Targeting Cuba

PRESIDENT Bush, it appears, would like to open another front in his self-styled global pro-democracy crusade; this time, nearer home, and targeting Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The problem, however, is that Castro is not just another weakling; and that he’s in league with powerful forces in his neighbourhood and beyond.

To call Cuba’s Communist government a “cruel dictatorship”, as Bush did yet again, is to see only one side of the story. Freedom, of course, is in short supply; and Cuba has its other problems, too, complicated in no small measure by Castro’s own ideological obsessions and compounded also by decades of confrontationist policies by successive US dispensations. Yet love him or loathe him, you cannot ignore the fact that Castro has over the past half a century captured the imagination of his countrymen by his all-encompassing socialistic policies, providing them with the bare and basic necessities of life. In the process though, Cuba remained underdeveloped and cut off from the rest of the world. Lke all socialistic systems, Cuba’s economy suffered in matters of macro management.

That said, there is no reason whatsoever for the US president to take up cudgels on behalf of Cubans, or Cuban exiles for that matter, and challenge the regime there; just as he did in Iraq. More so, in these times, when Bush’s own prominent foreign policy initiatives spanning his two terms in power have not taken him or America anywhere nearer to a pleasant situation. Iraq is burning. Afghanistan is headed for more difficult times; North Korea and Iran remain as hard nuts to crack as ever. The US image has taken a severe beating worldwide; and, Bush is seeking to open new fronts.

It is thanks largely to the Bush administration’s perceived foreign policy flaws that Latin America by and large is in a more hate-US mode now. Hugo Chavez is making waves and winning more friends in his alliance against Washington’s policies; which, among other things, made Bush’s recent visit to the region a fiasco. End of Castro, thus, is not going to be the end of anti-Americanism in Latin America. Rather, the US would do well to court its neighbours. There is virtue in cooperation.

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