Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is Raul Castro's Cuba the First Big Winner in Cold War II?

Now that Washington and Havana appear to be on the road to kissing and making up, it's worth considering whether the timing is really that spontaneous?

Cuba was always the Soviet's toe hold in the Americas.  It was over Soviet designs in Cuba that the world was brought to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The Soviets propped up Fidel Castro by buying Cuba's sugar crop at premium prices.  With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba's economy took a big hit as Moscow withdrew.  Since then Cuba has been mainly important to American foreign policy for the Cuban exile vote in Florida that some, such as Clinton and Bush, shamelessly courted with promises of "get tough" action against the Communist regime.

But, as Obama correctly noted, America's sanctions haven't worked.  The exile vote doesn't command the clout it enjoyed in decades past.  And then there's Putin.

Vlad, the "Russian Impaler," has been responding to Western sanctions with military feints and other provocations: bombers flying at the edge of Western airspace; 'near miss' intercepts, mystery submarines showing themselves in the home waters of European states.

We don't know what has passed between Moscow and Havana lately but, for optics, there could hardly be anything to surpass a renewed Russian presence in Cuba - Russian aircraft deployed to Cuban airbases, Russian ships and subs patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico, that sort of thing.

With Russia's economy reeling from sanctions and collapsed world oil prices and Putin's own position lately in question, this is a truly propitious moment for Washington to do some long overdue Caribbean housekeeping and bring Cuba back into the American fold. It's good for Cuba. It will do wonders to improve America's flagging reputation with the OAS.  It should keep Putin from getting any ideas about parking Russian forces in America's back yard as NATO has done in Russia's.  It almost puts a fresh coat of paint on the Monroe Doctrine for Moscow and Beijing alike.

Smooth move Barack Obama.


Anonymous said...

This was a smart and long overdue move by the USA, reportedly 18 months in the making. However, the timing may play well for USA politics but it should not be spun and celebrated as poking the bear.

Russian was the most successful European colonizer in terms of total landmass acquired. Even more successful (for a generation or two) in the form of the Soviet Union and its vassal states nearby. And that the empire is contiguous geographically means they hold most of it still within their internationally recognized borders.

Unlike its western rivals Russia has not launched a war of aggression outside its established and traditional sphere of influence.

Russia has been invaded by Western Europe twice, courtesy of Napoleon and Hitler.

If the USA doesn't like having Russian missiles next door in Cuba, wtf do they expect when NATO destabilizes and militarizes Russia's former colonies and close neighbours?

Toby said...

Anonymous, Napoleon and Hitler were not the only ones to invade the Soviet Union. Did you know that Canada did? Look up the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force. Here's a sample.


The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Toby. I did a post on the CEF(Siberia) earlier this year.

Troy said...

More so than Russia, it's the weakening of Venezuala, which has led to this.

Toby said...

Mound, I know that you previously posted about the CEF. The reason that I bring it up, here and elsewhere, is that very few Canadians know that the West, including Canada, has been harassing Russia for a century. If Russia seems a bit touchy, we are part of the reason.

Purple library guy said...

Will it be good for Cuba? All instrumental talk about which power gets to benefit from Cuba's existence aside, the Cubans themselves have a revolution to defend. The blockade has cost them massively in specific, but maintenance of their system seems to have more than made up for it overall. I mean, the Cuban standard of living doesn't match the middle class American standard of living, but then nobody in the Caribbean manages that. If you compare apples to apples, Cubans on average are better off than most others in the region. They're sure a lot less likely to get murdered by gangs or cops than Mexicans.

The US endgame is for Cuba to become a complex of cheap tourism, plantation labour and sweatshops. And if they complain, for Cuba to become Haiti. If this rapprochement successfully moves Cuba in that direction, then no, it's not good for Cuba.