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Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis

By Neil Clark | RT | October 28, 2017

Fifty-five years ago this weekend the world appeared to be on the brink of nuclear war as the Cuban missile crisis unfolded. What are the lessons that can be learned today about the events of October 1962?

It was the great filmmaker Charles Chaplin who commented that life is a tragedy when seen in close-up but a comedy in long-shot. Perspective is everything. If we take a ‘close-up’ view of the Cuban missile crisis, we fail to see the wider issues involved. We’re also likely to fall for the dominant narrative, which has the Soviet Union as the aggressor and the US as the side acting in self-defense. In fact, it was the other way round.

We call it the ‘Cuban missile crisis, ’ but in truth, it was only partly about Cuba. It was just as much about Turkey, and in particular, the fifteen offensive nuclear-tipped intermediate-range Jupiter missiles that had been provocatively deployed there by the US in 1961.

The Soviet Union felt threatened by them and rightly so. They could if launched in a pre-emptive ‘first-strike,’ obliterate entire cities in the western USSR, such as Minsk, Kiev, and Moscow, within minutes.

Moreover, the so-called ‘missile gap’ which Kennedy had campaigned on in 1960 against Richard Nixon, actually existed in the US’ favor. The US had around nine times as many nuclear warheads as the Soviet Union. “By 1962, a million US soldiers were stationed in two hundred foreign bases, all threatening the Soviet Union, from Greenland to Turkey, from Portugal to the Philippines,” write Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, in their book ‘Cold War.’ “Three and a half million troops belonging to America’s allies were garrisoned around the Soviet Union’s borders. There were American nuclear warheads in Italy, the United Kingdom, and Turkey.”

Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader in 1962, had to do something to quickly change the situation, or else his country was in danger of nuclear annihilation. Remember President Kennedy had already seriously considered the ‘first-strike’ option. Fred Kaplan, the author of The Wizards of Armageddon, records how on July 13, 1961, Kennedy held a National Security Council meeting. Among the items on the agenda: “steps to prepare war plans which would permit the discriminating use of nuclear weapons in Central Europe and… against the USSR.”

America’s aggressive policies toward Cuba gave Khrushchev an opportunity to improve his country‘s security. When the cigar-smoking Fidel Castro first come to power in 1959, sweeping away the US-backed leader Batista in a popular uprising, he had not declared his revolution to be a Marxist one. But his program which involved nationalization and clamping down on the business activities of mobsters like Meyer Lansky, inevitably put him on a collision course with Washington.

In December 1960, the Eisenhower administration had already endorsed a scheme to invade Cuba to topple Fidel. John Kennedy, who became President in January 1961, inherited this ’cunning plan’ and went along with it. The result was the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Blackadder’s Baldrick really couldn’t have come up with anything more disastrous.

Understandably, Castro now declared a socialist revolution and turned to Moscow for assistance. Khrushchev saw a golden opportunity to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants.”

An agreement was made with the Castro brothers, whereby Cuba would be a site for Soviet missiles. They would not only defend the island from a US-led invasion- but also in Khrushchev’s own words help to “equalize” the balance of power with the US.

Of course, when the US learned what was going on, there was indignant outrage of the sort US leaders do best. The second best quote from the whole of the Cuban missile crisis (after Khrushchev’s hedgehog one), came from Kennedy when he was told about the missile sites under construction. “It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs (missiles) in Turkey! Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.”’

To which his National Security Adviser, George Bundy replied: “Well, we did, Mr. President.”

Kennedy mulled over his options and decided that a blockade, to stop Soviet ships delivering their missiles, was the best call. Never mind that the Soviet action to ship missiles to an ally was legal and that a blockade most certainly wasn’t. But what to do about the missiles that had already arrived?

The President was presented with plans from his generals for air strikes and a full-scale invasion of Cuba. “But it was estimated that the ten days of fighting tied to an invasion, the US would suffer 18,500 casualties. Kennedy would have to do a deal,” note Isaacs and Downing.

A deal was done, but it was not one which the US administration could publicly acknowledge. In return for Soviet missiles being withdrawn from Cuba, the US agreed not to invade the island and to remove its Jupiters from Turkey which it did about six months later.

The US media hailed a great victory, but in fact, Washington had been forced to make concessions. It’s likely that if Khrushchev hadn’t played such a high line in 1961, the Soviet Union would have faced a pre-emptive strike sometime in the 1960s, very probably from the missiles situated in Turkey. The citizens of Moscow, Minsk, and Kiev have much to thank him for.

After 1962, the US knew that they had to tread warily. For the next seventeen years, détente was pursued by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Yes, the CIA continued to plot to overthrow the Cuban government, and of course subvert democratic processes around the world if the wrong candidates got elected, or look like they were going to get elected, but after the events of October 1962, the US was more frightened of directly provoking the Kremlin.

It was only in the late 1970s that the position began to change once again. A pivotal battle as I noted in an earlier OpEdge was between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, a man of peace who genuinely wanted to maintain good relations with Moscow, and the uber-hawkish Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been appointed President Carter’s National Security Adviser. ‘Zbig’ won, and the results for mankind were catastrophic.

Neocons who had loathed détente began to crawl out of the woodwork. Again there were calls for a ‘pre-emptive’ strike on the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev, a genuinely nice man who sadly had learned nothing from history, became Soviet leader in 1985 and surrendered his country’s bargaining chips in return for promises which weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on.

The subsequent fall of the USSR was toasted by ‘muscular’ liberals and Trotskyites alike, but older and wiser heads knew that with no real counterbalance to US power we were heading for perilous waters. I always remember reading an article by the conservative commentator and staunch anti-communist Peregrine Worsthorne, in the Sunday Telegraph from around this time in which he said that in time people might well look back at the Cold War with some nostalgia as a period of relative peace and stability. He was absolutely right.

With no Soviet Union around to keep them in check The Project for a New American Century crowd got going. The result was two decades of wars and ‘liberal interventions’ which killed millions, hugely boosting the cause of terrorism and leading to a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions. It’s obvious none of this would have occurred if the USSR had still existed, but of course, in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy,’ we weren’t supposed to say it.

Things have only changed in recent years, as Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, has re-emerged as a global player and a counterweight to US imperialism. Syria is the first place since the end of the old Cold War where the ambitions of US neocons have been thwarted. Aleppo will hopefully prove to be their Stalingrad.

When we look back at the events of October 1962, is that it’s clear the US only cedes ground when it fears what the other side can threaten it with. To get Uncle Sam to stop being such an obnoxious bully, you have to throw or threaten to throw a hedgehog at his pants, to use Khrushchev’s memorable phrase. Being nice, like Gorbachev was, only gets you trampled on.

Gaddafi, like Saddam, surrendered his weapons program and was rewarded with a bayonet up his anus and the cackling laughter of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Milosevic generously hosted ’The Balkans Bull’ Dick Holbrooke offering him his best slivovitz, and ended up being denied the proper medical treatment during his US-instigated show trial at The Hague.

Kim Jong-un, by contrast, tests missiles for fun and shows Washington the finger and his country hasn’t been bombarded. He’s clearly studied closely what happened fifty-five years ago and also since 1990.

Khrushchev’s decision to send missiles to Cuba, a country under genuine threat of invasion, was not only legal but also wise. Far from endangering the peace, it actually made war less likely. The nuclear Armageddon that was feared in Cold War 1.0 didn’t occur because the US feared the Soviet response. In fact looking back at 1962 the only regret was that more missiles hadn’t arrived. Then Moscow would have been able to gain even more concessions.

Which brings us back to today. Could a new Russian deployment of missiles to Cuba as the Communist Party of Russia called for last year in response to the Pentagon’s plan to deploy HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) in Turkey be a means of obtaining the removal of NATO from Russia’s borders, and getting US hawks to pipe down?

Put another way, if there were already Russian missiles situated just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, do we think the US would be quite so belligerent in its foreign policy? Merely to ask the question is to answer it.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

JFK docs show US had plans to murder Cuban refugees — then blame Castro to start a war

By Brad Reed | Raw Story | October 27, 2017

Some of the newly released documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination reveal shocking details about plans developed by the United States government to depose the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

As Miami New Times reports, a set of documents related to Operation Mongoose — which was the Central Intelligence Agency’s plot to remove Castro from power — show that the U.S. at one point considered staging terrorist attacks against Cuban refugees that were either headed to or were already residing within the country.

A paper approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 outlined a plan to create a pretext for invading Cuba and overthrowing the Castro regime that involved killing refugees and then pinning the blame on Castro’s government.

“We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area,” the report read. “The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven within the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated).”

The report also suggested committing attacks on refugees already within the country, as well as “exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots” to make it look as though the Cuban government was attacking people trying to flee to Florida.

The report also said the staged attacks could coincide with “the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement” to help turn the tide of global opinion against the tiny communist nation.

Miami New Times notes that these plans were never carried out, although that doesn’t make their inclusion in a report signed off by the Joint Chiefs of Staff any less of a shock.

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Can’t Last Over Two Months’: JFK Files Reveal CIA Efforts to Kill Castro

Sputnik – October 27, 2017

The latest dump of newly-declassified documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy has sent researchers and journalists into a frenzy – but among the more interesting releases are files relating to the US Central Intelligence Agency’s long-running campaign to assassinate Fidel Castro.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) ultimately unsuccessful campaign to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro is well known.

Over the course of his 49-year-long reign (1959-2008), Fabian Escalante, retired chief of Cuban counterintelligence, estimates the agency targeted him on no fewer than 638 separate occasions: 38 times under President Dwight Eisenhower, 42 under John F. Kennedy, 72 under Lyndon B. Johnson, 184 under Richard Nixon, 64 under Jimmy Carter, 197 under Ronald Reagan, 16 under George H. W. Bush and 21 under Bill Clinton.

However, the newly-released trove of previously classified documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy have shed new light on some notorious schemes — and indicate Escalante’s estimate may have been incorrect.

Suits and Seashells

One document summarizes the CIA’s infamous plan to use James B. Donovan — the US lawyer and negotiator recently immortalized by the movie “Bridge of Spies” — to give Castro a contaminated diving suit as a gift, while the two negotiated the release of Bay of Pigs prisoners.

“It is known Castro likes to skindive. The plan is to dust the inside of the suit with a fungus producing madera foot, a disabling and chronic skin disease, and also contaminating the suit with tuberculosis bacilli in the breathing apparatus,” the paper said.

Donovan didn’t go through it, giving El Caballo an uncontaminated suit as a genuine gesture of friendship instead.

Another notorious plot documented in the files involved a “booby-trap seashell” that would be submerged in an area Castro liked to dive in — the eye-catching shell was to be loaded with explosives, and detonate once lifted. However, after investigation, it was determined “there was no shell in the Caribbean area large enough to hold a sufficient amount of explosive, which would be spectacular enough to attract the attention of Castro.”

Another scheme involved a CIA agent in Cuba who was in the process recruiting a high-ranking Cuban government official in 1963.The pair coincidentally met in Europe on the day of JFK’s assassination, and the agent offered the would-be recruit a ballpoint pen equipped with a hypodermic needle — when the pen’s lever was pushed, “[a] needle came out and poison could be injected into someone.”

The offer was turned down, because it would have required the killer to get too close to Castro, removing all chances of escape.

My Two Cents

One 1975 document describes an early-1960s CIA scheme, “Operation BOUNTY,” that established a system of financial rewards for Cubans who “[killed or delivered] alive known Communists.”

The CIA let Cubans know of the plan by dropping leaflets in the air, which stipulated the rules around Castroite bounty hunting — rewards would be paid upon presentation of a leaflet, along with “conclusive” proof of death, and the victim’s Communist party membership card.

Cubans would receive an amount commensurate with the ranking of the Communist they’d slain — up to US$100,000 for government officials and US$57,500 for “department heads.” However, Castro’s capture or execution, for reasons unclear, would only earn the perpetrator a measly two cents.

Evidently though, perhaps due to the Castro’s continued existence, it was decided in 1964 (according to an FBI memo) to offer Sicilian-American gangster Sam Giancana US$150,000 to hire “some gunman to go into Cuba” and kill the leader.

However, it was later felt the price was too high, with sums being reduced to US$100,000 for Fidel, and US$20,000 apiece for the metaphorical heads of Raul Castro and Che Guevara.

Ultimately though, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy shut down the plan.

He was outraged at the deal, as he was attempting to prosecute Giancana, and demanded the CIA “never undertake the use of mafia people again” without first checking with the Department of Justice, because “it would be difficult to prosecute such people in the future.”

Intelligence Failures

It’s not merely in the field of assassination the CIA failed.

Some of the files, dating to the early days of the revolution in 1959, suggest Castro’s government is not long for the world.

One document from June that year predicts an impending uprising against El Commandante.

“Conditions are getting so bad in Cuba a counterrevolution will occur from within Cuba… powerful interests, such as bankers, sugar institute, et cetera, are extremely dissatisfied,” the memo reads.

Another document from September, this time authored by the FBI, suggests Cuban exiles in the US are so determined to get rid of Castro he “cannot last more than two months.”

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US planned to ‘harass & attack’ Soviet personnel in Cuba – JFK files

RT | October 27, 2017

National Security Council meeting notes on the covert CIA program ‘Operation Mongoose’ have revealed the lengths to which the US was willing to go to remove Fidel Castro’s Cuban government.

The 1962 file, released Thursday as part of a cache of previously classified documents on the assassination of John F Kennedy, states that the NSC considered a plan of “attacking and harassing Soviet personnel within Cuba.” However, the document doesn’t provide any finer details on the proposal.

Members of the council also debated targeting the island nation’s crops by “introducing biological agents which would appear to be of natural origins” – an idea supported by then-National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy.

“Mr. Bundy said that he had no worries about any such sabotage which could clearly be made to appear as the result of local Cuban disaffection or of a natural disaster, but that we must avoid external activities such as release of chemicals, etc., unless they could be completely covered up,” the document reads.

Other suggested measures included distributing explosives to Cuban insurgents, using balloons to drop leaflets over the country, employing submarines to broadcast anti-government radio messages and “counterfeiting” operations.

The NSC also explored the possibility of infiltrating Cuban radio and TV channels but acting on advice from council member and former American broadcast journalist, Edward R Murrow, decided against the move.

“Mr Murrow explained the far-reaching reactions that the Cubans could mount against US radio stations, and said that he felt on balance it would not be profitable to provoke this kind of electronic warfare,” the minutes read.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since Kennedy was shot while traveling in an open-top limousine in Dallas in November 1963.

The report from the Warren Commission in September 1962 said that Lee Harvey Oswald had fired the shots from the Texas School Book Depository building. Oswald was later killed while in the custody of Dallas police by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner.

The US government released 2,800 classified files on the assassination of JFK Thursday night, with President Donald Trump saying that the public deserves to be “fully informed about all aspects of this pivotal event.”

After intense lobbying from the CIA, FBI and State Department, some documents remain unreleased. The files will now undergo a further six-month review. A new deadline has been set for their release in April 2018.

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Cuban missile crisis yields more secrets

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | October 17, 2017

History lends itself to re-interpretation when more facts become available or when ulterior motives creep in. There is a surfeit of the latter happening in India currently. Nothing is spared, even symbolically, in India’s history today – starting from Nehru’s legacy  to Taj Mahal to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. However, such revisionist history (‘historical negationism’) is interchangeable with fiction or folklore and on the whole it fails to stick. Historical reappraisals are an entirely different thing.

Based on new archival materials becoming available every now and then, a slice of Cold War era history that is still dissected and understood from new perspectives is the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The narrative that was dominant initially was that the Soviets surreptitiously tried to deploy inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to Cuba targeting the US and the attempt was nipped in the bud with the Kennedy administration staring down the then Kremlin boss Nikita Khrushchev through a display of naval blockade of the island.

As time passed, the informed sections of opinion came to know that it was a settlement negotiated through nerve-wracking back channel negotiations directly between the Oval Office and the Kremlin – even Fidel Castro was kept in the dark – that brought the crisis to an end, with the Soviets and the Americas rolling back their missile respective deployments to each other’s backyard – Cuba and Turkey. The Soviets, true to character, eschewed triumphalism so long as the strategic objective was realised, leaving the Americans free to claim ‘victory’.

However, what still remains less understood is that the crisis in 1962 was not just about the Soviet missile deployment. There was also alongside a full-bodied American agenda of ‘regime change’ in Cuba. Incredibly enough, the Pentagon had drawn up a detailed report on the overthrow of Fidel’s government by a military government headed by a US commander and military governor – something like the American occupation of Japan led by General Douglas MacArthur in September 1945. Proclamation No 1 that was to have been issued, which vested “all powers of government, executive, legislative, and judicial and all jurisdiction in the occupied territory and over its inhabitants” in the hands of the US military governor. The Proclamation stated:

  • All persons in the occupied territory (Cuba) will obey immediately and without question all enactments and orders of the military government. Resistance of the United States Armed Forces will be forcefully stamped out. Serious offenders will be dealt with severely. So long as you remain peaceable and comply with my orders, you will be subjected to no greater interference than may be required by military exigencies.

Also, leaflets were to be airdropped in their thousands all over Cuba advising that “U.S. armed forces will take temporary charge of your country.” They were to warn Cuban citizens to “remain at home” because “everything that moves is a target.”

Meanwhile, the Soviets too were factoring in a possible American invasion of Cuba, the fledgling socialist state in the Western Hemisphere, and therefore had deployed tactical battlefield nuclear weapons to Cuba. With all the formidable intelligence gathering capacity at the disposal of the United States, the Americans had no inkling that if they invaded Cuba, they would have had a nasty surprise. In sum, the crisis had every potential to escalate into an apocalyptic event. (I am reminded of the recent bullish claim by our air chief that he knows precisely where and how to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear assets in one sweeping Indian air strike.)

The above are facts culled out from documents that have been declassified in the US this week under the Freedom of Information Act (here). To my mind, the most fascinating document is the (redacted) post-mortem report on the entire episode of the Cuban Missile Crisis authored by the famous CIA spook Richard “Dick” Lehman who worked with 7 American presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush and was credited with creating the president’s daily intelligence briefing and regarded as one of 50 trailblazers who created the CIA. (For connoisseurs of Cold War history, Lehman’s recount of his 33 years in the world of intelligence archived in the CIA’s Library, here, makes fascinating reading.)

Much of what Lehman wrote will not come as stunning disclosure, but it is useful to know how carefully, meticulously, factually (backed with empirical evidence) an adversary’s strategic challenge needs to be studied and assimilated before the intelligence is taken to the desk of the political boss and gets morphed into decision-making. (I wonder how we fared in the run up to the recent Doklam standoff with China.) Read Lehman’s Top Secret report to the CIA Director, here.

October 17, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuba Has Treated Over 26,000 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Victims

teleSUR | August 1, 2017

Since 1990, Cuban medics have treated over 26,000 victims of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, scientific network Scielo reported in a recent study.

The areas of treatment, according to Scielo, were primarily focused on dermatology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

The report detailed that 84 percent of the total number of patients treated were children from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. The majority of people were treated in 1991, when Cuban medics attended to 1,415 patients.

Over 1,000 children received medical treatment annually from 1990 to 1995.

With its main treatment area located on Tarara beach, east of Havana, the main objective of the program was to provide comfortable lodging facilities and an overall healthy environment, where patients could be treated and partake in a rehabilitation plan.

Apart from medical facilities, the locale included schools, a cooking center, a theater, parks and recreation areas.

After 21 years of solidarity treatment, all free of charge, the medical program came to an end in 2011.

In the early hours of April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

More than 600,000 Soviet civilian and military personnel were drafted from across the country as liquidators to clean-up and contain the nuclear fallout.

Over 30 plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.

Over the past three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Trump Turns Back the Clock With Cold War Cuba U-Turn

By Ron Paul | June 19, 2017

Nostalgia seems to be very popular in Washington. While the neocons and Democratic Party hard-liners have succeeded in bringing back the Cold War with Russia, it looks like President Trump is determined to take us back to a replay of the Bay of Pigs!

In Miami on Friday, the president announced that he was slamming the door on one of President Obama’s few foreign policy successes: easing 50 years of US sanctions on Cuba. The nostalgia was so strong at Trump’s Friday speech that he even announced participants in the CIA’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in the audience!

President Trump said Friday that his new policy would be nothing short of “regime change” for Cuba. No easing of US sanctions on Cuba, he said, “until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”

Yes, this is the same Donald Trump who declared as president-elect in December that his incoming Administration would “pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments.” Now, in another flip-flop toward the neocons, President Trump is pursuing regime change in Cuba on the pretext of human rights violations.

While the Cuban government may not have a spotless record when it comes to human rights, this is the same President Trump who just weeks ago heaped praise on perhaps the world’s worst human rights abuser, Saudi Arabia. There, he even participated in a bizarre ceremony to open a global anti-extremism center in the home of state-sponsored extremism!

While President Trump is not overturning all of President Obama’s Cuba policy reforms – the US Embassy will remain open – he will roll back the liberalization of travel restrictions and make it very difficult for American firms to do business in Cuba. Certainly foreign competitors of US construction and travel companies are thrilled by this new policy, as it keeps American businesses out of the market. How many Americans will be put out of work by this foolish political stunt?

There is a very big irony here. President Trump says that Cuba’s bad human rights record justifies a return to Cuba sanctions and travel prohibitions. But the US government preventing Americans from traveling and spending their own money wherever they wish is itself a violation of basic human rights. Historically it has been only the most totalitarian of regimes that prevent their citizens from traveling abroad. Think of East Germany, the Soviet Union, and North Korea. The US is not at war with Cuba. There is no reason to keep Americans from going where they please.

President Trump’s shift back to the bad old days on Cuba will not have the desired effect of liberalizing that country’s political environment. If it did not work for fifty years why does Trump think it will suddenly work today? If anything, a hardening of US policy on Cuba will prevent reforms and empower those who warned that the US could not be trusted as an honest partner. The neocons increasingly have President Trump’s ear, even though he was elected on promises to ignore their constant calls for war and conflict. How many more flip-flops before his supporters no longer recognize him?

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 1 Comment

US-led coalition air raids breach Syria sovereignty: Cuba

Press TV – January 18, 2017

Cuba has denounced US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria, saying they violate the Arab country’s sovereignty as they are not permitted by Damascus.

Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Humberto Rivero made the criticism during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday.

“We demand the cessation of the violations of Syrian sovereignty and the foreign military presence without the consent and the coordination of operations with the Syrian government, the only legitimately elected authority in the country,” Rivero said.

He further condemned the “politicization” of the crisis in Syria and “the tampering of the humanitarian crisis and the suffering” of people in the Middle Eastern country.

Those who are “supplying weapons, money and patronage to terrorist groups are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and the humanitarian situation,” the Cuban diplomat said, expressing his opposition to “the promotion of an interventionist agenda” in Syria.

The US-led coalition has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.

The US Air Force is also carrying out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to militants fighting against the pro-government forces in Syria.

UN chief optimist on ‘conflict freeze’

Separately on Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the consequences of the Syria crisis had become “too dangerous.”

Speaking in a briefing at the UN office in the Swiss city of Geneva, Guterres stressed that the conflict had fueled instability in the Middle East region and terrorist attacks across the globe.

Touching on the upcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, the UN chief further expressed hope that the discussions could “lead towards a consolidation of the ceasefire and a freeze in the conflict.”

The cessation of hostilities took effect on December 30, following an agreement between Syria’s warring parties.

Mediated by Russia and Turkey with the support of Iran, the truce is the first of its kind that has been largely holding in Syria for almost three weeks now. Earlier attempts by the US to broker such a long-lasting ceasefire had failed.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Guterres underlined that the success of the Syria talks could “help create the conditions for a political process” regarding the Syria crisis.

The Astana talks, which are scheduled to be held on January 23, were brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.

January 18, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama extends national emergency on Iran

Press TV – January 14, 2017

US President Barack Obama has declared the continuation of his country’s national emergency against Iran, claiming that despite full commitment to its nuclear deal with the six world powers, the Islamic Republic still poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to America.

The outgoing president informed Congress of his decision in a letter on Friday, saying that the national emergency, which was declared on March 15, 1995, “is to continue in effect beyond March 15, 2017.”

The National Emergencies Act requires the president to extend a national emergency within 90 days of its anniversary date, before it is automatically terminated.

Obama admitted in his letter that Iran had delivered on its commitments pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a landmark nuclear deal that was struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany — on July 14, 2015.

Under the landmark deal, which entered into force on January 16 last year, Iran undertook to put restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against the country.

“Since Implementation Day, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has repeatedly verified, and the Secretary of State [John Kerry] has confirmed, that Iran continues to meet its nuclear commitments pursuant to the JCPOA,” Obama said in his notice.

“However, irrespective of the JCPOA, which continues to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is and remains exclusively peaceful, certain actions and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the outgoing president added.

In November, Obama extended a separate national emergency against Iran, which was originally declared by former US President Jimmy Carter on November 14, 1979.

He also extended the state of emergency with respect to Libya, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela.

A state of emergency gives the US president special powers, including the ability to seize property, summon the National Guard and hire and fire military officers at will.

The state of emergency also forms the basis for most US sanctions against other countries.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times’s Biased Obituary of Fidel Castro

By Matt Peppe | Just The Facts | November 27, 2016

After Fidel Castro passed away Friday night at 90 years old, the obituaries written about him in the American press typified the U.S. government propaganda used for decades to demonize Castro and obscure the tremendous social and humanitarian advances that the Cuban Revolution was able to achieve in the face of unrelenting interference, subversion and destabilization. None were more over-the-top in their bias than the obituary in the New York Times.

A mere 54 words, the lede paragraph contains an astonishing amount of misinformation and innuendo:

“Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959”

It’s hard to imagine any Western leader being called a “fiery apostle.” The phrase suggests Castro was driven by an irrational, religious mission to undertake revolution, rather than having resorted to armed resistance as a last resort after the possibility of nonviolent opposition through political means was eliminated. In 1952, as Castro was favored to win a seat in the House of Representatives, Fulgencio Batista promptly cancelled the upcoming elections as it became clear he would not be able to hold power in a free and fair vote. Only after this did Castro and others start to organize a guerilla resistance in order to prevent rule by a military dictatorship. Calling him a “fiery apostle of revolution” is reductionist and Manichean.

The second part of the sentence is easily disprovable. The Cold War was well underway and active in the Western Hemisphere long before the Revolution came to power in 1959. Five years earlier, the CIA, at the behest of the United Fruit Company and working in conjunction with Congress and the White House, supported the overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected progressive President Jacobo Arbenz by the Guatemalan military. The reason was summed up by Senator George Smathers of Florida, who was quoted in an article in the CIA’s professional journal, Studies in Intelligence, saying: “In all candor, we must admit that the democratic nations of the Western Hemisphere could not permit the continued existence of a Communist base in Latin America, so close to home.”

Aside from misrepresenting the Cold War timeline, the idea that it was Castro who was responsible for Cold War tensions with the United States is laughable. Castro immediately reached out to the U.S. government after taking power in 1959, and even visited the country four months later. Upon arriving he was stood up by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who decided to play golf instead meeting with Castro. The next year, Eisenhower would cancel the sugar quota Cuba depended on for export revenue, provoking Cuba to exercise its sovereign right to nationalize U.S. properties. In return, the U.S. government prohibited delivery of oil to the island, which led to Cuba seeking oil from the Soviet Union.

“and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader”

It is strange that Castro’s commitment not to compromise on the sovereignty of Cuba and its people would be seen as remarkable enough to draw attention to it so prominently. Imagine a Russian obituary to Ronald Reagan stating that he defied the Soviet Union. Such a statement presumes that the natural state of affairs would be subservience to the dictates of a foreign power. Americans would find this notion absurd.

“bedeviling 11 American presidents”

This is one way of stating that Castro survived more than 600 assassination attempts authorized by multiple U.S. executives and resisted their criminal economic war that sought “to bring about hunger, desperation” and “hardship” and to this day continues to deny food and medicine to children.

“and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war”

A year and a half prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the CIA directed a mercenary invasion of Cuba that failed spectacularly after it was quickly repelled. Understanding that another invasion was imminent, Castro sought nuclear missiles from the Soviet Union because he believed it would possibly be the only deterrent to another U.S. attack. Meanwhile, the United States had nuclear missiles positioned across Eastern Europe at the Soviet Union. When Kennedy protested to the Soviets, Khrushchev offered to withdraw the missiles before they reached Cuba if the U.S. would likewise withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey and promise not to invade Cuba. Kennedy said this would “look like a very fair trade” to any “rational man.” Yet, he was still not satisfied and instead of accepting it decided to engage in a game of chicken that could easily have resulted in a nuclear holocaust. To pin responsibility on Fidel Castro for the escalation of this situation is a gross distortion.

“died on Friday. He was 90.”

This I don’t take issue with.

The rest of the obituary is riddled with other inaccuracies and rhetorical flourishes that all predictably echo decades worth of U.S. government propaganda.

The Times claims Castro “ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl.” In reality, Fidel resigned his position as the President of State in 2006. He did not personally hand power to his brother in a dictatorial display of nepotism. Raúl was at the time Vice President, having been elected in the process stipulated by the Cuban Constitution. Likewise under the Constitution, as Vice President he assumed the role of the Presidency upon the resignation of the current President. No different than how succession would work in the United States.

The piece goes on to make unfounded claims of Castro’s self-aggrandizement (“he believed himself to be the messiah of his fatherland”) and launch evidence-free smears about his abuse of power (“he wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence”).

No one in recent history has been the subject of such vitriolic and politically biased propaganda emanating from the U.S. government as Fidel Castro. It is unsurprising that the self-declared paper of record in the U.S. would replicate the same disingenuous rhetoric rather than attempt to objectively assess the life of undoubtedly the most important individual of the 20th century based on documented facts placed in historical context.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Myriad ways CIA tried and failed to assassinate Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

RT | November 26, 2016

The father of the Cuban Revolution remains unbeaten by his foes even in death. We look over the most dramatic assassination plots on El Comandante – from character-assassinations by way of LSD, to Italian mobsters, tuberculosis wetsuit, and exploding cigar.

“If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal,” Castro is famously quoted as saying. Cuba’s ex-intelligence chief Fabian Escalante – the person tasked with guarding Fidel’s life – puts the number of attempts at 638. The man also claimed to Reuters in a 2010 interview that the John F. Kennedy assassination could well have been an attempt to expedite the process of removing Castro from power: the American president, some said, was not doing enough. Of course, by the time of Kennedy’s 1963 shooting death in Dallas, Texas, there had already been numerous attempts on Castro’s life – intended to bolster Kennedy’s own reputation back home as a strong president, with his administration exerting great pressure on the CIA to take care of it. It is fitting then to start at the beginning.

1) Getting the Mafia to do it 

When a sizable cache of classified CIA documents, amicably called ‘Family Jewels,’ was finally released in 2007, Cuban communists felt a sense of vindication, finally gaining the ability to publicly accuse the United States government of what they claimed was already common knowledge.

In the summer of 1960, the CIA recruited former FBI agent Robert Maheu. He became the go-between from the agency to two prominent Italian gangsters on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List – Santo Trafficante of the Miami Syndicate, and Salvatore Giancana – Al Capone’s successor in Chicago. They were gotten hold of by way of Las Vegas mobster Johnny Roselli. A payment of $150,000 was on the table. According to the declassified documents, Giancana suggested using poisoned pills – six of them. But despite gaining access to officials inside the Cuban government, the plan had been unsuccessful, and was later scrapped in the run-up to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. It is said the agency was able to retrieve all the poison pills.

The closest the Americans got to killing Castro was with a poisoned chocolate milkshake, Escalante claimed to Reuters. According to the 2007 documents, another batch of poison was delivered through the Mafia in 1963 in a bottle of Bayer aspirin pills. An opposition group, it was believed, had a good chance. But the plot failed when a disguised waiter did not manage to lace Castro’s milkshake in the cafeteria of the then-Hilton Hotel (now Havana Libre), as the pill got stuck in the freezer – where it was hidden – and broke apart when the assassin attempted to dislodge it from the wall.

2) Contaminating an entire broadcast studio with LSD with the intention of eroding public trust

This was not just about spiking drinks or cigars. The CIA went all-out. After a failed attempt to embarrass El Comandante by having his beard fall out due to boots spiked with chemicals, the agency had opted for a box of cigars spiked with LSD. The plan was to have Castro burst into laughter during a televised interview, thus subjecting him to ridicule in the public eye. But it was not just cigars. The CIA planned to lace the entire studio. This plot was not implemented, but was high in the running for ways to spark a national uprising against Castro.

3) Tuberculosis-laced scuba gear that followed the exploding sea shell 

Fidel Castro © Alberto Korda

Fidel Castro © Alberto Korda

The CIA had back-paddled on another of its ingenious plans to kill Castro, leading to the poisoned scuba gear idea. The agency knew the revolutionary was an avid diver. The plan had been to attract El Comandante with a sea shell practically impossible to miss, having been painted in colors bright enough to attract him. Castro would swim closer to inspect it, whereupon a lethal amount of explosives would detonate. But the idea was aborted due to impracticality, the declassified documents claimed. So the spies went the more practical way: lacing Castro’s scuba gear with tuberculosis to trigger a deadly skin disease. The man who was supposed to give Castro the suit had opted to give him an ordinary one, it turned out.

4) Evolution of the poison cigar – the exploding cigar

According to a Saturday Evening Post report on November 4, 1967, a CIA agent had approached a New York cop with the idea of handing Castro an exploding cigar during a UN meeting. That was reportedly after the plan to poison the cigar had been abandoned. This was despite the poison having already been injected into the cigar, with the CIA dismissing the person tasked with carrying the plan out in the final stages.

However, the exploding-cigar plan also failed due to the double agent changing his mind at the last instant.

5) Femme fatale 

One of Castro’s many lovers – CIA informant Marita Lorenz, was also tasked with poisoning Castro in a daring operation involving a secret unit tasked with the assassination – Operation 40. According to the FBI, Lorenz had become a “contract agent” for the CIA, and willingly accepted the task of assassinating him following a miscarriage or an abortion – a story she told in 1959. Castro’s reaction to her not having the child had reportedly enraged her so much, she had eagerly taken up the task. And so she met with CIA double agent Frank Sturgis in 1960, who had handed her a bottle of poison pills.

Lorenz was to drop one into her lover’s drink, containing enough poison to kill him within 30 seconds. But as with the countless other attempts, it did not succeed because Lorenz herself could not go through with it. The mission was wrought with pitfalls. According to Ann Louise Bardoch’s ‘Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana,’ Lorenz recalled that “They said, ‘we want you to take him out.’” But, “I knew the minute I saw the outline of Havana I couldn’t do it.”

Even then, she had made the mistake of stashing the pills in her pot of cold cream, in fear of being discovered by customs. The substance had stuck to the pills, and Lorenz couldn’t unmix the two. As she attempted to flush the pills down the toilet, Castro –who had got wind of the plot – walked in with a cigar. He removed his handgun from the holster, and handed it to Lorenz with the words: “Did you come to kill me?” According to Lorenz, he handed her the gun and puffed on his cigar with his eyes closed.

“He made himself vulnerable because he knew I couldn’t do it. He still loved me and I still loved him.”

She feared the CIA would kill her for being with Castro after the foiled assassination attempt. Upon her return to Miami, Lorenz never again met with Castro. Later, however, she had a daughter with another Latin American military leader, Venezuela’s Marcos Perez Jimenez.

According to Escalante, it was the Cuban revolutionary’s vigilance and the efforts of his security apparatus that kept him alive all those years. Numerous books have been written on the matter.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

40 Years After CIA Terrorist Bombs Cuba Plane, Still No Justice

Protesters demand extradition of Luis Posada Carriles.

By Teresa Gutierrez – teleSUR – October 2016

Forty years ago, on October 6, 1976, Cubana Flight 455 on its way from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed shortly after takeoff, killing 73 people, including the national fencing team of Cuba.

In what was immediately seen as a terrorist act, most in the international community joined Cuba in denouncing the horrific act.

In 2011, declassified CIA documents showed that one of the key figures in this terrorist attack was Luis Posada Carriles, a right-wing Cuban who had fled the island after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

The documents revealed that it was Posada Carriles, now 88, who had planned the 1976 bombing. He had already gained experience terrorizing the Cuban people as a participant in the failed CIA-orchestrated Bay of Pigs assault in 1961.

Peter Kornbluh, author of the book, “Back Channel to Cuba,” and a former researcher at the National Security Archive of George Washington University, said in 2011 that the declassified documents “again brings up the issue of how an international terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles can live happily ever after in Miami.”

This point demonstrates that the Oct. 6 anniversary should not only be remembered, it should be reflected upon.

The 1976 attack highlights U.S. imperialism’s decades-long war of sabotage against the Cuban Revolution. Despite a thawing in U.S.-Cuba relations, this war has not subsided.

A free man, Posada Carriles moved to Venezuela in the early 80’s where he was eventually jailed for his acts of terror against Cuba. But he escaped in 1985 and resumed plotting against Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro.

In this period, he was also instrumental in plotting against the revolutionary government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua, working as a coordinator for the contras who were fighting a war backed by the U.S. government.

Posada Carriles bragged to the New York Times in 1998 that he had been responsible for the 1997 hotel bombings targeting Cuba’s tourist industry that killed an Italian tourist, saying the man just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Posada Carriles later recanted his story.

The New York Times wrote in 1998, “Mr. Posada was schooled in demolition and guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960s. In a series of tape-recorded interviews … Posada said the hotel bombings and other operations had been supported by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa … was embraced at the White House by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.”

The CANF recieved millions of dollars of U.S. tax-payer money to carry out its dirty war against Cuba for decades, according to declassified documents.

Posada Carriles was again arrested in 2000 for possession of explosives in Panama and charged with plotting to assassinate the Cuban leader at the Peoples’ Summit taking place at the University of Panama. Soon after he went into hiding.

When Posada Carriles resurfaced in Miami in 2005, the U.S. government refused to extradite him to Cuba or Venezuela to face judicial proceedings for his crimes.

In early 2011, Posada Carriles was finally put on trial in El Paso, Texas—not for his many terrorist acts—but for immigration fraud and obstruction of a proceeding.

He was charged with lying to an immigration judge about his involvement in the 1997 bombings and about how he entered the U.S. in 2005.

U.S. prosecutors presented evidence that Posada Carriles played a major role in carrying out bombings in Cuba. Many expected convictions on at least some of these charges but the jury dumbfounded prosecutors with a complete acquittal.

Ricardo Alarcon, a long-time Cuban leader and at the time, the president of the national assembly, told AP, “The stupid and shameful farce is over.”

Venezuela’s government also denounced the trial as “theater,” saying Washington continued to harbor a mass murderer.

Alarcon had intimate and deep knowledge of the farce that is the U.S. judicial system. He had been a leading advocate of the Cuban Five and a principle strategist for their freedom.

The Cuban Five were Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez. They were arrested by the U.S. government in Miami in 1998 and falsely accused of committing espionage conspiracy against the U.S. and other related charges.

They were convicted in a federal court in 2001 and spent over 15 years in jail, labeled by the U.S. government and media as terrorists.

But the Five were in fact counter-terrorists, heroes who were willing to sacrifice their lives, leave their beloved families and homeland to protect Cuba from U.S. aggression. They worked to stop terror and aimed to defend Cuba from the kind of aggression Posada Carriles and his CIA cohorts carried out.

The Five reflect a spirit of justice and peace and to this day—having returned to their beloved country—continue to inspire all those who yearn for a better world.

As long as the likes of Posada Carriles are free to walk the streets of Florida, Cuba must do everything it can to defend itself from U.S. terror.

As long as the U.S. continues to occupy Guantanamo, the Cuban Revolution must be ready to defend itself, despite President Barack Obama’s dubious declarations.

A Salon magazine article in 2008 raised this question: “The coddled ‘terrorists’ of South Florida: Anti-Castro Cuban exiles who have been linked to bombings and assassinations are living free in Miami. Does the U.S. government have a double standard when it comes to terror?”

The answer is yes—a thousand times yes.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment