This is the third anniversary of the tragic U.S. invasion of Iraq. I think the very best reporting on this sad subject is currently coming from the greatly under-appreciated Michael Ware of Time magazine. No single reporterÂ has been more outspoken, more determined toÂ challenge the official mythologies.Â
I see no way out of Iraq in the short term. Even if an “out now” Democrat wins in 2008, I can’t believe that all troops will be out sometime before the next decade. This war, its impact on our global relations, its sheer cost, are all going to be noted by future historians as a debacle on the same scale as Vietnam.
I’m sorry to note that this is also the third anniversay ofÂ Cuba’s “black spring.”Â Three years ago today, the Cuban dictatorship rounded up 75 people accused of undermining the state. Given the usual kangaroo-court style of summary judgement, many were locked up for as much as 27 years. Some have been released. Many remain in jail under abysmal conditions. Their “crimes?” The usual sort of thing that lands you in jail in Fidel’s paradise: circulating banned books, opening informal lending libraries, publicly criticzing the regime etc. And, yes, some of them had a publicly known meeting with a U.S. diplomat– much the same way I and many others I have known have had meetings with Cuban diplomats in the U.S.
The San Jose Merc is one of the few papers to note this anniversary. And its report says that since the crackdown, human rights conditions continue to deteriorate in Cuba.
Pajamas Media also has a round-up of blog postingsÂ on the Cuban anniversary. All of the links are to conservative or right-wing blogs.Â
The reason is unfortunate. There are no liberal blogs marking this anniversay today. At least none that can be easily found.
I don’t believe for one moment that this owes to some sort of liberal “softeness” on Castro (though there’s certainly a sweet spot for him among the more stridently leftist folks).Â No, the silence on Cuba owes to something else: a smothering parochialism that has set down upon much of the liberal left and extinguished much more honorable traditions of internationalism. Liberals and progressives nowadays are defined more than anything by their sheer opposition to George Bush and no longer feel themselves part of a bigger cause — like, say, freedom.
For too many of them it’s a simple formula: Whatever Bush is for, I’m against.Â Period. Next question?
The result is a strange liberalish mirror-image of Buchananist isolationism: “I can’t be criticizing some foreign government I have no control over when I have to spend all my energy fighting the ills of my own government,” as some have crudely and previouslyÂ put it on this blog. Or, worse, “I’m not going to gang up on Fidel when we Americans have created such a horror in [fill in the blank] Iraq or Haiti or Afghanistan…”Â
I see. Well, at least during the lulls in your ongoingÂ heroicÂ struggle against rampant Republicanism, take a moment outÂ to quietlyÂ remember those prisoners of conscience who languish in Cuban prisons. They deserve your support and solidarity, even if it isn’t George Bush who put them there.Â
P.S. And if you find any links to liberal blogs on this send them along and I will post them.
P.P.S. Let me also anticipate some of the other predictable backtalk on this issue. Like, gee, Marc, aren’t you a bit obsessed with Cuba? So many postings on it? It’s just a few dozen Fidel has locked up, it’s not like a genocide or anything.
My answer: Given the nature of the Cuban regime, it’s completely immune to crticism from places like Washington D.C.Â Given the history between the two countries, anything the U.S. government says about Cuba will be written off as propaganda — because it most likely (but not necesarily) is. Ditto for the critiques coming from the poltical Right.
It is criticism –at this point let’s say opposition– from the Left that would be most feared by Castro. Taking away his lingering legitimacy seems, to me, a moral imperative. Those whoÂ Cuba most likely considersÂ its passive “friends” in the international community are those whose voices of opposition would carry the most moral weight.
My personal motivation is much, much simpler: I don’t believe anyone should be repressed or jailed anywhere for espousing their ideas and opinions. Call me old-fashioned.