guest column by Jacob G. Hornberger
originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation
The U.S. government’s 116-year-old obsession with controlling Cuba has suddenly manifested itself again. Yesterday, the Associated Press, based on secret records that it obtained, reportedthat USAID, the federal agency that distributes billions of dollars in U.S.-taxpayer funded foreign aid and which has long served as a front organization for the CIA, has been engaged in a super-secret, covert operation to effect regime change in Cuba.
The USAID scheme involved illegally securing the cell phone numbers of tens of thousands of Cubans, most of whom were presumed to be young people. Then, using a series of several private front companies, which is a classic CIA modus, they established a twitter-type service that enabled U.S. officials to feed messages to the recipients. The plan called for feeding messages that would incite young people to rise up with mass spontaneous protests against the Cuban communist regime.
Now, one might ask: What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with the U.S. government’s helping the Cuban people achieve their freedom?
Well, for one, the freedom of the Cuban people is the furthest thing from the minds of U.S. officials. Their objective has always been — and continues to be — control over Cuba. They couldn’t give a whit over whether the Cuban people are free or not, any more than they gave a whit over whether the Chilean, Guatemalan, and Iranian people were free after the CIA instigated regime change in those countries.
What the U.S. national-security state wants in Cuba is the same thing it wants in every country it targets for regime change. Its aim is to replace the independent ruler — that is, the ruler who refuses to be subservient to the U.S. Empire — with a pro-U.S. dictator, preferably military, who will do what he’s told and, equally significantly, be empowered to do whatever he wants to his own citizens in the attempt to retain control over the country. A good example was the brutal pro-U.S. Cuban dictator who came before Castro–Fulgencio Batista, who was dutifully subservient to the U.S. Empire. U.S. officials loved him.
Look at Egypt. The U.S. government has long supported the Egyptian military regime that has ruled the country. U.S. national-security state officials couldn’t care less about the fact that the democratically elected president of the country was ousted from power in a coup or that dissenters and opponents of the military tyranny are now being murdered, incarcerated, and tortured. As long as the Egyptian tyrants remain loyal to the United States, they will continue to receive U.S.-taxpayer-provided cash and weaponry and, equally important, will be free to continue doing whatever they want to establish “order and stability” within Egypt, including killing as many “terrorists” and “communists” as they deem necessary.
For that matter, ask the Cubans and the Filipinos. Go back to the Spanish American War in 1898, when the United States made its turn toward empire. The U.S. government came to the assistance of Cubans and Filipinos who were suffering under the rule of the Spanish Empire. The Cuban and Filipino revolutionaries naively thought that the U.S. government was interested in helping them secure their independence and their freedom.
Not so, as they soon learned! What the U.S. government wanted was an empire, just like the Spanish Empire, and its first possessions were to be Cuba and the Philippines. Thus began decades of U.S. rule over Cuba and the Empire’s first imperial base at Guantanamo Bay. The Filipinos, who decided to fight against U.S. imperial rule, were ultimately defeated on the battlefield, after losing hundreds of thousands of people at the hands of U.S. troops. By the way, I wonder how many Americans realize that that was why the U.S. government had troops in the Philippines under General MacArthur, thousands of miles away from American shores, who were captured soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Ask yourself: What would the Castro regime had done to any of those young people if the regime had caught them with those text messages from the USAID exhorting them to rise up against the government? Most likely they would have treated them the same way that the U.S. national security state treats suspected terrorists and traitors: Arrest, military detention, torture, and execution.
But does the U.S. national-security state care about that? Not one iota. For them, foreign citizens are nothing but pawns, and sometimes pawns must be sacrificed for the greater good of the U.S. national-security state.
The fact is, as I pointed out in my article “The U.S. Government Should Butt Out of Venezuela,” the U.S. government has no business interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries — not with cash, armaments, invasions, assassinations, terrorism, or any other regime-change tactic that U.S. officials have embraced.
If it really wanted to help foreigners, U.S. officials would embrace the libertarian principle of open borders, thereby providing a sanctuary for people escaping tyranny, oppression, or starvation. Instead, the U.S. position is: “The Empire will furnish you with U.S.-taxpayer money, weaponry, or secret tweets, but don’t even think of coming here to live with us. We don’t love you that much! We just want our dictator to rule over you rather than a dictator that is independent of the U.S. Empire.”
Ultimately, the responsibility for dealing with tyranny and oppression lies with the people in the countries where those conditions exist. They have to decide whether it’s worth it to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones in peaceful protests against brutal rulers, or civil disobedience, or even violent overthrow of the government. Obviously, the more brutal the regime, the greater the risk of incarceration, torture, death. As Thomas Jefferson pointed out in the Declaration of Independence, people will often put up with a lot of tyranny before they will engage in revolution, owing to the high costs that almost always come with revolution.
People who live under democratic dictatorships have an obvious advantage over people who suffer under totalitarian dictatorships. Those suffering under totalitarian dictatorships have but one choice: submit or revolt. People suffering under democratic dictatorships have another option — wait until the next election to oust the dictator through the ballot box.
In fact, that’s really the only advantage that democracy provides. It certainly doesn’t ensure freedom, as so many people in Latin America, the United States, and elsewhere around the world have learned. All it does it provide people with a peaceful means of ousting regimes and replacing them with others.
Ultimately, however, as I also pointed out in my article “The U.S. Government Should Butt Out of Venezuela,” what happens inside foreign countries is up to the citizens of those countries and any private foreigners who want to help. The best thing that Americans could do is lead the world to freedom by example. A good place to start would be by restoring a constitutional republic to our land by dismantling and repealing America’s Cold War dinosaur entities known as the national-security state and the U.S. Empire.
What better way to bring an end to the U.S. government’s long, sordid obsession with regime change? It would be the best thing that could ever happen to the American people and the people of the world.