It is exactly 45 years since the Cuban Missile crisis, but still President Bush continues to insist on an outmoded approach to the island.
He told a group of Cuban exiles on October 24 that "the socialist paradise is a tropical gulag," and he vowed to maintain the U.S. embargo on Cuba. And like President Kennedy before the Bay of Pigs, he conjured up the fantasy that the Cuban people would rise up to overthrow their government.
But JFK learned from his mistakes. And during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the fate of the entire globe rested in his hands, his levelheaded approach averted planetary disaster.
What is frightening is that now at the helm we have a president with a cowboy mentality who has learned nothing from his debacle in Iraq.
President Bush's speech on Cuba had little to do with reality and a lot to do with believing in a fairy tail created by anti-Castro forces, just as he believed in a fairy tail created by anti-Saddam forces.
Part of being a competent leader is to see the world as it is, and to recognize the viewpoints of other countries.
That is one of the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
To the Cubans, the October crisis was about self-defense and about securing the hard gains of the populist revolution that ousted the puppet government of Fulgencio Batista.
To the Russians, the crisis was about making a counter move after the United States placed bombs in Turkey; it was a way of regaining nuclear balance.
And to the United States, the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba was not only a threat to the mainland but also an affront to the Monroe Doctrine. It is this doctrine that has justified many unwarranted U.S. interventions throughout Latin America.
Kennedy calmly managed a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bush, however, keeps increasing the tensions with Cuba, and keeps turning up the rhetoric.
This is no way to improve the lot of the Cuban people.
We need a president who is levelheaded and who is willing to challenge old notions of our country's role in the world. And that includes making a clean break with almost five decades of bankrupt belligerence toward Cuba.
© 2007 The Progressive Magazine