Perhaps President Trump thinks that by further destroying the freedom of the American people to travel and spend money in Cuba, he can ingratiate himself with the national-security establishment in the hopes they will lay off him with their Russia meddling investigation. Regardless, Trump’s actions are not only a classic throwback to the old Cold War, when the Pentagon and the CIA filled everyone with a deep fear of communism and the Soviet Union, they also demonstrate the rank hypocrisy that has infected U.S. interventionist foreign policy since the advent of the U.S. national-security state after World War II.
In a speech last week to a Cuban American crowd in Miami that could easily have been made scrimped from some old Cold War speech in 1965, Trump reminded the crowd that Cuba is ruled by a communist dictatorship, one that will not permit elections, suppresses free speech, incarcerates dissidents, and violates civil liberties. When the communist regime reforms, Trump told the crowd, then Americans will finally be free to travel to Cuba and spend money there.
Really? Then what about Vietnam? That’s a communist regime, one that, in fact, killed some 58,000 American men after the U.S. national-security state invaded that country to keep the United States and South Vietnam from going Red. That communist regime does all the things that the communist regime in Cuba does.
How come, then, the U.S. government has normal relations with the commies in Vietnam?
In fact, the hypocrisy is even worse than that. Take a look at this picture. It shows the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, saluting and paying respects to Vietnamese communist troops three years ago. Did you ever think you’d see the day when something like that would happen? I wonder how many U.S. soldiers who were sacrificed for nothing in Vietnam turned over in their graves when Dempsey did that.
What was Dempsey doing in Vietnam paying homage to communist troops? He was serving as a U.S. military diplomat, trying to establish closer ties between the Pentagon and the Vietnamese Reds. In fact, according to the article in which the photograph appeared, the U.S. government was even considering selling arms to the Vietnamese communist regime and engaging in in a military partnership with the commies.
The natural question arises: If communist tyranny in Cuba is justification for Trump’s renewal of hostilities against Cuba (and on the freedom of the American people), what gives with the lovey-dovey attitude toward the communist regime in Vietnam?
And let’s not forget: Vietnam is not the only totalitarian regime that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the rest of the national-security establishment respect, partner with, and support. Consider Egypt, which has long been governed by one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world, one that does the same things that Cuba’s communist regime does.
Why do the Pentagon and the CIA love Egypt’s dictatorship, supply it with weaponry, and make it a U.S. partner and ally? Two reasons: The big one is: The Egyptian regime will do the bidding of the U.S. government in international affairs. The smaller one is: The Egyptian regime is a right-wing military dictatorship and the Pentagon and the CIA have long loved right-wing military dictatorships.
The same holds true, of course for the U.S. government’s embrace of the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Bahrain, and many others.
In fact, one of the Pentagon’s and the CIA’ favorite military dictatorships was the one they installed into power in Chile, headed by a general named Augusto Pinochet. They loved Pinochet, whose forces kidnapped, rounded up, tortured, raped, sexually assaulted, executed, or disappeared tens of thousands of innocent Chileans and two innocent American citizens, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. Like Castro, Pinochet would not permit elections, suppressed free speech, jailed dissidents, and destroyed civil liberties.
But U.S. officials (as well as American and Chilean conservatives) loved Pinochet because the people his forces were doing all those horrific things to were communists, socialists, leftists, or supporters of the democratically elected president of Chile who the Pentagon, the CIA, and Pinochet ousted from power, Salvador Allende.
While we are on the subject of U.S. hypocrisy and pro-U.S. brutal dictators, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the one who Fidel Castro ousted from power, Gen. Fulgencio Batista, another military dictator who the Pentagon and the CIA loved. Like the CIA later on, Batista entered into a partnership with the Mafia, one of the biggest criminal organizations in history. In return for letting the Mafia run the casinos in Havana and run heroin through Cuba on its way to the United States, Batista got a cut of the action. As part of the deal, Batista’s forces would often kidnap young (i.e., minor) Cuban girls to serve as sexual mates for well-heeled American gamblers in those Mafia casinos. It was considered a casino perk.
U.S. officials loved Batista because he was their man in Havana. That’s the type of “freedom” they would love to see restored to Cuba, one in which the Cuban people get to suffer under a brutal pro-U.S. dictatorship rather than an independent communist one.
While we are on the subject of socialism, it’s worth mentioning another aspect of the hypocrisy that has long infected U.S. policy toward Cuba. Notice that Trump didn’t criticize Cuba’s socialist programs. Neither do American conservatives. Same goes for the Pentagon and the CIA.
There is a simple reason for that: they all believe in Social Security, public schooling, government-provided health care, redistribution of wealth, jobs programs, paper money, central bank, national-security apparatus, income taxation, and other aspects of Cuba’s socialist system. In fact, the two programs that Cuban communists are most proud of — health care and education — are ones that are also near and dear to Trump’s heart as well as the hearts of Pentagon and CIA officials (as well as American leftists, of course).
That’s the ultimate irony of the Cold War, of course. The Pentagon and the CIA waged the Cold War to save America from communism and socialism, and yet today you could never find one Pentagon or CIA official who favors the abolition of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, farm subsidies, the Federal Reserve, and other programs that the U.S. government has in common with the communist-socialist regime in Cuba.
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention how the Pentagon and the CIA manage their section of Cuba. As bad as people have it in Cuba’s communist prisons, things are certainly not any better for American prisoners at Guantanamo. No trial by jury. Indefinite incarceration. No speedy trial. Torture. Not even kangaroo tribunals. The fact is that the Pentagon’s and CIA’s prison camp would fit perfectly well within any communist or totalitarian regime.
Donald Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA need to be reminded that when they point an accusatory finger at Cuba, there are three fingers pointed back at themselves. They also need to be reminded that when they attack Cuba, they simultaneously destroy the freedom of the American people.