Bush’s Cuba Blunder

by Michael Colby

When it comes to what the Bush administration dubs "rogue states," its foreign policy goals look something like this: fabricate the evidence and then rattle the war sabers.

Take, for example, the current situation with Cuba. In yet another move to appease its far-right base of supporters, the Bush team blundered big-time last week by letting loose with the unsubstantiated assertion that Fidel Castro’s Cuba was developing biological weaponry for both themselves and other "rogue states."

The Bush administration official delivering this accusation was John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. And, not surprisingly, Bolton made his unsubstantiated accusations in a speech before the Heritage Foundation, an ultra-conservative research group. While the collective hearts of the Heritage Foundation members fluttered with excitement by Bolton’s speech, the world community got yet another look into the Bush team’s sloppy foreign policy decision making. Appeasing your base of supporters is one thing, but fabricating evidence and shoveling it out for the world to see is brazenly reckless, particularly in a world made fragile by lunatics, fanatics, and lies.

Interestingly, it was former president Jimmy Carter who pulled the plug on this bit of Cuban propaganda. While in Cuba this week Carter made it clear that he was given no evidence that the Bush administration’s accusation had any validity whatsoever.

"There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised," Carter said to an audience in Cuba regarding his discussions with the Bush State Department. "I asked them myself on more than one occasion if there was any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information with any country on earth that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts on intelligence was no.”

Even Secretary of State Colin Powell felt compelled to backpedal a bit from Undersecretary Bolton’s assertions. "We didn’t say it actually had some weapons," Powell said, "but it has the capacity and capability to conduct such research.”

Carter has taken a beating from the right on television and radio news and talk programs over the last couple of days as a result of his trip to Cuba. The right wing loves its political boogeymen and Castro has played that role for them for decades, no matter that much of the venom spewed about Castro is far from the realm of truth. Anti-communists seem to die a lot slower than communism did.

It’s also interesting to note that, once again, Powell is out of the loop with his own State Department when it comes to the Bush administration’s propaganda wars against "rogue states." Powell, as you’ll recall, has been the lone voice of near-reason with the Bush team1s red-hot rhetoric with regards to Hussein. When the right-wing ideologues were beginning to beat the drums of war against Iraq late last year it was Powell who provided the wet blanket by pointing out the holes and dangers in the arguments of those wanting to rush into another Gulf war. Now, with those same ideologues beating up their favorite enemy commie, Castro, Powell is once again forced to tippy-toe through some dangerous propaganda.

Finally, let’s not forget that George W. has apparently learned a lot from his dad, who sat atop an administration emitting wholesale fabrications when the target de jour was Iraq. During that Bush administration it was stories about babies being pulled from incubators, as well as the standard accusations of chemical and biological weapons, that whipped the nation into a frenzy and effectively made Saddam Hussein public enemy number one. By the time the public learned that the incubator stories were largely fabrications concocted by high-priced Washington lobbying firms, the American people either didn1t care or didn1t want to be bothered by the truth.

Bush is playing a dangerous game of foreign policy politics, a game that undermines U.S. credibility, foments more hostility toward us, and panders to the right wing in the short term while threatening world security in the long term. I’d like to say that Bush should know better but, then again, he is the president who championed his sophomoric "Bush Doctrine" which idiotically paints the world in two convenient shades: white if you’re with us, and black if you’re against us.

Michael Colby is the editor of Wild Matters. He can be contacted at mcolby@wildmatters.org.

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