US bullying: the secret of Castro's survival

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The Independent Online
There was a headline in the International Herald Tribune on Tuesday saying: "US Slams Cuban Communism". The IHT is a paper I admire, but for once they picked a headline that had all the news value of a headline saying "Summer Warmer than Winter", or "No Cure Found for Common Cold".

Yes, America is going through its post-Cold War series of nervous tics again and is trying to work up the free world against the threat of being overrun by Cuban Marxism, and has started enacting more trade embargoes against anyone who has ever done business with anyone in Cuba who pays taxes to Fidel Castro, and the whole world yawns.

This does not, of course, deter the Americans. Like bright shiny-faced door-to-door Christian salesmen, the Americans are never deterred by failure or the spectacle of the world collectively yawning and looking at its watch.

To quote Mr Michael McCurry, White House spokesman, "We would say to our allies: 'Join us now in the effort to confine Cuban Communism to the trash bin of history where it belongs'."

Well, I would say to Mr Michael McCurry, spokesman for the White House: "Grow up, before it's too late".

The fact of the matter is that for some 40 years the most powerful nation in the world (by which I mean the USA, though the title is probably there for Japan's taking if it could only be bothered), has been trying to confine Cuban Communism to the trash bin of history.

For 40 years the Americans have been huffing and puffing and trying to blow the Cubans' house down, and although they have brought misery to Cuba, and poverty, and deprivation, they have not confined Cuban Communism to the trash bin of history.

Nor have they noticed why they have failed.

The reason they have failed is that whenever the Americans set out to topple a big bad guy, that guy is thereby strengthened in his position.

Being condemned to death by the Americans is the secret of long life.

The Americans have sworn to oust Saddam Hussein. The Americans have sworn to oust Colonel Gaddafi. The Americans have sworn over 40 years to oust Fidel Castro. Result? These three men have become the best established leaders in the world.

The converse is true also. The Americans have thrown their support behind world leaders they trust, such as Gorbachev, the Shah, Marcos, and whoever it was in charge of South Vietnam before the Americans decided to support him. Result? They are all ousted.

Indeed, in the case of everyone except Gorbachev, they are all dead.

There was a time when the Americans threw their weight behind the last ruler of Cuba, Senor Batista, who was a vicious and corrupt gangster in thrall to the Mafia. He paid the price for being backed by the Americans. He fell. He died.

The only time I have ever been to Florida, home of Cuban emigre voters, I got talking to a Lebanese taxi driver who, once he had established that I was European, said to me in a loud whisper: "What you have to understand about the Americans is that they are like children. They have big bodies and little minds. They drink a lot of orange juice to make their bodies strong, but they have no orange juice for their minds."

The other day I was talking to a Briton who had just come back from a year working in Atlanta, and I asked him if he did not regret having left there, just before the Olympics. He shuddered and said, "I never want to live in the States again, ever. You don't know claustrophobia until you have lived in a small town place like Atlanta.

"All they are interested in is the almighty dollar. It really does come down to that. And trying to talk to them about things! I found myself having to talk in very simple terms to get anywhere. The Americans are like children, I think."

A lot of the things in the world I most admire have come from America, but I do think that my Lebanese taxi driver and my friend from Atlanta have a good point. There is something very child-like about the Americans. And it isn't the cherubic child-like quality of innocence. It is the child- like quality of being a playground bully.

And, when it comes to ganging up on Fidel Castro, an exceedingly second- rate and ineffective playground bully.