Given the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, I decided to read up on him. I expected to find his life built on the ambition to become a power-hungry autocrat, but what I found was interesting.
While Castro was unethical, dictatorial and violated human rights, his motives and ambitions were anything but. Though he was a radical, his infamy seems to result from his circumstances, not his aims.
However, I don’t mean to venerate Castro. He had glaring faults. What I want to focus on is United States’ intervention in Cuba and how it played a significant role in creating the Fidel Castro we love to hate.
In this hatred, we tend to lose sight of the circumstances that caused his rise to power. In 1952, Fulgencio Batista, backed by the U.S., became dictator of Cuba.
Radicals — including Castro — were able to gain popular support and felt vindicated in trying to overthrow the Cuban government. After this overthrow, Castro did implement beneficial reforms to education and health care.
Further, American distrust for the Soviet Union, and by extension socialist ideals further strained relations between Cuba and the United States.
Now, I don’t mean whitewash or defend Castro. His actions were awful. Thousands of American refugees will testify to that.
However, I wonder if, without the U.S. meddling in Cuban affairs, Castro wouldn’t have risen to power or Cuban reforms might have been more gradual. While it was the middle of the Cold War and the U.S. did need to defend its interests, perhaps it went too far.
All these lead me to begin to question current U.S. foreign policy. Growing up I’ve always supported maintaining U.S. interests internationally, but in this case, it seems like rather than maintaining, the U.S. hampered democracies and supported autocrats who were aligned with American interests.
Given the near-constant coups — many of which are backed by the U.S. — in the Middle East, I’m starting to question current American policy abroad and whether or not our current drone strikes and regime-backing are any better than the red-fearing policies of the Cold War.
First Bush in Iraq, next Obama in Libya and next Trump in Syria — or wherever else — I’m a bit irritated at our hypocrisy. We’ve created Batista, Castro, Saddam Hussein and ISIS, and later we’ve denounced their horrible rule.
Maybe the Libertarians are right. Maybe it is time to back off a bit, to stop supporting new regimes just because they’ll trade with us. It’s not our job to say who should lead other countries. So if the U.S. is the world’s police, it also seems to be having trouble with police brutality.
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