Jeffrey Goldberg: Castro A "Great Man"

Via Matt Yglesias, who accurately dubs the entire article "surreal," Jeffery Goldberg on Fidel Castro (Part 2 was standard fare sycophancy):

I was even more curious, however, to get a glimpse of the great man.

I'm pretty sure that Goldberg is referring to Castro as a "great man" in the important in history sense, not in the "I think he is wonderful" sense. But it still startled me. It also reminded me of the Louis Farrakhan brouhaha back in the day with the Hitler was a great man stuff. (Also interesting to remember was Farrakhan's "judaism is a gutter religion comment in light of today's anti-Muslim hysteria.) Some thoughts on the flip.

First, Goldberg explains that he went to see Castro at Castro's invitation:

A couple of weeks ago, while I was on vacation, my cell phone rang; it was Jorge Bolanos, the head of the Cuban Interest Section (we of course don't have diplomatic relations with Cuba) in Washington. "I have a message for you from Fidel," he said. This made me sit up straight. "He has read your Atlantic article about Iran and Israel. He invites you to Havana on Sunday to discuss the article." I am always eager, of course, to interact with readers of The Atlantic, so I called a friend at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig, who is a preeminent expert on Cuba and Latin America: "Road trip," I said.

Castro reading The Atlantic? Probably still in the habit from the days when Mort Zuckerman, a fierce opponent of the Cuban embargo (so am I) and a staunch Castro apologist (not me), owned The Atlantic. But still, who really cares what Castro has to say these days, besides Cubans like me? Goldberg of course would jump at the chance, especially to discuss his favorite topic - war with Iran:

I was aware that Castro had become preoccupied with the threat of a military confrontation in the Middle East between Iran and the U.S. (and Israel, the country he calls its Middle East "gendarme"). Since emerging from his medically induced, four-year purdah early this summer (various gastrointestinal maladies had combined to nearly kill him), the 84-year-old Castro has spoken mainly about the catastrophic threat of what he sees as an inevitable war.

So what did Castro have to say?

Castro's message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, was not so abstract, however. Over the course of this first, five-hour discussion, Castro repeatedly returned to his excoriation of anti-Semitism. [. . .] He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. "This went on for maybe two thousand years," he said. "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything." [. . .] There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust." I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. "I am saying this so you can communicate it," he answered.

Fidel Castro, Zionist. Who'da thunk it? Why all this now from Castro? I think Goldberg's colleague provides a good explanation:

I asked Julia to explain the meaning of Castro's invitation to me, and of his message to Ahmadinejad. "Fidel is at an early stage of reinventing himself as a senior statesman, not as head of state, on the domestic stage, but primarily on the international stage, which has always been a priority for him," she said. "Matters of war, peace and international security are a central focus: Nuclear proliferation climate change, these are the major issues for him, and he's really just getting started, using any potential media platform to communicate his views. He has time on his hands now that he didn't expect to have. And he's revisiting history, and revisiting his own history."

Trying to wipe away 51 years of tyranny is hard work.

Speaking for me only

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    I was waiting for you to (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:23:27 AM EST
    weigh in on this.  I was not disappointed, down to earth reality based....and Castro gets no freebies with you and ends up only being what he is.

    tracy, (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:35:10 AM EST
    from the article, i didn't get the impression castro was trying to re-write his own history, and make it other than what it is. and BTD, i got the impression that by "great man", goldberg meant in a historical sense.

    frankly, i don't get a sense that castro feels the need to make himself over. obviously, he has some regrets, but is overall comfortable with who he is and was.


    That's ridiculous (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:41:13 AM EST
    Castro has been anti-Israel and anti-Jew forever. This is a complete remaking.

    Maybe he wants to run for Robert Wexler's old seat (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by steviez314 on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:40:48 AM EST
    in 2012?

    Heh (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:47:04 AM EST
    really? (none / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:57:50 AM EST
    please provide some actual support for your non-evidence based assertion.

    heres a little (none / 0) (#11)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:04:26 AM EST
    Many Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jews from the Balkans and Palestine immigrated to Cuba before World War I. In the 1920s, many Polish Jews settled in Cuba after being refused entry into the U.S. Other European Jews fleeing Hitler went to Cuba as a waiting place for entrance into the U.S. Once refused entry into the U.S., many stayed in Cuba. They liked the friendliness of the country and its free enterprise system and opportunities. Many Jews opened businesses, schools, community centers and synagogues. Many married Cubans and prospered in the 1950s economic boom. According to the Puebla Institute's 1991 Castro's War on Religion, page 16, the number of Jews in Cuba was about "30,000 at their peak and [was] reduced to 15,000 by 1959. Most of those fled to the United States after the revolution."

    Jews, acquainted with Hitler and the Nazis, were concerned by Castro's similarities. They foresaw what was coming and warned others. Castro's unbridled anti-Semitism, from his Hitler-admiring days, soon led to the expropriation of all assets of the thriving Cuban Jewish community, driving it into exile. By 1967, around 2,000 Jews were left -- less than 1,000 today, most of them elderly. Many joined the growing Cuban exile community in Miami, New Jersey and other places, where they share the same opinion of Castro as other Cubans in exile. Maybe that's the reason why the U.S. media have neglected them and most Americans ignore what they went through. In October 1973, Castro broke diplomatic relations with Israel after he deployed thousands of Cuban soldiers including helicopter pilots and tank crews to fight alongside the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War. How many Israelis did Castro's soldiers kill? To insult Israel and the Jewish people even further, Castro gave the PLO an expropriated Jewish community center in Havana. On Nov. 14, 1974, Yasser Arafat was enthusiastically received in Havana and given Castro's foremost decoration, the Bay of Pigs Medal.

    On May 30, 1978, Reuters news service confirmed (11 years later!) that PLO personnel had been trained in Cuba and on Sept. 13, the Egyptian newspaper Ahar Sa'ah reported that 500 Palestinians were leaving for training in Cuba. Does anybody know how many terrorists and suicide bombers Castro trained in his camps and how many innocent people have been killed as a result?

    From the 1970s to today, Jews have been scorned in Castro's controlled press. Paradoxically, according to Irving Louis Horowitz's Preface in David J. Kopilow's Castro, Israel and The PLO, the Jewish intellectuals and organizations in the U.S. "were in the forefront of singing the praises of Castro."

    more (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:14:35 AM EST
    Castro's poisonous legacy against the Jews is continued by his protégé, Hugo Chavez. The recent publication by Venezuela's official state press of the "call to action," is an incitement of violence against Venezuelan Jews,and by extension anyone who supports them.

    Who does the Israeli (none / 0) (#33)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:44:40 AM EST
    right wing and it's U.S supporters NOT try to tar as anti-semitic, whenever they come across a perceived adversary?

    These are the same enemies of "hate" in Latin America who gave aid and comfort to the apartheid regime in South Africa, to Pinochet and to death squads in Central America..

    You'll excuse me if I view these lurid screeds as thin propagandistc gruel until it's cross-checked against other sources..


    You know (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:48:14 AM EST
    Stalin got a bad rap on this too.

    unlike castro (none / 0) (#44)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:01:39 AM EST
    Stalin got a bad rap on this too.

    there is plenty of confirmable evidence to support the claims against stalin. so far, i've seen little, other than rightwing screeds, and a few actual news accounts, to support your claim that castro has been anti-israel and anti-semitic since forever.

    i've been unable to locate much on my own, to support your claims either. again, he may have been, but it doesn't seem to have made all that much of a dent in the public consciousness.


    Sure (none / 0) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:08:41 AM EST
    You have seen little.

    That does not apply to me.

    I know more about this than you do.


    Gotta Love that Rush Limbaugh link on the front (none / 0) (#46)
    by Dan the Man on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:03:22 AM EST
    page of the website Captain Howdy referred to.

    Never knew so many progressives were Rush Limbaugh fans although that does explain a lot now.


    even a stopped clock (none / 0) (#49)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:09:10 AM EST
    you know what they say.

    by the way.  if you would like to find more "progressive" takes googleing is easy.
    type in "fidel castro ant" and the one and only choice is "fidel castro anti semitic" which leads to 83,100 links.

    have fun.


    You can find lots and lots of suffering (none / 0) (#70)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:03:51 PM EST
    by typing in Fidel Castro, bushels and bushels full of undernourished downtrodden

    Empirical Knowledge? (none / 0) (#77)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:25:52 PM EST
    Or political abstraction? Or just bonding with BTD?

    Anyway Cuba cannot possibly be worse than the US under Obama... all the suffering that has been endlessly talked about here, no healthcare, sh*tty economy, high unemployment... for many here it is not even worth voting anymore...

    Let me know when you find the perfect country, though. One with stable economy  no unemployment, universal healthcare, high literacy rate, and no suffering...  lol

    Yes, I know that the US must have its enemies, so that we can define ourselves as free. It is funny though, when the enemy countries have achieved what many here are fighting for... lol


    Bonding with BTD? (none / 0) (#79)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:31:39 PM EST
    No, I would say it is bonding with friends we have here.  And I can't believe you are so vain and smug that that is your typical liberal elite solution....nothing....shrug...oh well, how sad...we are doing it to them but no place is perfect.  Some places are closer to hell than others though, but thems the breaks.

    WTF? (none / 0) (#81)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:38:24 PM EST
    TF (The F*ck) (none / 0) (#89)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:31:06 PM EST
    You have personal experience with Cuba, which puts you in a different place than me, and I assume most other commenters here. Clearly your position is backed by experience and vast knowledge, and emotions.

    My experience with Cuba is only anecdotal, with a little reading here and there. Many friends of mine have visited, and had a positive view of Cuba. The issue is abstract for me, as it must be for most here.

    But still, who really cares what Castro has to say these days, besides Cubans like me?

    Bottom line, I guess I do not care what many here, other than you, have to say about Castro, because it is abstract and politics that have nothing to do with Castro or Cuba.


    No (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:05:52 AM EST
    Use your own "experience" that you are bragging about in this thread to figure it out.

    I'm sorry that you do not have even the most rudimentary knowledge on the subject, but I will not be the one to educate you.


    methinks you protest too much (none / 0) (#17)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:16:49 AM EST
    sorry your personal animus is clouding your normally decent judgment. as a sorta jew, i can appreciate that. however, try slipping back into your "objective lawyer" mode, and rethink the issue.

    otherwise, your lost.

    for someone who's been so adamantly anti-israel, all his public life, per your assertion, he seems to have kept it pretty low profile.


    jesus (none / 0) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:18:08 AM EST
    are you familiar with google?

    yes, and jesus too (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:22:12 AM EST
    are you implying that they're the same, or that you're just an ass? take your time.

    the try using (none / 0) (#22)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:22:53 AM EST

    You know what I don't do? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:55:28 AM EST
    I don't tell people who have excellent records on deeply understanding social issues and issues of equality, and who are Cuban, what "the truth about Castro" is :)

    you know what i do? (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:03:01 AM EST
    i rely on:

    1. personal, first-hand experience: i was on ground zero, during the cuban missile crisis, at cherry point mas (the jump-off point for the first marine division), and dad was in iceland, watching for russian planes on their way to cuba.

    2. i actually read history, all of it, not just the parts that make me feel good. you might try it sometime. i don't need to be indian, to know that british colonialism sparked massive outrage there.

    it's nice that BTD is cuban, and really irrelevant to the issue at hand, other than how it colors his outlook.

    You were stateside (2.00 / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:18:53 AM EST
    and American.  You did not lose what the Cuban people lost to Castro and what they continue to lose because of him.  You choose to live in the past and cling to your yesterday ideas and notions and refuse to acknowledge the realities of being Cuban, because you aren't.  And you really don't care what those realities are as long as you can stand behind your tie dyed liberal sheilds and stay ideologically sterile.  You can just sit on your hands and talk about what happened before I was even born and cling to those old stories because that is safe and have specific hindsights and a track record of races run be beaten horses that are dead.  Living in the light of today would require leaving that safety and security, and that is risky and requires a bit of courage for the new day.

    oh please, spare me, will you? (5.00 / 0) (#50)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:11:08 AM EST
    first of all, being "stateside" wouldn't have kept me from being evaporated by a nuclear weapon, especially being on a primary target. "duck and cover" would just have left a weird looking shadow on the brick wall behind me.

    secondly, you seem to be confusing.................something, with my being supportive of castro. i've not stated or implied any such thing.

    thirdly, the people who originally were booted by castro were, for the most part, the people who benefited from the batista regime, itself a dictatorship. the only difference was that it was our dictatorship.

    fourth, it's the embargo that hasn't helped the cuban people. nor, has it done anything to help our relationship with them, other than give them reason to dislike us. i hardly find that productive.


    what does any of that (none / 0) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:13:40 AM EST
    have to do with his past antisemitism?

    Inquiring minds would like to know :) (none / 0) (#55)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:14:29 AM EST
    You are sort of beginning to make (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:14:09 AM EST
    mild sense now.  But such sense is hardly where you started in this discussion of Castro :)

    And please spare me your drama (none / 0) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:21:41 AM EST
    I was born in Colorado Springs, at the foot of Cheyenne Mt and NORAD and I heard all the stories about scared people and it was standing room only inside churches.  My family for some reason has overcome the PTSD you seem to suffer from, though I have no idea where you were being such a primary target :)  My family can talk sanely about all this though.

    Look lets say what you said is true (none / 0) (#91)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:58:26 PM EST
    that the intial refugees were intially the privileged elite under Batista- I'd grant that to a degree (god knows growing up in Florida one runs into enough of the "when Castro dies mi familia is getting the plantation back" folks- though they're dying off), but what about all the stuff that's happened since say 1970- all the oppression, the human rights violations, etc.- frankly the Castro apologists sound more than a little like those who excuse Israel's human rights abuses currently (because its better than its neighbors by almost every socioeconomic indicator) and those who excused autocracies like apartheid South Africa in the past- Yeah, Cuba has a high literacy rate and good healthcare- awesome it doesn't mean it doesn't also imprison and execute dissidents. I mean seriously, these people are the flipside of those who talk about Pinochet as the saviour of Chile.  (Note: like virtually all rational people I'm against the embargo).

    I've got a "tie dyed liberal shield" (none / 0) (#45)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:03:06 AM EST
    for you..

    Jesus Christ. History is irrelevant now..It's living in the past with George Santayana and the rest of the liberal elites..

    If that kind of arrogance-in-ignorance isn't an example of non-exceptional "exceptionalism" at it's worst, I don't know what is.

    And down thread, we're told that people like Kissinger are "ancient history"..while up thread the same people are evoking Hitler and Mussolini..  


    compared to Bolton (none / 0) (#47)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:06:32 AM EST
    Kissinger is ancient history.  that was the point.
    rewriting history continues as we speak.

    Not what I'm saying at all (none / 0) (#51)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:11:43 AM EST
    A lot of libs on the net though and in real life like to only live in the past and use it as an excuse to know nothing or care nothing about what is current.  But you know that, you chose to misunderstand what I'm saying and take my words out of context.

    What a person's beliefs about what went down before I was born concerning Cuba is a topic often discussed in heated pissing matches to prove who is the most "liberal" at the table.  Who cares what happens to Cubans today though.  Eff them...they are not as important our hot windy discussions about ideology from lifetimes ago.


    But, obviously it's impossible (none / 0) (#62)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:30:16 AM EST
    to have an understanding of current on the ground realities without knowing what happened before..

    And sorry, no, I don't "know" that "libs" use history as a way to avoid not knowing or caring about the present. On the contrary, I think that those who seem to want that memory hole close at hand at all times, are the ones who not only don't know, but, don't want to know.



    Absolutely (none / 0) (#65)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:37:32 AM EST
    But every discussion I've ever witnessed about Cuba stays stuck right there.  Dare I say that the very word Cuba causes liberal brains to seize up and people simply keep repeating themselves over and over again and unable to take in any new information?  Where Cuba is concerned, talking about anything other then the well worn grooves of the past seems to utterly terrify most liberals.  Sweet Jesus, I'm told that liberals run this country but sanctions continue.

    Maybe we need to stop using (none / 0) (#71)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:07:24 PM EST
    the word "liberals' for a while, before we all turn into Ann Coulter..

    Liberals always do this, liberals always say that..

    If you don't watch the liberal-obsessing, you'll wind up donating your body for Tourettes research, the way Ann was almost forced to.


    Now I'm Anne Coulter? (none / 0) (#80)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:34:07 PM EST
    Whatever man

    These irrelevant events (none / 0) (#88)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:04:19 PM EST
    that happened before the current group were born....

    Much of our current problem with Iran can be traced to the 1953 U.S. coup that got rid of the Iranian democracy because it was too far "left."

    The Shah was put back in and lasted....until 1979 when the Ayatolla Khomeini and Islamic Revolution took power back from someone seen as a U.S. sponsored stooge.

    People in Iran remember these things even if we do not...


    Living in the past (none / 0) (#83)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:40:14 PM EST
    and telling stories of things before you were born.....

    Wow....Us old folks don't know nuttin....Shut up already about the past....

    Such a blithe dismissal of recent history is truly depressing.....And we wonder why people have so little knowledge of basic historical facts....  


    Let me understand this (none / 0) (#66)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:43:57 AM EST
    You were among the thousands of military that was put on alert and told we might be at war....

    And that makes you an expert on Castro's love for Jews???

    Funny, I was doing the same thing at the same time and I don't remember Jews being mentioned.


    Pretty funny (none / 0) (#67)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:46:21 AM EST
    What about sanctions though Jim?  Do you think sanctions work in our favor to "contain" the dictator?

    Define "contain." (none / 0) (#73)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:12:37 PM EST
    They worked to slow Castro down because Cuba is an island. Plus, he had no oil, a la Saddam, to corrupt the UN with.

    So it works for you? (none / 0) (#76)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:23:15 PM EST
    If he was ever going to have any opposition though we keep them so needy and desperate they couldn't organize folding a paperbag.

    Are you speaking of on island (none / 0) (#95)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:21:40 PM EST
    or off island? Supply on island would be hard, but it could be done.

    The they'll-all-burn-in-hell (none / 0) (#75)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:14:18 PM EST
    crowd loves it when they're given an in to talk about how much they care about what happens to the Jews..:)

    My Dad was (none / 0) (#84)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:44:58 PM EST
    standing on a runway in Massachusetts....

    His mission was to fly in cargo planes, land at Havana International Airport without any airborne or air support, take the airport by themselves, and roll out their field artillery and hold.

    The airborne were to land elsewhere....


    That "S" doesn't stand (none / 0) (#87)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:55:59 PM EST
    for Sturgis, does it? :)

    Something tells me your Dad might've had enough eye-opening stories to fill a small book, MK.


    Nope (none / 0) (#90)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:35:23 PM EST
    The stories he told me when I was young were all "funny" type stories--about a young officer who was so efficient in getting ready for the military movers that he packed up absolutely everything...and was left with only his skivies on.....and locked out of his quarters....running around the base looking for help....Pops had to pick him up.

    The serious stories he tells now to my son....I just heard the Cuban Missile Crisis story a year ago....And then his being eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviets at the Czechoslovakian border when 3 or 4 divisions of Soviet Armor pulled up within a few hundred yards of the border.  As you may recall, the old strategy regarding a Soviet invasion of West Berlin or West Germany was for the U.S. to retreat, as we could not match the Soviets with conventional forces, and then to nuke them.....

    My Dad said there is nothing more awesome than a division of armor on the move....As the Soviets pulled up their armor, my Dad had given the order to lock and load his piece of mobile artillery.  Lanyard in hand, he was ready to fire and retreat, fire and retreat....

    He had placed an emergency kit in the trunk of  my Mom's car.  He told her if "anything" happened, he would meet her and me in Spain....as if he would really catch up.

    These are just close calls....The Korea and Vietnam stories are still vague....I remember to this day how he got out his gear, including helmet liner and side arm, and packed up for a TDY assignment--which ended up in Vietnam....


    true (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:28:43 AM EST
    Trying to wipe away 51 years of tyranny is hard work

    but then, we've been attempting to wipe away over 60 years of supporting rightwing dictators for years now. it's always a work in progress.

    don't delude yourself into thinking batista was some kind of good guy, he wasn't. had he been, castro would never have had the support of the majority of the cuban people to begin with.

    yes, castro (and his brother raul) were/are dictators, no question. of course, our rather ham handed actions, subsequent to jan. 1959 merely served to solidify castro's position, as "champion" of the cuban people. not the brightest moves on our part.

    Well, our leaders are always (none / 0) (#7)
    by brodie on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:56:46 AM EST
    ham-handed, or they were back in the Cold War.  Ike missed two huge chances in the 50s to not only ease cold war tensions but maybe bring one neighbor closer to our camp, or at least keep them from partnering so closely with dreaded enemy the Soviets.

    But no, ham-handed, short-sighted Ike in 1953 failed to heed Churchill's urgent message to have the two of them meet with the new leaders of the Kremlin following Stalin's sudden death (Ike's curt reply to Churchill's telegram:  "No"), then again in 1959 Ike  decided not to grant the visiting Castro a direct presidential meeting, sending a clear message instead with Nixon showing up to insult FC.  Both stupid unnecessary moves which, had they been handled by a more intelligent and far-sighted prez, could have changed the course of history and even shortened the CW.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:04:19 AM EST
    That is a view that sees all actors' actions determined by what the US does. Rather chauvinistic in my view.

    No one made Castro do what he did.


    Hear Hear! Thank You Thank You (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:38:57 AM EST
    Oy.....you know what really drives me out of my mind?  Some bloggers who blog endlessly day after day after day about the insanity and illness of "American Exceptionalism", who follow such posts endlessly with posts about how the United States is to blame for every horrible violent event that occurs globally in all countries because of our foreign policy failures.

    And Castro has always been utterly responsible for what Castro does.  Castro is responsible for what he has done to his own people.


    U.S. foreign policy failures (none / 0) (#74)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:13:48 PM EST
    Toppling democracies is a pretty bad thing....We did that to Latin America.....

    It is really hard to get on a soapbox about American Exceptionalism in Latin America with that legacy....

    It is not debating points by bloggers.....

    I think most people stateside have no idea of the awesome power this country has....Just a little rhetoric here and a few arms and CIA assitance there, and voila! you have genocide....


    But we never ended a Muslim (none / 0) (#78)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:27:35 PM EST
    genocide in Bosnia?  Who is in charge of our country is who is responsible for such things.  To be born American is not to have to hate myself for actions I had no control over.

    Who ever said anyone (none / 0) (#82)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:38:47 PM EST
    had to hate themselves; any more than we have to hate ourselves over what Obama is doing now?

    This, it seems to me, is about corruption in places of power and how it plays out in terms of dictating policy, here and in places like Cuba. Of course, it could be posited we've been way overdue for another revolution. Just not one led by Glenn Beck.

    Same as it ever was..


    You seem to be on the same vein (none / 0) (#85)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:48:37 PM EST
    that I am, but there are individuals out there who blame the entire United States for corruption in places of power.....as if ours is "Exceptional".

    Ghosts of Jeane Kirkpatrick (none / 0) (#86)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:52:44 PM EST
    Sure, but so many sins are covered with the refrain of not "Blaming America First."

    No one is asking you to hate yourself--just recognize the truth when necessary and the reality of the use of American power....

    Jeane Kirkpatrick, who coined the phrase "Blame America First," articulated a horrid policy of supporting dictatorships in Latin America, and then ignored the resulting genocide....She became a favorite of Reagan.


    And I'm not of course (none / 0) (#52)
    by brodie on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:12:23 AM EST
    trying to absolve FC of all blame -- nor do I let the US off the hook either, as some here might suggest we do.  It's a question of comparative negligence and stupidity and stubbornness -- both at fault, but both also have reason to complain about the other in the court of public opinion.

    That said, the US was tremendously influential in the 1950s, and certainly at the outset of a new gov't could have been a more positive force subtely re-directing the Cuban Revolution into a more pro-American direction.  Wouldn't have taken much from Ike, a president who was also well-positioned politically to undertake such friendly diplomacy.

    But no, instead, he offered the easy back of the hand.  Maybe he didn't want to be bothered by Castro because he had a golf outing planned that day which took precedence, who knows.  Ike often couldn't be bothered ...


    That's conjecture (none / 0) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:14:38 AM EST
    I agree with the thrust of your comment, but you simply do not know what Castro would do.

    Let's analyze what we do know, not what might have been.


    Yes, no guarantees, (none / 0) (#60)
    by brodie on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:27:03 AM EST
    obviously, but it's not baseless conjecture to suppose FC might have warmed to a friendly, respectful visit with Ike, instead of the lecture on Marxist governing he got from Tricky.

    The time to influence things greatly is at the beginning, we learn from child rearing, and is much more difficult later, but even then not impossible.  And we know that in 1963 FC was receptive to friendly 3d-party overtures from the Kennedy admin, even after what was a disastrous (from Castro's pov) missile crisis outcome and the earlier US-backed invasion effort against his gov't.  Castro -- largely not insane (except during the missile crisis), and like most leaders, probably willing to sit down and engage in useful diplomacy.


    I don;t agree (none / 0) (#61)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:29:08 AM EST
    but this is a pointless discussion.

    Should Ike have tried harder? Sure. Wouldn't have turned out any worse.


    Way overly simplistic.. (none / 0) (#69)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:54:00 AM EST
    you don't think the assassination plots, terrorist attacks through CIA sponsored groups like Alpha 66, the Bay of Pigs etc contributed to inculcating a paranoic, martyr complex, laced with a dose of militant, territorial nationalism in people like Castro?

    Let's not forget that he and his people were already in a long-haul, siege mentality after coming through that revolution..

    And some would say also that with (much) greater power comes the burden of greater responsibility..And the greater power in that part of the world certainly wasn't Castro. Does anyone ever "make" anyone do anything? People have been pondering that one for a few thousand years..


    Ike blew it in 1953 (none / 0) (#72)
    by MKS on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:09:01 PM EST
    by overthrowing the Iranian government.

    Closer to home, in 1954, Ike and the Dulles Boys overthrew the Democracy in Guatemala....

    As to Castro, he on many occasions said he would never let happen to him what the U.S. did to the Arbenz government in Guatemala....

    The 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala convinced the Latin Left that armed revolution was the answer.  This led to Castro and directly led to Guevera taking up arms....

    Sure, they are to blame for their own actions, but U.S. actions made everything worse....


    Castro is kind of the flipside of Pinochet (none / 0) (#92)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:00:07 PM EST
    seriously the same arguments are used to excuse each but from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

    Who wouldn't wanna meet Fidel... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:54:43 AM EST
    love 'em., hate 'em, or in between...one of the most important historical fugures of the 20th century.  Anybody who could stay one step ahead of the CIA all these years has gotta be one interesting/smart cat.

    Maybe he's after one last spit in Uncle Sam's eye, and some redemptiomn for his past tyrannical dirty...Iran/Israel peacemaker where everyone else has failed.  I could root for some of that action.

    I could think of some who would not want to meet (none / 0) (#13)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:06:13 AM EST
    Fidel.  Any gay Cuban.  Any one who would speak their own mind in Cuba.  Any Cuban who disagrees with International Socialism.  

    I would think... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:14:23 AM EST
    those folks would want to meet the man face to face more than most, if for no other reason than to ask why?  Why do me so dirty?

    I can somewhat relate, on a less severe scale, to Cubans wronged by Cuba...my government thinks my way of life is subversive and worthy of arrest too...I'd jump at the chance to sit down with an ex-president and ask him why?


    the difference (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:17:23 AM EST
    is that in Cuba you would have actually been arrested.  long ago.  and would not be writing this.

    personally I would not walk across the street to meet the fascist jackass.


    I have been arrested... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:25:21 AM EST
    and released, that's why I added "less severe", I'm not trying to start an oppression p*ssing contest with the Cuban people, we'd lose by a mile.

    Maybe I'm weird...I'd be down with meeting any and all world leaders...see if I can better understand the dirty they all do, cuz I'm in the dark man.


    I would also (none / 0) (#25)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:27:01 AM EST
    not cross a street to meet George Bush

    I would... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:39:45 AM EST
    how could you not be curious as to what makes such characters tick?  How they justify their brand of bad news?

    Me either (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:43:20 AM EST
    kdog, you not be released if arrested in Cuba (none / 0) (#68)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:48:14 AM EST
    That's the difference.

    Why do you think you would have (none / 0) (#96)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:42:12 PM EST
    been released?  Many weren't.

    I'd be intersted to hear (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:29:45 AM EST
    how much he knows about the Northwoods program at the Pentagon in the early sixties, and whether he thinks they were trying set him up as the fall guy for the Kennedy assassination..

    If that wouldn't be too much of a leading question.:)


    pretty much my thought too. (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:08:05 AM EST
    anyone who wouldn't want to meet with someone as much a part of the history (whether you like him or not, and i don't) of second half of the 20th century, would be a fool.

    Indeed.. (none / 0) (#24)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:26:41 AM EST
    We've had our own historical rogues gallery here, who've, miraculously, received not only a lifetime stay-out-of-jail-free card, but even more perversely, career make-overs and media stardom..

    More specifically, I'm thinking of people like Henry Kissinger of Kissinger Associates, whose punishment for contributing to the mayhem, destruction and repression in places like SE Asia and South America is a seat on several corporate boards and a permanent, very well compensated slot as an in-demand commentator on world affairs.



    ancient history (none / 0) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:31:43 AM EST
    how about Bolton writing an op-ed about what should be done NOW in Iraq?

    100 years ago (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:49:26 AM EST
    people like bolton would have been committed, for their and our safety. now, he's seen as some kind of foreign policy intellectual. of course, with other people's bodies, never his own.

    ancient history? (none / 0) (#40)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:51:54 AM EST
    you're kidding, right?

    It would be kind of cool (none / 0) (#93)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:04:16 PM EST
    to meet a massive historical figure- A bit like meeting Arafat or Pinochet or Khomeni, all monsters in there own right- though I imagine meeting any of them one would be struck by the banality- that while monstorous or great depending on ones perspective there still human.

    ok, let's clear this up, before BTD's head explode (none / 0) (#31)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:42:50 AM EST
    a. castro was a dictator.
    b. he was successful because, well, batista was a bigger dictator.
    c. since the united states totally screwed up, after castro came to power, he went over to the USSR for support.
    d. as a dictator, he expropriated assets, and disposed of opposition.
    e. he supported terrorists, including training plo members.
    f. there is no evidence of him supporting mass murders of cuban jews. their properties were expropriated, along with lots of other people's.
    g. cuban jews weren't thrilled with castro, along with catholics.
    h. cuba, under castro, became a non-religious state. castro was excommunicated by the pope.
    i. cuba exhorted it's socialist allies to terminate all contacts with israel.
    j. oddly, over the past 60 years, in spite of (per BTD & capt howdy) castro and cuba being wildly, loudly anti-israel and anti-semitic, and committing horrific acts against cuban jews, this has not been the subject of much news making, in all that time. some, yes, but you'd expect it to be a source of front page news. and yet................it hasn't been. and never really was. i suppose it's possible the wp and nyt's had an agreement to not print such things, but i doubt it.

    castro may well be hitler's evil twin, it's always possible, but you'd think, with all the peope who've escaped from there, some of them would have said something about it. again.................nothing, or so little, it didn't register.

    of course, this changes nothing about him or his regime. for all i know, it was all political, fodder for the masses, as so many things are in dictatorships.

    capt howdy, meeting with someone, who's had a significant historical effect, isn't the same thing as liking them.

    WTF? (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:46:08 AM EST
    Reread your Mark Twain. You are removing all doubt.

    What does this recitation have to do with your initial false statement that Castro was NOT changing course?

    Why not just admit you were wrong and move on?


    if i was, i might consider it. (none / 0) (#39)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:50:53 AM EST
    Why not just admit you were wrong and move on?

    why don't you just admit it's too personal an issue for you to be objective about, and move on?


    Again (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:53:34 AM EST
    You made a statement that Castro's statements on Israel and Jews was not a change of course.

    You even perfunctorily admit that it was, but qualify this by saying the NYTimes and the WaPo did not cover Castro's anti-Israel and anti-Jewish positions very much so it must not have been a big deal.

    Just full stop there.

    So far, you have demonstrated that made a mistake and are unwilling to admit it.

    I do not think I have to admit anything right now.


    Segue: Mark Twain. When he and his (none / 0) (#97)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:01:50 PM EST
    family returned from living abroad for 10 years, Twain lashed out repeatedly against the new U.S. imperialism.  He pointed out U.S. sided with Cuba against Spain, purportedly to help Cuba become independent.  But then took over lots of Spanish colonial interests and did not help them form governments.  U.S. ignored the rebels once it took control of these countries.

    New subject:  is Fidel Castro, as he has claimed, Jewish through his mother?  


    Well (none / 0) (#98)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:22:29 PM EST
    Aren't Socialists against all religion?

    Never heard that. (none / 0) (#99)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:37:51 PM EST
    Opiate of the Masses (none / 0) (#100)
    by squeaky on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:18:30 PM EST
    The fog of religion....  

    Castro IS a dictator (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:46:16 AM EST
    You use past tense verbs for all of the evil you are willing to admit he has done but he and his regime are still at it.  He is not past tense, he is current tense.

    he isn't in charge any more (none / 0) (#41)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:52:06 AM EST
    his brother is. it's still a dictatorship, but brother raul is leading it, not fidel. fidel is a retired dictator.

    Doubt that (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:54:13 AM EST
    any decision Fidel makes is not followed to the letter.

    A few things (none / 0) (#57)
    by CST on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:18:04 AM EST
    stick out to me about your list.

    "f. there is no evidence of him supporting mass murders of cuban jews. their properties were expropriated, along with lots of other people's."
    "castro may well be hitler's evil twin, it's always possible, but you'd think, with all the peope who've escaped from there, some of them would have said something about it"

    I didn't realize mass murder/Hitler was the metric we were using to measure anti-semitism.  Is there nothing less that qualifies?

    And speaking of Hitler:

    "g. cuban jews weren't thrilled with castro, along with catholics."

    Hitler also persecuted Jehova's Witnesses, Gays, etc... etc...  Does that mean he wasn't anti-semetic?

    I don't know that much about Cuba, but a little google searching goes a long way.  It's pretty clear to me from that he was not always this israel (or jew) friendly.  Although things seem to have gotten a bit better since the fall of the Soviet Union.


    What we do know..... (none / 0) (#59)
    by vicndabx on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:23:19 AM EST
    The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore

    It seems as though Fidel is trying to help move Cuba forward and less under the influence of party-hardliners.

    From the second part of the piece:

    one effect of such a sentiment might be to create space for his brother, Raul, who is now president, to enact the necessary reforms in the face of what will surely be pushback from orthodox communists within the Party and the bureaucracy.  Raul Castro is already loosening the state's hold on the economy. He recently announced, in fact, that small businesses can now operate and that foreign investors could now buy Cuban real estate.

    Now THAT (none / 0) (#63)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:32:25 AM EST
    was a sickening article.

    Too little, too late you mean? (none / 0) (#64)
    by vicndabx on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:36:31 AM EST
    I think its more along the lines (none / 0) (#94)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:06:37 PM EST
    of he can be a De Klerk or a Gorbachev when he actually does something until then he's at best an Arafat.

    Garrison Keillor tonight on NPR: (none / 0) (#101)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:48:23 PM EST
    Writers Almanac

    Last paragraph re Cuba's literacy project:

    The government provided the books, which tended to be about the history of the Revolution and all of its socialist ideals. One of the instructional texts was a pamphlet Fidel Castro had written while imprisoned after his first failed attempt at revolution; it's called History Will Absolve Me (1953).