Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

Posted on August 25th, by A. Robert Johnson in Foreign Policy. Comments Off on Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

In his Introduction, Mr. Williams assays the relations between the U.S. and Cuba, beginning with the 1898 expulsion of the Spanish from the island. He arrives at the 1960s.

“Just as a good many early American fortunes, and considerable capital for general development, were obtained through confiscation and other arbitrary measures, so in the twentieth century the new, poor countries were prompted to employ similar devices. And neither the Americans in the 1770s (or the early 1800s), nor the Cubans in the 1960s, felt secure and confident about their respective independence until the economic power of their former overlords had been brought under control. But all such considerations were conveniently evaded through the device of explaining everything as the diabolical work of Cuban communists and the Soviet Union.

“When initially advanced, and for many months thereafter, the stereotype of Soviet influence or control was grossly at odds with the facts. Yet persistently and subtly advocated by official American leaders, and crudely merchandized as news or expert opinion by the mass media, it became the accepted picture and explanation of Cuban affairs. [Not all mass media. This author recalls the daily dispatches from a NY Times imbedded reporter with Castro and his recruits in the mountains of Cuba before they’d secured their victory, and when it was very much in doubt. The reports were sympathetic to Castro, a bit of journalistic history no one seems interested in any more.] American policy based upon and derived from that mistaken view produced two grave and tragic consequences. In Cuba, American rhetoric and policy weakened the moderate elements in the revolutionary coalition and simultaneously strengthened the radicals. They also pushed those radicals further along their own revolutionary path and into an increasingly close relationship with the Soviet Union. In the United States, such Cuban developments intensified the original antagonism, served as convenient if distorted proof for the a priori assertion of Soviet influence, and hardened the resolve to oppose the revolution. A momentum toward violence was thus established and sustained.

“The United States first tried economic and political weapons to weaken and subvert the Castro Government. Then, after those measures failed, the United States invaded Cuba by proxy on April 17, 1961, in an effort to overthrow and replace that government by force of arms. The counter-revolutionary forces that waded ashore in the Bay of Pigs were financed, armed, trained, and guided in their operation by private and official American leaders. The action was a blatant violation of the treaty system that the United States had solemnly created to govern international relations in the Western Hemisphere, and a violation of its own neutrality laws. It was likewise a callous negation of avowed American principles by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (who was fond of using the rhetoric of idealism).

“Those aspects of the invasion, along with other characteristics of the episode, heightened the aura of terror that was developing around American foreign policy. One of the most unnerving features was the extensive elitism that had become ingrained in the policy-making process. The assault on Cuba was conceived, planned, and implemented by a small group of men in the executive department. They opened no general dialogue with members of the Congress (even in private conversation), and expended great effort and exerted great pressure to avoid any public discussion or debate.

“That degree of elitism, which goes far beyond the delegation of power and authority required to execute public policy, began to develop under President William McKinley. [What about Polk’s earlier land grab in Mexico in 1848?] The decision to acquire all the Philippines at the end of the war against Spain was made by a small group of insiders; and military intervention in China was initiated by executive order. President Theodore Roosevelt dramatized the continuing concentration of power in the executive department with these arrogant remarks about his intervention to control the Panama canal route: ‘The vital work…was done by me without the aid or advice of anyone…and without the knowledge of anyone. I took the Canal Zone.’”

Perhaps it is easier to understand the polemics of public discourse in this light. Williams was rounded on as a “Commie sympathizer,” among other epithets. But viewed in light of the near nuclear war over Soviet missiles for Cuba in 1968, perhaps “Concerned Citizen” would have been more appropriate.

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