The U.S. government’s belligerence toward Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador for sympathizing with Edward Snowden’s request for asylum brings to mind the U.S. national-security state’s Cold War mindset toward communism, a mindset characterized by deception, delusion, and paranoia, a mindset that did immeasurable harm to the American people as well as people in Latin America and that continues to do so to the present date.
Let’s go back to April 1962 — after the CIA’s and Pentagon’s botched invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs and before the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.
Having met with President Kennedy’s rejection of Operation Northwoods, a plan by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to initiate fake terrorist attacks and fake hijackings in order to provide a pretext for a full-scale U.S. invasion of Cuba, the chairman of the JCS, Lyman Lemnitzer, submitted a memorandum to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that stated in part:
1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the Cuban problem must be solved in the near future. Further, they see no prospect of early success in overthrowing the present Communist regime either as a result of internal uprisings or external political, economic, or psychological pressures. Accordingly, they believe that military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow the present Communist regime.
2. The United States cannot tolerate permanent existence of a Communist government in the Western Hemisphere. The present regime in Cuba provides Communism with a base of operations for espionage, sabotage, and subversion against Latin America….
Well, now let’s see: Communist Cuba has now been in existence for more than 50 years. As far as I can see, the United States is still standing. Neither the East Coast nor the West Coast has fallen into the ocean. The public (i.e., government) schools are still run by American citizens. The IRS is still manned by American bureaucrats. In fact, it would seem that the U.S. government is far fatter and more bloated than it ever was in 1962.
So, where is the big threat to “national security” that Cuba was supposed to pose to the United States by virtue of it having a communist regime? Was the threat to “national security” supposed to be that the Cuban army would invade Florida and make its way up the Eastern Seaboard and march triumphantly into Washington, D.C.? Was it that Fidel Castro would initiate a series of assassinations against U.S. officials? Or was it that Castro would sneak books on communism into America’s public schools?
Well, none of that ever happened!
Oh wait! Apparently the threat to “national security” was that Cuba would cause other nations to go communist. You know, like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, or Nicaragua!
To which one might respond: And so what? Why should that have caused Americans to lose any sleep?
After all, for all practical purposes all those countries have gone communist. All four of them have adopted extreme socialist programs and, in fact, two of them—Venezuela and Nicaragua—have openly aligned themselves with Cuba and Castro.
Who cares? Well, except for the Pentagon and the CIA and those Americans who are still convinced that that Americans are in danger of falling to communism and who are still looking for communists (and terrorists, Muslims, drug dealers, and illegal aliens) under their beds.
In fact, consider Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega. Remember him? He was the president of Nicaragua when the Reagan administration initiated its illegal Contra war within Nicaragua, an unnecessary war that took the lives of countless Nicaraguans. Americans were told that such a war was absolutely necessary because the Ortega regime was a communist one and, therefore, threatened the “national security” of the United States.
What a crock. Today, guess who the president of Nicaragua is. You guessed it—Daniel Ortega. And he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still as communist and socialist as he always has been.
So what? How many Americans lose sleep over the possibility that Nicaragua is going to send troops to invade and occupy the United States and run the public schools, the IRS, and the Interstate Highway System?
The fact is that it never mattered one iota whether every single country in Latin America went communist or socialist. In fact, in terms of economic principles, they all have. Just look at their programs. All of them embrace such socialistic programs as old-age assistance, government-provided healthcare, public schooling, and income taxation. And not one of them has ever indicated a desire or ability to invade and occupy the United States, assuming that that’s what a threat to “national security” means.
National-security statists say that there was danger that the Soviet Union would establish military bases in Latin America, to which one might respond: “You mean, like the U.S. bases surrounding the Soviet Union?” In fact, in that memo cited above, the JCS also pointed out: “While considered unlikely, it is possible for the Sino-Soviet Bloc to establish military bases in Cuba similar to U.S. installations around the Bloc periphery.”
But again, the other obvious question is: So what? Foreign military bases are nothing but a huge cancerous drain on the resources of a nation. They are a burden on a citizenry, not an asset. Soviet military bases in the Western hemisphere would have accelerated the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union, just as America’s overseas military bases are doing to our country.
Moreover, despite all the fear-mongering from the Pentagon and the CIA during the Cold War, the fact is that the Soviets wanted to avoid nuclear war even more than Americans did. Despite the lies put out by the Pentagon and the CIA regarding the so-called missile gap, the Soviets always knew that they were far outgunned by the United States and that they could never win a nuclear war, not even if they struck first.
In fact, that was confirmed when the Soviets took their nuclear missiles out of Cuba in return for Kennedy’s promise to remove U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union and his promise not invade Cuba, a promise that the Pentagon and the CIA considered was a grave and humiliating defeat for the United States. If the Soviets had wanted a nuclear war, that was the time to initiate it — when they had operational nuclear missiles 90 miles away from American shores.
Moreover, if concern over a Soviet conquest of the United States was the real reason for the Pentagon’s and CIA’s long-term paranoid obsession over Cuba, what’s their excuse for their paranoid obsession with Cuba today? The Cold War ended more than ten years ago. The Soviet Union is dismantled. East and West Germany are one. Soviet troops are out of Eastern Europe. Vietnam is united. China and Russia are friends of the United States
So, why the continuation of their cruel and inhumane embargo against Cuba? Why continue to prevent the Cuban people from improving their economic well-being through trade and interactions with the American people? Why continue jailing and fining Americans who travel to Cuba and spend money there? Why punish foreign businesses that do business with Cuba?
What are they scared of—that Americans might end up embracing Cuba’s socialist system, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, drug laws, occupational licensure, public housing, food stamps, price controls, and income taxation?
Too late! By that measure, Castro won a long time ago!
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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