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The Meeting in Trinidad

President Obama deserves credit for breaking the half-century-long taboo in American politics of dealing with Cuba, and meeting with Raul Castro, Cuba’s current leader. He also deserves credit for dealing in a friendly manner with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

But what is this crap about “talking with” our enemies or with countries that have been “hostile” towards us?

It is certainly be true that America doesn’t like Communism, and doesn’t like having properties owned by its citizens taken over, which happened in the wake of the Cuban revolution, but nationalization is a right that many sovereign nations have exercised in their national interest, and besides that, what has Cuba ever done that would show it to be an enemy of the US?

Oh, there were those missiles that Castro was allowing the former Soviet Union to set up on Cuba’s shores back in 1962, but then that was only a tit for tat, because the US had already put nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey, aimed at the Soviet Union, and arguably the purpose of the missiles going to Cuba was to force the US to remove the Turkish-based missiles.  In any event, Castro was acting less than two years after  the US had backed an invasion of his island by soldiers who were seeking to overthrow his government.

Cuba has never attacked the US, never threatened the US, and never in fact was an enemy of the US, nor is it an enemy today. You want hostile? How about the role the US played in helping to fund the backers of a coup against the elected government of President Chavez, and the Bush administration’s hasty recognition of the coup leaders as the new government after they captured and arrested President Chavez, in an embarrassing incident that eventually collapsed, with the popular restoration of Chavez to the Presidential Palace when rank and file soldiers refused to follow their right-wing leaders.

These are “enemies” or “hostile powers”?

What planet do our leaders, including President Obama, live on?

Even Nicaragua, against which the US fought a proxy war, using Nicaraguan Contra forces based in Honduras and Costa Rica, was only an enemy of the US in the sense that the US was hell-bent in the 1980s on overthrowing its elected government.  Nicaragua, except in the fevered minds of loopy right-wingers like Gen. John Singlaub and his Anti-Communist League, was never a threat to the US.

I’m happy that President Obama is willing to talk and make nice with the leaders of these three countries, but he hardly deserves much credit for doing what his predecessors should have done all along.

There is a hostile power in the Americas, but it is the US, which has a centuries-long history of meddling in and even overthrowing the elected  governments of South American countries (Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Guatemala, Brazil,  Haiti, etc.),  of propping up brutal fascist dictatorships like that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and of training vicious soldiers and police in the fine arts of torture and assassination at the School of the Americas.

Obama should drop the term “enemy” and “hostile power” from his lexicon. It just makes him look ridiculous.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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