Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Castros Are Irrelevant

The day is just packed, but there is enough time to drop off this comparitively brief thought.

You may have noticed that we haven't weighed in on the whole vaguely sovietesque "Is Fidel Castro dead?" soap opera. There's a very good reason for that: Cuba doesn't matter anymore. Really, Cuba hasn't mattered since the end of the Cold War. It doesn't matter whether or not Fidel is alive or sick or just pulling our collective leg, kind of like the silliness the CIA used to try to pull on him way back when (i.e. itching powder to make his beard fall out, etc.). It doesn't matter if his younger brother Raul has taken his place, temporarily or permanently.

First off, whichever Castro rules the Caribbean island dungeon, it will still remain a communist dictatorship and bitter enemy of the United States. As the Chinese "plutomunism" dismayingly illustrates, Western economic "engagement" only enriches the jailers at the expense of the oppressed masses they hold captive.

But more to the point, Castro was supplanted as true leader of the emerging Latin America Axis several years ago by our good friend from Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and his "leetle friend," a massive crapload of petroleum under his territory. With all the resulting oil wealth, he's embarked on a permanent military shopping spree the Russians have been happy to oblige, he's buddying up with every Ameriphobic regime on the planet, from Iran to North Korea to Red China, and he's busily recommunizing his neck of the woods, from Ecuador to Nicaragua to the near-miss in Mexico a month ago.

Indeed, all this furious activity, to say nothing of his relentless Fidelian paranoid rants about US invasions and such, shows Chavez to have more energy, if somewhat less cunning, than Big Brother Castro ever had. And that makes former equally as dangerous. It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to picture Chavez hosting an Iranian and/or North Korea nuclear missile installation to threaten us from our neglected southern flank. A Venezuelan Missile Crisis, anyone?

Or maybe Chavez would put them in Cuba instead. I'm sure little brother Raul would be happy - and have little choice but - to oblige. A big difference for the former, a few hundred miles' difference for us.

Twelve years ago when Bill Clinton embarked on the second of his overseas military aggressions, into Haiti, I opined that invading a Caribbean island was just fine, but that we were invading the wrong one. Had Sick Willie's aim been better, Cuba would today be a free, prosperous ally, Venezuela might still fit that description, and America would not now be being inexorably surrounded by enemies making little secret of their intentions to obliterate us.

Whatever we do or do not do vis-a-vie Cuba, the time of its strategic relevance is long gone. That horse has long since escaped its stall, and galloped several hundred miles to the south.

Okay, it was a pegasus. But it's still gone.