- News Analysis
- Special Reports
- Arts & Culture
In their need to defend the US occupation of Afghanistan, many Americans have cited the severe oppression of women in that desperate land and would have you believe that the United States is the last great hope of those poor ladies. However, in the 1980s the United States played an indispensable role in the overthrow of a secular and relatively progressive Afghan government, one which endeavored to grant women much more freedom than they’ll ever have under the current government, more perhaps than ever again. Here are some excerpts from a 1986 US Army manual on Afghanistan discussing the policies of this government concerning women: “provisions of complete freedom of choice of marriage partner, and fixation of the minimum age at marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men”; “abolished forced marriages”; “bring [women] out of seclusion, and initiate social programs”; “extensive literacy programs, especially for women”; “putting girls and boys in the same classroom”; “concerned with changing gender roles and giving women a more active role in politics”.
The overthrow of this government paved the way for the coming to power of an Islamic fundamentalist regime, followed by the awful Taliban. And why did the United States in its infinite wisdom choose to do such a thing? Mainly because the Afghan government was allied with the Soviet Union and Washington wanted to draw the Russians into a hopeless military quagmire — “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War”, said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser.
The women of Afghanistan will never know how the campaign to raise them to the status of full human beings would have turned out, but this, some might argue, is but a small price to pay for a marvelous Cold War victory.
Why does the mainstream media routinely refer to Cuba as a dictatorship? Why is it not uncommon even for people on the left to do the same? I think that many of the latter do so in the belief that to say otherwise runs the risk of not being taken seriously, largely a vestige of the Cold War when Communists all over the world were ridiculed for following Moscow’s party line. But what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship? No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is, if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money — secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba — would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?
Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; and that’s why it’s not the case. Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?
Is Cuba a dictatorship because it arrests dissidents? Thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. Many have been beaten by police and mistreated while incarcerated. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer. Since the Cuban revolution, the United States and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the US have inflicted upon Cuba greater damage and greater loss of life than what happened in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. (This is documented by Cuba in a 1999 suit against the United States detailing $181.1 billion in compensation for victims: the death of 3,478 Cubans and the wounding or disabling of 2,099 others. The Cuban suit has been in the hands of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations since 2001, a committee made up of all 15 members of the Security Council, which of course includes the United States, and which may account for the inaction on the matter.)
Cuban dissidents typically have had very close, indeed intimate, political and financial connections to American government agents. Would the US government ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.
As casually and as routinely as calling Cuba a dictatorship, the mainstream media drops the line into news stories that “Hezbollah [or Hamas, or FARC, etc.] is considered a terrorist group by the United States”, stated as matter-of-factly as saying that Hezbollah is located in Lebanon. Inclusion on the list limits an organization in various ways, such as its ability to raise funds and travel internationally. And inclusion is scarcely more than a political decision made by the US government. Who is put on or left off the State Department’s terrorist list bears a strong relation to how supportive of US or Israeli policies the group is. The list, for example, never includes any of the anti-Castro Cuban groups or individuals in Florida although those people have carried out literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the past few decades, in Latin America, in the US, and in Europe. As you read this, the two men responsible for blowing up a Cuban airline in 1976, taking 73 lives, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada, are walking around free in the Florida sunshine. Imagine that Osama bin Laden was walking freely around the Streets of an Afghan or Pakistan city taking part in political demonstrations as Posada does in Florida. Venezuela asked the United States to extradite Posada five years ago and is still waiting.
Bosch and Posada are but two of hundreds of Latin-American terrorists who’ve been given haven in the United States over the years. Various administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have also provided close support of terrorists in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, including those with known connections to al Qaeda. Yet, in the grand offices of the State Department sit learned men who list Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, along with Syria, Sudan and Iran. That’s the complete list.
Meanwhile, the five Cubans sent to Miami to monitor the anti-Castro terrorists are in their 12th year in US prisons. The Cuban government made the very foolish error of turning over to the FBI the evidence of terrorist activities gathered by the five Cubans. Instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI arrested the five Cubans (sic).
“Hall of Shamer: Clemens Indicted” — page one headline in large type about fabled baseball pitcher Roger Clemens charged with lying to Congress about his use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Of all the things that athletes put into their bodies to improve their health, fitness and performance, why are steroids singled out? Doesn’t taking vitamin and mineral supplements give an athlete an advantage over athletes who don’t take them? Should these supplements be banned from sport competition? Vitamin and mineral supplements are not necessarily any more “natural” than steroids, which in fact are very important in our body chemistry; among the steroids are the male and female sex hormones. Moreover, why not punish those who follow a “healthy diet” because of the advantage this may give them?
 Washington Post, August 19, 2010
 Associated Press, August 21, 2010
 Newsweek, July 13, 1992
 See chapter one of Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
 US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
 See Brzezinski’s Wikipedia entry
 See Anti-Empire Report of September 25, 2006, 3rd item, for more information about the Cuban election process
 For a detailed discussion of Cuba’s alleged political prisoners see article ‘Cuba and the Number of “Political Prisoners”‘, Huffington Post, August 24th 2010
 Rogue State, Chapter 9
 See State Department: www.state.gov/s/ct/c14151.htm
 The Examiner (Washington, DC), August 20, 2010