-- The Man Who Shook the World --
Considering the deluge of bitterness and pique oozing from many in the U.S. political establishment in response to the death recently of Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, even some folks with more than a passing knowledge of key world events and history in general, might've been left wondering what all the fuss was about. Castro -- a man as reviled as he was revered -- led the 1959 Cuban revolution, one of the most portentous tipping points in the Cold War, if not in modern history.
The following might serve at the outset to give such people an idea as to why his passing provoked such a bilious response from Washington. As Wayne Smith, a former U.S. diplomat and ambassador to Cuba in the early years of Castro's reign under president Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower (later President Jimmy Carter's Cuban representative), once memorably opined,
'Cuba seems to have the same effect on US administrations as the full moon has on werewolves.'
Now Smith might've said this almost three decades ago, but as the reaction to the Cuban leader's death indicated, this reality persists, despite the recent thaw in official relations initiated by President Obama.
To be sure, there's rarely been a shortage of countries that could lay claim to having this transformative effect on the collective psyche of U.S. political establishment, Iran being a prime example. But it is Cuba that stands out as an exemplar, and so much of that has to do with Castro himself.
Put simply, amongst the iconic revolutionary's many talents was an unerring ability to get up Uncle Sam's nose, and get away with it so often for so long. Suffice to say, since they seem to have inherited the same basic instincts as their forbears, the bulk of present day Washington's "Werewolves" must've been privately 'howling at the moon' as it were at the Comandante's demise.
Castro was the only world leader who resisted U.S. hegemony and lived to tell the tale as it were, surviving by some accounts more than 630 separate assassination attempts over decades. Indeed if the individual who came up with the expression "terminate with extreme prejudice" had Fidel in mind, it would hardly be surprising.
Such is the animus towards all things Cuba and Castro, president George Bush refused his offer to provide teams of doctors to assist the Hurricane Katrina relief effort 2005, one of America's worst modern natural disasters. And with folks like Newt Gingrich labeling Castro as "tyrant", and likewise president-elect Donald Trump dismissing the former Cuban leader as a "brutal dictator" (whilst also placing in doubt the future of the recent rapprochement with Cuba), it's clear that "animus" is still alive and kicking. For many, Castro's passing is unlikely to change this much. The Werewolves have long memories.