wanted to look hard and refused, but secretly had the missiles in Turkey removed. Of course, he was aware that the missiles were actually obsolete and were about to be replaced by Polaris in the Mediterranean. Cuba was just another square on the chessboard in these manoeuvres and the Commandante wasn’t consulted in any of this. But neither were the people living in Russia or the United States for that matter. With all this in mind Lee Harvey Oswald decided to take-out Kennedy in order to take the heat off of Cuba. Before the year was out Oswald had pulled the trigger and saved the Kennedy legacy in doing so. It saved his criminal Presidency, secured the myth of a vanquished hero and wiped away everything he had done. The internet is stuffed with garbage theories about the man’s death, a lot less is focused on the numerous conspiracies to kill Fidel Castro.

It wasn't over between the US and Cuba, but the attempts to destroy the regime in Havana haven't come close to a nuclear holocaust since 1962. Instead there have been 638 known attempts to murder Fidel Castro, as of 2006 anyway, with the last attempts being made after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The CIA has yet to get their man, clearly they're much better at running drugs. That being said the CIA did manage to put to death Che Guevara in a most cowardly fashion. But that wasn't enough, was it? What would be enough? Only the return of Cuba into the hands of the American ruling-class and underworld. Anything less is an insult. So the Cuban economy had to be strangled with an embargo which is still going strong today. The Cubans turned to Russia and then they had to go it alone after the Soviet Union fell apart like the house of cards it was. Remarkably the Castro regime has survived and the major achievements of the Cuban revolution have been safeguarded.

The command model of the economy has been abandoned to some extent and we may well see a Chinese style of capitalism emerge on the island. There has yet to be a free election on the island, a free press has not been allowed to spring up and the Castro brothers have run the show for over 50 years. This isn't to say that the country should be ripped open to American power once again. The US government keeps more political prisoners in Cuba than the Castro regime actually does. There aren't thousands and thousands of homeless people roaming the streets, nor do millions go hungry every year. That's thanks to the efforts of the Cuban government to localise the production of food. Since the collapse of really existing socialism there has been a return to corruption and prostitution has re-emerged. But it has to be said that there aren't any drug cartels in Cuba and the island is certainly no abattoir unlike Colombia and Mexico.

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