Let's be clear: Castro is a dictator who has used horrific acts to hold onto power, and a democratic Cuba is in the long-term interests of the Cuban people, the United States and the world - that is not up for debate. But whether you agree with Castro's fundamental nationalist message about U.S. imperial ambitions or not, it's clear that he has been effective in using it to keep power. And thus, that begs a very important question: why is the Bush administration walking right into his trap?
Open today's New York Times, and you will see that the Bush administration is now publicly bragging that once Castro dies, America is planning for a full-on take over of Cuba. In one story, we find out that "Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, made it clear on Tuesday that the United States would take an active role in shaping events on the island if the Cuban leader dies." That is the kind of declaration easily interpreted/spun by anti-democratic forces in Cuba as no-holds-barred diplomat-ese for the very imperialism Castro has been warning his people about for the last half century.
In another story, we discover that the administration is now announcing that if Castro dies, "the United States would also send special monitors and advisers to Cuba in the weeks after a full transition began." In the wake of the Vietnam War, which infamously started out with U.S. military "advisers," again - this is clearly fodder that could be easily spun to confirm Castro's own message. And it is especially stupid and destructive to our long-term goals/credibitlity when, at the same time our government is haughtily strutting around making these proclamations, the White House is also saying "it viewed attempts by Venezuela or other countries to influence the transition in Cuba as unwarranted intervention."
The same thing goes in the situation with Cuba. The stupidest thing American officials can do is publicly walk into Castro's portrayal of our ambitions. By doing that, we are confirming the negative suspicions that many Cubans must have, considering they've been hearing about it over and over and over again for the last 50 years.
Here's the thing - obviously, it is in America's interest to see a truly democratic Cuba, and our government should support that wholeheartedly. However, the fact that the Bush administration is PUBLICLY walking into Castro's own well-honed message shows just how utterly arrogant and incompetent the people running our country really are. Our government is quite literally giving Castro (if he survives) and those around him fodder to say: "See, we told you so, so keep us in power, because we have been right." Put another way, the administration's arrogance could very well imperil a transition to democracy in Cuba, because it is very publicly giving anti-democratic forces in Cuba a rhetorical weapon to hang onto power.