It has recently been revealed that of the more than 70 million dollars assigned since 1995 to “promote democracy” in Cuba, half stayed in Miami where it went for such democrophilic uses as fur coats, crab preserves, video games, and DVD players. Members of Congress are indignant and call for better administrative oversight.
But wait a minute. Is it really better for the American and Cuban people if that money went without leakage to overthrowing the system with the best health care, education, and environmentally sustainable programs in the Americas? Isn’t embezzlement about the best use of those funds? At least it wouldn’t be violating international law if the “freedom fighters” strut their minks down Calle Ocho. Wouldn’t a video game be more useful than the same expenditures for administrative oversight of evil, and better entertainment for the émigré thugs than blowing up hotels in Havana ?
Generalize this principle: When the Pentagon buys $800 ashtrays, would we prefer more cluster bombs instead? The value of “just doing my job” depends on the job. Intelligence in the service of tyranny is no virtue, corruption in the organization of aggression is no vice. Courage in behalf of conquest is not honor. Steadfastness in faith-based bigotry is not Grace. Dyslexia in the proclamation of lies is not a failing.
More clam compote for Miami!
RICHARD LEVINS is the John Rock Professor of Population Sciences in the Department of Population and International Health at Harvard.