Why in the world does the United States still maintain an economic embargo against Cuba? The popular answer is that a few Cuban-American members of Congress from Florida won’t permit Congress to lift the embargo. That excuse has always struck me as odd given that the congressmen who aren’t Cuban-Americans far outnumber those who are.
There is another possibility — that the Pentagon and the CIA won’t permit Congress to lift the embargo. It would seem to me that this would be the much more likely reason that the embargo hasn’t been lifted given that the national-security branch of the federal government is much more powerful and influential than a few Cuban-American congressmen from Florida.
Why would the Pentagon and the CIA oppose the lifting of the embargo?
Because for them, that part of the Cold War never ended. Sure, the Soviet Union may have dismantled but that event obviously did not bring about the surrender or end of Fidel Castro’s communist regime in Cuba.
Don’t forget: Castro’s communist regime was a centerpiece of the entire Cold War. For national-security state officials, Castro’s regime posed a grave threat to the “national security” of the United States. It reflected the danger that communism was going to infect the entire Western Hemisphere and that the infection would ultimately take over the American people, sort of like what would happen in a zombie apocalypse.
Think back to the regime-change operations in Guatemala and Chile in 1954 and 1973. The Pentagon and CIA smashed democracy in both countries by engineering the ouster of the two countries’ democratically elected presidents, replacing them with brutal military dictatorships.
Why did they do that? Because of the deep fear over the possibility that Latin America would become filled with more Cubas—that is, more governments headed by communists.
Again, they saw communism as a gigantic infection of the mind that was threatening the entire world, just like zombies. That’s in fact why President Ronald Reagan initiated his Contra rebellion in Nicaragua and violated the law with Iran-Contra—because the Nicaraguan people had installed into power a self-avowed communist-socialist. The infection was clearly spreading and Reagan was doing his best to stamp it out, before it got to the United States.
That’s in fact why the FBI, CIA, and Pentagon were spying on domestic groups here in the United States, infiltrating them, and doing their best to destroy them. One of the best examples was the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a national group here in the United States that was devoted, in part, to the lifting of the Cuban embargo.
The national-security establishment considered the FPCC to be a grave threat to national security because it reflected that the communist infection had already reached the minds of some Americans. The infection had to be killed. That’s why they went after the FPCC.
They did the same with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. In the minds of the national-security establishment, that King and others were fighting for equal rights for blacks showed the extent to which communism had already reached a beachhead in this part of the world.
They were looking for communists in the State Department, the Army, Hollywood, and everywhere else, and doing their best to destroy them. They were even exhorting Americans to look under the beds for communists, much as people do in the popular cable series “The Walking Dead.”
(In an interesting aside, at the height of the anti-communist mania, when the national security establishment was doing everything to prevent the communist infection from taking over the United States, the entire national-security establishment, for some reason, chose not to lay a finger on one particular person who called himself a self-avowed communist and did his best to publicize it—a former U.S. Marine who had supposedly tried to defect to the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald.)
Then along comes 1989 and the Cold War is suddenly and unexpectedly brought to an end.
Well, sort of.
After all, while U.S. officials like to proclaim the end of the Cold War as a victory for the United States, it wasn’t really a total victory. It wasn’t like the Soviet Union surrendered and agreed to surrender terms. It wasn’t like Russia agreed to do whatever the United States said, like Japan and West Germany did after World War II.
And still standing was that pesky communist regime in Cuba, a centerpiece of the Cold War, which didn’t go away at the end of the Cold War. It was still there. It is still there, notwithstanding the CIA’s invasion at the Bay of Pigs, the CIA’s many assassination attempts against Castro, the CIA’s many acts of terrorism and sabotage within Cuba, the Pentagon’s wish to bomb Cuba at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Pentagon’s Operation Northwoods plan for false terrorist attacks, and, of course, the more than 50 years of the embargo.
Sure, the Soviet Union might be gone but does that mean that the threat of a communist infection is gone? Of course not! For the national-security establishment, that threat never went away.
And consider Venezuela, or Bolivia, or Ecuador, or Nicaragua, or Chile, where leftist rulers have been elected to power, many of whom are closely aligned with the Castro brothers’ communist regime in Cuba.
And hey, don’t forget those Chinese communists. They’re still around! And have you noticed that they’re entering into economic transactions with the Venezuelans and who knows who else? What better evidence of communist infiltration than that?
Who says that communism is dead? And, hey, don’t forget that Americans have enthusiastically embraced such socialist programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, farm subsidies, education grants, drug laws, and public schooling, all of which are also central parts of Castro’s communist regime in Cuba. What better evidence of the spread of communism than that?
My hunch is that as long as the Castro brothers are alive, the U.S. national-security establishment will never permit the president or the Congress to lift the embargo against Cuba. In their eyes, lifting the embargo would be considered another grave Cold War defeat for the United States — perhaps even worse than Castro’s defeat of CIA forces at the Bay of Pigs. Even worse, in the eyes of Pentagon and the CIA, lifting the embargo would also constitute a grave threat to “national security,” especially given the possibility that Americans could catch the communist infection through interaction with the Cuban people.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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