In 1964, ABC television newscaster Lisa Howard asked Che Guevara, the self-avowed communist ally of Fidel Castro during and after the Cuban Revolution, a fascinating question: “What would you like to see the United States do, as regards Cuba?”
Undoubtedly, U.S. officials who were watching the broadcast were hoping that Guevara would respond in the customary way: “We would like the U.S. government to send us foreign aid in the form of money, grants, and weaponry.” By putting Cuba on the U.S. foreign-policy dole, Cuba could then be relied upon to come to the support of the U.S. government in international affairs, including when important votes came up in the United Nations.
That, in fact, is how U.S. foreign aid has long operated. Operating through the IRS, the U.S. government takes trillions of dollars from the incomes of the American people and gives some of the money, through cash or weaponry, to foreign regimes, many of which are unelected, brutal dictatorships.
The dictatorship is then permitted a free hand domestically — free, that is, to maintain its brutal dictatorial control over its own citizenry. That’s where the U.S.-provided weaponry comes into play. Automatic weapons, tanks, missiles, and other armaments are the means by which the dictatorship intimidates opponents and, when necessary, arrests, incarcerates, tortures, or kills them. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the more powerful the regime militarily, the more difficult it becomes for the citizenry to overthrow or resist it.
At the risk of further belaboring the obvious, the U.S. foreign aid that comes in the form of money enables foreign officials to line their pockets and fund their Swiss bank accounts as well as those of their cronies within their military-industrial complexes.
Egypt is a modern-day recipient of U.S. foreign aid — over $1.5 a billion a year according to a 2013 article in the Washington Post. The country is ruled by one of the most brutal and oppressive unelected military dictatorships in the world. It rules the country with an iron fist, refusing to permit elections, censoring the press, and jailing critics and dissidents, not to mention running a gigantic economic system of military socialism. In return for being a partner and ally of the U.S. government, including a torture-rendition partner in the U.S. war on terrorism, U.S. officials give the dictatorship a free hand to do whatever is necessary to maintain its hold on power.
There are other examples, including some historical ones. Iran 1953 comes to mind. After ousting the democratically appointed prime minister of the country in a coup, the U.S. government partnered with and supported the brutal unelected dictatorship of the Shah, even going so far as to train his domestic force — the much-feared SAVAK — in the art of torture and indefinite detention, which enabled the Shah to keep his tyrannical hold on power until the Iranian people succeeded in ousting him in a violent revolution in 1979. In return, Iran was a loyal partner and ally of the U.S. government for more than two decades.
So, that’s what U.S. officials were undoubtedly hoping Fidel Castro would do after gaining power in Cuba. They undoubtedly hoped that he would be like the man he ousted from power, Fulgencio Batista, another historical example of a brutal dictator who partnered with the U.S. government and, in turn, was given U.S. foreign aid to maintain his grip on power domestically.
Guevara, however, undoubtedly shocked most U.S. officials with his answer to Lisa Howard. Although Guevara and Castro were self-avowed Marxists, communists, and socialists — which are the exact opposite of libertarianism — his response to Howard was quintessentially libertarian: “Just leave us alone.”
And therein lies the problem with U.S.-Cuba relations and, for that matter, U.S.-North Korean relations: The U.S. government simply cannot leave either Cuba or North Korea alone. It remains obsessed with ousting both regimes from power and installing regimes that are willing to receive U.S. foreign aid and, in turn, to do the bidding of the U.S. government.
The fact is that if Castro had agreed to become a recipient of U.S. foreign aid and a loyal partner and ally of the U.S. government, U.S. officials would have left him free to do whatever he wanted in Cuba, just as they have left the Egyptian dictatorship free to do whatever it wants to the Egyptian people. It was Cuba’s plea to be left alone, and, even worse, to establish a peaceful and friendship relationship with the Soviet Union, that angered and outraged U.S. officials.
U.S. officials say that the problem was actually that Castro was a communist or socialist. That is clearly disingenuous, however, because most U.S. officials agree in principle with Castro’s economic and educational policies and programs.
Consider the core features of Cuba’s socialist system: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free public (i.e., government) schooling, paper (i.e., fiat) money, a central bank, travel controls, trade restrictions, a central bank, and a national-security establishment.
Pray tell: What U.S. official in the executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch, or national-security branch of the U.S. government opposes any of those policies and programs and would like to see them abolished here in the United States? Answer: None, at least none publicly.
The real problem for U.S. officials has always been that Cuba, like North Korea, wants to be left alone by the U.S. government. That is one of the main things (in addition to establishing peaceful and friendship relations with Russia. communist China, or the Soviet Union) that has made both regimes a threat to U.S. “national security.”
Think about it: Neither Cuba nor North Korea has ever attacked the United States. Never! Instead, it is the U.S. government that has attacked both countries.
U.S. officials invaded Cuba, initiated acts of sabotage and terrorism against people on the island, conspired with the Mafia to assassinate Castro, and imposed a brutal, ongoing economic embargo on the Cuban people.
In North Korea, they targeted the entire country, including villages, with a massive carpet-bombing campaign and illegal germ warfare as part of an intervention into a civil war that was never any of the U.S. government’s business. In the process, they killed or injured millions of people, who they considered were all “gooks” anyway. Ever since the Korean War in the early 1950s, U.S. officials have imposed brutal sanctions, engaged in military exercises, kept U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, and engaged in bomber fly-overs to remind the North Korean people of the massive death, destruction, and suffering that U.S. officials did to them during their intervention into Korea’s civil war.
Here is the solution for the decades-long crises in both Cuba and North Korea: Stop all U.S. regime-change operations against both countries. Immediately lift all sanctions and embargoes against both countries. Bring all U.S. troops and U.S. weaponry home immediately. Do not offer or give any U.S. foreign aid to either country. Do not punish either country for wanting independence from U.S. rule and for establishing peaceful and friendship relations with other countries, including China and Russia.
In sum: U.S. officials should grant both Cuba and North Korea their plea: Just leave them alone.