As you ponder the mystery of whether God chooses to act directly on human affairs, the case of Fidel Castro presents a challenging question: Why would God allow Castro to live 90 years, oppressing and brutalizing the Cuban people for 57 of those years?
The Cuban people may find a degree of liberation soon, or they may have to wait even longer. But one thing is clear: there would be no relief while Castro lived and ruled. There was only a steady escalation of tyranny in the old Soviet Union until Stalin died; the same with Mao Tse-tung and other totalitarian beasts and butchers.
JFK was very clear in his opinion of Fidel Castro. So were LBJ, Nixon, and Ford. Carter was, of course, an exception: he never met a totalitarian dictator he didn’t embrace. But then Reagan and Bush and Clinton renewed and maintained the bipartisan agreement that Fidel was a first-class bastard.
That was then, and this is now. Still-President Obama embraced Castro, recognized his gangster government, eliminated trade sanctions, and invited Americans to bring their cash to sunny Havana. He neglected to mention the political prisoners still languishing (ie, not yet shot) in Fidel’s island prison.
And his response to the dictator’s death notice was, well, somberly neutral:
“We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
The same could have been said of Hitler’s passing.
President-to-be Trump was somewhat less tactful:
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Still, Obama is surely correct: Historians will have to take some time to judge a legacy of “firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.” We certainly cannot judge!
But here is a piece of history that is less widely known but may still be relevant. In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Castro was extremely upset that the crisis was resolved without war. He implored his protector and nuclear muscleman Nikita Khrushchev to attack the US with atomic weapons. K turned him down, as gently as he could:
“In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy’s territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war. Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons.”
His buddy Che even bragged about it later:
“Here is the electrifying example of a people prepared to suffer nuclear immolation so that is ashes may serve as a foundation for new societies. [I wonder how many of the heroic human people know that they voted to immolate themselves?] When an agreement was reached whereby the atomic missiles were removed… we were not relieved or thankful…”
Think about this the next time you see some uneducated moron wearing a CHE shirt or hear some leftist buffoon pontificate on Castro’s many good deeds: They, alone in the entire world, actually WANTED to start a nuclear war that would have killed their own people!
If what Obama called “the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him” hadn’t been foiled by his Russian protector, we might have had a much more exciting 1962 and a lot less to write about since.
Much more on all this at the National Review blog “The Corner”, here. Also see, surprisingly, the PBS website for reference to a documentary they ran as part of “The Presidents”. Here is the entire Khrushchev letter.