This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Polarized Similarities and Comradeship

"Since 1980 Cuba has become the most thoroughly militarized nation on earth. According to the authoritative London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Cuban regular army numbers 145,000 men, most of them conscripted privates who serve for three years. They are backed up by at least 110,000 ready reserves, who are trained forty-five days or more annually. This force has been lavishly armed by the Soviet Union and boasts an astonishing 300 T-62 and 650 T-54/55 main battle tanks (MBTs). By way of comparison, Canada, with two and a half times the population, infinitely more wealth, and serious NATO commitments, relies upon a regular army of only 22,500, with 114 antiquated MBTs. Cuba's army also has 1,400 major artillery pieces, 60 light and amphibious tanks, and 650 other armored vehicles, as well as 600 anti-tank guns."
"The Cuban Navy, with 12,000 men, maintains three submarines, two modern guided-missile frigates, and a large number of patrol craft and minesweepers. Canada makes do with an equal number of submarines and twenty-three assorted anti-submarine-warfare vessels; its navy has only 10,000 men. The Cuban Air Force (whose previous chief, General Rafael del Pino, defected to the United States in 1987) is a very potent one. Its strength is 18,500 men(including the Air Defense Command), with 250 combat aircraft, mostly MiG-21, -23, and -27 models. Significantly, it possesses only seven troop-carrying Tupolev TU-154 transports, severely restricting Castro's ability to intervene on his own. Canada, with 23,050 airmen, has only three fighter squadrons, or roughly forty-five planes, to defend its skies. The Cuban military machine is considerably more powerful than that of any other Latin American nation-including Brazil, which has a population of 142 million, fourteen times Cuba's."
John Hoyt Williams, The Atlantic, 1988

"Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation." 
"While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for "el Comandante."
"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend ..."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau gets a hug from Cuban President Fidel Castro at the arrival in front of Notre Dame Church prior to the funeral of Pierre Trudeau.
Montreal Gazette-Pierre Obendrauf    Justin Trudeau gets a hug from Cuban President Fidel Castro at the arrival in front of Notre Dame Church prior to the funeral of Pierre Trudeau.

"El Comandante", that benevolent tyrant, didn't mind imposing economic hardships on his beloved Cubans. Cuba was and remains a fairly impoverished nation, but when it came to lavishing state funds on arms and a huge standing army disproportionate both to its population and its treasury, there was no question that was the priority in decision-making. Justin Trudeau loves describing himself as a liberal-progressive, his beaming countenance speaks of himself as a dedicated feminist, he argues on behalf of the LGBTQ2 community, he plans to legalize marijuana in Canada, he is a flower-power poster child.

But this man whose experience as a private school drama coach and a lecturer on snowboarding, both of which certainly prepared him to administer the affairs of a nation, a man who demanded lavish fees from charitable organizations as a public speaker coasting on his father's name-recognition burnishing his aura of the dauphin of a royal family, comes by his attraction to power in any guise in which it presents itself fairly naturally. He has in the past expressed admiration for the Chinese Communist Party government's ability to turn its economy "on a dime". As for the Iranian theocracy, there is the matter of moral relativism.

He and his brother view the Castro dynasty as a gift to the world.

Where Canada's previous, Conservative-led government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper diplomatically condemned Russia for its Ukraine-Crimea outrages, and Iran for its terrorism affiliation and nuclear aspirations, Mr. Trudeau, spurred by his great store of global wisdom and his belief that "sunny ways" can win over the most grudging, malevolent tyrant, is opening doors to renewing diplomatic relations with Iran, with China, with Russia to restore them to Canada's good graces and trade opportunism.

Castro visits Vietnam.
Castro visits Vietnam.

Fidel Castro may be Justin Trudeau's idea of a great man, a revolutionary of distinction, a leader of sturdy idealism, a romantic personage and an orator unmatched but by U.S. President Barack Obama, his other very good friend on the opposite spectrum more closely aligned to Trudeau's own, but that Castro was an unrepentant tyrant who turned his countrymen into guns-for-hire was undeniable. Cuba is famous for its doctors sent abroad to give medical aid anywhere it is needed, but the polar opposite was also true, that the Cuban military was busy in Africa and the Middle East, training and fighting  and doing what Castro defined to himself as a world of good.

A Cuban tank crew in Angola in 1987. Tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers fought in that country's civil war during the 1970s and 80s. A Cuban tank crew in Angola in 1987. Tens of thousands of Castro’s soldiers fought in that country’s civil war during the 1970s and 80s

Castro dispatched a Cuban mission to Ghana in 1961, and two years later its military forces were in Algeria. African nations became the stage for a thousand soldiers and military advisers by 1966 to strut the Cuban expertise in guerrilla warfare. Cuban combat units fought in Guinea-Bissau against Portuguese colonial rule. Eritrean rebels in their secessionist war against Ethiopia warranted training instructors among them. South Yemen saw the appearance of hundreds of Cuban military, and Dhofai guerrillas destabilizing Oman were also trained by the Cuban military.

Hundreds of Cuban tank crews took part in the 1973 Arab Israel War.
Hundreds of Cuban tank crews took part in the 1973 Arab Israel War.

Castro send 500 Cuban tank commanders to Syria where they died fighting the Yom Kippur War launched by combined Arab states against Israel. Castro must have viewed it as an imperative that its combat troops not disappoint their oppressed Arab friends in the Middle East when Syria and Egypt plotted that very special surprise for Israel, an attack invasion in 1973, fighting alongside Iraq, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. Why station Cuban troops in the Middle East in support of Arabs fighting colonialism and ignore the presence of a Western intruder, after all? Which required that 4,000 combat troops along with tank commanders, helicopter crews be co-located with those battling that symbol of Western imperialism.

Fidel Castro and the House of Assad
Castro and Hafez al-Assad pictured attending a 1979 Non-Aligned Countries Summit meeting [Getty]
What, in all of this history, is there not to elicit the most profound admiration and gratitude for the presence in Cuba of a dedicated revolutionary, a protector of the underdog, an unerring guide to the future of the Cuban people, where education, medicine, and a society equal in its desperate need for the most basic goods to help make a life of general privation tolerable, worshipped its leader who sent off his conscripts to all parts of the world languishing in need of the Cuban military to define their futures.

And, of course, led countless tens of thousands of other Cubans to set off in whatever would float, to abandon their beloved country to Castro and his minions, while they either drowned in the effort, or made a new life for themselves and their families in the United States which gave them safe harbor. Miami is Cuba, Cuba is not Miami. Contenders for the presidential election were represented by Cuban-Americans. Castro and all that he represented was scorned and hated by Cuban-Americans; how very unreasonable of them, but there is simply no accounting the manner in which people make their peculiar alliances....

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