Fidel Advises Obama?

by SAUL LANDAU

Almost two months after the spill President Obama addressed the nation (June 15). He said he would “fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.” Not in my lifetime, I thought. Maybe not even in his.

“We will make BP pay for the damages their company has caused,” he swore. $20 billion? How much will BP pay for dead pelicans, turtles and sea otters? Compensate their relatives?  Can BP and co-conspirators – like Halliburton — compensate for the lives of 11 dead drill crew members?

Horrific man-made disasters call for strong leadership, not a consensus forger who wants approval. 57 days after the nation’s worst oil spill, he met with BP execs.

My friend Nelson Valdes told me: “This country needs someone with the skills of a Fidel,” meaning a take-charge person who views a crisis while simultaneously calculating how to organize and coordinate physical and human resources to deal with it.”

Yes, I thought. Fidel didn’t try to appease and compromise when right and wrong – imperial aggression and rich-poor gap — stared him in the face. Indeed, Fidel’s leadership centered on defining needs and then prescribing strategy to achieve them. In two decades he transformed health and literacy on the island.

Americans perceived Fidel delivering long speeches; Cubans heard explanations of political reality and mobilized to become actors in the drama of their lives– teachers at home, military liberators in southern Africa or medical missionaries in scores of countries. Fidel’s speeches often offered Cubans opportunities to rise above the banal. Compare Fidel’s 1960 entreaty to join the militia after an arms ship exploded (CIA suspected) in Havana Harbor, killing hundreds, to Bush’s post 9/11 counsel to Americans: go shopping and take the family to Disney world.

FDR showed how public participation becomes crucial in accomplishing policy goals, which Kennedy and Johnson applied (Peace Corps and Vista). Get citizens involved beyond casting an occasional vote for a lackluster candidate.

Imagine Fidel’s advice to Obama.

“First, order Attorney General Eric Holder to arrest and handcuff BP executives on TV, and personally walk them to the waiting paddy wagon. Charge them with manslaughter, crimes against Nature and conspiracy to cover up crimes — including their information and ads (which appeared daily in the NY Times) explaining their bogus clean-up plans.

“Stop being President Nice Guy. Don’t delegate authority to a new Mineral Management chief or vow to assemble experts and oil companies to study the problem. “Respond confidently to your people. They want you to control, not delegate authority or seek conciliation between powerless publics and mighty oil giants And drop ‘God’s help’ from the speeches unless you think geese will learn to play baseball!

“I would never have allowed profit-only fools to drill in dangerous waters. Remind people how in 2008 George W. Bush rescinded his father’s 1990 ban on deep water drilling, and assured everyone the oil companies possessed technology to assure absolute safety. Your PR people should replay endlessly clips of Palin, McCain, Romney and Giuliani chanting ‘Drill Baby Drill.’ Demand daily that your political enemies present their plans with specifics: when and how they’d solve the spill problem. Keep them on the spot.

“Deliver big speeches outdoors. Mobilize 5 million to fill Washington’s mall. At least 150 million TV watchers should tune in. Then say: ‘I have stopped dangerous drilling. I demand Congress pass a public transportation bill to render most car use obsolete within 20 years. I call on world leaders to wage planet-saving campaigns, to transition from unsustainable fossil fuel-based life based to one that harmonizes, not collides with Nature.

“Wait for applause. Then continue: ‘I am enlisting citizens to become members of a new militia, to ensure the greedy and irresponsible among us do not further damage our fragile habitat. The new 21st century begins today. Who will join me?’

“Keep calm as you did during the crisis, and think strategically. In fairness, you did not undergo decades of testing by a powerful enemy: The Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, countless assassination attempts and the Soviet demise.

“Develop powerful leadership ingredients. Unfortunately, even in Cuba medical science has not yet perfected the will and character transplants.

“I enclose a few of my words for your use:

‘…We are witnessing the depletion in barely two centuries of the hydrocarbons that it took nature 400 million years to create. Likewise, crucial non-renewable mineral resources required by the world economy are being depleted. At the same time, science has created the capacity to destroy the planet several times over in a matter of hours. The major contradiction of our times is precisely the capacity of the human species for self-destruction and its inability to govern itself. …The human being managed to raise its life possibilities to such limits as exceed its own capacity to survive, and in this battle they are consuming at an accelerated pace the raw materials available to them’.

“Patria o m….. oops, good luck!”

SAUL LANDAU is an Institute for Policy Studies Fellow. His FIDEL film is available on dvd (roundworldproductions.com)

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalences on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises