While the Cold War ended in 1989 for most of the world, not so for the U.S. national-security state, the apparatus that was grafted onto our governmental system after World War II to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union, which had been America’s partner and ally during the war.
What better proof of that phenomenon than the continuation of the Cold War embargo against Cuba, the island nation 90 miles away from American shores that the Pentagon and the CIA have always been convinced is a beachhead in the worldwide communist conspiracy to conquer the United States and subject the American people to communist rule?
The ostensible purpose of the embargo, which went into effect in 1960 after communist Fidel Castro assumed the reins of power, was to effect regime change in Cuba, one in which Castro would be replaced by a pro-U.S. dictator, such as Fulgencio Batista, who Castro succeeded in ousting from power. That was also the purpose of the U.S. invasion at the Bay of Pigs, the CIA’s terrorist attacks within Cuba, and the CIA’s repeated assassination attempts against Castro.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Cuban embargo, the terrorism, and the assassination attempts is that such acts were entirely acts of aggression by the U.S. national-security state, which consists primarily of an enormous permanent standing army, an empire of foreign and domestic military bases, a massive military-industrial complex, the NSA, and the CIA.
It is undisputed that neither Castro nor any Cuban official ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, not even in retaliation against the acts of aggression against Cuba and Castro on the part of the Pentagon and the CIA.
So, why were U.S. national-security state officials convinced that Castro constituted a grave threat to U.S. “national security”? One big reason was Castro’s mindset. He was a believer in communism and socialism. His communist and socialist beliefs were considered to be like a contagious infection that, if left alone and unchecked, could infect the minds of Americans.
Among the worst case scenarios was that the communist infection would spread across America and seduce people into electing a communist or socialist president, as actually happened in Chile in 1970.
So, the end of the Cold War wasn’t really an end for the Pentagon and the CIA. They were left continuing to stare at Cuba, knowing that a communist was still in charge there and that that communist’s mindset was still as grave a threat to “national security” as it ever was. That’s in fact the reason that U.S. national-security state officials never ceased their efforts to effect regime change in Cuba after 1989.
USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who was arrested and convicted by Cuban authorities in 2009 for bringing satellite phones and computer equipment into Cuba without Cuban permission, provides a good example of how the Cold War, which ended for everyone else 20 years previous, never ended for the U.S. national-security state. Another example is the USAID project known as “ZunZuneo,” a covert cell-phone app program within Cuba during 2010-2012 by which U.S. officials hoped to foment internal dissent against the Castro regime.
The mindset that the Cold War remained an ongoing affair is also exemplified by NATO, the Cold War organization that U.S. officials brought into existence with the ostensible purpose of protecting Europe from the purported threat of the Soviet Union, which again, had served on the same side as Western Europe and the United States in the fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany during World War II.
Given that the Cold War was over, what was the purpose of maintaining a major Cold War agency like NATO in existence?
There is one reason for doing so: For the U.S. national-security state, the Cold War never ended. Given that mindset, it was entirely logical for U.S. officials to keep NATO in existence and, even more important, begin absorbing the nations that had previously been part of the Soviet Empire, moving NATO forces closer and closer to Russia.
That’s what the fight over Ukraine is all about. Ever since 1989, NATO has been moving east and finally threatened to absorb Ukraine within NATO. That not only would have placed NATO forces and missiles at Russia’s border, it would also have placed Russia’s longtime military bases in Crimea under direct control of NATO.
Russia was never going to let that happen, especially since one of the NATO members is Germany, the nation-state that waged war against Russia in both World War I and World War II.
Russia’s reaction to NATO’s move was entirely predictable. After all, it’s the same reaction that U.S. officials would have if, say, Russia began moving into Cuba. But the escalating crisis in Ukraine provides U.S. officials with the opportunity to say, “See, the Cold War never really ended. We’re still at war.”
So, why didn’t the Pentagon and the CIA believe the Cold War was over when everyone else did? Because the war never ended in a surrender, which was the aim of national-security state officials throughout the Cold War. They wanted victory, not some half-hearted informal truce. Since there was never a formal surrender by the Soviets and Cubans, the Cold War could never be considered over by the U.S. national-security state, which has always viewed itself as the ultimate guardian of U.S. “national security.”
The aim of the national-security state was to have Russia and Cuba formally bend the knee to the U.S. government and acknowledge that Russia and Cuba were now willing to do whatever was necessary to work with the United States to achieve worldwide “order and stability.” In return for acknowledging the U.S. government’s supreme hegemony over the world, the governments of both nations would have been free to do whatever they wanted within their own nations to fortify and elongate their grip on power. The relationships between England and the United States and Egypt and the United States come to mind.
Conveniently, the crisis in Ukraine and the continuation of the Castro regime in Cuba enables U.S. national-security state officials to argue that the national-security state apparatus, which was grafted onto our governmental system without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment after World War II, is more necessary than ever. Never mind that the national-security state is the root cause of the crises it uses to justify its continued Cold War existence.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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