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Fidel Castro Resigns 728

Smordnys s'regrepsA writes "Fidel Castro, the leader of the island nation of Cuba has declined the possibility of keeping his seat as President, after the February 24th National Assembly election. "I neither will aspire to nor will I accept — I repeat — I neither will aspire to nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," Castro wrote almost 19 months after a severe illness caused him to hand power temporarily to his brother Raul."
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Fidel Castro Resigns

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  • Re:News For Nerds (Score:2, Interesting)

    by servo335 ( 853111 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:07AM (#22474240) Homepage
    If there is a democratic election the Us will send them money and support. Think of all the work for Geeks that will open up....
  • Real or staged Cuba? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:22AM (#22474356) Homepage Journal
    If you go now you will still be mostly confined to the "staged" Cuba, the Cuba presented to foreigners where the government needs to keep up appearances. If you want to see the real Cuba your going to either have to take risks or wait till the government collapses.

    Castro and his ilk did far more damage to Cuba than any corporate entity could manage, let alone get away with. His country started falling apart once it was no longer propped up by the Soviets. He is a study in the strength of personality and use of tactics similar to East Germany to maintain power
  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by value_added ( 719364 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:34AM (#22474490)
    Does this mean the expat's in Miami will finally shut up and I can visit Havana soon (legally).

    The Miami crowd has too much to lose to allow that to happen. And they have enough political influence to prevent someone from dismissing them any time soon, despite a willingness by the American public to adopt a new perspective, keen interest by big business, and numerous attempts over the years by legislators and other interested parties who consider the current policy a long and drawn out failure to change the situation.

    Besides, who in Cuba do you think is, or is going to be, running things?

    On a side note, the term "expats" (no "s" needed, thankyou) I would reserve for someone like the English hanging out in the bars of Santa Monica, CA, watching football and drinking Guiness. The Miami crowd, on the other hand, will carry their memories, resentments and feelings forward for generations to come. Think of the Kurds in Iraq, the Palestinians in Israel, and both the Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, among countless other examples, and you'll get the idea.

    Tourists, cigar afficionados and late 50's model car enthusiasts will have to wait.
  • Castro's bum rap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JulianConrad ( 1223926 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:42AM (#22474608)
    For all his faults, in some ways Castro valued human life more than you'd expect from all the propaganda in the U.S. about "communism." He kept his people from starving in the 1990's after the collapse of the Soviet Union cut off a lot of Cuba's oil supply (unlike North Korea's Kim, who clearly doesn't give a crap about the starving people under his heel); at least Cubans don't have to eat dirt, literally, like their neighbors on Haiti. He's kept up a basic healthcare system and invested his country's meager resources into finding treatments for tropical poor people's diseases ignored by Western pharmaceutical companies. He had moved his country's population out of harm's way when the inevitable hurricanes rake across the island. And he even offered to send medical help to the U.S. for Hurricane Katrina's victims. So in some nontrivial respects he wasn't a totally bad guy.
  • by diegocgteleline.es ( 653730 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:45AM (#22474648)
    Cuba is the final testament to the failure of communism.

    Cuba is the final testament of the failure of commercial interventionism - USA embargo is also included here
  • Did he really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shis-ka-bob ( 595298 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:55AM (#22474794)
    I do not defend Castro's dictatorship, but for many he seems to have been a 'benevolent' dictator. This is something of an oxymoron, so what I mean is this: For many working class Cubans, Castro's government has established a strong safety net and an egalitarian society. There is no question that Castro was also ruthless in dealing with political adversaries and I would not have liked to live in such a closed society. But like any other government, his was neither purely good nor purely evil. What did he do well and what did he do poorly? He did work hard to address the needs of 'his' people. A controlled economy with a strong safety net does result in an economy with a lower average income, but how strongly does is affect the median income? Is it better to be an average Cuban or an average Mexican? Both seem to be willing to take great risks to get out. GDP per capita, the standard measure of a nation's economy, doesn't address income distribution: The average income of Bill Gates and 9 Slashdotters is simply 10% of Bill Gates income + round off error. I would like to see economic analysis of developing nations that is measured by percent of population living below a locally adjusted poverty line. Does anyone know of such a study?
  • Re:Ironic statement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:12AM (#22474956) Homepage

    How did it go last time they tried [cnn.com] to make a country realize the blessings of liberty?

    According to your link, there have been 3,963 American deaths in the war in Iraq as of February 18, 2008. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], there were 416,800 American deaths in World War II. Even the American Revolutionary War [wikipedia.org] had between 8,000 and 50,000 casualties, depending on how you count.

    Liberty is expensive, but it's cheaper than ever. There are many reasons to criticize the Iraq war, but the number of casualties is not one of them.

  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:21AM (#22475066)

    When have you been in Cuba? I was there in the middle '90s (the periodo especial, when the economy was at its worst), and found out that most scaremongering about Cuba was just that—scaremongering. The news blabbered about continuous power outages, with electricity being available only a few hours a day. Funny enough, Havana's lights were on all night long (not just our hotel, the whole city).

    Personally, I'd rather have the aforementioned fast food restaurants than hordes of military personnel with automatic weapons all over the place.

    Never seen this kind of military presence. The only military I saw were at Matanzas airport (duh, fair enough), and three grunts (including one gruntess) marching on a country road that we drove by.

    The crumbling buildings. The antiquated automobiles. The authoritarian presence.

    Funny, I saw no particularly crumbling buildings to speak of. No beggars either. People in Havana and elsewhere we travelled (from Pinár del Rio to Santa Clara) looked like they were not rich, but lived with dignity. Then again, a certain American subculture may consider any historically significant building as "crumbling"...

    The warning to tourists to stay in designated tourist zones.

    Well, I for one did not receive any such warning. In fact we could go around freely. My father saw a street concert improvised by some locals in Havana, where the police intervened—lo and behold—to pick up broken bottles of beer so people would not hurt themselves.

    If you have truly been there, I cannot understand how or why you would think that American chain restaurants are somehow worse than the abject human misery that dominates that island.

    Have you truly been there, to pass that kind of judgements?

    The Bloqueo is America's version of the Berlin Wall. They tell you that it's against the enemy, while in fact what its ideators conceived it as a cultural divide, so idea would spread from Cuba to the mainland. Guess what would happen if someone made a movie about 9/11 rescue workers who cannot afford medical care in the US and get cured in the free-for-all Cuban system...

    Sure, Cuba has its share of problems: corruption, impediments to free speech, same leadership for too much time. However, looking at how these problems were tackled in the countries recently "liberated" by the US, I doubt the Cubans will be any better off with a US-sponsored regime change.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:31AM (#22475176) Homepage
    Allow for tourism and trade, let the economic ramifications encourage a change of policy.

    (ie: people enjoying $$$ influx, will demand that it continues)
  • Re:Property (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:34AM (#22475214)
    "The US should push for Cuban property to be given (or sold) to the Cuban population."

    What is US would once in a lifetime do something right and would'nt involve other countries politics. US history is full of murders and other terrorist acts to get own puppet goverment up and running. US shouldn't speak anything and atleast, should not cross own broderds, because US should first learn what is democracy and how much good socialism does (socialism != communism).
    Whole US is scare off about socialism, how evil it is and how bad things would go and goverment terrorize own people with it!

    If US would be good country, in any level, they would stop right away that terrorist act as blockage called, and would allow freedom to all humans. But no, it's not ideal because other nations money and power would'nt be in hands of US goverment/corporations. Many countries in european has socialistic ways to do things and everything is going better than in US, where goverment rules everything and stupid white people just repeat that as "God allows our acts" and "we are people under a God!"

  • by DVega ( 211997 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:16PM (#22475680)
    Cuba health indicators [wikipedia.org]

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the chance of a Cuban child dying at five years of age or younger is 7 per 1000 live births in Cuba, while it's 8 per 1000 in the US. WHO reports that Cuban males have a life expectancy at birth of 75 years and females 79 years. In comparison, the US life expectancy at birth is 75 and 80 years for males and females, respectively. Cuba's infant mortality rate is better than the US with 5 deaths per thousand in Cuba versus 7 per thousand in the US. Cuba has nearly twice as many physicians as the U.S. -- 5.91 doctors per thousand people compared to 2.56 doctors per thousand, according to WHO.
  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:32PM (#22475890) Journal
    Well, that's kind of the point I'm making. Those countries I mentioned aren't very democratic and Cuba certainly isn't communist. They all are for the most part authoritarian dictatorships. A nice shade of gray. A very dark gray.
  • by ahaile ( 147873 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:39PM (#22475994)
    Um, what?

    You can fly into Havana and get a 30-day tourist visa just like any country in the world. This includes US citizens. I am one, and I've done it. There's no "confinement" to a "staged" Cuba. And the only "risks" involved in doing something other than an all-inclusive vacation tour (it sounds like that was your route) are to your comfort zone. If you've never travelled in the third world, it might be a bit shocking. But no state security is going to come knocking on your door just because you wandered into Havana's ghettos.

    Note to US citizens: now, *our* government may put you at risk -- if you can't go legally like I was able to, be very very smart or wait for *our* government to change, not Cuba's.

    And a note to flamers: yes, there are lots of things wrong with Cuba. But the OP has no idea what he/she is talking about.
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wandering Wombat ( 531833 ) <mightyjalapeno AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:34PM (#22476854) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty sure the Germans were against those actions, whereas the Cubans are largely happy with the way their country works.

    Sure, the dual economy is wrecking them on an international market, but hopefully the increased presence globally will help with that. As a building technologist who has worked in Cuba (Canada and Cuba get along great, I can actually buy Cuban cigars at the Hasty Mart down the street from my house) I can tell you that Cuba is doing the best they can with a bad starting position, and it's really quite pleasant down there. A poor economy != unhappy population.
  • Re:Idea (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:18PM (#22477602)
    You are right. Food is pretty cheap...now, if only there was some to buy.

    Mr. Castro wanna be and his price controls have pretty much driven the market underground. The official prices can't support the costs of production. This means shortages. It's basic economic theory. Hugo's way has been tried again and again and it never works, Which, by the way, is the definition of insanity.

    If you want facts, fucking Google it you moron. I'm at work.

    And there's nothing offensive about calling Castro a murdering bastard.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:29PM (#22477760) Journal
    China doesn't even function like that any more. In fact, it only really functioned like that from the Nationalist Defeat until Mao's decline. The real Chinese leadership for the last three decades isn't really Communist at all. It's a technocracy with strong socialist elements (though these are in decline). China is rapidly becoming precisely the state that Deng Xiaoping envisioned, a centrally-controlled economic power, delivering the idealized Chinese civilization of hierarchical stability.
  • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:30PM (#22477782) Homepage
    You mean the kind where the government is awash in petrodollers yet pisses most of it all away on foreign political projects without maintaining the means of production & where it crashes down around their ears? Call us back in a few years & we'll judge how successful really Chavez was...
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wandering Wombat ( 531833 ) <mightyjalapeno AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#22477870) Homepage Journal
    I don't recall saying "all", but your pedantry has been noted.

    I talked to several, notably skilled engineers, lawyers, and the "poor people" the water treatment plant was going to be supplying water to. Better?
  • Re:Property (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:48PM (#22478024)

    The US should push for Cuban property to be given (or sold) to the Cuban population.

    Effecting lasting vestment by the people is a matter of a functioning ongoing system more so than a matter of initial distribution. You bring up the Russian example. Russia actually had one of the most successful programs ever instituted to privatize their industry by giving it to the people.

    Look at section 1.2.2 here [www.fipc.ru] and at this article from Reason [reason.com].

    Russia gave every citizen a voucher that could be used in auctions to bid upon state enterprises being privatized. There was a free market in these vouchers. Any group of people could band together to pool their vouchers to buy their portion of previously state-run industry and own it privately. Or they could sell their vouchers and get significant real value for them, and use that for whatever they needed it for. Either way, everyone got their share. The division of state run enterprises went very well for a while. Sure, too many enterprises were dolled out directly to the powerful and connected and bypassed the voucher auctions, but otherwise, it was a pretty good system.

    The reason it didn't end up working was due to a lack of rule of law and to corruption, not a failure to give the property to the Russian population. Many foreign investors flocked to Russia to capitalize on their underpaid but highly educated population. Many people used their voucher money to start their own small businesses. Groups of people who pooled their vouchers tried to run the industries they bought.

    But people in power took it all away; from the foreign investors, and from the local Russian population. If you wanted to get your raw materials imported, or keep your electricity on, or get work permits, or pass inspections, or have access to markets- it all required too many bribes to stay in business. In some instances, people with guns just came in and took everything. You can't have functioning capitalism if you don't have free competition, but instead have thugs come and take the profits from anyone who's successful.

    A fair initial distribution of property in the privatization process is important, but as Russia has shown us, it is far from sufficient to ensure any kind of equality or lasting vestment for the people. The most important thing for giving people a fair shot is to weed out the corruption and follow rule of law.

    You can hire any reputable consulting firm to have a bunch of economists and MBA's draw up a relatively efficient and equitable market based allocation program for privatizing state resources to the people. Unfortunately, it is much harder to take a system riddled with endemic corruption and full of powerful people used to ruling like czars and transform that into a system dominated by honesty and law. There is no easy prescription for this transformation; weeding out corruption is riddled with tricky political, psychological, social, and economic dilemmas to which there is no straight-forward solution.
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:31PM (#22478678) Journal
    The US did the same thing to China when Mao attempted to make overtures. Instead of admitting that Chang Kai-shek's Kuomintang had been routed and turned into a Formosan rump, and dealing with the guys that actually controlled China, the US cemented this bizarre Nationalist China theory for three decades, forcing China to turn to the USSR (not that that turned out all that great for the Soviets in the end) and leading to three decades of isolation.

    As bad as Communism was, and as necessary as I think Containment was, the US was never sophisticated enough to realize that it wasn't fighting an ideology, it was fighting an expansionist imperial power. They bought into the Leninist-Marxist line just as much as the Russians did, and didn't recognize the historical trends that had been taking place ever since the Muscovite princes had cast of the Tatars and had began building a Eurasian empire. Just because the top bananas that replaced the Romanovs liked to spout nonsensical political theory didn't fundamentally mean that their goals were one iota different.

    That's the problem with the US. I think it suffers from a case of pathological idealism. Because it was founded on high ideals, it tends to assume that its enemies and allies must be of a similar vein, that somehow revolution always represents some vast dividing line between past, present and future. In reality, the Russian and Chinese revolutions (the latter of which was really a century-long conflict to boot out the Great Powers) made huge changes, but ultimately created new governments that in many ways simply modeled themselves on old ones.

    In Russia, the leadership moved into the Kremlin, the gentry were replaced by Communist party members, and Peter the Great's revolution to modernize and industrialized Russia continued, every bit as recklessly as it ever had been. In China, Mao took on the airs of the emperors of old, behaving in many ways like them, isolating himself and creating a god-like aura that invoked, without coming out and saying it, the Mandate of Heaven. In fact, after Mao's authority began slipping, and ever since then, the old court ideals of Confucianism have been reborn as the new generation of leaders attempts to combat the age-old Chinese problem of a corrupt bureaucracy.

    Communism is simply a state religion. Every once in a while, someone like Mao or Lenin will come along and actually take them seriously, but for the most part it's simply a ritual, a sort of cross in the sky that the faithful are supposed to follow, while in reality it's just the same old empire-building and power centralization that has dominated human affairs since we settled down to form civilizations. If the US had understood this during the Cold War, it would have been much more likely to co-operate with Communist China and Cuba, recognizing that guys like Mao and Castro were just the same-ol' with a different jive talk. Imagine the world today if Latin America and China, who had long had respect for the United States and its earlier, more neutral position, had been embraced, regardless of the political stripes of their leadership. Imagine if Mao and Castro hadn't had to fling themselves at the Soviets, or a Latin America where there weren't tragedies like Chile? The short-sighted and mistaken goals of Containment continue to haunt the US to this day.
  • Take a Step Back (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ChipmunkDJE ( 1231596 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:55PM (#22479040)
    You need to widen your view.

    The ONLY reason US did ANYTHING was because Cuba was going to institute a communist system. This happened during the cold war era (late 1940's - 1991), where America's foreign policy was THE CONTAINMENT OF COMMUNISM FROM SOVIET RUSSIA. Any spread of communism around the world was seen as the expansion (or aid) of Soviet Russia.

    Part of the containment strategy is stopping the spread of communism anywhere else that it surfaced. That is why the US fought in Korea (1950-1953), Guatamala (1954), Lebanon (1958), and Vietnam (1965-1974). Cuba just fell in the line of fire.

    "They nationalized property without compensating international business" is just the reason they lay out to explain why they embargoed Cuba. The actual motive was something else.

  • Re:Property (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:12PM (#22479328) Journal
    Unfortunately the world would be a far worse off place if the leaders of the world thought that.

    The UN is to inept to act as such and frankly, I would be worried if they could be the world police. Of course all the complaining about the US meddling into other countries offairs by backing rebels or funding failing government has seen a rise in US hands on commitments. It is a damned if you do and damned if you done situation there.
  • Re:Property (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:42PM (#22479790)
    Meanwhile, in other news: US organized crime wants its Cuban property back.

    Keep in mind that Castro was considered to be a 'good guy' by both the Cuban and US public when he sought to overthrow Batista. It wasn't until foreign (i.e. US Mafia and industrial) interests realized that he was actually serious about ending corruption that they turned against him. An alliance with the Soviet Union was his only hope of survival. Either that or agreeing to be nothing more than the next piano player in a whorehouse for US interests.

  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:21PM (#22480294)

    Yeah and the sky is blue.

    I didn't say or even imply that Cuba wasn't communist. I said that Cuba *needs* communism.

    When Communism was lifted from East Berlin, Western interests immediately began laying claim to their old properties. The difference here is the amount of foreign interest. As long as the Cuban land owned by Americans is not returned to the children of those Americans, there will continue to be trade embargoes. In order for the U.S. to lift trade embargoes, most of the property in Cuba may be forced into the hands of Americans. This is *not* going to help the Cubans at all.

    To put it more simply. If *your* family had a resort expropriated in Havana, would you be happy to see Disney purchase it from the Cuban government?

    Regarding Florida, I guess it depends on perspective. Cuba doesn't have ghettos, and every Cuban has healthcare. Some might call all of Cuba a ghetto, but I don't think that's an accurate portrayal of the country.

  • Re:Thank God (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bsd_usr ( 140514 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:28PM (#22480384) Homepage
    Don't lump Cubans with being the same as the rest of the Hispanic population. Anyone who has taken Latin American History, would know that Cuban-Americans are different.

    In Cuba, they're typically better educated and most, if not all, Latin American countries. Cuba also has a higher literacy rate than even the United States. There are plenty of good doctors that come from Cuba. As you already mentioned, Florida is full of Cuban politicians and lawyers. There are plenty of Cuban actors (Andy Garcia, Cameron Diaz, and more), singers (Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, and more), song writers (Emilio Estefan, and more) here in the U.S. as well, which makes them well represented.

    Like you mentioned, unlike most the Hispanic population Cuban-Americans typically vote Republican. Why? Maybe because we're generally more conservative? Maybe because many Cuban-Americans are businessmen? Maybe it's because Republicans have done more for Cuban-Americans than Democrats? Cubans are pretty vocal and you can almost say fanatical about politics. You can almost say that the Cuban community is even tighter than most Hispanic communities. Maybe that is because there's so few of them here. Cuban-Americans are actually a very small population when compared to other Hispanic communities (i.e. Mexican-Americans).

    Anyway, for all we know this whole resignation thing is probably because Castro is already dead and has been dead for a while. Who knows. No one has seen him in public in quite some time.
  • Re:Property (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:34PM (#22480456) Journal
    Cuba is so special because We liberated it from the Spanish not too long ago. Teddy Roosevelt and his rough riders were parts of the fight. Things went along somewhat well and the US had a lot of international business relations with it then all the sudden, Castro takes over in a revolution then confiscates all the businesses and their assets which included quite a bit of US wealth. They then allowed the USSR places missile basses in Cuba specifically to threaten the domestic US Soil.

    Kennedy, the great one who swam the sex pool with Marylin Monroe , not the drunken prostitute killer, took care of the Missile problem with the USSR directly by more or less saying if you place nukes there we will consider it an act of war and respond in kind (Of course Kennedy knew at the time that Russia didn't have the ability to hit the US outside of basses in Cuba). We sent navy ships down to blockade the access from Russia to Cuba and Russia turned the ships around. Ever since then, Castro has maintained a negetive and threatening stand towards us and we have obliged him back.

    The paranoia, which existed well before the DHS existed, was somewhat founded in real events. Carter attempted to lessen the embargo effect in the late 70's by not renewing or seeking the renewal of a key act of the embargo which Castro thanked us by Putting all his crazies and criminals (most of whom were imprisoned for speaking against the Government of Cuba) in rafts and pushing them out to see hopefully to land in America. Reagan restored the embargo. In the 90's, Cuba used mig fighters supplied by the old USSR to shoot down unarmed Cessna airplanes operated by an American group called Brothers to the Rescue who searched the sea by air and attempted to send help to Cubans on rafts attempting to make it to America. In 2000 or so, we relaxed some agriculture export laws to help assist food going to Cuba after a hurricane hurt them pretty bad. Castro refused US aid but suggested a one time purchase of food with was orchestrated for pennies in the dollar to assist in aid without Castro biting his pride. There has been calls to loosen the embargo ever since.

    So you see, it isn't without justification and it isn't the DHS who instituted the policy. But when Castro was in power, he was a threat to the security of the US and done some things simply out of Spite to the US. What I presented was a very one sided, very short, and incomplete set of reasons for the current political attitude towards Cuba today. Our attitude towards them may not be reasonable but it isn't without cause. Hopefully, Castro's replacement which is probably going to be his brother who is a little more ruthless, is a little smarter in his attitude and interactions with the US. Then maybe we can get over this once and for all.
  • Re:Property (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:45PM (#22480634)
    I can quite believe that Mao and Lenin resembled the Tsars and Emperors they replaced and that Communism was a state religion.

    But that doesn't mean that the US should treat them in the same way. New religions intolerant religions like Communism have a need to spread. And Communism was a much worse system than the ones it replaced. E.g. Russia before the revolution had secret police and prison camps, this is true. But after the revolution the death rate due to political violence rose astronomically. Someone worked out that the Tsar killed a few hundred people for political crimes. But the Russian communists killed many millions. And the old regimes in Russia and China were not expansionist in the sense that they wanted to spread their system around the world. E.g. Russian communism came very close to engulfing all of the US's allies in Western Europe as well as Eastern Europe. Communism in Asia actually managed it. The whole world could quite easily have ended up resembling Orwell's 1984. This is something which US foreign policy, like its UK counterpart absolutely cannot let happen because of the danger of being completely surrounded by countries which are essentially hostile slave states.

    The old state religions in China and Russia were also not monotheistic - they each tolerated Buddhism and Christianity (and Islam in places) in their empires. Lastly, both of them had started to liberalise. If the Communists hadn't hijacked the process, it's quite possible that they would have ended up as something much more liberal.

    So whilst it's true to say that their is a degree of continuity the post revolutionary powers were a lot more threatening than the pre revolutionary ones. And it seems like US foreign policy should be about strangling new murderous monotheisms if possible, not accepting them as a permanent fixture.
  • Re:Property (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:04PM (#22480924) Journal
    My point isn't that Containment was in and of itself a bad policy, but rather that it was an unnuanced policy. Its application was oversimplified; dividing the world into the infamous three; the First, Second and Third Worlds. From a strategic point of view it was a blunder. China was not naturally the USSR's ally. Yes, Stalin had ingratiated himself in a big way with the Communists in the 1930s, but Mao was no more interested in China being a Soviet satellite than he wanted it to be a Western satellite. He did reach out to the US after the defeat of the Nationalists, mainly because he was a bright enough guy to know that he didn't want any enemies. The US, in a growing anti-Communist paranoia, backed the Nationalists instead, despite the fact that the Nationalists had completely lost the mainland and were doing nothing more than playing at being the government of China.

    I don't think China and the US would ever have been fast friends. China was too bruised by a century of domination by foreign powers (including the US) for that. But the US completely fucked it up by rejecting Mao and hanging their socks on a washed up tyrant; Chang Kai-shek and his utterly routed Nationalists. It forced Mao completely into the Soviet sphere (though that lasted a little over a decade), because Mao needed someone's help.

    The fact is that Chinese Communism was not the same as Stalinism, though in the 1950s, with the disasterous Great Leap Forward, it certainly became much worse. Maybe the US could have done nothing about that even if it had built ties with Mao, but by essentially treating the PRC as some sort of alien inhabiting government, it lost all capability. It also violated one of the key notions of international diplomacy, that one must remain pragmatic in all things. It was a reality-defying leap of stupidity that only made sense within the context of domestic US politics at the time. It certainly made no sense within the contexts of diplomacy, international relations, international law and within the long-term interests of the US in the Far East, and ultimately the world. Nixon's normalization, while the right thing to do, has put the US in an even trickier situation as per Taiwan, which it treats as a defacto state, while all the while trying to play it with the PRC. If the US had simply admitted that Chang Kai-shek was a spent force and recognized Mao, this awkard position could have been avoided.

    As to Cuba, rejecting Castro is only a lesser blunder because Cuba is a smaller and less important nation. Still, once again, the Red Fever created a situation in which reality was denied and a Communist government was forced into bed with the Soviets.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:06PM (#22481776)

    Eventually there was an invasion attempt (bay of Pigs)

    That's the sort of invasion you have when the military does not want it and the President opposes it. It's the age of story of a very partisan government agency that dislikes the new head of a government deciding to see how far they can push the new government. It was probably completely successful in this way because the USA appears to have been knee deep in uncontrolled spooks for most of the time since then.

  • Re:Property (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jrentona ( 989920 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:18PM (#22482608)
    I don't see how you can say the US "forced" China to ally with the USSR without failing to understand communism and modern history.

    A big part of marxism is the idea of inevitable revolution. The US, with its emphasis on freedom and traditional laissez-faire tendencies basically represents a bouguosie state in the eyes of the Marxist. In that sense, almost by definition, the governments of the United States and the West were the enemy. For the revolution to take the form that Marx predicted; bouguosie governments must fall to give way to the universal rule of one world proletariate utopia. Your assessment of America's fear (whether justified or not) of a unified communist menace is not the fault of the United States. You just have to read a few paragraphs of the communist and marxist playbooks to realize that. It wasn't any over-idealism or parranoia on our part at work in the Cold War. We simply took them at their word.

    On top of this, there are the obvious similarities in tactics that party leaders in communist governments share. They all seem without question to align themselves with Stalinist tactics to maintain control. This totalitarian mindset makes it naturally easier for these governments (Cuba, North Korea, China, etc...) to relate to each other. I think Mao would have a lot more to discuss with Stalin than he would with Roosevelt and Eisenhour simply from a philosophical perspective. For that reason alone, they were natural allies.

    Besides, the US historically invested in a free China before and during World War II. We had Flying Tiger squadrons fighting the Japanese in China for Chang Kai Shek throughout the war. What were we supposed to do, abandon these people? For what?

    Not to mention the American blood spilled in the Korean conflict when the Chinese crossed the river into Korea much to the surprise of General Macarthur.

    Mao was not the innocent victim of the United States that you depict. He was responsible for 10's of millions of mass murders during the Cultural Revolution. He learned quite well from Stalin's butchery. The US should be MORE selective about the people we jump into bed with, not less.

  • Re:Property (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:27PM (#22483696)

    But the US completely fucked it up by rejecting Mao and hanging their socks on a washed up tyrant; Chang Kai-shek and his utterly routed Nationalists. It forced Mao completely into the Soviet sphere (though that lasted a little over a decade), because Mao needed someone's help ...
    It also violated one of the key notions of international diplomacy, that one must remain pragmatic in all things. It was a reality-defying leap of stupidity that only made sense within the context of domestic US politics at the time. It certainly made no sense within the contexts of diplomacy, international relations, international law and within the long-term interests of the US in the Far East, and ultimately the world. Nixon's normalization, while the right thing to do, has put the US in an even trickier situation as per Taiwan, which it treats as a defacto state, while all the while trying to play it with the PRC. If the US had simply admitted that Chang Kai-shek was a spent force and recognized Mao, this awkward position could have been avoided.

    Yeah, but foreign policy is not a game and you don't just make friends with the winners.

    Mao killed millions of people, more than Hitler and Chang Kai Shek ran Taiwan quite well and eventually his son allowed it to democratise. Admittedly mostly due to pressure from the Taiwanese people and the US, but Mao's successors dealt with peaceful protests in favour of democracy by running people over with tanks. And this incidentally was at a point when relations with the US were at their warmest, in fact China and the US were allies against the USSR.

    So sucking up to tyranny doesn't cause it to moderate its behaviour. Which is as you'd expect really - when the student protests erupted in 1989, it's hard to imagine that the people that decided to kill them really gave any thought whatsoever to the reaction of the US. So an alliance with the PRC doesn't moderate its behaviour. But an alliance with Taiwan does have give the US something. It's also morally right.

    Let's try to use your policy in Europe in 1940. Clearly the US should ally with Stalin and Hitler since they controlled a lot of territory. Poland, Czechoslovakia and so on were spent forces and should be ditched. Now you're no doubt thinking Godwin at this point, and by the rules of an Internet argument you're probably right. But outside the internet, it does seem a valid criticism of a potential foreign policy principle that it would cause you to back Stalin and Hitler over the governments of smaller and freer countries they had conquered or were about to conquer. Actually it would be totally catastrophic in other situations too. At one point Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and was militarily quite capable of overrunning Saudi Arabia. Your principle seems to be that once he took over, the US should recognize that and attempt to engage with him. To me it seems quite clear that the US should absolutely not allow him to stay in either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

    I actually think that the US should not have normalised with China and should not recognize hostile tyrannies in general. I wouldn't get into silly games like the Chinese do with Taiwan, but I would definitely regard those governments as essentially overgrown crime families rather than anyone you want to regard as being an equal. Certainly there is no point trying to form a relationship with them in the way that Nixon and Kissinger tried to do. The US lost out big time in that, and the PRC gained. But that government has by any reasonable standard far less legitimacy that the ROC one. Come to think of it it has far less legitimacy than the post Soviet Russian government, which can at least win a plebiscite every few years, even if it probably doesn't qualify as a full democracy anymore.

    I think the problem I have with international diplomacy is that most of the principles were invented long before the era of mass democracy. Then, at least by modern standards, very few governments were representative. So in the abse

  • Re:Property (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @03:21AM (#22485126) Homepage Journal
    Easy, you're flat-out wrong.

    While the oil is owned by whoever bought the rights, the revenue is not being evenly distributed. ONe of the US benchmarks for the 2007 "surge" was that Iraq would pass oil-revenue sharing legislation, which didn't happen. The Kurds are trying to negotiate deals with oil companies, while the Iraq federal government is saying those deals are illegal. The Sunnis are being or will be dirt poor, since the oil is in the Kurdish north and Shiite south, and a federalist system would make them poorer.

I've got a bad feeling about this.