Tag Archives: Fidel Castro

Steve parked in Rose’s space … MUSLIM BAN MAY BE TRUMP’S BAY OF PIGS

But first 😄😂 …

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By Steven R. Maher

President Donald J. Trump was humiliated when the 9th Circuit of Appeals upheld the injunction blocking his executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries. Trump should be happy that he learned such a valuable lesson on the difficulties of governing this early in his Presidency.

Trump is not a man used to losing. This was a painful experience for him. Trump strikes one as a man who loathes the agony of defeat. The lesson Trump derived from this episode will likely restrain him from launching such ill-thought and ill-conceived blunders in the future.

Bay of Pigs

Fifty-six years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a similarly disastrous decision. In April 1961, Kennedy authorized the CIA to implement an invasion of Cuba, to overthrow Fidel Castro, by 1,400 Cuban exiles armed and trained by the CIA.

Kennedy had been in office 90 days when the invasion took place. Just as Donald Trump campaigned on protecting America from Islamic extremists, Kennedy campaigned as a staunch anti-Communist who would do what was necessary to overthrow Castro. The plan called for Cuba pilots to pretend to defect, twice bomb the Cuban Air Force airfields, and then land in Florida and ask for asylum. Kennedy choked as the invasion became imminent and cancelled the second air strike.

Several of Castro’s jet fighters survived the first air strike and wrought havoc on the invasion fleet. Castro, who had an army of 200,000 soldiers, quickly crushed the invasion. The CIA put incredible pressure on Kennedy to invade Cuba and rescue the exiles but Kennedy refused.

Conservatives came down on Kennedy like a hammer, accusing the President of fecklessness, lack of maturity, and a host of other defalcations. “No event since the Communization of China in 1949 has had such a profound effect on the United States and its allies as the defeat of the US-trained Cuban invasion brigade at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961,” wrote Howard Hunt, the ex-CIA agent arrested in 1972 as a Watergate burglar. “Out of that humiliation grew the Berlin Wall, the missile crisis, guerilla warfare throughout Latin America and Africa and our Dominican Republic intervention. Castro’s beachhead triumph opened a Pandora’s Box of difficulties.”

The same CIA bigwigs who created the Bay of Pigs concept had in 1954 overthrown the government of Guatemala using a similar plan. Earlier, they had overthrown the government of Iran. They were the experts. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported the invasion. Kennedy was a young President, and he thought the experts and military, by din of their experiences, were right.

Learned Lessons

Kennedy took away from the Bay of Pigs ignominy and several harsh and painful lessons. Kennedy became a more thoughtful President, less willing to trust the advice of the military and “experts.” General Douglas MacArthur told Kennedy he was lucky to have learned so much from an operation like the Bay of Pigs, where the strategic cost was small.

Trump, like Kennedy, had made campaign promises to his followers. Where Kennedy had vowed to rid the hemisphere of Castro, Trump had vowed to rid America of Muslim terrorists. Both ended up early on embarrassing themselves.

Trump’s executive order banning was written poorly and rolled out catastrophically. “The details of the president’s executive order ― as well as the timing and the confusion that accompanied the rollout ― are disconcerting,” Bush Presidential adviser Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “The administration issued its policy Friday afternoon, a time normally used in Washington to bury bad stories. Moreover, it came unaccompanied by briefing papers and talking points, and no officials immediately explained it. It took two hours before reporters received copies of the final order ― and another two before White House officials answered their questions.”

Rove wrote Trump should have realized what would happen: “Chaos and controversy predictably followed. Thousands of protesters turned up at airports around the country. Lawyers rushed to courthouses and were rewarded with judicial orders hobbling the policy’s execution. The administration reversed itself a day later, allowing green-card holders to be exempted on a case-by-case basis. Now imagine if the president had waited and implemented the policy carefully and deliberately.”

Defeat is so rare for Donald Trump that he will probably learn some painfully necessary lessons from the botched ban. Like Kennedy, he will likely to be less trusting of the “experts” who advised him on the Muslim ban. Trump now understands that his policies will be attacked in court and, at times, defeated by his enemies.

HISTORY WILL NOT ABSOLVE FIDEL CASTRO

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Cuba had Castro; we had Kennedy💝   pic:R.T

By Steven R. Maher

In 1953 Fidel Castro stood in the dock of a Cuban court. On July 26, 1953, Castro had led an armed attack on the Moncada Barracks, the second largest army base in Cuba, in an attempt to overthrow the tyrant Fulgencio Batista. Castro and his 135 followers planned to take the 1,000-man garrison by surprise, and use the barracks and captured weaponry as a “Free Territory” to set off a civil war. The attack failed, and approximately sixty of Castro’s followers were brutally murdered.
Castro in court denounced the state of Cuban society, the savagery of Batista’s dictatorship, and concluded with an inspiring battle cry.

“Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me!” Castro cried out.
Thirty years earlier Adolph Hitler had stood in a German dock after he, too, had led a failed revolt.

“You may pronounce us guilty a thousand times over, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to tatters the brief of the state prosecutor and the sentence of the court. For she acquits us!” Hitler cried out.

Castro biographer Georgie A. Geyer in “Guerrilla Prince” quoted historian Ward M. Morton: “Both [Hitler and Castro] put the accusers and the regime they represented on trial for cowardice, cruelty, persecution, and base betrayal of the national spirit. Both announced a mission: to realize the true destiny of the fatherland by purging it of all its faults. Both speeches contained many references to blood, death and sacrifice and both ended with almost the same identical phrases.”

It seems Castro had intellectual mentors other than Marx and Lenin.

Bankrupted

Fifty three years later Castro died on November 25, 2016. It is unlikely history will absolve Castro of the terrible legacy he has left Cuba. Today Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship in which the populace at large has access to decent health care and education, but little else. By every other measure, Cuba has been bankrupted.

Such a denouement seemed unlikely in 1953. After serving two years of a fifteen year prison sentence, Castro went to New York and raised money to fund an expedition from Mexico mostly of Cuban exiles (and the group’s doctor, the Argentine Che Guevara.) Castro landed in Cuba with 82 men in November 1956 and was attacked by Batista’s army. His force reduced to fifteen men, Castro went into the Sierra Maestra Mountains at the opposite end of the island from Havana.

What followed was one of the most heroic and romantic stories of the 20th century. With only fifteen men, Castro launched a guerrilla war, attacking isolated army barracks and ambushing army units sent out to capture him. He built up his guerrilla army in the Sierra Maestra, equipping his men with captured weapons. Because his guerrillas often went without shaving gear, they grew long beards and became celebrated as the “Barbudos,” the “bearded ones.” “Our beards and hair belong to the revolution now,” Castro told his followers.

Castro waged his war in the North American media as much as he did in the mountains of Cuba. He often submitted to interviews with media outlets like the New York Times and television stations. Castro sounded like a Hispanic Thomas Jefferson, talking of liberty, the right to free expression, the need for elected representation, the necessity of dissent.

Castro’s guerrillas won battle after battle against overwhelming odds. When Batista sent 10,000 men into the Sierra Maestra to destroy the insurgents, Castro defeated them with only 300 guerillas. Che Guevara successfully attacked Santa Clara in central Cuba with 300 men, a city defended by thousands of soldiers armed with tanks and artillery.

On January 1, 1959 Batista fled Cuba. Castro then rode a tank from the Sierra Maestra down the central highway of Cuba, to be cheered by millions of Cubans along the way. “Havana went out to cheer,” wrote historian Hugh Thomas in his excellent historical tome, “Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom”, when Castro arrived in Havana amidst the applause of a million Cubans. Castro rode to the biggest military base in Cuba and promised not to become a dictator himself.

“We cannot become dictators,” said Castro. “We shall never need to use force, because we have the people, and because the people shall judge, and because the day the people want, I will leave.”

While Castro spoke, someone released several doves. One dove flew to Castro and rested on his shoulder the entire time he spoke. Castro was then 32 years old.

Frozen in time

“To many people the month of January 1959 in Havana was a unique moment of history,” wrote Thomas, “golden in promise, the dawn of a new age; great projects which had already begun; however, in a way that most of them scarcely appreciated, it was also the end of an era.”

This was the image that liberals and leftists kept frozen in their minds as they came to the defense of Castro over the decades to follow – Castro being cheered by millions of Cubans thronging to hear him, the bearded insurgent in the hills who sounded like Thomas Jefferson, the victorious guerrilla standing triumphant with the symbol of peace, a dove, perched on his shoulder as he spoke to thunderous applause.

Within months of arriving in Havana Castro began tightening the screws. There were mass executions of Batista war criminals. Over time newspapers were shut down, opponents shouted down by mobs or imprisoned, and massive numbers of Cubans fled the country. Cubans who talked of liberty, like Castro did at his Moncada trial, found themselves in prison. Cubans who took up arms to fight the new dictatorship, like Castro did, found themselves in front of firing squads. In 1968 Castro, who had taken power as a bearded insurrectionist, ordered “mass shavings of long-haired men and the departure of mini-skirted girls, who were said to have made ‘passionate love in their school girl uniforms’, to forced labor camps in the countryside,” wrote Thomas.

The new tyrant proved the accuracy of the old dictum that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Castro had talked of improving the lives of Cuban peasants. While they went hungry in collective farms, Castro lived opulently in beach front homes, dined on gourmet dinners, and wanted for nothing. The country became his experimental laboratory where Castro failed at genetically improving cows, grew watery strawberries the size of softballs that no one would buy, and set up a “coffee cordon” around Havana that died out, because of bad soil.

Backed wrong side

Castro’s biggest mistake was backing the wrong side in the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Russian subsidies went away, Cuba’s standard of living during the “special period” plunged below that of Haiti.
“Lower than Haiti?” asked historian Thomas. “It seems possible.”

History is unlikely to absolve Fidel Castro. In 1959 he was an internationally recognized hero, an almost messiah-like figure to Cubans, and was overwhelmingly popular in the United States. Only 90 miles away from the world’s richest economy, Castro could have built a parliamentary democracy, a strong export economy based on sugar cane converted into ethanol, brought social justice to the Cuban masses, and been remembered as a Latin George Washington. That is likely to be history’s judgment on Fidel Castro: the man who had the world at his feet, and then blew it.

InCity Times book review by Steve Maher

The Brilliant Disaster: JFK, Castro, and America’s Doomed Invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs
By Jim Rasenberger

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

The Bay of Pigs means very little to anyone under the age of 50. It was a four day affair in which 1,200 American backed Cuban exiles suffered an ignominious defeat trying to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in April 1961. For the United States, it was a humiliating setback that left new President John F. Kennedy being perceived as weak and indecisive by the Soviet Union. For Fidel Castro, it was “the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas”, a triumph that consolidated his regime and made him a hero to Cuban nationalists.
Rasenberger has written the best book yet on the subject. It is cogent, well documented, and very readable.

Unfortunate digression

Between 1956 and 1958 Castro waged a successful guerilla war against old style tyrant Fulgencio Batista, taking power when Batista fled to the Dominican Republic on New Year’s Day 1959. Rasenberger picks up the story shortly after that, when Castro visited the United States in April 1959.

Rasenberger spends much time on the historical debate on whether Castro was a Communist when he took power on January 1, 1959, or became a Communist as a nationalist response to American pressure against his regime. This is an unfortunate digression. Most historians considered this matter resolved by Castro’s revelation to biographer Tad Szulc, that he contacted the Cuban Communist Party for assistance in Communizing Cuba shortly after he entered Havana in January 1959.

The April 1959 Castro visit was important from another perspective. Castro met with Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who concluded “Castro was either incredibly naïve about Communism or under Communist discipline and that we would have to treat him and deal with him accordingly..” Nixon continued his agitation against Castro, culminating in President Dwight D. Eisenhower ‘s March 17, 1960 “Program of Covert Action Against The Castro Regime.”

Central figure

Now entering Rasenberger’s account is the central figure in the Bay of Pig saga – Richard M. Bissell. The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) deputy director for plans, Bissell has been portrayed by most historians, particularly Kennedy partisans, as the villain of the Bay of Pigs story. He is almost universally regarded as the person responsible for the disaster. “When Bissell’s name comes up in discussion of the Bay of Pigs, an unpleasant adjective usually lurks somewhere nearby ,” writes Rasenberger, “Certainly he was the scapegoat.”

“It was clear in retrospect that Kennedy was seduced by Dick Bissell’s smoothly persuasive estimation,” said Kennedy aide and later historian Arthur J. Schlesinger.”All of us – Kennedy and Bundy and the rest – were hypnotized by Dick Bissell to some degree.”

Bissell drew up the original Bay of Pigs plan. It called for Cuban exiles, “Brigade 2506” to launch two sets of air strikes using black market warplanes to destroy Castro’s air force. A group of exiles would make an amphibious landing near the city of Trinidad, and seize a slice of territory into which could be flown a provisional government from exile. This would supposedly set off uprisings across Cuba and mass defections from Castro’s forces. If it did not, the invasion force could retreat to the nearby Escambray mountains and fight on as guerillas. The whole endeavor was to be presented to the world as strictly a Cuban exile operation, with no U.S. government involvement.

Incoming President John F. Kennedy didn’t think the U.S’s involvement in so elaborate an undertaking could be concealed. He ordered the plan scaled back. The Bay of Pigs was picked because it was easy to defend, but it was 80 miles away from the Escambray Mountains. There was no place to retreat if the invasion failed to set off a rebellion.

After the invasion began, Kennedy cancelled the second set of air strikes against Castro’s air force. Three or four Castro jets survived the initial air raid. After the exile forces landed, these jets sank or drove off the brigade’s supply ships. Trapped in an area from which there was no escape, quickly running out of food and ammunition, the exiles were driven into the sea. Over 100 were killed and 1,000 captured.
Conspiracy theory

There has long been a conspiracy theory that Bissell and other invasion organizers knew the planned was doomed to fail, and expected Kennedy to order the U.S. military to invade to avoid a complete debacle. Writes Rasenberger: “[E]vidence that the CIA planned the operation in advance with the expectation that the President would have to bail it out is scant.”

Kennedy does not come across too well in these pages. He appears in the first three months of his presidency as weak and indecisive. Kennedy harbored deep misgivings about the plan, but allowed himself to be swayed by the fact it was endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the intelligence agencies, and experts of every hue. After the Bay of Pigs Kennedy took a jaundiced view of the experts and relied more on his gut instincts, which served the country well during the Cuban missile crisis.

Indeed, political partisans of all stripes can find something to criticize this book for. Rasenberger states flatly that Eisenhower and Kennedy both knew of, and supported plans to, assassinate Castro. President Lyndon B. Johnson so feared being accused of “another Bay of Pigs” that he promoted and prolonged the agony of Vietnam. And the obstruction of justice which cost Nixon the Presidency was to have the CIA ask the FBI not to investigate the Watergate break in because it would “open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.”

This is an excellent book. This writer was unable to put it down, finishing it in one weekend. Rasenberger has crafted a masterpiece, well written, fast moving, and easy to read.