The Great October Socialist Revolution and early history of the Soviet Union

“Woman-worker, the cooperative frees you from the reign of the kitchen and the cooking pot.” A 1923 poster in the Soviet Union as noted in a post by Soviet Visuals.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Dec 21, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. While I would probably make it stronger today, this was a first good step in the process of writing a solid history of the Soviet Union!

The absurd, unsubstantiated conspiracy that Russia (or more specifically Vladimir Putin) rigged the U$ election so the orange menace could win is currently dominating the bourgeois media. Recently, Western-friendly reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and past Estonian president Toomas Hendrick Ilves declared that a new Russian nationalist union could be formed within the borders of the former Soviet Union. [1]

Regardless of whether such a union is a possibility, with the strong degree of nationalism and justified anger at the U$ within the Russian Federation, the history of the Soviet Union is more important than ever. Due to the bourgeois and Trotskyist distortions of Soviet history and the nature of the socialist state, writing such a history is a challenge but is possible in a way that depicts the nation accurately, rather than within malice. This article is the beginning of a series on Soviet history, this article covering the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917, the early years of the revolutionary Bolshevik government which fought against imperialist invaders (1917-1922), and the first decade of Soviet existence (1923-1933).

The Czarist monarchy and the lead up to the Great October Socialist Revolution

The peasants and the population as a whole suffered under the iron fist of the Tsar/Czar. Meanwhile, the Russian middle class, which can be viewed as synonymous with the bourgeoisie, enjoyed leisure tine, the “western import” of national theater, in which actors were commodities, and were supported by heavy state subsidies in certain industries, a feature of Russian capitalism.” [2] These privileged Russians included Sergey Produkin-Garsky who traveled around the empire with funding from Tsar Nicholas II to take “more than 10,000 full cover photographs” which captured “the diverse people who…made up the Russian Empire, before the revolution.”

In 1905, the equation changed. Only two years earlier the Bolshevik sect was formed, with the overarching party, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDRP), agreeing on the need for a coming revolution with the ultimate end of establishing socialism. In this party there were also the Mensheviks who believed in the broad base of membership but the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, believed that there should be only militant revolutionaries in the party. Both of ideas were formed as the proletariat rose up. This was described by Lenin, in late January 1905: “…the proletariat has risen against Tsarism…the general strike in Petersburg is spreading…The revolution is spreading to waiver.” [3]

Lenin further called for the “arming of the people,” saying that “only an armed people can be a real stronghold on national freedom,” and that all revolutionaries must unite for the immediate overthrow of the bourgeois Tsarist government. [4] Years later he was much more critical. While he talked about the massacre of workers (“Bloody Sunday”) who petitioned the Tsar on January 22, 1905, the mutinies in the army, and the proletariat were at the head of the revolution and struggle forming Soviets (worker’s councils) but that its social content was “bourgeois-democratic.” Still, the revolution had a broad significance. Even as bourgeois scholars like Max Weber downplayed it, the revolution was “the prologue of the coming…proletarian socialist revolution” which occurred twelve years later. This was even confirmed by anti-communist scholars like Louise McReynolds. She wrote that the revolution in 1905 not only led to fears about the “violent potential of the lower classes” but it led to easing of restrictions on political expression, which, when combined with an expanding economy, led to growing commercial leisure for the bourgeoisie. [5]

After the revolution, elements of the RSDRP went head-to-head once again. The Mensheviks were dedicated to the idea of the proletariat being a revolutionary force on their own while the Bolsheviks argued that the proletariat, along with the peasants, would lead the revolution. Furthermore, the Bolsheviks said that the 1905 revolution was bourgeois, showing that there was a strong capitalist Russia, while the Mensheviks believed that an autocracy still existed meaning the that Tsar should be overthrown and replaced with a bourgeois government! Ultimately, as the 1910s passed, the Bolsheviks would take a hard-line against the First Wold War, calling it, rightly, an imperialist war which would slaughter and divide the working classes of Europe, leading to vicious police persecution of the party itself.

At the same time, the laborers in North and Central Russia were suffering. A British correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, Morgan Phillips Price wrote that the peasants, skilled artisans, and others all suffered “in different ways under the same yoke of Tsarism” while the Russian capitalist class shared spoiled with French, Belgian, German, and British capitalists, who owned much of the economy. [6] This was all part of, as Price put it, the “maintenance of Tsarism and the system of exploitation of the Russian workers and peasants.”

1917 was an eventful year for the Russian people. In the first two months of the year, thousands of soldiers deserted, the Bolsheviks organized demonstrations to commemorate Bloody Sunday (mentioned two paragraphs earlier), crowds of women in Petrograd (later called Leningrad and currently Saint Petersburg) sporadically broke into stores, and thousands upon thousands of workers from 58 workers went on strike. On February 23, the “February Revolution” began.

The Tsarist government was in total turmoil. While the non-cohesive Russian army was breaking down, so was the economy, coupled with industrial mobilization during wartime which hurt the proletariat and led to violent demonstrations in Petrograd in late February. [7] As the established Duma, dominated by bourgeois members, discussed its mandate, the worker’s councils (Soviets), that represented the common people, wanted to replace and supplant Tsarist authority. On March 2, the Tsar abdicated, leading to the creation of a provisional government the next day which was supported by the Ispolkom/Petrograd Soviet, not yet with Bolsheviks in the majority. Of course, the Bolsheviks wanted immediate peace and to end the imperialist war in Europe even when the majority of the members in the Soviets, like the one in Petrograd, did not necessarily agree with them.

In March 1917, Lenin wrote about the situation in Russia, just like he had written about the revolution in 1905:

“The first revolution engendered by the imperialist world war has broken out…the first stage of our revolution will certainly not be the last…the February-March revolution of 1917…has been marked…by a joint blow at Tsarism…the workers of the whole of Russia…fought for freedom, land for the peasants, and for peace, against the imperialist slaughter…[but] this new government…[is made up of a] class…of capitalist landlords and bourgeoisie which has long been ruling our country economically…the Tsarist monarchy has been smashed, but not fully destroyed.”

The provisional government was by no means a revolutionary one. Years later, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia described as a “bourgeois-democratic revolution” which made US elites uneasy so they recognized the provisional government with millions of dollars. [8] This provisional government, soon led by Alexander Kerensky, was timid. While the peasants, urban workers, and other members of the proletariat wanted peace to prevent a “terrible catastrophe” in Russia caused by German invasion, but the Kerensky government did not try and control the war profiteers or industrial syndicates created by the Tsar. Of course, the Mensheviks supported this governments, with hopes of influencing it, which led to “industrial anarchy” as pro-landlord policies came down the pipe, with, as Price puts it, “complete anarchy…reigning in the central provinces of Russia on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution” as the outlook of the masses seemed hopeless.

Lenin acknowledged these issues in his articles through March. He wrote that the proletariat cannot support a “war government” and that a workers militia should be formed, along with mass organization of all able-bodied people of “both sexes.” Later in the month, he added that the new government could only be overthrown if bourgeois intelligentsia and the Russian bourgeoisie’s organization is countered, with the need of revolutionary government which is not bourgeois. The same month, Lenin wrote about the imperialist nature of World War I, saying that there can only be peace when power is in the “hands of the workers and poorest peasants” rather than the Russian bourgeoisie, and that victory is possible even as the “transition to socialism” cannot be established in one stroke.

As the months neared toward the socialist revolution, the Bolsheviks were under attack. While socialist intellectuals and populists had excluded the Bolsheviks from power in Kerensky’s provisional government, Lenin was rallying the Bolsheviks, telling them that property, land, and banks needed to be nationalized, a people’s militia created, end to the imperialist war, and all power given to the Soviets. [9] As the months passed, the “masses of people” opposed the Kerensky government, supported by the Menskeviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, with some Soviets remaining conservative, meaning that, as socialist writer John Reed put it, Russia before the “November insurrection seems…almost incredibly conservative.” More specifically, during this time period, Pravda, the Bolshevik publication begun publishing again, Poland’s independence was refused by the provisional government, there were massive May Day celebrations, the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets met, and the Mensheviks not surprisingly became very anti-Bolshevik. Beyond this, the Russian font against the Germans began folding away as soldiers deserted and millions went on strike in early July. As time went on, it was on the side of the Bolsheviks, who, after a failed attempt to seize power in Petrograd in July, were itching for a “second revolution,” this one of socialist and proletarian character and content.

As revolution came to its final conclusion, the Bolsheviks were gaining ground. In September, General Lavr Kornilov tried to make himself a “military dictator” in Russia, with the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks not helping protect the city of Petrograd from imminent attack. [10] Ultimately, the government could do nothing to maintain order, but the Petrograd garrison, mainly composed of the pro-Bolshevik and working class elements, defended the city and its inhabitants. Even as the Petrograd soviet voted to not strike and voted against the death penalty, the Bolsheviks held off Kornilov’s invading forces and resolved to create a socialist (and Soviet) government. In September, the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) tried to reassert their influence in the Petrograd Soviet, but failed, and in October, there was mass mutiny in the front lines. The Bolsheviks took an understandable hard-line, saying that they would not participate in the conferences put on the Kerensky government, and instead were fully dedicated to overthrowing it instead.

Recounting the Great October Socialist Revolution

In Late October, the revolution sprung to life. On October 24 and 25th, the Red Guards, under the command of Lenin, seized important institutions in Petrograd, allowing the Bolsheviks to be in control. [11] The following day, October 26, Lenin announced the formation of a new government. By November 5, the Mensheviks and SRs had walked out of the Second All-Russian Congress of the Soviets, Kerensky fled and started a counter-revolutionary rebellion, and the Bolshevik government (The term “Bolshevik government” is used here to refer to the rule from 1917-192 and the government that was created after 1922, is called the “Soviet government”) said it will censor hostile bourgeois newspapers, a declaration of rights for the Soviet people was announced and Moscow was secured by the Bolsheviks.

John Reed meticulously accounts the days of the Great October Socialist Revolution (October Revolution for short). On November 4, he writes that immense meetings were planned across Petrograd as the provisional government seemed hopeless. Three days later, on November 7, the Bolsheviks declared they had overthrown the provisional government as Red Guards fought “Junkers,” former imperial Russian officers, and there was an “atmosphere of recklessness,” with all “great Russia to win–and then the world,” begging the question if others would follow. [12] The following days led to more excitement. On November 8, the whole nation was up in “long hissing swells of storm” with rumors of Kerensky spreading throughout Petrograd, with vitriol from anti-Bolshevik newspapers, some of which was consolidated into the Committee for Salvation in the planned offensive against the Bolsheviks. Still, they held on, as did the left SRs (right SRs were anti-Bolshevik), with Lenin and Leon Trotsky/Trotzky leaving themselves dedicated to the new Bolshevik government while others, like followers of anarchist Peter Kropotkin, refused to support this new government because the revolution had “failed” to arouse the “patriotism of the masses” in their view.

The following days only increased the pressure on the young Bolshevik government. On November 9, the Soviets in Petrograd defended the city, with the Red Guard and sailors fighting to defend the revolution, a government of “united democracy” which did not ally with the bourgeoisie, with the Bolsheviks thinking that the fate of the revolution rested on their shoulders. [13] The following day, the Committee of Salvation, right SRs, and Mensheviks all worked against the Bolsheviks, with the arsenal in Petrograd remaining in the hands of counter revolutionaries, and, as the invasion of Petrograd seemed imminent, the “revolutionary proletariat [was] defending…the capital of the workers’ and peasants’ republic!” The following day, Kerensky entered the city of Tsarskoye Selo, trying to command soldiers to disarm, but they refused to do so and were subsequently killed. Also on that day, the city of Petrograd was clearly under Bolshevik military control with desperate fighting by the Junkers/Yunkers, and the Bolsheviks seized the switchboard room in the city. As John Reed tells it, when the hardened fighters entered the room, “many pretty girls” who had been switchboard operators left and hurled insulted at them even though these fighters did not insult anyone, with the result of their departure meaning that there few volunteers to operate the telephone line switchboard. Still, with the force and dedication to revolution, enough people were found to make sure the telephone lines were operational. Later in the day, the Committee of Salvation was outlawed, and the “telephone girls” who had insulted the Bolsheviks told the committee that they “suffered” at the hands of the proletariat, as they kissed up to established power structures.

Two days later, the revolution was advancing with speed. Petrograd was clearly under Bolshevik control but there was the “question of finances” since banks didn’t want to cooperate with the new Bolshevik government. [14] In the days that followed, it was clear that the Bolsheviks, on whom the landless peasants, “undemoralised soldiers,” sailors, and rank-and-file workers supported, were up against investors, landowners, army officers, students, shopkeepers, and many more, were a powerful force. In Moscow, on November 16, Bolsheviks hung banners declaring the beginning of the revolution, with poor and toiling marching across Red Square. Additionally, the Bolshevik government published a declaration of rights (mentioned earlier), which said that all peoples shall have sovereignty, equality, ability to develop minority and ethnic groups freely, right to self-determination, and abolition of privileges and disabilities for nationalities and religious persuasions. The provisional government was gone but the Bolsheviks were in for a big fight, with restrictions on newspapers that were anti-Bolshevik, fighting to “erect the framework of the new” and against those who tried to win in the coming civil war.

Imperialists try to destabilize a new nation: 1917-1922

The Bolshevik government had acted quickly. Not long after its creation, the Second Congress of Soviets had declared that land would be given back to the peasantry and peace formed on all fronts. Some, such as feminist and political scientist Valerie Bryson, have declared that feminist concerns of Russian women were pushed aside by the revolution (and Bolshevik government), seen as not a “political priority” by Lenin, and praised Trotsky for a “progressive” view on the subject. Beyond this, Bryson also cites Left Oppositionist Alexandra Kollantai’s “failed efforts” and “sexual morality” of communism preventing needed changes in society, including in child rearing, before Kollantai apparently lose “real influence” in Soviet society in 1923, painting Stalin as “bad.” [15] Apart from the obvious bourgeois analysis here, Bryson is clearly wrong on the implication that the October Socialist Revolution was not “feminist.” Sir Arthur Newholme and John Adams Kinsbury wrote in the early 1930s the following about women in Soviet Russia:

“Sex differences were swept away by an early act of the Soviet government; and equality was carried into the marriage relation. Either partner is free to dissolve it [marriage] at his or her own free will or caprice.”

Another place to look for evidence of Bolshevik accomplishment is the constitution of 1918, of the RSFSR, a precursor to the USSR in 1922. This constitution declared that:

  1. “all private property in land is abolished, and the entire land is declared to be national property and is to be apportioned among agriculturists without compensation of the former owners, to the measure of each one’s ability to till it” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  2. “All forests, treasures of the earth, and waters of general public utility, all equipment whether animate or inanimate, model farms and agricultural enterprises, are declared to be national property” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  3. “complete transfer of ownership to the Soviet Republic of all factories, mills, mines, railways, and other means of production and transportation” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  4. “annulment of loans made by the Government of the Czar, by landowners and the bourgeoisie” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  5. “…transfer of all banks to the ownership of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  6. “Universal obligation to work” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  7. “decreed that all workers be armed, and that s Socialist Red Army be organized and the propertied class disarmed” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  8. “abrogating secret treaties, of organizing on a wide scale the fraternization of the workers and peasants of the belligerent armies, and of making all efforts to conclude a general democratic peace” in the first imperialist war (WWI) (Article One, Chapter 3)
  9. Insistence on ending “the barbarous policy of the bourgeois civilization which enables the exploiters of a few chosen nations to enslave hundreds of millions of the working population of Asia, of the colonies, and of small countries generally” (Article One, Chapter 3)
  10. Supports “the full independence of Finland, in withdrawing troops from Persia, and in proclaiming the right of Armenia to self-determination” (Article One, Chapter 3)
  11. “the exploiters should not hold a position in any branch of the Soviet Government” (Article One, Chapter 4)
  12. “…leaving to the workers and peasants of every people to decide the following question at their plenary sessions of their soviets, namely, whether or not they desire to participate, and on what basis, in the Federal government and other Federal soviet institutions” (Article One, Chapter 4)

Article 2 continued in the same vein. This article declared that working people and peasants shall have the power in the country, especially in their Soviets, along with the declarations that:

  1. “For the purpose of securing to the workers real freedom of conscience, the church is to be separated from the state and the school from the church, and the right of religious and anti-religous propaganda is accorded to every citizen.”
  2. “…abolishes all dependence of the Press upon capital, and turns over to the working people and the poorest peasantry all technical and material means for the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, books, etc., and guarantees their free circulation throughout the country.”
  3. “offers to the working class and to the poorest peasantry furnished halls, and [the government] takes care of their heating and lighting appliances.”
  4. “the task of furnishing full and general free education to the workers and the poorest peasantry” is offered by the government
  5. The government “considers work the duty of every citizen of the Republic, and proclaims as its motto: ‘He shall not eat who does not work.'”
  6. The government “recognizes the duty of all citizens of the Republic to come to the defense of their socialist fatherland, and it therefore introduces universal military training. The honor of defending the revolution with arms is accorded only to the workers”
  7. Granting “all political rights of Russian citizens to foreigners who live in the territory of the Russian Republic and are engaged in work and who belong to the working class.”
  8. Offering “shelter to all foreigners who seek refuge from political or religious persecution.”
  9. Recognizing “equal rights of all citizens, irrespective of their racial or national connections, proclaims all privileges on this ground, as well as oppression of national minorities, to be contrary to the fundamental laws of the Republic.”
  10. The government “deprives all individuals and groups of rights which could be utilized by them to the detriment of the socialist revolution.”

I could go on, as the Constitution has Articles 3, 4, 5, and 6, but I think you get the point.

As the revolution’s conclusion was evident, the bourgeois press in England and France bellowed about “cruelties” of the Bolsheviks. [16] So, the propaganda spewed against revolutionary governments of Iran, Syria, and Cuba (to give a few examples) in the present-day, is nothing new. What the propagandists in 1917 and 1918 didn’t realize was that, as deaf-blind socialist and writer Helen Keller wrote

“…the Russian revolution did not originate with Lenin…I see the furrow Lenin left sown with the unshatterable seed of new life for mankind, and cast deep below the rolling tides of storm and lightning, mighty crops for the ages to reap.”

The seizure of power by the proletariat, which had been carefully thought out and planned, was what, Anne Louise Strong, a long supporter of communist movements in Russia and China, called this “common consciousness in action.” Mao Zedong, who later was one of the leaders of China’s communist revolution, recognized the same in 1927, when he wrote that “the October Socialist Revolution ushered in a new epoch in world history…it exerted influence in the other countries of the world.” The Great Soviet Encyclopedia also echoed this, writing that the impact of the “Great October Socialist Revolution,” as they called it, had profound significance, especially by “strengthening the revolutionary movement in the USA.” [17]

While there were many forces aligned against the Bolshevik government, the Russians still defended the social revolution, fighting for the working class, with Russians seeing the revolution as meaning “peace, land to the peasants, and workers’ control of industry.” The Bolshevik government was trying to keep in place its proletarian state as the capitalist apparatus of power instilled by the provisional government, was swept away, following the ideas of Lenin. [18] By this time, the revolution had matured, clearly, from its earlier days. But it was not wholly secure. For one, the socialist revolution in October had pushed to lead the country out of “imperialist war and economic ruin” as Josef Stalin put it. While the path to socialism was cleared for the “middle non-proletarian peasant strata of all nationalities and tribes,” getting Russia out of the imperialist war was harder.

The necessity of ending Russia’s participation in the imperialist war was evident, as it was necessary to preserve “the social revolution in Russia.” [19] The Bolshevik government tried to push for peace. However, after the Germans lost patience with the new government, they advanced at an alarming pace into the country in “Operation Thunderbolt” as they called it. With the signing of the Treaty of Breast-Livotsk, on terms that, arguably, benefited Germany and their empire but removed Russia from the war. Lenin’s words about soldiers deserting from the front, as “voting with their feet” with peace could also be applied to the signing of this treaty. After this peace was evident, the Bolshevik government did not have many traditionally disciplined soldiers, leading to the creation of a Red Army, and recognizing Finland’s independence. What followed was civil war.

The Bolsheviks were under attack from all sides. While they were under siege, they tried to take control of strategic natural resources in central Asia but were originally unsuccessful. [20] Famed British military (and bourgeois) historian, John Keegan, who supported wars in Vietnam, Kosovo (1998), and Iraq (2003), had an interesting and bizarre perspective on the Western intervention in Russia. He first claimed that Trotsky invited British marines to help the Red Army gain armaments and fight anti-Bolshevik forces, that the Bolsheviks held a “common interest” with the Western allies until at least April 1918, that the allied intervention was apparently not originally anti-Bolshevik but became so with Western allies supporting the White Russians, Czech forces, and other anti-Bolsheviks, while the Germans were “neutral” in the civil war.

Like with all propaganda, there is a kernel of truth. In 1918, after the end of the imperialist world war, the British, French, Japanese, and US intervened in Russia. However, to act like they are “innocent” in this intervention is silly. The U$ State Department admitted this much, saying that “all these operations were to offset effects of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia,” showing that the idea the Allies entered to stop Germany from seizing Russian supplies and assisting Czech troops, who had been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire’s forces, was a convenient excuse to deny imperialist aims. [21] As Stalin put it in a speech commemorating the 24th celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which was on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, often called World War II in the West:

“Recall the year 1918, when we celebrated the first anniversary of the October Revolution. At that time three-quarters of our country was in the hands of foreign interventionists. We had temporarily lost the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Urals, Siberia and the Far East. We had no allies, we had no Red Army–we had only just begun to create it–and we experienced a shortage of bread, a shortage of arms, a shortage of equipment. At that time 14 states [Czechoslovakia, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Greece, Poland, the United States, France, Romania, Serbia, Italy, and China] were arrayed against our country but we did not become despondent or downhearted. In the midst of the conflagration of war we organized the Red Army and converted our country into a military camp. The spirit of Lenin inspired us at that time for war against the interventionists, regained all our lost territories and achieved victory.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia added to this. They noted that the U$ and other countries tried to engage in broader intervention and a blockade of Russia even as the Soviets proposed normalization of relations with the US as an option, but this was rejected. [22] While the imperialists may have schemed to use the Kellogg-Briand Pact to isolate the Soviet Union in later years (originally they excluded them but included them after international pressure) and the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920 in the same way, the masses of the world didn’t necessarily agree. There was a campaign against US intervention in Russia from those such as John Reed (quoted extensively earlier in this article), socialist leader Eugene Debs, and ordinary folks in Seattle and San Francisco. Ultimately, the Great October Socialist Revolution not only led to the formation of a pro-Bolshevik Communist Party, in the US, in 1919, but it resulted in the end of US involvement in Russia in 1920 due to popular pressure, deportation of radicals to Russia, and the partially failed Palmer raids in 1920.  Sadly, in Germany, in 1919, a communist revolution, led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebkrecht, among others, was brutally crushed, with both of them killed by state police.

The situation back in Russia is worth noting. During the five-year brutal civil war, mainly fought from November 1917 to October 1922, with some resistance hanging on until June 1923, the government adopted an economic program of “War Communism” as it was later called, in order to survive, which was later replaced during the rebuilding period with the New Economic Policy and other policies. At the same time, the officers of the Red Army were in hundreds of schools, with the most important part a political-cultural department which tried to spread communist propaganda among the ranks of the army, which was made up of “ignorant peasants” as John Reed described it. There were also “labor armies” which were helping repair destroyed bridges, once the war was over, with a more established Bolshevik (and later Soviet) order than ever. Such labor armies harkened back to the idea of “industrial armies” in agriculture proposed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto. [23] As for the education in the Red Army, an organization that was like the “special corps” of armed workers envisioned by Marx in his 1850 address to the Communist League, it was similar to the ideas of political education proposed by Lenin on multiple occasions.

Of course, bourgeois scholars like Louise McReynolds have declared that the Bolsheviks saw themselves as intelligentsia (wrong), created a new Soviet culture that nationalized the commercial market (likely true), and co-opted leisure which had been for the bourgeoisie to promote socialist ideals (also likely true). [24] By 1921, the 21 people who were on the Bolshevik’s Central Committee in 1917 had gone their separate ways, with some going into the Political Bureau, and others (Lenin, Trotsky (until later), and Stalin) were in a more of a leading role, and some joining the anti-Bolshevik forces. Still, as Helen Keller argued, the Russians were a people who “were trying to work out their form of government.” She also said, in words that some favorable to the Russian government could repeat today, that she loved “Russia and all who stand loyally by her in her mighty wrestlings with…imperialist greed,” while condemning workers in the US for not standing with the new country, and saying that famine in Russia was a result of war and imperialist blockade.

The first Soviet decade: 1923-1933

On December 29, 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed. The measures of War Communism were abandoned in place of the New Economic Policy (NEP) which introduced market measures in order to, in theory, rebuild the country from war, an ideas which was proposed (and advocated by) Lenin. This led to a struggle within the Russian Communist Party, which had evolved from the RSDRP’s Bolshevik section established in 1912, or Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) formed in 1918. Ultimately, in order to preserve the USSR as a socialist state, the “Left Opposition” was purged in 1927, as was Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin. While some may say this is anti-democratic, they must consider that Stalin was following, for one, what he said years earlier: that the Communist Party needs to have “iron discipline,” unity of will, and purge “opportunist elements” so it can effectively serve the proletariat. [25] Other than this, Stalin was also preserving the party as an “organized detachment” of the proletariat, a vanguard of the working class, allowing the party to reorganize along “new, revolutionary lines.” Additionally, there needed to be unity in order to counter the “need of a constantly expanding market” for the bourgeoisie and to make sure the Soviets are the “grave-diggers” of capitalism in Russia and elsewhere, not supporting it with certain measures, like NEP, even if it was partially good. Ultimately, there cannot be a “revolution in permanence,” a precursor to Trotsky’s idea of “permanent revolution” which is discussed later, without a unified party.

Before getting to the other aspects of the first years of the USSR, it is best to acknowledge a number of aspects, including of the NEP period (discussed more in detail later). Anna Louise Strong said that in 1925, at least, every factory, mine, and economic entity was hungry for credit, and industries were supposed to be “self-supporting” after the beginning of NEP. While some may cringe at this, justifiably, there were a number of good strides, even in hard times. For one, there were strong restrictions on alcohol in society, a war against bootleggers, with the focus on drinking not as an individual problem but as a “social injury.” At the same time, there was a major focus on teaching in Russia, just like the political education of Red Army members mentioned in the previous section of this article. As Strong noted, from April to August 1923, the Moscow Government Publishing House printed 160 million copies of textbooks for the new system of education modeled on the “Dewey ideas of education.” This form of education was advanced and a “gorgeous plan,” with education projects assisted by the government even as some teachers were antagonistic to the changes in education due to their ignorance.

While this was going on, there was political strife, which was referenced earlier. Strong, in 1925, in an opinion that seemed to lean toward Trotsky, after Lenin’s death, claimed that Lenin was the “father of the revolution,” Trotsky as “popular” leader, and Stalin as a tactful politician. She continued by claiming that the old Bolsheviks were behind Stalin, who didn’t know many Western languages as Trotskyists, and differ on the debate over socialism in Russia, with Trotsky “broken” by Stalin. She even claimed that “no one would die for Stalin” which is totally absurd. Putting aside the pro-Trotsky viewpoint of Strong, it is important to talk about the debate between Trotsky and Stalin over socialism in Russia. In the Foundations of Leninism, a quote of which is reproduced here, Stalin wrote that socialist revolution which is successful in one country must not be self-sufficient but should aid the “victory of the proletariat in other countries” so that the victory of socialism is clear. The main debate is this, as highlighted by one WordPress blogger: the idea of “permanent revolution” posed by Trotsky expands on the idea that revolution can occur in a “backward” country rather than an “advanced country” and that revolution cannot succeed if cannot be successful in the rest of the world. As for Stalin’s idea of “socialism in one country,” this recognizes the successful socialist revolution in Russia, but says that socialist construction under NEP, for example, can happen in one country, with socialism ultimately successful worldwide. [26]

Stalin himself, explained what “socialism in one country” meant in December 1925:

“… the possibility of the victory of Socialism in one country…mean[s] the possibility of solving the contradictions between the proletariat and the peasantry with the aid of the internal forces of our country, the possibility of the proletariat assuming power and using that power to build a complete Socialist society in, our country, with the sympathy and the support of the proletarians of other countries, but without the preliminary victory of the proletarian revolution in other countries. Without such a possibility, the building of Socialism is building without prospects, building without being sure that Socialism will be built. It is no use building Socialism without being sure that we can build it, without being sure that the technical backwardness of our country is not an insuperable obstacle to the building of complete Socialist society. To deny such possibility is to display lack of faith in the cause of building Socialism, to abandon Leninism…the impossibility of the complete, final victory of Socialism in one country without the victory of the revolution in other countries…mean[s] the impossibility of having full guarantees against intervention and consequently against the restoration of the bourgeois order, without the victory of the [proletarian] revolution in at least a number of countries. To deny this indisputable thesis is to abandon internationalism, to abandon Leninism…And if our country is discredited the world revolutionary movement will be weakened.”

Christina Kaier, a professor at Northwestern University who specializes in “Russian and Soviet Art,” among other aspects gives the next part of the story. She describes the NEP, a period she says lasted from 1921 to circa 1928, was a “relatively peaceful and semicapitalist period in Soviet history,” which retreated from the War Communism during the Russian Civil War, with “free exchange” legalized and pushed by Lenin, which was seen as the next step to a socialist future, with Soviet state-owned enterprises competing in the NEP market. [27] A major downside of NEP was the creation of the “Nepmen” or NEP bourgeoisie which supported avant-garde artists but also were very greedy, with a noticeable disparity between workers and management, class distinctions reappearing in society, and firms dominated by the profit motive. Despite all these downsides, in a country with a mainly agricultural economy at the time, there were positive elements. The creation of a “communist culture” in the new nation was realized by making constructivist art a political project of the state to counter bourgeois art with useful, utilitarian objects for the “new socialist collective” but also the ideas of an “object as comrade” or “socialist object” to replace commodity pleasures. To promote such utilitarian objects, and tap into “commodity aesthetics and consumer desires” during the NEP, with advertising to promote products, which were seen as “transitional objects” as well, they were displayed at an avant-garde exhibition in Paris in 1924, at a time that Soviet industry was still recovering from wartime The philosophy of those creating the objects was put forward by Aleksander M. Rodchenko in the spring of 1925:

“The light from the East [the Soviet Union] is not only the liberation of workers, the light from the East is in the new relation to the person, to women, to things, our things in our hands must be equals.”

Examples of this are abound, some of whom were in the October Group of Soviet constructivist artists. Vladimir Tatlin, who shifted to creating utilitarian objects, creating a stove, pot, and other items to help in the home. [28] As for Lubov Popova and Varvara Stepanova (married to Rodchenko), they proposed designs for “everyday, utilitarian things,” specifically a simple “flapper dress” which was “mass-produced and distributed in Soviet economy.” These dresses were austere but unisex and androgynous.

By 1926, the gradual dismantling of NEP was beginning, scrapped by the 1928/1929, when Stalin was in a more powerful position than before. [29] Kaier, apart from her bizarre Freudian claims about Soviet objects, seemed to be writing a fair history (not communist or radical however) except when it came to what happened next and aspects of the Soviet government. In an almost negative tone, she mentioned the “mechanisms of party control over people’s lives,” the “Stalinist socialist realism in the 1930s,” and seemed to be snarky about the hardline approach by the Soviets toward prostitution and “nonparty women.” Hence, while Kaier makes valuable contributions to history of the USSR, she falters by acting like Stalin is “bad” as he came to the scene. Trotskyist Chris Harman, in a similar vein, claims that Stalin gained “real” power in 1923-1924 and “absolute” power in 1928-1929. Without citing the specific page in his book, A People’s History of the World, praised by “popular historian” Howard Zinn, Harman is deluded. Even a quick glance at Stalin’s wikipedia page shows that he was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU from April 3, 1922 to October 18, 1952, over thirty years, but Harman may be referring to his “consolidation” of power in 1928-1929 possibly, who knows.

Kaier and Harman are not the only ones that sneer at Stalin. Louise McReynolds, who was criticized earlier in this article, follows suit, treating the trumpeting of socialist values in mass culture of the USSR by the CPSU as “bad.” [30] These claims are further preposterous when one considers that Stalin pushed for rapid industrialization and end to the NEP, coupled with collectivization of agriculture when there was a shortfall in grain stores. Of course, a few, such as Nikolai Bukharin and Alexey Rytov opposed these policies but the Politburo rightly sided with Stalin, meaning that Rytov and Bukharin were pushed out for good reason. Lest us forget that under Stalin’s direction (and not only him), the first five-year plan was proposed in the USSR, in 1928, as a centrally-planned economy began to be constructed. [31] Stalin did make mistakes including thinking that the KMT, led by Chiang Kai-Shek was an effective force to defeat the imperialists, an idea discarded after the Shanghai Massacre in 1927 when the KMT murdered 300-400 Chinese Communists. Still, the continuation of the anti-religious campaign, which began in 1921, was wholly justified in an attempt to counter the nasty aspects of religious distortions in society which would ruin the attainment of human betterment.

The Soviet Union was at a good place, especially after Stalin took power. By 1932 and 1933, the medical field in the country was well-organized and well established. Doctors were state officials who worked 6-6 1/2 hours every day and there were a total of 76,000 physicians, an increase of 50,000 since the Great October Socialist Revolution. There was also free social and medical help, open attendance at child-birth regardless of class, free dental work, public medical centers for workers, the idea of unified medical work in the factory and hospital, and vacations ranging from 12 days to one month depending on the age and type of work. Doctors were also in touch with other elements of the medical practice, there was a specific focus on venereal disease, along with integration of medicine within and outside institutions, coupled with more hospital beds and progress in medical provisions. Other than this, the USSR made progress in fighting tuberculosis, venereal disease, especially syphilis, doctors outside the “field of monetary compensation” and near fulfillment of a “good medical service” with improvements needed to make it better since no medical service is perfect. The 1930s report on Soviet medicine concluded by saying that the Soviet government was “the most gigantic experiment in the deliberate public organization of social and political life in the world” with abolition of the “motive of private profit,” and engaged in “socialization of medicine” which in some respects goes beyond Western countries, presenting a challenge to other countries. [32] In times that we despair about the horrid condition of abortion rights in America, we should remember that abortion in the USSR was legally allowed under a number of parameters, which are reprinted below, showing that there were feminist policies in place:

“In most countries the purposeful production of abortion except for medical reasons is regarded as murder. The Soviet Government in 1920 repealed the existing laws against abortion and legalized it under certain specific conditions. This law contained the provisions summarized below, which are more fully stated in Mrs. Field’s Protection of Women and Children in Soviet Russia.

1. Abortion must be undertaken only by a licensed surgeon. Midwives are prohibited from performing abortions.

2. It must, as a rule, be the result of a surgical operation, and not of drugs.

3. The patient must afterwards remain in bed in the hospital or place of operation for three full days.

4. She must not be allowed to go to work for two weeks after the operation.

5. For a first pregnancy an abortion must not be performed unless childbirth would seriously endanger the mother’s life.’

6. Abortion is forbidden if the pregnancy has lasted for more than two and a half months.

7. A doctor cannot refuse an application for abortion, except as stated under 5 and 6. He may, however, discourage it in any way he thinks fit.

8. It is recommended that all abortions be performed in those State hospitals which have a division for this purpose. An insured woman or the wife of an insured man can claim abortion free of charge in a State hospital. For others a small charge may be made.

9. A private doctor or anyone else producing an abortion which results in death can be tried for manslaughter. Women cannot be punished for performing on themselves.

10. The doctor is recommended to discourage a woman from abortion if there are no social, economic, or medical reasons for it, and particularly if she has fewer than three children, or has adequate means for supporting another child.

It is stated that few abortions are asked for by women desiring to conceal illicit relations…No difficulty has arisen because of the unwillingness of women to come to hospitals for this purpose. No distinction is drawn between married and unmarried women.”

With the available resources, there isn’t much else I can say about this time period. I can say that on November 16, 1933, the U$ finally established diplomatic relations with the USSR as noted in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. [33]

Conclusion

Looking through the sources I gathered for this article, I realize now that I missed a number of aspects: I could have looked more at Stalin’s writings, spanning 1901-1952, a book about the early times of a Bolshevik (1894-1914), and histories of the USSR, among many other aspects. [34] There are a number of bourgeois and academic sources I found, but alas, I did not go through those either. This article could undoubtedly be better, but I am only a learner on this subject.


Notes

[1] Adam Taylor, “Soviet leader, Gorbachev says a new union could rise again,” Washington Post, December 13, 2016; Damien Sharkov, “Mikhail Gorbachev on the Soviet Union collapse, Democracy in Russia and Putin’s popularity,” Newsweek, December 13, 2016; Paul Goble, “If the Russians Come Back Again, They Won’t Be Constrained By Communism,” Estonian World Review, December 14, 2016.

[2] Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era (London: Cornell University Press, 2003), 4-6, 14, 29, 54.

[3] V.I. Lenin, “The revolution in 1905: The beginning of the revolution in 1905” (January 25, 1905), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 500-507,

[4] Ibid, 508-509; V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (1918), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 588-591; V.I. Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 revolution” (1917),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 510-513, 518-519, 524, 529

[5] McReynolds, 9, 136.

[6] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[7] John Keegan, An Illustrated History of the First World War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 300-301, 306-308.

[8] “A Soviet View of the American Past: An Annotated Translation of The Section on American History in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 43, No. 1, Autumn 1959, p. 33. Also see Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[9] Keegan, 308, 309, 311, 316.

[10] See Chapter 2  (“The Coming Storm“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World.

[11] Keegan, 316. By the end of the year, the Bolshevik government said that citizens could recall politicians from office, salaries of high-paid officials were limited, peace talks with the Axis powers began, leaders of the Cadet Party (anti-Bolshevik) are ordered arrested, an eight-hour day is introduced for railway workers, and public education is no longer monopolized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Beyond this, the Council of People’s Commissars says that Ukraine has a right to succeed, the nationalization of banks is announced, and the independence of Finland is accepted.

[12] See chapter IV (“The Fall of the Provisional Government“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, see Chapter V (“Plunging Ahead“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, and see Chapter VI (“The Committee of Salvation“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[13] See Chapter VII (“The Revolutionary Front“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, see Chapter VIII (“Counter-Revolution“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[14] See Chapter IX (“Victory“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, see Chapter X (“Moscow“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, see Chapter XI (“The Conquest of Power“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World, and see Chapter XII (“The Peasants’ Congress“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[15] Valerie Bryson, Feminist Political Theory: An Introduction (New York: Palgrave MacMillian, 2003, Second Edition), 114-125.

[16] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[17] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 34

[18] V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (1918), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 569-570, 572, 582-583; V.I. Lenin, “Marxism and Uprising” (Sept. 1917), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 606-607; V.I. Lenin, “The crisis has matured” (October 12, 1917), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), p. 612-613; Josef Stalin, “The October Revolution and the National Question” (1918),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 620-621; Josef Stalin, “The October Revolution and the Question of the Middle Strata,” The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 632.

[19] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918; Keegan, 317, 318, 354-356, 359.

[20] Keegan, 356, 359-360-361, 363-364.

[21] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: HarperPerennial, Fifth Edition, 2003), 409; Chronicle of America, “U.S. severs ties with Bolsheviks” (Mount Kisco, NY: Chronicle Publications, 1988), 605.

[22] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” 34, 36, 37; Zinn, 373, 380, 400, 409; Chronicle of America, “Pacifist Debs gets 10 years in prison,” p. 606; Chronicle of America, “Left-wing socialists establish own party,” p. 611; Chronicle of America, “US withdraws troops from Soviet Russia,” p. 610; Chronicle of America, US in crusading mood, deports 249 radicals to Soviet Russia,” p. 611; Chronicle of America, “Palmer raids net thousands of leftists,” p. 612; “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 35; Keegan, 392, 403.

[23] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto,” The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 46; Marx and Engels, 67; V.I. Lenin, “What Is to Be Done?,”  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 483; V.I. Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution” (1917),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 516.

[24] McReynolds, 12-13, 33, 292.

[25] Josef Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism” (1924),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 637-638, 640-641; Marx and Engels, 26, 36; Marx, “Address to the Communist League” (1850),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 71.

[26] This blogger claims that speeding up “socialist construction” in the USSR ultimately led to the USSR’s demise, which is silly since the USSR was in existence from 1922 until 1911, so this person doesn’t know what they are talking about. At the same time, they claim that “the possibility of eventual failure of socialism was built into Stalin’s theory” which just isn’t true. Still, they make a possibly valid point that Stalin’s theory’s includes ideas from Trotsky.

[27] Christina Kaier, Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 1, 2, 4-5, 8, 10, 17-20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 38, 47, 49, 81, 140, 165, 173, 183, 200-201, 206, 212, 264-265.

[28] Ibid, 43, 52, 71-73, 82-83, 89, 92, 100-101, 113-114, 117, 124.

[29] Ibid, 27, 58-59, 61, 244, 259.

[30] McReynolds, 293.

[31] Revisionist Stephen Gowans noted, in his article about publicly-owned and planned economies, that they work despite the bourgeois propaganda, although he seems to ignore the problems in the USSR that started after 1953: “The Soviet Union was a concrete example of what a publicly owned, planned economy could produce: full employment, guaranteed pensions, paid maternity leave, limits on working hours, free healthcare and education (including higher education), subsidized vacations, inexpensive housing, low-cost childcare, subsidized public transportation, and rough income equality. Most of us want these benefits…when the Soviet economy was publicly owned and planned, from 1928 to 1989, it reliably expanded from year to year, except during the war years…What eventually led to the Soviet Union’s demise was the accumulated toll on the Soviet economy of the West’s efforts to bring it down, the Reagan administration’s intensification of the Cold War, and the Soviet leadership’s inability to find a way out of the predicament these developments occasioned…the Soviet economic system had…worked better than capitalism…The benefits of the Soviet economic system were found in the elimination of the ills of capitalism…Among the most important accomplishments of the Soviet economy was the abolition of unemployment…From the moment in 1928 that the Soviet economy became publicly owned and planned, to the point in 1989 that the economy was pushed in a free market direction, Soviet GDP per capita growth exceeded that of all other countries but Japan, South Korea and Taiwan…Every year, from 1928 to 1989, except during the war years, the Soviet economy reliably expanded, providing jobs, shelter, and a wide array of low- and no-cost public services to all, while capitalist economies regularly sank into recession and had to continually struggle out of them on the wreckage of human lives.”

[32] It turns out that these authors are at least partially Trotskyists. Still, they offer good analysis when it comes to medicine. Other chapters I didn’t include talk about the USSR’s government, industrial and agricultural conditions, religious and civil liberty, women in Soviet Russia (cited earlier in this article), care of children, and maternity.

[33] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 46

[34] Other aspects worth mentioning are Alexandra Kollontai talking about the years of revolution, a first-hand account of the October Socialist Revolution by Louise Bryant, a book with biographies of certain personalities in the revolution, Anne Louise Strong’s book about John Reed’s colony on the Volga, a page about party Congresses, a page about Soviet foreign policy, a page about Kronstadt, a page chronicling Lenin’s writings, a page chronicling Luxembourg’s writings, a page about the Soviet government, a page chronicling John Reed’s writings, and a page chronicling Soviet history. Also see “The History of Both the February and October Russian Revolutions” on About.com, “War and Revolution in Russia 1914-1921” by Dr. Jonathan Snee on BBCNews, “Causes of the Russian Revolution” on About.com, “Russian Revolution, October, 1917” on Spartacus International, Owen Hatherley, “The constructivists and the Russian revolution in art and architecture” on The Guardian, and Leon Aron, “Even Vladimir Putin Cannot Kill the Russian Revolution” in Foreign Policy. Academic sources include “The Deepening of the Russian Revolution: 1917” on a MIT website, the Internet Sourcebook documents on the Russian Revolution, and a book about the Russian revolution hosted in part by the Library of Congress.

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Iran at a crossroads

Nelson Mandela meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, a screenshot from 0:12 of this video, which is related to an article where Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjami said that Mandela has told him that “Iran is the most important ideal destination for South African people as [the] Islamic republic has experienced many difficulties over its resistance and dictatorship.”
Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on May 10, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Back in January, I wrote about Iran beset by the forces of Western imperialism. I gave a more informed view of the capture of ten US sailors and two navy boats at the time, gave a broader picture of US imperialism, noted that Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist, in  a sense (probably more accurate to call them anti-U$), but is also religiously conservative. I concluded by saying that Iran has a choice: “either it bows to…Western imperialism…or it resists Western influence as the hardliners want…[but] whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the capitalist system more now than it has [been] in the past.” This article aims to expand on this by examining responses to the U$ Supreme Court decision forcing Iran to pay $2 billion to victims of terrorist attacks, with this accusation based on only one NSA intercept, apparently. Additionally, I aim to provide an even more holistic viewpoint of Iran’s place on the international stage.

The US Supreme Court’s ruling and the Iranian response

As the bourgeois media noted, the 6-2 ruling meant that Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, lost and that over $2.6 billion of Iranian assets were frozen in 2012 by President Obama. [1] It was said this money was needed to be seized to satisfy a previous judgment and pay the American plaintiffs, giving them “justice” and “accountability” for supposedly backing the 1983 bombs in Beirut, among other attacks. Interestingly, John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg which justified a 2012 law passed to help the plaintiffs as aiding “in the enforcement of federal-court judgments,” with Roberts saying that Congress was “commandeering the courts to make a political judgment look like a judicial one.” [2] Ginsburg also declared that this decision “provides a new standard clarifying that, if Iran owns certain assets, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks will be permitted to executive against those assets,” so expect more cases supporting such seizures in the future. I could go on, examining how the Supreme Court assisted victims of what they declared was “Iran-sponsored acts of terrorism,” and the judgement itself, but I think it just best to let the reader read the judgment for themselves. Instead, I wish to, in this section, mention the responses from figures in the upper echelons of Iran’s government,representing the Iranian bourgeoisie, which have been not mentioned in the bourgeois media.

The Iran was rightly up and arms about this ruling. On April 22, the spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Jaberi Ansari said in a speech in New York that “the ruling has mocked international law…such [a] verdict is stealing the assets and properties of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and added that the US government should compensate Iran for any damages “inflicted on Iran as a result of the ruling,” with Iran, long “rejected allegations of involvement in the 1983 Beirut bombing.” The same day, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the ruling. He said that Iran does “not recognize the court’s ruling and the US government knows this well…whatever action it [the United States government] takes with respect to Iran’s assets will make it accountable in the future and it should return these assets to Iran.” Also that day Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, also condemned the ruling. He told reporters in Vienna that this move is “exactly in violation of international law and it can be considered as an international robbery. We do not officially recognize the U.S. court’s decision because it has confiscated and in fact robbed Iranian assets in a completely non-judicial manner by violating international norms.” Many days later, Zarif again blasted the ruling with even harsher words that almost echoed what Araqchi said. He argued in an interview with The New Yorker, with some quotes reprinted in Iran Daily, that he had lost “every respect for U.S. justice,” adding powerfully the following:

“…the judgment by the Supreme Court and…by a New York circuit court deciding that Iran should pay damages for 9/11 are the height of absurdity. How would you explain Iran being held accountable for the damages to the victims of 9/11—and others being absolved of any responsibility, those who were actually responsible for it? These cases cannot stand in any serious civilized court of law…people can legislate in other countries to confiscate American assets. [similar to what was said on Twitter by VNGiapaganda]  Would you be happy with that? The United States has committed a lot of crimes against Iranians, against the people of Vietnam, the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq. Can they legislate in their own countries for every collateral damage suffered because of American bombing, for every person who was tortured by the Savak, which was created by the United States, those people can claim money from the United States and go confiscate it? Would you be willing to accept it? So why should we accept the Supreme Court ruling? The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It [the recent court decision] is theft…highway robbery. And believe me, we will get it back.”

In the rest of interview, there were numerous other observations by Zarif. He said that the Saudis stymied Iranian efforts to work with neighbors in the Persian Gulf, that he wants to see European banks doing business in his country “without fear of U.S. retaliation,” that hostile policies aimed at Iran have to stop, and that the U$ owes Iran for giving Saddam Hussein “intelligence to hit our civilians with chemical weapons.” He also said that Iranian defense is “not  subject to bargaining,” that the process forward in Syria should be put “in the hands of the Syrian people” and declared that people shouldn’t consider Iran a monolith. Elsewhere, in a statement picked up by conservative media, it quoted Zarif as saying that “the Iranian government does not recognize U.S. extra-territorial law and considers the U.S. court ruling to blockade Iranian funds null and voice and in gross violation of international law…if they [Iranian funds] are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the ICJ for reparation.” The original source of this quote clarified that there was a wrongly translated part about lodging a complaint with the ICJ, with Zarif saying that Iran will “claim compensation from the US administration” if Iranian assets are confiscated, that John Kerry has “got to know our protest since the US court made such illegal action,” and that a committee was formed to investigate how this happened, in order to prevent “repetition of such cases and…how to prevent such an illegal action to take effect.”

Later in April, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, spoke in a related note about the U$ intimidating foreign banks so they don’t engage in business with Iran, representing a part of the bourgeoisie. He said, and I quote,

“the major reason for major international banks’ refusal to cooperate with Iran is the Iranophobia that Americans have been promoting…there is no place in the region more secure than Iran and the conditions in our country in more secure than in the US where several people are killed every day and is even more secure than the European countries.”

Earlier this month, Iran’s parliament also voted against the verdict. Iranian legislators reiterated that the U$ court ruling contradicts “international law and order,” with the Vice-Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Hassan Abourorabifard, saying that the ruling is “baseless, unreasonable and invalid, “also saying that “the Iranian nation will strongly safeguard its rights.” The article, and one that is similar to it, also quoted the Iranian Vice-President for Legal Affairs, Elham Aminzadeh saying that Iran had filed a lawsuit against the US at the International Court Justice, and that “the government has powerfully stood against the practice of this ruling because the assets belong to the (Iranian) nation and should be spend on its welfare.” The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, was also quoted as saying that “US officials have not been bound to their promises towards Iran since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, but they should know that Iran’s hands are not tied for taking reciprocal measures.” Even the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, representing the pro-Western moderate faction of the bourgeoisie, said at a cabinet meeting

“that a court or judiciary in a corner of the world wants to decide about the Iranian nation’s rights and properties is fully illegal and against the international laws and the central banks’ legal immunity…The Iranian nation will stand against this incorrect ruling, and the Islamic Republic and its government will use all their power to restore the Iranian nation’s rights.”

Some strange readers may still laugh and say that there is evidence that Iran was involved in 1983 Beirut bombings, maybe even that they should be “punished.” Some may even  think that Iran somehow owes U.S. victims, of what some laughably call “Iranian terrorism,” $53 billion dollars! Anyway, I looked at some of the available evidence that claims this is the case. The claims that Iran was involved include accusations that it gave Hezbollah “approval and funding,” funding from “Iran’s senior government officials” as this CNN article claims, with the lawsuits just happened to be filed after 2001, and as claimed by one federal judge (also noted here), that “Hezbollah was formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was completely reliant on Iran.” The best evidence of all of this is a magical document, revealed at the March 2003 trial (note: this is the site of horrid anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman): a NSA “intercept of a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran to Hojjat ol-eslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus,” which is not available to the public only summarized by a judge. The plaintiffs who just won their case, in what was an act of robbery, must have been overjoyed when in 2003 a court found that the Iranian Central Bank was “legally responsible for providing material financial and logistical support to help carry out this tragic attack on the 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.”

Anyway, a section of a wikipedia page on this subject claims that at the time a group called the “Islamic Jihad” claimed responsibility for the bombings but that Reagan officials believed that Iran and/or Syria was responsible for the bombings, and eventually Hezbollah, with a Lebanese author claiming that Iran and Syria helped “organize the bombing,” while some others even say that Mossad was responsible. Interestingly enough, the CIA was the first to blame Iran groups and then claim there was “Iranian-sponsored terrorism” and it was the bombing of an embassy by what the CIA claimed was “overwhelming…evidence” pointing to someone opening with “Iranian supporter under the cover name of Islamic Jihad” and some magical callers claiming they were part of Hezbollah. As the CIA said on their website, the Islamic Jihad Organization “claimed responsibility for the Beirut embassy bombing.” In a 2009 article by Muhammad Sahimi argues the following:

“…to this date, no one can point to the true culprits with any great deal of certainty. Iran may have had an indirect role in the attacks, but…the evidence is not conclusive. If Iran played a role, it was in the context of the Iran-Iraq War…an unknown organization calling it the Islamic Jihad [not the Palestine group] took responsibility for the bombings…some experts believe that the Islamic Jihad was the forefather of Hezbollah…there is however no consensus about when the Lebanese Hezbollah was formed…Hezbollah…has always vehemently denied that it had any role in the attacks. Due to close relations between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, those who insist that Hezbollah already existed in 1982 or 1983 tend to also accuse the Islamic Republic of being behind the Beirut bombings. Iran did play a fundamental role in the formation of Hezbollah…it is also true that with Syria’s support, Iran began stationing military personnel…in Lebanon…but departed by 1989…Robert Baer, a CIA agent in Beirut…had concluded that Iran…was the key player behind the embassy bombing…many books and articles have been published on the attacks, but…we still remain in the dark.”

A conservative site, which takes the view that Hezbollah was responsible, notes that the bombing killed 63 people, with many of those killed being from “the CIA’s important Beirut station,” almost implying that the group that engaged in the attack knew of the CIA’s presence. Similarly, libertarian James Bovard, in CounterPunch, does not challenge this placing of responsibility, but says that “the U.S. embassy was a sitting duck for terrorist assault” and how this connected to the “debacle” in Lebanon. As noted in the quote above, Robert Baer and his team concluded, at the time, that Hezbollah was not responsible for the bombing in Beirut, but that it was the Islamic Jihad, one of the “three dozen militias of various persuasion[s] operating just in Beirut in the early 1980’s,” or maybe even the PLO was involved. Then there’s the supposed mastermind of the attacks (if you trust U$ officials) who was claimed to be part of Hezbollah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, by unknown assailants.

I could go more into this, but I do think it is clear that it is not clear cut that there was Iranian involvement in this 1983 bombing of the U$ embassy in Beirut.

Iran’s geopolitical role in the region and its history

In recent years, the geopolitical role of Iran has undoubtedly increased. After all, it is in a strategic location bordering the Persian Gulf, along with U$-allied states of Afghanistan and Iraq, which could arguably be called imperial proxies. The U$, which should more accurately be described as a murderous imperial monster, is continuing to restrict Iran’s economy. Back in March, this monster and its allies urged more sanctions for Iranian missile tests, which were obviously a defensive measure.  As Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Araqchi, who was mentioned earlier, put it correctly, “US enmity is endless and still continues against the Iranian government and nation.” This has shown itself to be true when in April, the spokesperson for the State Department, Mark Toner, declared that “the administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the US financial system,” which was echoed by President Obama. If even a legal fellow of the bourgeois National Iranian American Council, which I’ll talk about more later, says that Obama should engage in more sanctions relief, then that is telling.

In response to such imperial assault, there have been, not surprisingly, measures and statements that Iran will not hesitate to defense itself. Most recently, even President Rouhani said that Iran would take drastic measures if there were any delays in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif added to this that Iran was requiring the Western countries to honor their commitments to this deal. The most insightful comment was from the defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. He implied that U$ presence in the region “stirs insecurity” in the region and then blaming Iran, furthering saying that “Iran will decisively confront any menacing passage through the Strait of Hormuz” and that it was Iran’s right to hold military exercises. His insight manifested itself in this comment: “We warn the Americans not to repeat their past mistakes and they should learn from historical realities.”  Others, such as Zarif said that Iran would not use force except in defense, a statement falling in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states: “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Also, Ayatollah Khamenei argued the following at a meeting on the occasion of the birth of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, Hazat Fatemah Zahra:

“If the Islamic establishment seeks technology and negotiations but does not have defensive power, it will have to back down in the face of any petty country that threatens [it]. That they say the future of the world is one of negotiation and not one of missiles…if that is said of ignorance, well it is ignorance, but if it’s said knowingly, it is treason. The Islamic Republic must use all tools. I am not opposed to political dialog, not with everyone of course. I am fine with political dialogue on the level of global issues. These are times of both missiles and negotiations. Negotiations should be carried out in such a way that we do not get cheated. That we negotiate, put things on paper, but sanctions don’t get removed, and trade doesn’t get going is a sign that something is wrong.”

There is no doubt that Iran is under threat by imperialist machinations. After all, as Khamenei said himself, “American presidential candidates are racing in saying bad words against Iran which is their hostility” and, as he argued later, the West is not serious about confronting terrorism. Because of this threat, it is not surprising that despite Saudi efforts to restrict Iran as noted here, for example, an ex-Saudi Price admitting to arming terrorists in the Southeastern part of Iran, that Iran would engage in a foreign policy aiming to stabilize the region. As Zarif noted, with removal of sanctions, the country will try to “restore peace and stability in the region” in part by trying to “quell region tensions” even though some try to thwart this initiative. Rouhani added to this that Iran is concerned about instability in regional states. More than just meetings and such, this policy manifests itself in numerous ways. For one, it includes standing with Syria as a “main chunk in the resistance front against enemies,” in part by sending Iranian commandos to the country on an advisory mission to help Syrian military forces fight foreign-backed militants.

I could also talk about here about the UN apparently censoring press coverage of the meeting of Kerry and Zarif on April 22 at the UN, Khameini reminding people of the history of the Islamic Republic as one of resistance, or the  non-“revolution” engineered by the CIA to overthrow Mohammad Mossadegh. Instead, I’d like to focus on Iran and the drug trade. Recently, the Secretary General of Drugs Control Headquarters, Abolreza Rahmani Fazli, criticized the UN for failing to live up to their promises, saying that “up until now, the UN has failed to live up to its promises to aid Iran in fighting illicit drugs…what we need from the UN is the necessary facilities and equipment to combat drug trafficking, particularly detection dogs…Iran, due to sharing borders with Afghanistan, which the origin of production and transit of drugs, has paid the highest price in counteracting illicit drugs.” From this, some could speculate this means that sanctioning countries may be involved in the drug trade, like the United States for instance. This brings us to the history portion of this section, which focuses on Iran and the drug trade. For this, one must turn to a book I am currently reading, The Strength of the Wolf, by Douglas Valentine, which follows a number of agents, or characters, within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from the 1940s until the 1960s. Valentine who has written about the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam in a book titled The Phoenix Program, the secret history of the war on drugs, with a specific focus on the DEA, titled The Strength of the Pack, the successor book to The Strength of the Wolf, and more.

Valentine specifically talks about Iran’s place in the drug trade at numerous junctures.  For one, it was clear, from the surveys by FBN agent Garland Williams in 1948 and 1949, and as FBN Commissioner Henry Anslinger knew, that Iran’s most influential families had gained fortunes through the opium trade, intending to keep anti-drug laws weak so their fortunes could continue to grow, with opium shipped to Indochina “through Greek and Armenian brokers,” a trade from which Chinese nationalists were also profiting. [3] More specifically, this trade meant that there were “more than a million addicts” in Iran, but the espionage Establishment cared little, with their goal of keeping the Shah in power rather than pushing Iran to reform its narcotics policies. [4] Interestingly enough, Mohammad Mossadegh, who is well-known for nationalizing Iran’s oil fields in 1951, led a parliamentary coalition, and was hoping to also reform Iran’s narcotic laws, but this was not “the sort of anti-narcotic action that Anslinger appreciated.” [4] Mossadegh also banned opium production in Iran, as he was aware of Iran’s drug addiction problem, but his nationalization of British and American oil firms led to a “bloody coup engineered by the British and CIA,” that was, more specifically, concocted by Kim Roosevelt and the CIA, with Roosevelt working with known CIA asset Faround Nashibi, who was employed as chief of security for Pan American Airlines in Beirut at the time. [5]  In the aftermath of Mossadegh being overthrown in a coup, which the CIA only admitted engaging in a document released in 2013 publicly and Obama tacitly admitted in 2009 (also noted here), the Amerikan and British oil companies “regained their properties in Iran,” Roosevelt became the vice-president of Gulf Oil, and the CIA moved in, launching “penetration operations inside the Soviet Union” from Iran. [6] With this change of government, supporting the Shah was a matter of national security eclipsing the “local issues of drug law enforcement” as the royal families in Iran “never stopped overproducing or selling black-market opium.”

There’s more. For one, the FBN had been receiving reports from at least 1951 that the younger brother of the Shah, Mahmoud Pahlevi was “trafficking in narcotics between Tehran, Paris, New York and Detroit,” with the Pahlevi family having holdings in opium fields, and the first documented report of his involvement in February 1951. [7] FBN agent Jim Ryan was surprised to find out that the Shah’s younger brother was engaged in drug smuggling, but as his supervisor, Charlie Siragusa, told him, Prince Ruspoli, another member of the Iranian royal family, was also an addict, and hinted that Pahlevi may have had a drug habit as well, supplying his “jet-set friends so they could all enjoy the same exclusive kick.” [8] It is also worth noting that the family of Prince Ruspoli, “owned huge opium farms” in Iran and how a Corsican even “asked him to supply raw opium to build a heroin conversion factory in Tehran.” This one of the many FBN cases, with a narco boss, Armen Nercessian, set up in a trap and arrested by FBN agent Paul Knight in a garage. The arrest caused quite a stir, but since, at time, the CIA was engaged in Operation Ajax, a plan to reinstall the Shah and overthrow Mossadegh, the FBN never revealed that “Pahlevi’s address was found on Nercessian,” but later Siragusa told Anslinger that the “surplus opium in Iran” could be part of a broader trend. [9] Many years later, the drug trade was still alive and well in Iran. In 1956, while working with General Alavi Moghaddam, Paul Knight and Charlie Siragusa, both working for the FBN, raided a lab “in Tehran that was producing 100 pounds of heroin a week!” [10] This huge bust was only the beginning, with Knight escorting FBN agent Garland Williams to Tehran, at the personal request of President Eisenhower to “solve” the drug problem in Iran, but this was complicated by the fact that CIA officer Bryon Engle with them, who had a job to “create a narcotics squad in Tehran,” at the same time that him and the “were forming, with the Mossad, Iran’s brutal secret police force, SAVAK.” This was further compromised by the reality that America had been “enmeshed in Iran’s opium business since 1943,” when the Third Millspaugh Mission came to Iran to take over Iran’s economy, but not only gave “oil, air transport, and various other commercial rights to American industrialists” but collected “opium revenues, managed the Pharmaceutical Institute, and directed the Royal opium factory,” which prompted some critics to call this team “drug sellers.”

From this history, it is obvious why Iran would be serious about combating the flow of illicit drugs within its country. Additionally, with the explosion of heroin production after the imperial occupation of Afghanistan began in 2001 by U$-led forces, this is even more of a pressing issue for them. Perhaps Iran is also doing this in an effort to engender more Western cooperation but that is up for debate.

Where we are now: the crossroads

As Iran currently stands, there are roughly two competing forces, which divide the bourgeoisie: the reformists and the religious so-called “hardliners.” The reformists are newer, emerging since the 1990s, at minimum, and are backed by the West, specifically the imperialist monster, or “Great Satan” as some Iranians call it. The religious so-called “hardliners” are those who won in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, establishing an Islamic Republic, and are much more anti-U$, which manifests itself in even further strengthened nationalism.

A recent tweet brought this to my attention. It was a tweet from the National Iranian-American Council or NIAC, citing a CNN article which declared, citing magical unnamed “experts,” that the election of reformists “will give Rouhani a less hostile environment to push his reforms.” Before I get into analysis of what these “reforms” are, it is important to analyze NIAC. Their sister organization, NIAC Action, the tweet of which I cited, has five goals: supporting the 2015 nuclear deal (and preventing war), strengthening U$-Iran diplomatic relations, lifting sanctions on Iran, promoting “human rights” in Iran, and fighting discrimination against Iranian-Amerikans and Iranians in the U$. Some of these goals may seem laudable, one must recognize that the board of these organization is staffed with a former Congressional policy advisor, a former intern with the neocon think tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), former American Cancer Society vice-president, former intern for Fund for Peace, a research assistant for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) which tries to support Iranian dissidents (a.k.a. the Iranian opposition like the “Green Movement”) and seems to have connections to NED (but supposedly no funding), and much more. [11] From here, it is best to move onto NIAC itself. On its page about its funders, NIAC says that 82% of its funds came from Iranian Americans and that the rest came from foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Arca Foundation, and Ploughshares Fund. Then, almost oddly, is the declaration that “NIAC does not receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments” which should make anyone a bit suspicious.

Doing a little digging, one finds out that NIAC openly admitted in a 2003 annual report that it received money from NED, and as noted by SourceWatch, received money in the years of 2005 and 2006 as well. Furthermore, there are two reports, which relate to the 2005-2006 grant. One of these notes that NIAC only came into existence in 2002, and then says that this nonprofit “will use renewed Endowment support to create an interactive website for Iranian civic groups to develop their capacity and improve their access.” If that doesn’t sound like assisting imperial destabilization, I don’t know what is. The other report, a follow-up from the previous one, declares that with NED funding, NIAC continued to develop its website for the civic groups mentioned previously, and also “continued to cultivate relations with Iranian NGOs and intensified its marketing.” I also found in my searching that the personal project of a neocon I mentioned earlier, Timmermann, hated the president of NIAC for apparently opposing U$ regime change in Iran and pushing for diplomacy instead.

This implies that NIAC does not support such regime change anymore and that everything is just happy and dandy. However, let us not forget what types of things the RBF has funded in the past, including anti-BDS NGOs at the present, and funds many liberal groups, especially environmental groups, along with a role, in tandem with other groups, to, in the words of Jay Taber, “subvert democracy and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.” When it comes to NIAC, perhaps it is best to look at their campaigns themselves. One recent “action” item of theirs, about lifting visa waivers for Iranian-Americans, cites the support of 35 “tech entrepreneurs,” which are really just capitalists, for justification. [12] Other posts show that NIAC seems to care about “U.S. foreign policy interests” not being trampled, wants there to be “economic reintegration of Iran into the global economy,” and thinks that Iranian-Americans can “make a change” by voting for Democrats. Other posts showing NIAC praising  social-democrat-imperialist Bernie Sanders, thanking Obama, calling out the “regime” in Iran. If that isn’t enough, NIAC argues that House Republicans opposing the Iran nuclear deal threatens “U.S. national security interests.” [13] What is a bit worrisome is one of the justifications sent to Congress for why the Iran nuclear deal should be approved and I quote directly: “a successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.” I could go more into NIAC, but it seems clear that they serve as an organization that supports the Iranian opposition and hence are in line with U$ imperial interests, even if they do not receive direct funding from NED. It is also evident that NIAC is a bourgeois organization, a bourgeois NGO to be precise.

Having covered NIAC, it is vital to return back to the two competing forces in Iran, roughly. The “reforms” proposed by Rouhani are not something that any person, especially those on the “Left,” broadly or narrowly defined, should stand for. According to a few articles I looked at, his reforms include: (1) privatizing the automotive industry; (2) opening up the economy more to the West; (3) engaging in “economic liberalization” which are code words for privatization; and (4) weaken state involvement in the economy. [14] There was an article on a site that is a project of the German Green Party, a social democrat party mind you, which noted that Rouhani’s administration has “hewed to rather conventional austerity measures, curbing inflation and cutting costs,” and saying that if this approach is maintained, along with the slow amount of foreign investment, “the economy is in danger of shrinking rather than growing.” Then there was a rash of articles quoting numerous Iranian high-level ministers who declare that Iran wants to fully join the WTO, a mainstay of the existing capitalist system since 1995. [15] This is not very promising, but neither is the fact that one of the leading members of the “neoconservative advocacy community,” the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sided with Rouhani, declaring that “the elections appear to have given the Rouhani-aligned moderates and reformists a plurality in the new parliament,” praising the harsh cuts to food and fuel subsidies, supporting his “reform agenda,” and that the best option is for “the United States…to do nothing.” This praise is not surprising when, as one Reuters writer declared, after claiming that the idea of a “resistance economy” was bunk, that “Rouhani’s reforms…in many ways resemble policies of a center-right European government.” [16] To me, this is deeply troubling as it implies that Rouhani is doing the “right thing,” in the mind of such imperialists, in that he is doing something that governments of Europe, have done, in an effort to implement austerity, destroying social programs and social services.

The elections this past February proved whether this agenda was “winning” in Iran or not. The Economist declared that this parliamentary election was part of a “backlash” against conservatism. The election results showed that reformists won 66% of the parliamentary seats in the province of Tehran. According to the election results, the Principalists, which is another name for the “hardliners,” seemed to win a majority of the seats, even when I recounted them a second time. However, that was before all of the results were in, which shows that the reformist coalition called “List of Hope” won against “hardline” coalitions like the Principalist Grand Coalition and People’s Voice Coalition. It is also important to note here that Khamenei called for full participation of Iranians in elections and that, as noted by Iranian state media, “more than 60 percent of some 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots at around 53,000 polling stations across the country.” It worth also pointing out that at one point some wanted electronic voting in Iran without a secure system, so it was abandoned, which seems to eliminate one possible avenue of Western manipulation or tampering.

Some may ask what this election means. For one, I’m not sure if these new legislators will heed Khomenei’s message after the election which said that “I shall remind all authorities…[of] preferring national interests over personal or party requests, courageous resistance against foreign intervention, Revolutionary response to plots by the malevolent and traitors,” and so on. Sputnik, a Russian state-funded news outlet posited, around the same time, that “the decline of Islamic clerics…demonstrates that the Islamic revolution in 1979 is a distant memory.” Some Westerners may be cheering at this announcement, but it vital to dig more into what this means. It is clear that Rouhani’s reformist administration is trying to court Western companies like BP (despite its role in the 1953 coup), which recently opened an office in Tehran and a recent “major oil, gas and petrochemical convention” which attracted over “900 international firms…for four days of showing, stalking and cutting deals with 900 domestic companies” including Asian enterprises and European firms such as ABO Value (Czech), Camfil Power Systems AB (Swedish), Carbon Energy Club (Belgian), Sichuan Huagong Petroleum Steel Pipe Co. (Chinese). [17] This obviously will mean that the economy will continue to move from one that is centrally-planned, albeit not entirely; to one that is more of an open market, making the Iranian bourgeoisie perhaps richer and benefiting bourgeoisie of the West. [18]

There is no doubt that Western capitalists must be jumping up and down and so excited about this opportunity to tap into a new market, exploiting more people for their personal gain, of course. But it also means that NED’s efforts have been relatively successful. NED, as must be remembered, is an appendage of the murderous empire. In terms of Iran, they have given awards to leading Iranian political activists such as Ali Afshari and Manouchehr Mohammadi, awarded the Green Movement with the 2010 Democracy Award, as noted here, here, and here, supported “democracy” efforts in Iran. NED also portrayed Iran as an authoritarian monster that was repressive, gave money for an online journal, radio station, organizations, and activists, honored more activists (also see here and here), and much more. At the same token, one could say that NED has not been successful. For a time that was true because the Green Revolution was pushed back in 2010, a movement which obviously was a method to gain control, like the other movements NED has honored, and put in place a Western-friendly government. Of course NED is not the only organization at play here; likely the CIA has secret operations afoot in Iran, along with USAID, and a number of other organizations like BBG and others that spread imperial propaganda.

Looking forward, there is isn’t even a need to talk about the size of Iran’s economy, a silly pseudo-“left” statement on Iran, or how oil prices were supposedly tied to the outcome of Iran’s recent elections. Instead it is best to remember that Khamenei is the one who, along with others, opposes privatization but supposedly supports an “illusion of privatization.” But the deeper reality is that if such privatization which the reformists, and their Western capitalist backers, want is fully implemented, then the “resistance economy” will be utterly destroyed. Such an economy, which existed under UN sanctions, is one that has five-year development plans, has expanded production of “knowledge-based products,” increased production of “strategic goods,” markets in neighboring countries, increased exports of raw materials, and yes, privatization despite Khomenei saying in 2013 that trust in “imposed economic theories of the West and the East” was harmful, a description which was mostly echoed by the Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The Guardian claimed that this type of economy, a term first used in 2010, which includes a “push for self-sufficiency and domestic production…a commitment to the central place in the economy of…bodies like the IRGC,” but is flexible term and depends on what happens in the US.

There are some who oppose Rouhani’s policy of privatization. One such article is by Drake University Professor Ismael Hossein-zadeh on the website of the sometimes good, sometimes wacky, Global Research Centre. In this article, Hossein-zadeh writes that the efforts of Rouhani’s administration, unlike the “opening of China to foreign capital” (another sly reformist defense of China) has been inspired by “the doctrine of economic liberalism/neoliberalism” which is a break from the past when Iran viewed economic sanctions as an opportunity to be self-reliant. He further argues that the “open-door economic policy” of the Rouhani administration undermined these past gains, the industrialization strategy of import-substitution is ignored, and that soon Iran would be experiencing deindustrialization if it does not temper the opening of itself to foreign trade. He also adds that Rouhani and his administration are taking on foreign debt to improve the country, that the approach forward would lead to dependence of Iran, and that Rouhani and his economic advisors are “West-centric in a misplaced, inappropriate and mistake way” that follows the strategies of “mature or advanced capitalism.” He concludes by saying that unless such neoliberal policies are reversed then Iran’s markets will be “flooded with foreign products,” the manufacturing base will be weakened, foreign debt will escalate and national sovereignty compromised.

Where do we go from here?

After reading this article, some readers may have little hope in Iran changing. Some readers may remember that communist parties in Iran are almost non-existent, with the suppression of the Iranian communist party, Tudeh, in the 1980s. Some readers may say that Iran does, in its current form, serve as an anti-imperialist state. While you could say that is true (even though they are really anti-U$), with the Rouhani administration, there have been efforts  to pull Iran closer to the West. Others may even say that with these new developments, maybe there is a possibility for a push in Iran for a more expanded communist presence. To be honest, I’m not very optimistic about the latter possibility. At this current time, I’m fully willing to support those forces that resist Western imperialism in Iran. I’m not sure the bourgeois reformist government in Iran will ultimately be enough.


Notes

[1] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” Also see: an NPR article by Eyder Peralta (April 20, 2016) titled “Supreme Court Rules Frozen Iranian Money Be Turned Over to U.S. Terrorism Victims”; an AP article (April 20, 2016) by Mark Sherman titled “High Court sides with families of ’83 Beirut bombing victims”; a Bloomberg News article by Greg Stohr (April 20, 2015) titled “Iran Terror Victims Win at U.S. Supreme Court, Can Collect $2 billion.”

[2] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” In its defense, the Iranian bank argues that “Congress unlawfully changed the legal rules in a pending case” while Roberts also said in his dissent that after this decision, “with the court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases” as noted in an April 20, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal by Brent Kendall titled “Supreme Court Upholds Terrorism Victims’ Ability to Collect Frozen Iran Funds.” For more on an analysis of Robert’s dissent, from an unabashedly conservative source, of course, see here.

[3] Valentine, Douglas. The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs. London: Verso, 2004. Print. pp. 78-9, 102, 117.

[4] Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf, 105.

[5] Ibid, 105, 170.

[6] Ibid, 170.

[7] Ibid, 117.

[8] Ibid, 118.

[9] Ibid, 119

[10] Ibid, 169.

[11] Other positions held by those on the board include a former “Physical Therapy Assistant,” former organizer for United for Peace and Justice, a graphic designer, and a former reporter.

[12] This is also cited in a post here.

[13] In their ad, NIAC claimed that opposing the deal threatened a “chance for peace.”

[14] See Arthur MacMillian’s March 1, 2016 AFP article titled “After Iran elections, Rouhani aims for economic reform,” Ian Black’s February 29, 2016 article in The Guardian titled “Iran election results put Hassan Rouhani on cautious path to reform,” and Michael Kaplan’s January 25, 2016 article in the International Business Times titled “After Iran Nuclear Deal, Rouhani And Supreme Leader Battle Over Domestic Reforms.”

[15] Valiollah Afkhami Rad, the Deputy Industry Minister, was quoted as saying in January of this year the following: “Iran will soon form a working group to negotiate its way to join the World Trade Organization and a total of 40 countries have expressed willingness to join the group which marks the prerequisite for permanent membership to the WTO…structural reforms in Iran’s economy need to take place and reduction of tariff levels has been put on the agenda.” A post by a person who formally worked at the United States Institute for Peace declared that “Iran is increasingly vocal about its readiness to join the World Trade Organization…Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh…announced that finalizing its WTO membership is “a priority” for Iran…domestic lobbies…are particularly wary of foreign competition. Iran will thus need not just structural changes but also political mobilization.” In a television talk show in December 2015, Iran’s minister of industry, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said that “our country can join the World Trade Organization in less than two years,” and noted that Iran has been requesting to be a WTO member since 1995.

[16] See Andew Torchia’s May 1, 2014 article in Reuters titled “Politics, markets complicate Rouhani’s rescue of Iran economy.”

[17] It is worth reading the letter written by President H.E. Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China which says, in part: “…In history, China and Iran made important contribution[s] to opening the Silk Road and promoting exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations…since the inception of our diplomatic ties in 1971, the China-Iran relationship has stood the test of international changes and maintained a momentum of sound and steady development…Our development strategies are highly compatible, which creates huge potential for cooperation…the long distance between Beijing and Tehran is no obstacle to the interaction or cooperation between China and Iran, nor to the friendship and exchanges between out peoples. China is ready to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an even better future for China-Iran relations.”

[18] For proof that Iran is moving in this direction, see a webpage on Economy Watch’s website, this website, this post on the USIP website, this country brief by the World Bank, this book, and much more.


Addendum

As I continue to read about this subject, I have had some interesting responses. One reader, VNGiapaganda, asked me what I thought of the possibility that “Afghan opium is being used to destabilize Iran” and commented that this is “something I’ve been wondering about, because Iran has been having HUGE problems with narcotics from what I’ve gathered.” I think this a definite possibility. UNODC puts it this way about Iran:

“Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geographical location of the country, particularly its porous 1,923 km-long Eastern border with Afghanistan – the world’s largest illicit opium producer – and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years…[in 2014] Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012…More than 3,700 national law enforcement officials have been killed and over 12,000 have been maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades…the Islamic Republic of Iran also faces emerging trends of illicit production and trafficking in Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS).”

In addition, as NarcoNon puts it, “Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin,” and that “Ethnic Kurds…are thought to be heavily involved in the movement of drugs across this border.” Let us not forget the imperial monster has allied with Kurds, at least since the 1990s, a “strong, deep partnership” or “close relationship” as a November 13, 2015 New York Times article (by Tim Arango and titled “Sinjar Victory Bolsters Kurds, but Could Further Alienate U.S. From Iraq) put it, which manifests itself in military strikes, for example (see Morgan L. Kaplan’s September 9, 2014 Washington Post article titled “Why the U.S. backed the Kurds). There are probably more articles than this on this relationship, but one could speculate that the U$ government, covertly of course, was working with Kurdish traffickers to destabilize Iran. However, that may seem to be too much of a stretch. Still, as an Iranian state media outlet put it, Iran sees itself, among other countries as the “frontline of the fight against narcotics trafficking” and has fighting to stop “infiltration into the country” by drug smuggling groups.

It is clear that Iran is facing “huge problems with narcotics” as VNGipaganda pointed out. The corporate-backed Middle East Institute claims that NGOs are doing the best work in stopping drugs, but this disregards the huge seizures of drugs like tons upon tons of opium (and other illicit drugs), a drug control organization that is part of the Iranian government, which is all part of their “war on narcotics.” Bourgeois media have declared in the past that “Iran is the main gateway for the region’s top drug exporter, Afghanistan” with more than 2.2 million Iranians who are drug addicts, that punishments for those trafficking illicit drugs often result in execution, and that there have been massive public awareness campaigns about illicit drugs. This media has also declared that drug trafficking soared in 2012 even with Western sanctions ravaging the economy, claiming wildly that even that Iranian forces and Hezbollah were involved (see a Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, on November 1, 2012 titled “In Iran, drug trafficking soars as sanctions take bigger bite”), and another quoting a prominent Iranian official is a member of the Expediency Council, Saeed Sefatian apparently illustrating “legalisation of cannabis and opium use under specific circumstances outlined by ad hoc laws.” Some, like High Times, have used the latter quote to call for “opening up” of democratic dialogue in Iran which inherently means to assist the reformists and therein privatization, while others have said that Iran’s drug policy is just paradoxical. Others argued that Iran, “as one of the world’s primary frontiers in the fight against opiate and illicit drug trade, should be actively encouraged and assisted to take a more prominent role.” You can bet that isn’t happening.

Anyway, onto other issues of note. Ali Akbar Velayati, head of the Strategic Research Center, which is part of Iran’s Expediency Council, told reporters in Tehran that “I have had five meetings with Mr. Putin and I never saw his hesitation in supporting the legitimate government of Syria,” and he asserted that Iran regards “Assad and his government as a “red line”” as the Iranian state media outlet summarized it. Yet again, this shows that Iran is staking out not only an anti-terror position but an anti-U$ one by standing with an arguably Arab nationalist government, regardless of that fact that the latter is secular. Another article I stumbled across said that a “Russian S-300 missile defense system delivered to Iran has been brought to Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base,” further noting that “Moscow and Tehran signed a contract for the delivery of five battalion sets of S-300 PMU1 air defense missile systems in 2007” and that “Iran displayed the first S-300 air defense missile system imported from Russia in April.” This sort of trade probably angers imperial elites as they see Russia as a “threat” despite the fact that it only has 10 military bases worldwide compared to hundreds upon hundreds of bases by the murderous empire. Two other articles I found related to the section of this article on the US Supreme Court case relating to Iran. One of them cited a PressTV video showing the Iranian Parliament speaker condemning the decision. Another quoted Rouhani, the Western-backed reformist, as saying in a speech, following the denouncement by the Non-Aligned Movement, the following:

“The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation be easily gobbled up by the Americans…[Iran will] take this case to the International Court [of Justice] in the near future and will not spare any effort towards the restoration of the nation’s rights through legal, political and banking channels.”

A statement like this could imply that even with reformists in power that Iran may still remain anti-U$. However, one must consider that with more cooperation with Western forces there is no doubt that the reason to be anti-imperialist will be left, with Iran ultimately, if Rouhani’s center-right policies are fully implemented, becoming a dependent state. Hence, an anti-U$ position won’t even be on the agenda.

Finally I write about here a little bit on NIAC and NED. From what I found, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment and one of the pillars of the empire, has a transcript of a 2011 press conference with participants including: the NIAC President, Trita Parsi; Congressperson Keith Ellison; former New York Times correspondent Nazila Fathi; Nader Hashemi, a person who edited a book about the Green Movement; the Swedish Ambassador to the US, Jonas Hafstrom; an international policy analyst for the RAND Corporation, Alireza Nader; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Suzanne Nossel; and a director of Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson. At this press conference, hosted by NIAC, and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ploughshares Fund, participants moaned and groaned about “the human rights situation in Iran,” citing International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) and Amnesty International as sources, along with trying to hold Iran “accountable” for its “human rights violations” maybe even refer them to the International Criminal Court! Other participants claimed that Iran is a “very nationalistic country,” claims that US politicians should publicly support Iranian opposition figures, heap more sanctions in Iran, and many more horrid “observations.” I think it also worthy quoting a bit of what Keith Ellison has to say, as it shows what side he is on. He says, in part the following which sounds like an apology for empire:

“The United States has done a lot of good things in the world. There’s no doubt about that. I’m proud of that. We’re one of the largest donor nations in the world, and I’m proud of that. But it’s also true that our relationship to the Middle East in particular has been somewhat limited to a few factors. Oil, our historic relationship with Israel, and counterterrorism basically have been the three prongs of our relationship with the Middle East…When we’re in a relationship with a government that somehow meets some of our economic and strategic needs, but at the same time they’re human rights violators, it’s easy to take a blind eye and not look in that direction…fundamentally human rights do lend to long‑term overall stability in a nation where people can raise their own voices, can speak their own truth without fear of being carted off and being on the business end of a jail cell, or worse. I believe those societies will be more stable over time…in the 1953, the democratic initiative of Iranian people was undermined and so, for so many years, we followed that policy because it met our own economic and strategic interests. That policy changed radically in 1979, and we’ve been dealing with the aftermath ever since that time…as Americans living in the United States, we can form the basis of a peace constituency that says human rights has got to be the way we interact with the rest of the world…I was happy to see that the “smart” sanctions President Obama signed into law last year contain some of the provisions of the legislation that I introduced…The legislation was basically ‑‑ NIAC was an indispensable resource, as I mentioned already — it’s really our legislation…Gaddafi was able to crack down brutally in part because of the absence of foreign media…the international community needs to remind the Iranian government that we are watching…it’s legitimate for the United States to have interests and legitimate for them to pursue them, but I also think that human rights is an interest of ours too…I believe that there is room for sanctions; I’ve actually introduced sanctions bills myself. But the greater history of sanctions is that it doesn’t do much to change the conduct of the country at whom the sanctions are targeted…our default position should be multilateralism…I think we should have an interest section or an embassy everywhere we can, without regard to whether we like that government or not.”

This suck-up to the murderous empire also reveals that NIAC is completely fine with sanctions on Iran, as long as they are “smart,” implying that other sanctions are “dumb.” Additionally, the fact that he only says that “the democratic initiative of the Iranian people was undermined” in 1953 without saying that there was a US and British bloody coup to overthrow Mossadegh is just disgusting.

As much as I would want to go more through that press conference, I must move on. NIAC pops up in a newsletter for the US Embassy in 2011, making one think it could just be a foreign destabilization operation. Beyond this, some of the results from a search of the State Department’s website makes it seem like they are a pawn of the US government itself. Readers may remember the declaration on NIAC’s website that they do not “receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments.” Last night, when I was attempting to look for the NED reports, I had archived before my laptop was stolen, I looked specifically through the reports of 1984-2004, the results of which will be explained later. As it turns out, NIAC received $25,000 from NED in 2002 for implementing a two-day workshop for “forty members from five civic groups” to help them develop their publicity efforts. If you don’t think this is an effort of imperial destabilization than I’ve got to say that you are sadly deluded. Additionally, this proves that NIAC is not really telling the full truth with their disclaimer, a disclaimer which implies that people have criticized them for U.S. government funding in the past and that people have accused them of being pro-Iranian government when they obviously are not. Other tweets, with a thread beginning here, show the following:

  • $316,860 for the Iran Teachers’ Association (1991-4, 2001-3)
  • $105,000 for the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) (2002-4)
  • $55,949 for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) (2004, incorrectly called “the Center for the International Private Enterprise”)
  • $50,000 for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (1995)
  • $40,500 for Vital Voices Global Partnership (2004)
  • No grants for Iranian groups for the years of 1984-1990 and 1996-2000.

Most of the grants for the Iran Teachers’ Association related to distributing their publications, including eventually a journal published by them titled Mehregan. As for the ABF, the descriptions of the grants make it seem that the ABF was given money to create a “human rights” website for “victims” of the “Iranian regime,” code for Iranian opposition activists. CIPE tried to “inject the voice of business” into Iranian society, which is not surprising considering one of its goals is to “help improve the functioning of market economies and build democratic societies” with “partners” to advance their capitalist policies across the world. Like the other organizations, the Vital Voices Global Partnership pushed to help Iranian opposition activists, specifically Iranian women. As for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran, the grant money should be obvious: it tried to monitor “human rights violations” in Iran.

While words from such organizations may seem nice on the surface, it is important to remember that these organizations are part of a broader push for imperial destabilization of Iran. There is no doubt about that. If one adds up the money from the organizations listed above, it is clear that between the years of 1991-1995 and 2002-2004, $568,309 was given to NED grantees in an effort to destabilize Iran. Some may laugh and say this a paltry sum, but lest us forget that there are still reports from 2005 on which are not noted here and that making this reality clear is still significant. Again, I welcome your comments and look forward to future interactions.

A history of revolutionary Cuba

A 1984 map, included at the end of a document on Castro’s “propaganda apparatus” as the CIA called it.This map not only made me laugh at its absurdity, but, even though the copy of the map isn’t that great, it shows the “danger” the CIA saw with communist Cuba.

This was originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Apr. 24, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Since I am anti-revisionist now and was not when this article was written, there was a necessity to revise it. This topic will hopefully be revisited again and soon.

This article is the second in this series, following the first one about an imagined scenario in Cuba, which focuses on the nation of Cuba and the accomplishments of its government. This writer could easily fall in line, praising the “normalization” between U$ and Cuba, as proliferated in liberal discourse, and accept the supposedly “authoritarian” nature of the Cuban government, which has been paraded around in the bourgeois media since 1959. Instead, this article will refute this characterization of the Cuban government and focus on Cuba’s role in liberation struggle, along with its general history in fighting off imperial destabilization efforts. It is important to understand the history of Cuba in order to assert its place in the overall revolutionary struggle, historically and currently. This is also vital not only as a way to challenge established bourgeois conceptions of Cuba and the Cold War, while pushing back against those who claim Cuba is “authoritarian” instead of being what they define as a “democracy.”

I could start with the victorious Cuban Revolution but it is important to first set the stage. The trade of enslaved Africans continued until the late 19th century, shipped by the colonial Portuguese and the Spanish, the latter who controlled the island until 1898. [1] This has meant that as a result, many people in Cuba are descendants of enslaved Africans. Despite the fact that revolts had sprung up in the past, including during the Ten Years War, a struggle led by wealthy Cuban planters, in the late 1890s, Cuba became a “hotbed of rebellion” with poor Black peasants joining wealthy native Whites “to liberate the Caribbean island from the grip of four centuries of Spanish occupation.” While the white planters feared a takeover from Blacks, who saw a free Cuba as a path to equality, they still kept in place an alliance, allowing for revolutionary delegates to met in September 1895 to create a new Cuban Republic, with a White aristocrat as President and a Black Cubans as General-in-Chief and Second in Command of the Army. [2] As the 1890s wore on, public support for Cuba Libre, or free Cuba was growing in the U$. The two major capitalist political parties (Democrats and Republicans) declared their support but the U$ President, Grover Cleveland, refused to aid Cuban rebels, at a time when the U$ bourgeoisie, which had $50 billion in agricultural investments in Cuba, “feared a truly independent Cuba,” since Cuban revolutionaries at the time “were calling for social reforms and land redistribution.” [5] As such, Cleveland was no anti-imperialist but  was only acting on behalf of a sector of the U$ bourgeoisie.

Certain newspapers stirred up support for the war, while others disagreed. The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor was the spark for more advocacy in favor of a war against Spain. [3] Still, the Monthly Journal of the International Association of Machinists supported Cuban rebels and agreed that the Maine explosion was a terrible disaster but argued, rightly so, that “worker deaths in industrial accidents were met with national indifference.” Papers like the New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer also had a role in pro-war sentiments. Such a tabloid paper would have sold for a penny, possibly bought by an immigrant, with the yellow journalism within the paper “designed to shock and titillate readers.” Yellow papers, like the Pulitzer’s World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal were engaged in a fierce contest to “cover” the Cuban government but were fed information by the Cuban Junta, which was “composed of sympathizers and exiles of the Cuban rebellion,” a bit like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Both papers were trying to appeal to a mass audience, mainly by immigrants who were learning English like Italians, Germans, and Russians, and gaining a profit of course, with circulation sometimes topping a million copies a day. [4]

The U$ had defeated the dilapidated Spanish empire in a war billed as “anti-imperialist” to “free” Cuba. By the end of the war, the U$ had conquered Cuba and the Philippines, and gained the island of Guam, as a result of the Treaty of Paris and the negotiations with Spain. The U$ arguably had an overland empire, built on the genocidal conquest of the indigenous peoples and slavery of course, along the work of other oppressed workers of color, within what would become “America.” This changed after 1898 when the U$ truly had an overseas empire, which also expanded by annexing Hawaii with a joint resolution of Congress, which some have argued is a form of prolonged occupation by the U$. Coming back to Cuba, the U$ became the new occupiers, refusing to let the Cubans “participate in the terms of Spain’s surrender” and they kept the structure in place with Spanish civil authorities still left in “charge of municipal offices.” [5] Ultimately, a new constitution was implemented in Cuba, likely coerced through illegal force, which made the island a protectorate and the Platt Amendment in 1901 which forced Cuba to provide the U$ land for a base at Guantanamo Bay and “allowed the U.S. to intervene at any time.” This development was described by the writing of one imperialist, Leonard Wood, then-Military Governor of Cuba to another, Theodore Roosevelt, with Wood declaring that “there is, of course, little or no independence left in Cuba under the Platt Amendment.”

In following years, a client government was implemented in Cuba in 1901, racial segregation was imposed, and the county was eventually burdened with the Batista dictatorship and its “mafia-capitalist class.” [5] This meant that Cuba was not a “fully sovereign space” due to imperial meddling by the U$, which led to a conception of Cuba, in the U$ perspective, of being passive in the face of their actions and “protected by its protector.” Cuba was under U$ subservience with the client and puppet dictatorship of Batista leading to “misery in the countryside and urban slums” combined with what one scholar calls “a millionaire’s playground of casinos and brothels for US tourists and organized crime.” In part of an interview in The Black Panther, the newspaper of the Black Panther Party, an unnamed revolutionary says that before the Cuban Revolution, “Cuba was very corrupt” with a lot of robbery, gambling, and “ownership of large estates of land by a small absentee oligarchy or foreign corporations” or latifundism as he called it. [6] He also argued that peasants were exploited by latifundists, who didn’t work, who had others cultivate the land for them.

In the 1950s, a groundshaking change would send shockwaves of revolution across the Caribbean and make the murderous imperialists shake in their boots in fear. In 1957, Herbert Matthews of the New York Times interviewed Fidel Castro, making the revolutionary movement in Cuba known “to the rest of the world.” [8] The CIA, in a sneering fashion, claimed that Fidel had an “instinct for the value of international propaganda,” claiming that Matthews, in three articles, “gave an almost heroic impression of the Cuban revolutionary,” along with agreements with CBS, and noted that nightly shortwave radio broadcasts opened what they called “the second phase of Castro’s propaganda war against Batista.” An upheaval caused by Batista’s dictatorial rule led to a guerrilla war begun in 1956 by a group of small group of men, including Fidel and Che Guevara. When this group of men, numbering over 80, tried to invade Cuba from Mexico, they were reduced by brutal assaults by Batista’s soldiers to fewer than 20, with the survivors fleeing into the Sierra Maesta mountains. [9] Only two years later, in part because of the ferocity and intransigence of Batista, which “fueled peasant support for the guerrillas” and a number of other factors, numerous “political parties, landowners, and businesses” had joined in the struggle, with the guerrilla force growing into a rebel army. Not long after, Fidel launched a nationwide offensive with Che’s forces splitting the country in two and Batista fleeing to the Dominican Republic, in early 1959, allowing the revolutionary forces to sweep into Havana. This overthrow not only “accentuated the tendency towards radicalization” and freed the country from foreign imperial occupation by the U$. [10] At the same time, this revolution, had a huge impact on thinking in the Latin American Left with many convinced that the revolutions in underdeveloped countries could be triggered by a small nuclei of guerrillas, leading to a “wave of unsuccessful attempts to repeat the Cuban experience across Latin America.” As a Black Panther in prison, Romane Fitzgerald, put it, the “theory and practice of protracted warfare based upon guerrilla attacks” was not only a way to defeat capitalism and imperialism but a way of seizing political power, a method, in his view, which was carried through in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Algeria. [11]

In the 1960s, in its wean years of existence, the Cuban government came under intensified imperialist assault by the United States. As Fidel Castro said in a 1961 interview, the revolution was a socialist one, and that imperialism can “choose between suicide and natural death. If it attacks, it means suicide, a fast and certain death. If it does not attack, it can hope to last a little longer.” In the interview, Fidel also said that they destroyed “a tyrannical system…the philoimperialist bourgeois state apparatus…there is no longer anything good we can expect from the national bourgeoisie as a class…the socialist camp [refers to the Soviets and Czechs, but not the Chinese]…are our friends.” For the imperial U$, it placed an importance first on stopping “another Cuba” in the hemisphere, and on “another Nicaragua” in later years, by trying to pre-empt further revolutions with the launch of the anti-communist Alliance for Progress under which the US “gave money and advice for agrarian reform programmes in countries such as Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela.” [12] Not only did the future seem to have a revolutionary tone after the Cuban revolution, but the Soviet Union championed itself as “Cuba’s protector,” bringing it closer to the revisionist Soviets who were later described as social imperialists.

While the murderous U$ empire tried to determine the nature of Castro’s disruption and what it meant, the Kennedy administration intensified its measures to squeeze Cuba to death. One of these was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the “foreign policy blunder” that led to U$ credibility and hegemony actively doubted in the aftermath of this imperialist effort by an army of Cuban exiles. While Adlai Stevenson, U$ ambassador to the UN, laughably denied U$ involvement in this armed invasion of Cuba, it was clear that this CIA operation was a U$ effort to overthrow the Cuban government. This backfire was even predicted by senior Pentagon officers in 1961, who had planned to use air power to “win the day,” but that didn’t happen and the whole operation ended up being a fiasco. This is invasion is relevant considering that Cuba recently celebrated 55 years since its historic victory at the Bay of Pigs, by forces led personally by Fidel Castro, within 72 hours, against what the Cuban government rightly described as “the infamous U.S. organized and financed mercenary invasion” and as “the first major defeat of U.S. imperialism in the Americans.” This anniversary happens to coincide with the session of the 7th Cuban Communist Party Congress, which recently finished its session.

Despite the Cuban victory in the Bay of Pigs, the imperial monster charged forward. In 1962 there was the Cuban missile crisis, which some, even those sympathetic to covering imperialism honestly, call Kennedy’s “greatest foreign-policy success.” [13] The problem with this viewpoint is it implies that Kennedy was completely rational. Additionally, it falls in line with Kennedy’s lies in his speech about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, in which he declared laughably that the United States was patient, restrained a “peaceful and powerful nation” that acted in self-defense and “of the entire Western Hemisphere” that implemented a “strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment” shipped to Cuba, “close surveillance of Cuba and its military buildup” and reinforced the illegal Guantanamo military base. [13] While some could claim this is rational, it is not. Kennedy brought the world the closest it has been to “global holocaust,” and holding the world hostage for over two weeks after which Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, which the Cuban government was angry about, including Fidel. This irrationality is obvious in the fact that Amerikan leaders, namely Kennedy and his advisers, “were prepared to place millions of American lives at risk” so they could maneuver against the Soviet Union. [14] At the same time, in a 1962 presentation almost echoing Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council before the Iraq war in 2003, with pictures of the missiles held by a US delegation, Adlai Stevenson declared that there were Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba, that the Soviets were at fault and  covered stuff up, but that the United States isn’t, but he clearly left out that “the United States had placed nuclear missiles in Turkey that were pointed at the Soviet Union.” Even a CIA document admitted in 1962 that not only would Cuban armed forces be capable of resisting and repelling any invasion either by U$-trained guerrillas or by U$ military forces, but the “provision of military equipment and instructions,” implying nuclear weapons, was “essentially defensive.” [15] At a meeting of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB) in September 19, 1962 they also declared that the main purpose of the military build-up in Cuba was to “strengthen the Communist regime…against…a danger that the U.S. may attempt by one means or another to overthrow it.”

The Bay of Pigs was only one of the many imperial destabilization efforts aimed at Cuba. CIA was already visibly annoyed that Cuba’s press, which it described as “Castro-controlled,” argued that U$ policies toward Cuba were aggressive and used the U-2 incident to bolster these arguments, along with “Khrushchev’s diatribes.” [16] Before getting to more U$ destabilization efforts it is important to recognize the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) as an imperialist weapon. A 1985 CIA document declares the following: “since 1959, the OAS has sanctioned Castro Cuba a number of times for its export of subversion, which the OAS has considered a form of armed aggression.” [17] The document then goes on to list a number of anti-Cuba actions by the OAS such as forcing “invading” Cubans in Panama to surrender in 1959; condemning supposed “Cuban subversion” in 1961; excluding the Cuban government from OAS participation in 1962; authorizing measures, including use of force, aimed at Cuba in 1962; voting for sanctions against Cuba 1963-4; and condemning Cuba and extending sanctions in 1967. For the 1964 sanctions, the OAS imposed “mandatory sanctions,” with them only expelled from the OAS two years earlier and Joao Goulart overthrown by a U$-backed coup in Brazil earlier that year; at the same time, Cuba’s “sense of isolation and vulnerability” deepened in the years of 1963 and 1964 with defeats of guerrilla movements in Venezuela, Peru and Argentina along with Salvador Allende losing the 1964 presidential elections. [18] Rightly so, the Cuban government doesn’t wish to be a member of the OAS, with Fidel Castro calling it the “Ministry of Colonies” in 1972. Not only did the OAS participate in antidemocratic actions since Cuba was excluded from participation but its decisions were imposed unilaterally, showing that it really was an extension of the murderous empire.

The U$ imperial efforts went beyond the efforts of OAS exclusion and sanctions. Most famously, there was the imposition of a blockade. Even the U$ intelligence community admitted that a blockade itself would not “bring down the Castro regime” and discussed how the Soviets, would in their conception, “exert strong pressures elsewhere to end the blockade,” and that an invasion by the U.S. would lead to “retaliatory actions outside Cuba” by the Soviets, but that they would not provoke conflict. As a Cuban site about the blockade notes, the measures adopted by the new post-1959 Cuban government to recover Cuban wealth “constituted a mortal blow to the biggest North American monopolies which has plundered Cuban resources” for more than fifty years and dominated the country. The site also said that the response of the United States was “fast and abrasive” with sanctions piled on top of sanctions, resulting in an economic war imposed in Cuba for more than four decades. The same site also said that the blockade, under international law, is an “act of war,” imposed under section 620A of the Foreign Act of 1961 by Kennedy, constituting a “group of coercive measures and economic aggression” and is more adequately defined as a blockade than an embargo since it hinders “Cuba’s development of economic, commercial and financial relations with third countries.”

The Kennedy administration led the destabilization efforts against Cuba. Kennedy implemented the “infamous quarantine” against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, opposed President Joao Goulart of Brazil because of his “independent stand in foreign policy,” and feared that Trujillo in Dominican Republic, “a dictator and authoritarian who instituted a reign of terror,” would follow the model of Cuba. Furthermore there was Operation Mongoose, which included operations such as the CIA blowing up a factory in Cuba which killed about 400 people, or the Cuban Project which was one of the biggest terrorist operations as some describe it, with a goal to help Cubans “overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba and institute a new government.” In a manner that almost seems like a conspiracy theory some detractors would say would be peddled on some right-wing blog, was part of Cuban Project called Operation Northwoods, which included staging assassinations of Cubans within the U$, creating a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign” in certain parts of the U$, have a real or simulated sinking of a “boatload of Cuban refugees,” faking a Cuban attack on a civilian jetliner, and blowing up a U$ ship within Cuban waters. Then these would be blamed on the Cubans, like how the explosion of the USS Maine was blamed on the Spanish and then used to start the war in 1898, and start a war with Cuba.

What has been explained about the criminal actions of Operation Mongoose is only part of the story. This Kennedy-authorized operation, began in November 1961 (it started in 1961 despite a typo in the Church Committee report saying 1962) and supposedly ended in October 1962, but seems to have gone on beyond this point, with some arguing it went into the 1980s. It is important to note that not only did Bobby Kennedy play a major role in the six-phase operation, but advocated for the Cuban blockade. So, don’t try to peddle some Kennedy myths here. As the Church Committee documents, the US government thought they could actually overthrow Castro, which was a “top priority,” through the methods of coordinating with angry Cuban exiles and engaging in acts of sabotage. [19] The operation, as other documents show, not only was trying to cause an “internal revolt” against Castro and cause chaos in Cuba, with “sabotage operations” supposedly ended in 1962. This end seems too tidy considering anti-Castro terrorist activity in 1963, Cuban dissident groups encouraged covertly by the CIA, and escalating covert operations that same year, along with much more. After all, the Joint Chiefs of Staff planned destabilization in Cuba until 1963 (at least), there were at least eight plots, in the years between 1960 and 1965, to assassinate Fidel Castro. [20] If this isn’t enough, not only was there arguably a covert war between 1959 and 1965 against Cuba as Don Bohning argues in his book, The Castro Obsession, but there was many attempts on the lives of Raul and Fidel Castro in the 1960s. There were also contaminants put in Cuban sugar and even a Canadian technician paid to infect turkeys with a disease that would kill them, which ultimately killed 8,000 turkeys in Cuba. Later, the US Information Agency (USIA), which became the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), implemented a plan of transmitting television to Cuba in 1990 in an action which came from, Operation Mongoose. [21] Eventually, in 2002, former US government officials, Arthur Schlesinger and Robert McNamara, admitted in a Havana conference that Operation Mongoose was the precursor to the Cuban missile crisis.

As a result of this illegal meddling of a terroristic nature, it is not surprising that the Cubans thought that Operation Mongoose was a forerunner to invasion by the U$, which is why they requested Soviet missiles in Cuba, leading to the Cuban missile crisis. [22] While Lyndon B. Johnson only sought to “inflict pain” on Cuba, while other high-ranking officials wanted invasion, it was reasonable for Cuba to fear the worst. The Cubans were haunted by the “threat of a U.S. military attack on Cuba…throughout the 1960s” and the Soviets were not always receptive to help, even opposing Cuba’s “support for guerrilla movements in Latin America.” Even the departure of Nikita Khrushchev because of his agreement to take missiles out of Cuba, which he placed there because he believed that US invasion was imminent, this did not assuage the doubts of Cuban leaders about “Soviet steadfastness in the defense of Cuba,” leading to a strained relationship with the Soviet revisionists. While the Cubans were on military alert often, including thinking they could be struck by military strikes like those in North Vietnam in early 1965, or on alert when U$ troops invaded the Dominican Republic in April 1965. At the same time, the Cubans, for example gave radical black groups moral support but didn’t give them weaponry, trying to not engage in actions which would bring them into conflict with the U$ on U$ soil, instead preparing their defenses and “countering the U.S. challenge in the Third World.” [23] In 1968, when talking with officials of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), often called East Germany in the West, Fidel Castro told them that while they had a “guarantee against imperialist aggression” with Soviet military divisions to defend them, that Cuba has “no guarantee against imperialist aggression” and that while the Soviets have given them weapons, which they were thankful for, “if the imperialists attack Cuba, we can count only on ourselves.” [24] This betrayal of Cuba by the social imperialist Soviets should be remembered when one recounts Soviet history.

Before I get to Cuban support for the liberation struggle abroad, I think it is important to note some of the events inside Cuba. What I am talking about is first and foremost is how the Cuban Revolution “marked a watershed for the continent’s film makers,” with Havana becoming the center of a new line of cinema which was “dedicated to portraying Latin America’s conflicts, especially with the US,” with a brand “of social-realist cinema and documentary,” which peaked in the 1960s to the 1980s. [25] While Havana soon became the “host of an annual Latin American Film Festival” and then invited “film-makers from every corner of the Third World to come and study at its international film school,” by the 1980s and years following, Cuba faced an economic slump, possibly because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and now “remains cash-strapped and now produces few films.” Before Assata Shakur would make her home in Cuba as a revolutionary and political refugee, there was black nationalist Robert F. Williams and his family. In order to flee the fabricated charges of kidnapping put on Robert, the Williams family fled one person at a time to the island of Cuba and Fidel Castro let the Williams family to have their own radio show which was called Radio Free Dixie, broadcasting three times a week. This show argued that it was the “voice of armed self-defense,” featured Robert doing his own editorials while Mabel Williams, his wife, read news items and helped select the music. [26] This choice of Cuba was not a surprise since Robert was “one of the founders of the national Fair Play for Cuba Committee” and the Cuban people, in his view, “were very sympathetic to the oppressed Afro-American people of the United States” and had “divorced themselves from the fellowship of capitalist oppression, from the fellowship of racist nations” so he decided to go to Cuba. Mabel, his wife, noted that originally Cuba, before it declared itself a communist nation, invited Black scholars “to come because they had made a lot of changes with the race issue” and that Robert began to travel for the Fair Play for Cuban Committee “all over the country,” trying to get the US government “to recognize the Cuban government’s legitimacy to exist and to have friendly relations with Cuba.” Due to the Sino-Soviet split, with China and Cuba “vying to support the Cuban revolution” and some Communist Party USA members not liking Williams because he was talking about race, instead of class, the Williams family left Cuba and went to China instead (this may have also influenced them).

During the 1960s, the Cuban revolutionary government not only defended itself from imperial assault and drastically changed the nature of the island, but they supported anti-imperialist liberation struggles, especially in Africa. The well-regarded foreign policy scholar, Piero Gleijeses, writes about this in his book, titled Conflicting Missions. He notes that in September 1964, FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front), the movement that aimed to free Mozambique from Portuguese colonial domination, launched its guerrilla war from bases in Southern Tanzania, with the country of Tanzania becoming the rear guard for this anti-colonial force and “the major conduit of Soviet and Chinese weapons for them.” [27] Around this time, Cuban interest in the region and in African liberation was growing, with Che Guevara urging that guerrillas in Africa should fight, be assisted by Cuban instructors who would fight alongside them, and have a centralized teaching center in Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo with a goal to free that country from foreign domination. The Cubans saw the Simbas in Zaire and FRELIMO in Mozambique as the “most important liberation movements,” but Che’s plan of freeing Zaire was rejected by FRELIMO which wanted to continue its armed struggle in Mozambique. Still, Cuba agreed to train FRELIMO guerrillas on their island and even sent a ship called the Uvero from Cuba in April 1965 carrying weapons, food, and uniforms for the movement.

Despite the strained relations between Che and FRELIMO, in 1965, he met with Zairean rebels in Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam, was impressed by Laurent Kabila, and later led the training of Zairean rebels in person, along with Cuban instructors. [28] Kabila was the rebel who overthrew the U$-backed Mobutu government in 1997 and renamed Zaire the Democratic Republic of Congo, although by that time a Congolese bourgeoisie had development, so he was not as radical as in the past. While there were issues with the timing of the decision to send a column of Cuban instructors to Zaire to train the Simbas, and later MPLA leaders as Che urged them to go to Zaire to be trained by Cuban instructors, a decision likely made by three people: Che, Fidel Castro, and Raul Castro. This effort was not only actively assisted by the presidents of Tanzania (Julius Nyerere) and Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser), with agreements with both countries by Cuba, but the Cubans made the decision to train African liberation independently of the Chinese or the Soviets, only asking for “Nyerere’s approval before going to Zaire.” This effort was chosen not only to because of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in 1961, with chaos that followed, but that there was “revolutionary fervent in Zaire” with that country becoming the “center from which revolution would spread to the neighboring countries,” especially Portuguese colonies, which is why the Cubans eagerly supported the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and FRELIMO. One example of this eagerness was the supplies sent on the ship Uvero for rebels in Guinea-Bissau, FRELIMO, and Venezuelan guerrillas, with a group of nine Cuban military instructors led by Ulises Estrada, emptying 315 crates of supplies and arms for rebels in present-day Guinea-Bisseau to fight its liberation struggle. This Cuban ship stopped at an Algerian port but the leader and President of independent Algeria (1963-5), Muhammad/Ahmed Ben Bella who had “aligned himself closely with Russia and with its communist allies, especially Cuba,” had been overthrown, so the supplies were kept on board, and the ship proceeded to Tanzania.

I could go on and explain the spats between Che, other Cuban leaders and the Cubans. All I will say is that Gleijeses argues that the Soviets branded Che as “pro-Chinese” for his justified wariness of Moscow’s foreign policy and criticism of the Soviet Union that he saw; Raul had a pro-Soviet view while Fidel was less of a harsh critic of the Soviets than Che, but distanced himself from the Chinese and declared at one point that Cuba should not be a Soviet (or Chinese) satellite and should be an independent socialist nation. [29] He also notes that while some Cuban leaders disagreed with Che, including his emphasis on armed struggle, some, such as Fidel, agreed in principle, but engaged in criticisms of the Soviets, in his speeches, that were indirect. Gleijeses notes how others weren’t fond of Che either, with the Venezuelan Communist Party rejecting his effort to join the Venezuelan guerrillas, saying it was a Venezuelan issue. Still, there were positives. For one, Che was not only one of Cuba’s “foremost leaders” but he served as Castro’s personal emissary, who had “wide powers to offer aid to the liberation movements and make agreements with African governments.” [30] This didn’t stop Che from resigning, in a letter that showed his affection for Fidel, which “freed Cuba formally from responsibility for his actions in Zaire” and the Cuban column of trainings growing to 120, even as FRELIMO didn’t accept them as trainers in 1967.

These efforts of training liberation fighters was only part of a broader strategy. Cubans not only trained those from the anti-colonial forces of the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), FRELIMO, and MPLA, establishing ties as early as 1961, but these organizations had sent men to Cuba and at least fifteen Cuban doctors were working in the territory the MPLA had liberated. [31] In the 1960s, the Cubans paid much attention to the PAIGC, an organization which controlled 40% of Portuguese Guinea by 1965, and at the same time, the Cubans considered the MPLA “the sole leader of the struggle in Angola.” Aid to these liberation forces was simply extralegal assistance such as aid, financial assistance, and political assistance in international bodies, but it did not “entail committing any Cuban institution to the liberation struggle in Africa.” As noted earlier, FRELIMO turned down an offer of Cuban aid, but this was because they had confidence in their own ability and relied on their own resources, but still, by independence, “Mozambique and Cuba revived their relationship.” [32] As the war with FRELIMO heated up, Portugal deployed 142,000 troops to “quell” the anti-colonial liberation fight in Mozambique, the Cubans became more involved in Angola, which changed their strategy from supporting a guerrilla movement to supporting a government “confronting a foreign invasion,” which did not export revolution but was “massive assistance to a constituted government” similar to the aid given to Algeria or Guinea.

Before moving onto Cuban aid to liberation struggles in the “Third World” it is important to highlight once again, imperial destabilization efforts by the U$, directed at Cuba, in the 1970s. In June 1972 The Black Panther reported that two Cuban films, titled “For the First Times” and “Memories of Underdevelopment” which were part of a group of 25 Cuban films, features, and short subjects, which were to be shown at a Cuban film festival earlier that year was interrupted when the Treasury Department confiscated the films, threatened to prosecuted and engaged in “financial harassment to close the festival down.” [33] The article continued by noting that American Documentary Films, the sponsors of the festival, sued the Treasury and the State Departments, saying that their action was arbitrary and unconstitutional, the latter by violating the 1st and 14th amendments. The article then went into the history of laws such as the Trading with the Enemy Act, “designed as an economic boycott” against the Cuban government, how the closing of the festival resulted in a loss of $28 million dollars by American Documentary Films, which distributed “films on social and political problems,” and that the screening of the films in the first place was meant to protest the “merits of the blockade against Cuba.” Around the same time, Huey Newton sent a message to Fidel Castro, congratulating him for his heroism at the disastrous battle of Cuartel Moncada which brought out the “revolutionary fervor of the Cuban people to struggle and win,” and connected it to the struggle of the “oppressed black masses, the Chicano, Latino, Indian, and poor oppressed people in North America, in the United States.” [34] Newton continued by noting that the Black Panther Party’s “strength is of course within the people,” that “U.S. Reactionary Imperialism can be defeated” with a “World Humane Peace” and at that some point there will be a “people’s victory of world wide Revolutionary Intercommunalism.”

In the 1970s, there were also numerous efforts to engage in biological warfare aimed at Cuba. This included weather modification used against Cuban crops from 1969 to 1970, the CIA, in 1971, giving Cuban exiles a virus that “causes African swine fever,” which led to the slaughter of 500,000 pigs in order to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic. [35] While the full extent of the “chemical and biological warfare against Cuba” by the murderous empire may never be known, the Cuban government has rightly blamed “the United States for a number of other plagues which affected various animals and crops.” I say this because, for example, in 1977, CIA documents showed that the agency “maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries throughout the world” which would undoubtedly include Cuba.

In 1976 there was a democratic development in Cuba. This was the adoption of the Cuban Constitution, approved in a popular referendum in which 97.7% of those who voted, which was almost 96% of all registered voters, favored the Constitution in a secret-ballot vote. [36] This new constitution tried to not only rationalize the existing government but to set ideals more in stone. It recognized the role of mass organizations in Cuban society, a society which had effective mass participation. [37] In later years, it would be amended to create a less restrictive foreign investment structure (in 1992), a time which could be said to mark the beginning of Cuban revisionism, amended to declare Cuba as a secular rather than an atheist state (in 1992) which opened the door to more religious observance, and reaffirming, after sustained challenges to state policies, that socialism in Cuba was “irrevocable” (in 2002). [38] In total, it has been amended three times (1978, 1992, and 2002) since its adoption in 1976. The most recent version the Cuban Constitution, which can be read here and here, outlines the revolutionary history of Cuba briefly in the preamble, recognizes the socialist foundations of the country. The Constitution declares that: Cuba as “a socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign” (Article 1); popular sovereignty relies with the people (Article 3); that citizenry have the right to use all means, including armed struggle, against “anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution” (Article 3); the Communist Party of Cuba is “the superior leading force of the society and the State” (Article 5); “the State recognizes, respects, and guarantees religious freedom” (Article 8); Cuba “repudiates and considers illegal and void any treaties, pacts or concessions” entered under illegal conditions (Article 11); and Cuba adopting “anti-imperialist and internationalist principles” (Article 12). The Constitution also declares the following: the economy will be based on “socialist ownership of the means of production by all the people” (Article 14); people are allowed to own “income and savings derived from the person’s own work, of the housing that is possessed with a fair ownership title, and of other assets and objects that serve to satisfy the material and cultural needs of the person” (Article 21); “the State protects the environment and natural resources of the country” (Article 27), and so on.

With all of this established, it is important to go back to Cuban support for “struggles for national liberation” as their Constitution states, during the 1970s. While Cuba’s role in the late 1960s and early 1970s was arguably honest, with some Africans, “notably Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Eritreans, and a handful of South Africans and Namibians,” receiving military training in Cuba, but the only country that had a “significant Cuban military presence…was…Guinea-Bissau.” [39] While the Cuban government wanted to do more to help FRELIMO, which has been fighting in an armed struggle against the brutal Portuguese colonizers since 1964, there were bad feelings between FRELIMO and the Cuban government after 1965 and when Cuba offered to send instructors to FRELIMO camps in Tanzania or to Mozambique in 1967, FRELIMO declined the offer. Likely, the Cubans believed, and most likely still believe, as the Black Panther Party once stated, that “the United States Empire is the chief perpetrator of exploitation, brutality, and genocide against the people of the world” and that “a blow to the Empire in any part of the world is a victory for the people in any part of the world” but they were unable to fully do this to tensions with FRELIMO. Despite this, it is worthy to note the efforts of FRELIMO in their liberation struggle as noted in numerous articles of The Black Panther. These articles note that FRELIMO implemented survival programs for areas it liberated such as food for people in those areas, “hospitals and clinics…set up to maintain sanitation and health services for the people,” with “over 100,000 people were vaccinated against smallpox,” and “people’s shops and stores have been set up” along with free schooling, and “countless community meetings throughout the liberated countrysides” coupled with “open discussions and political education classes.” [40] Other articles gave more specifics. One of these articles notes that FRELIMO soldiers were armed with all sorts of weaponry, but had to carry all the “necessary materials, along with extra ammunition and the like” with them and that there is no place for male chauvinism, with “the FRELIMO sisters…given no special privileges, and they meet the challenge well.” [41] Additionally, the bases of FRELIMO were simple and temporary, concealed and able to be evacuated in five minutes, with these liberation fighters recognizing who were their enemies (ex: Portugal and the U$) and who were their allies (ex: pro-FRELIMO forces in the U$).  These serious and committed fighters who were “determined to get freedom by any means necessary…in spite of daily bombings and torture by the Portuguese” and a worldwide propaganda machine, in favor of the Portuguese, and locals were drawn in to support FRELIMO because they felt they finally had a chance to participate in a building a better future. [42] Despite facing roadblocks, with some Mozambicans sticking to their traditionalism, these freedom fighters still sought a society which eliminated “man’s oppression of man (and woman),” ultimately “total equality of women” and conducting an “all encompassing struggle.” This struggle was against immense odds as the Portuguese used “helicopters, bombers and troops” to pin down freedom fighters and ultimately kill them, but the FRELIMO bases were hard to spot from the air, which disrupted this destructive cycle. Even though the Portuguese tried to make it “appear as if the guerrillas are scoring no successes” and many troops “received training in anti-guerrilla warfare from U.S. Army personnel,” the Portuguese empire was, as the writer described it, “a shredded paper kitten on its last legs,” with decolonization pushed after the “Carnation Revolution,” with one of the members who participated in this revolution lamenting what Portugal has now become due to market policies in recent years.

After Mozambique received independence, it was immediately under attack. FRELIMO, which had received aid from the Soviets, Cubans, and East Germans was attacked by a military group, backed by South Africa’s apartheid government, called RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance), “which feared a socialist blockade of its borders.” [43] As a result, FRELIMO sent students and teachers to Cuba in 1977 due to the lack of schools in Mozambique at the time, so they could come back and lead the country in the future. Despite this, the new government of Mozambique still introduced free medical treatment in 1979, including a massive vaccination program, where in the past no such treatment or program existed, closed prisons instead of opening them, and created reeducation centers across the country, at least by 1981. [44] Mozambicans were able to “readily dissent and are encouraged to voice criticism in the single party,” even if not fully in the public sphere. Also by 1981, the government developed ties with: the Cubans who are active in education, transport, telecommunications, and sugar; the Soviets who are active in meteorology, mining, and fisheries; East Germany who is active in industry and planning; and numerous countries active in agriculture and health (DPRK, China, and Bulgaria). [45] Despite this, even in 1981, Mozambique was “not a Soviet satellite” but did receive more Soviet assistance than Chinese assistance.

Then there was Ethiopia. Until 1974, the government of Haile Selassie, which the Black Panther Party declared was a “pseudo-fascist, imperialist puppet” with a “fuedo-bourgeois ruling clique” while declaring their support for Eritrean independence led by the Eritrean Liberation Front, had power. [46] This relates to Cuba because in December 1976, the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army (Derg) government which embraced communism as an ideology, signed an aid agreement with the Soviets and Cuba sent a military mission, which at minimum seems to have betrayed the working class of Ethiopia or at least had problems fulfilling its goals. And weeks after the reduction the Derg and Fidel Castro issued a joint communique calling for unity among the region’s progressive forces, and as time went on, this government continued sparing with the US, signed another aid agreement with the Soviets and more Cuban technicians came. As years went on, the Derg didn’t tolerate Soviet or even Cuban interference “in domestic matters” balking at diplomacy by both countries to solve “the Eritrean and Ogaden conflicts” or to make “amends with its civilian leftist opposition” which resulted in the Cuban ambassador being asked to leave the country. [47] While the Derg did eventually send a commission to start making plans to create a vanguard party, when it was created it wasn’t as civilian-based as but it was apparently “top-heavy with military personnel and had relatively few workers and peasants in the general membership.” Some claim that Derg turned to the Soviets and the Cubans because it was convenient and that Derg sent people to East Germany, Cuba, and Soviet Union to learn Marxist theory, which one writer wackily calls “political indoctrination” and “ideological indoctrination.” Other writers say that the USSR happily gave Derg weapons and that numerous Soviet and Cuban advisers were deployed in 1977, leading to 12,000 Cubans tasked with defending Ethiopia, and which some claim were deployed to Eritrea.

At the same time there was coordination between the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) and the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) in fighting the Ethiopians, in fighting the Ethiopians, and calling on countries to counter Soviet and Cuban intervention and defeat “Soviet-based Ethiopia.” [48] Interestingly enough, the top architect for the ELPF went “to Cuba for military and political training in revolutionary warfare,” definitely before 1974 because that was when the Cubans were backing the ELF. Ultimately, the Derg was driven from power, with some specifics noted in later paragraphs by those using the same “vanguard political ideology…methods of mass organization, and…basic military technology—the AK-47,” with those groups being the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and the Tegray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This battle over Ethiopia was part of a broader fight for Eritrean independence. Post-1974, when the Eritreans had been fighting the US and Israeli-basked Ethiopian empire before then, there were three groups: (1) the  government of Ethiopia (Derg from 1974-1987, PDRE from 1987 to 1991) backed by the Cubans, the Soviets, and South Yemen; (2) the ELPF and TPLF backed by the Chinese, Sudanese, Libyans, United States, Somalia, and Syria; (3) the ELF backed by Libya (until 1977), Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan. Ultimately, the Eritreans were victorious and Ethiopia became a land-locked country.

Before getting to Angola, there is one more group that should be mentioned: FRELITIN. US planners were afraid that the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, of which the pro-independence group FRELITIN declared independence for the island, would become “Cuba in the Indian Ocean” so they supported and backed an invasion and occupation by the brutal anti-communist authoritarian government of Indonesia. FRELITIN, as the main guerrilla group fighting this brutal occupation, was supported by Cuba and Vietnam but one writer claims that the Soviets were not in support. [49] While this 24-year-long occupation led to the deaths of 200,000 East Timorese, the U.S. government remained a staunch ally of Indonesia, and by 1998, Timorese organized a referendum in which they voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of being part of Indonesia (the referendum may be confusing to understand at first). In 2002 a new Timorese nation was founded, with Australia hostile of the current leader of East Timor who has been declared as a “communist” because he wants to make life better for those in Timor, and he has a good amount of grassroots support. Before going forward I think it is important to back up a second. The U$, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, prior to 1991, backed Indonesia’s occupation, while at the same time, Portugal, the Soviet Union (1975-1991), Libya, the Free Aceh Movement, post-communist Russia (1991-1999), and China backed the Timorese struggle. The page also shows that almost snidely the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Canada switched sides in 1999 to the Timorese.

Moving on, there is no need to cite anti-communist articles about FRELITIN such as one in 2006 that declares that “Fretilin may need the votes of the Cuban doctors as much as their electioneering” but it is perhaps more fruitful to share articles from the Community Party of Australia which recognizes that FRELITIN is here to stay despite he fact that “Australian media and spooks promoted stories to destabilise the FRETILIN government” or an article saying that the people of East Timor “suffered the greatest genocide registered in the 20th century” with not even the Holocaust by the Nazis managing “to reach such a high percentage of people.” Other articles of note is the always strange but sometimes useful Trotskyists at WSWS who claimed that neither FRELTIN nor its counterpart in the Timorese struggle was based on “anti-capitalist or egalitarian principles,” based in the middle-class, and that the US, along with other Western powers, was urging the Indonesian government to move into East Timor in late 1974, and that just before the intervention, “FRELITIN’s leaders declared independence.” It is worthy to note that this article, like the 90 articles (at least) on their website that slam “Stalinist bureaucracies,” has an anti-Soviet perspective along with saying that Moscow and Beijing bestowed” revolutionary credentials on Yasir Arafat, Nelson Mandela, and Fidel Castro, implying that they aren’t true liberation leaders! To be honest, this is a bunch of rubbish. Moving on, there is an article in small-circulation publication, The New Internationalist, it is noted that Cuba’s influence in East Timor goes back to 1975 when, despite what those goofs at WSWS claimed, the resistance movement “based much of its socialist ideology and guerrilla tactics on Fidel Castro’s revolutionary struggle.” The article went on to say that there is a huge amount of “murals and T-shirts depicting Che” and that Cuba’s physical involvement in the new country “began in 2003, when President Xanana Gusmao met Fidel Castro in Kuala Lumpur at a conference of non-aligned countries” and shortly thereafter, teams of Cuban doctors were sent to the country. [50]

Finally we get to Angola. What the Black Panther Party said here is relevant, as they argued that “the same small ruling circle that is exploiting and oppressing Black people in Angola is the same one that is exploiting and oppressing Black people here.” [51] While this great documentary explains a good amount of what I’m not going to go into detail here, it is still important to refresh people’s minds. For one, in there were three movements that fought in the anti-colonial struggle against Portugal in the 1960s: UNITA, FNLA, and MPLA, with China backing UNITA, the Soviets supporting the MPLA and the U$ covertly supporting FNLA. [52] In mid-1975 fighting broke out with the transitional government of these different forces, with each faction declaring their independence, and the Ford administration approved millions of dollars in covert aid to FNLA and UNITA, while the Cubans sent hundreds of military advisers. Around this time, SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) gave a material commitment to the MPLA, with SWAPO’s Secretary General arriving in Havana, and there were some suspicions that the Portuguese and Cubans were working together to send Cuban aid to Angola. It is also important to note that much of the Portuguese government thought that the MPLA “deserved to have power” and that while the UNITA was right about some details, they exaggerated “the number of Cubans in Angola and the nature of their role.”

While the FNLA, which was “trained by Portuguese colonialists and South Africans,” the Cubans had sent instructors to MPLA forces and by November 1975, by which time the MPLA government was fully established, “massive amounts of Russian and Cuban equipment had arrived at Luanda,” which included not only 15,000 Cuban troops but heavy tanks and artillery. [53] UNITA was quickly pushed by a Cuban advance and “most of Angola was for a time controlled by Neto and the MPLA” at the time. Despite this, Angola still retained its “commercial agreement with the American Gulf Oil Company to exploit the oil of Cabinda” in the 1970s which is a company that the Black Panthers had criticized in their paper back in a 1972 article about Angola and Gulf Oil, raising the question: how radical was the MPLA anyhow? While one can say that Soviet logistical support helped, it was ultimately the Cuban forces that changed the tide. [54] Some people took the side of the Chinese rather than the Soviets, like the Black Panther Party, presumably (at least before 1972), which is justified. We do know that the Chinese, as revisionism got to a fever pitch, with the foreign policy department led by Deng after 1974, they backed UNITA, led by the horrid Savimbi, thankfully killed by Angolan government forces in 2002.

Back to the Angolan proxy war, the swift success of the MPLA-Cuban allied forces “took everyone by surprise” and by February 1976, “the military confrontation…was over” and not long after, the Portuguese government symbolically “established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of Angola.” [55] Not long after that, Angola and South Africa signed a diplomatic agreement with South Africa agreeing to remove its forces while Angola promised “to guarantee the security of Calueque” meaning that “the Cubans’ intervention had proven to be a complete success.”

There are a number of other points to note here: (1) Cuba intervened in Angola not for material gains like the imperialists but because they are internationalists and wanted to assist in the “total liberation of Africa”; (2) it does not seem likely that the Cubans “accepted a submissive, client-state relationship in which the USSR plays the dominant and deciding role”; (3) in the Cuban perspective, the U$ was becoming “progressively more isolated and isolationist” in the 1970s; (4) the USSR, seeing a “growing radicalization in Africa as Portugal’s African colonies” became independent, seized an opportunity in 1975 to gain more supporters in its struggle against the U$ and China, meaning they were doing this for social imperialist, not anti-imperialist reasons; and (5) the amount of Africa countries Cuba had diplomatic relations with grew from eight in 1972 to 31 in 1976. [56] I could expand on the fact that South Africa, covertly backed by the United States, would only give South-West Africa, which became Namibia, its independence on the conditionality of Cuban withdrawal from Angola, along with an end to Soviet and Cuban aid to the government of Angola. Instead, it is a better to end on the fact that Cuban involvement in Angola was not only “responsive to long established revolutionary principles” but was a “milestone in the long history of assistance to extrahemispheric independence struggles.”

By the 1980s, the situation was changing in Africa, in regards to liberation. For Angola, Cuban troops, which some claim were “mercenaries” with withdrawn in 1989, and the new government, had to rearm itself by spending oil royalties, money that could have reconstructed its economy. [57] For Ethiopia, the volume of trade between itself and socialist countries grew significantly in the 1980s. Additionally, Cuba and Nicaragua avoided debt restructuring deals pushed by Washington since the U$ was “imposing an effective financial boycott on both left-leaning governments,” which had struggles for independence that produced outcomes the U$ did not like.

The CIA documents in the 1980s obviously have a sneering attitude, but are still important to note here. One 1982 document claimed the Fidel Castro’s decision to militarily intervene in Ethiopia was “largely at Moscow’s behest and reflected a convergence of Cuban and Soviet interests,” with 11,000 to 13,000 Cuban military personnel in Ethiopia, “organized into four brigades” and an advantage “over any conventional opposition in the region such as the Somali Army.” [58] This same document also claimed that at one time, the USSR and Cuba was “committed to Somalia” but that in the late 1970s, the Cubans and the Soviets began to “rethink Ethiopia’s military needs,” providing combat support for the government, under Somali attack, and that since 1978 the amount of Cuban military personnel in Ethiopia had decreased. Also, this document said that while Castro said in 1981 that he would “like to withdraw his troops from Ethiopia,” he supposedly, in the CIA’s view, needed Soviet approval to do so. This idea of getting needing Soviet approval is silly because Cuba had a turbulent relationship with the revisionist Soviet Union in the 1960s, which improved in the 1970s and 1980s but ruptured with Mikhail Gorbachev, who accelerated the Soviet collapse with his ideas of “glasnost” and “perestroika” which still have wide acclaim in the West as “democratic.” [59] Other scholars, including the bourgeois and likely anti-communists Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, write about how the Soviets sent $12 billion in military aid and arms to Mengistu in Ethiopia between 1977-1990, paid the expenses of the Cuban military personnel, and the Ethiopian army, claimed that the Derg had became “increasingly unpopular.” [60] These bourgeois scholars inadvertently admit that Soviet and Cuban intervention was necessary, saying that the removal of the Cuban military forces and end of massive Soviet arms shipments “released pent-up tensions both within that country [Ethiopia] and around its borders” and ultimately leading to northern Tigrean separatists moving into the Amhara heartland and occupying the capital in 1991 while Mengistu fled into exile in Zimbabwe.

Not surprisingly, the CIA was angry about Cuba’s support for radical leftists. One 1986 document declared that Cuba had been training and supporting “Third World guerrillas” for the past 27 years, claiming it had become “institutionalized within its political and governmental system” with Cuba’s mass organizations and other entities contributing to “training, equipping, funding, and transporting of leftist groups around the globe” and allowing Cuba to “export revolution to the Third World.” [61] This document even admitted that the economic crunch wouldn’t stop this aid, noting that organizations within the Cuban Communist Party “are given wide latitude by Castro in coordinating Havana’s provision of training, supplies, and funds to radical leftist groups.” Later, the document also said that by 1978 the strategy of the Cuban government changed as it backed groups advocating for “armed struggle to seize power” and the Sandinista overthrow of the Nicaraguan Somoza government in July 1979 resulted in “a more active policy of supporting guerrilla movements in the region” but that this was stunted by active U$ moves including “willingness to use military force to protect its interests abroad.” The extent of this training was admitted in the CIA document: “Cuba has trained members of some two dozen African and Latin American insurgent groups in urban and rural guerrilla warfare.” These viewpoints are not a surprise considering that, as the late bourgeois anti-imperialist and former CIA consultant, Chalmers Johnson, noted, in the 1980s, “American demonization of Castro’s Cuba ratcheted upward and the government argued vociferously that Cuban-inspired insurgencies were the hemisphere’s greatest threat.” [62] This is also evidenced by Ronald Reagan’s April 4, 1985 speech which declared that “my administration [wants to remove]…the thousands of Soviet bloc, Cuban, PLO…Libyan, and other military and security personnel” from Nicaragua.”

There are a set of other documents on Cuba. These include ones claiming that the island was in dire economic straits and under pressure. One document from 1966 declared that “the island is dependent on the outside world for industrial equipment, fuels, raw materials, critical consumer goods, and even for food.” [63] Years later, a CIA document noted that the Cuban government will try to “minimize the impact of any cuts on its priority military objectives—defense of the nation against the United States, maintenance of domestic security, and continuation of Cuba’s foreign policy.” [64] Then there was a number of documents on “debt rescheduling talks” with Cuba, with the government in 1986 having to institute “economic austerity,” which could, be considered a revisionist move, which played right into the CIA’s hands, and that it was facing horrible “financial difficulties,” more than when it began “rescheduling its hard currency debt in 1982,” which Cuban leaders said was due to a number of varied problems, causing less hard currency the previous year, including the “continued impact of the US trade embargo.” [65] Other documents that year noted that the economic crisis would play into the hands of the CIA as Cuban workers “are likely to become increasingly outspoken” in their words as the Cuban government engaged in action “against inept management and corruption,” and that Havana has “also tightened banking regulations for foreign exchange transfers” as the Soviets give the Cubans more hard currency, as they asked for. [66] Eventually, by 1988, the CIA declared that Castro found himself under pressure from the Soviets to “adopt Soviet-style planning…and to integrate Cuba more fully into CEMA” moves which they said “seriously jeopardize Castro’s longtime goal of industrializing the island and diversifying the economy.” [67] These documents are almost like the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns laughably tries to “buy” Cuba for a trillion dollars, goes before Fidel Castro (along with Homer), who takes the trillion dollar bill from this dirty capitalist, using it to improve socialist Cuba, while a more recent episode seemed to be more positive toward Cuba, with even a mural of Mr. Burns being driven out of Cuba along with other capitalist vipers in 1959.

Beyond all of this was a November 1984 document declaring to reveal “Castro’s propaganda apparatus” as the CIA put it. This document is not only laughable (and seething) in that it claims that the Cuban government as a “propaganda empire” which they want to expand, but that this “apparatus” has a “pro-Marxist bias of Castro’s propaganda apparatus” and it remains a “negative factor working against democratic interests, worldwide.” More hilariously, the document claims that this “international media empire” was organized starting in 1959, has become an “effective propaganda weapon,” which includes the performing arts in Cuba and the cinema industry “directly propagandist.” The document goes to say that “international gatherings of various kinds” in Cuba are propaganda, that there is “person-to-person propaganda,” that there is a magical “Che Guevara guerrilla cult”; that Castro has an “empire of…publicity.” Finally the document declares that “the Cuban propaganda machine” which is closely associated with its will not only “remain an important negative factor working for Cuban and Soviet interests throughout the world” but aligns with “Cuba’s self-assigned mission of promoting Marxist revolution.” The funny thing about this document is it negates completely the fact that the bourgeois media of the U$ beams out propaganda to serve the Pentagon often, that capitalist dogma is integrated within many elements of U$ society, and that Hollywood serves as a propaganda apparatus by working with the CIA (as noted here and here) and the Pentagon.

There are a number of other events in the 1980s that are worth noting, but one important institution came into existence that would make imperial destabilization across the world more “public” rather than covert. I’m not talking about Cuba respecting the DPRK’s boycott of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea or when the epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) spread across Cuba in 1981 effort which was meant to be used against Soviet forces but was actually used against the Cuban people which even Cuban exiles executing the mission didn’t like. [68] I’m talking about the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1982. In a 1982 speech to the British Parliament, Reagan explained why NED should exist, coaching his the effort by saying it would supposedly “foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture,” declaring it would “contribute…to the global campaign for democracy” in an anti-communist light, and that “the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies.” NED was simply, as the late Robert Perry of Consortium News put it, “a central part of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda war against the Soviet Union three decades ago” and has become a “slush fund that generally supports a neocon agenda.” More particularly, it has been used to, as Right Web notes, support “efforts to overthrow foreign governments,” gave neocons a “government-funded institute over which they exercised effective control,” has served as an “instrument of U.S. policy to support Cuban-American efforts to oust Cuba’s longtime leader Fidel Castro” and emphasizes “one particular form of democracy, pro-market democracy.” This site also notes that NED’s president is Carl Gershman, a “figure in U.S. sectarian politics dating back to the 1970s” and that it works through four core institutes: NDI (the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), IRI (International Republican Institute), Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

NED has a more sinister but obvious purpose. As the CIA’s lackey, David Ignatius, wrote in the Washington Post in 1991, when he was then the foreign editor, NED operatives have been going “in public what the CIA used to do in private,” and quotes Alex Weinstein as saying: “a lot of what we [NED] do[es] today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” with Ignatius adding that the biggest difference is that NED does its activities overtly which he claims is its “own protection” which has allowed them to be “successful.” [69] Years later, “soft power” advocate Joesph Nye declared in a letter that NED had “become known as an advocacy organization for the promotion of democracy,” and had in mind a “civil society fund” to promote “exchanges and interactions without a particular agenda,” which would work alongside NED. The U$ State Department claims that NED is a “private nonprofit organization” (claim also repeated here) established during the Reagan years which has programs in “more than 90 countries around the world.” As it turns out, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment, gave NED hundreds of millions of dollars to fund its operations from 2009 as numerous documents show. [70] This is a rise from when in the past it was only given funding in the tens of millions.  This basically means that NED is not only part of the foreign policy establishment but is part of the murderous empire. Obviously, the former is admitted earlier than the latter with the State Department openly honoring NED recipients in 2011, admitted that NED has an “annual congressional appropriation” which basically makes it part of the US government, and is mad when the Russian government, rightly so, declared NED as an “undesirable” organization last year. Most damning of all is the State Department Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner, declaring in 2012 that he “admires” NED greatly, and thanks the NED team for promoting market/bourgeois democracy “and civil society” in Burma for the last 20+ years. [71]

Back to the history. In the 1990s, Cuba was still under imperial assault, being declared a “rogue state” by the U$, as it typical of countries deemed as “enemies,” beginning to follow, sadly, more of a revisionist path. At the same time, Cuban exiles continued to flourish in the U$, who had engaged in bombings, hijackings, kidnappings, and much more, with these terroristic Cubans enjoying “safe haven in the United States” even to this day. [72] Beyond this, not only did the US vote against UN General Assembly resolutions which condemned the US embargo against Cuba and called for its end from 1992-1999 but a crop duster of the US State Department “emitted a mist in October 1996” which released, apparently, “a plant-eating insect called Thrips palmi.” While the U$ government would deny this, this emission of dust was arguably an act of biological terrorism. At the same time, NED continued to nurture domestic opposition in Cuba to oppose Castro.

By the 2000s the situation didn’t improve. In 2002, as the US was gearing up to militarily invade Iraq, for the second time in the last ten years (first in 1991), John Bolton, who was then ambassador of the United States to the UN “presented misinformation to Congress on a Cuban biological weapons program.” [73] This incident also harkens back to Stevenson’s presentation in 1962 to the UN Security Council about what became the Cuban missile crisis in which he didn’t tell full truth, and was basically lying by omission. The former CIA and State Department analyst, Melvin Goodman, who moderately criticizes US imperial power, barked that “there have been signs of change in Cuba without any meaningful U.S. response” in an almost angry tone in his 2004 book. Also in the 2000s, it was evident, in likely continuing phenomena, that “Cuba has one of the lowest maternal death rates in the region,” that women’s participation in the paid workforce “has grown rapidly over the past 20 years,” and that “heterosexual men break no taboos by having sex with other men.” [74]

At the current time, Cuba continues to fight off efforts of imperial meddling. The people of Cuba realize this very well, knowing that the US has been trying to overthrow and/or undermine Castro and the government since 1959, which is why the Cuban government sees the CIA behind many problems. [75] The U$ has failed in its effort to “rid the Caribbean of the critical difference that Castro’s Cuba brings to the region” and this not only disrupted “U.S. supreme dominance in the Caribbean” with “instability in the Caribbean basin” showing the reflection of a murderous empire. Putting aside the fact that there are “significant populations of Africans in Cuba” and that countries such as Cuba and Brazil, have actively pursued the notion of harmony in a “racial democracy” meaning that many Cubans and Brazilians are “uncomfortable discussing race and…racism,” Cuba has done more than any other nation “to end social stratification based on skin colour.” William Blum, the wonderful foreign policy analyst and anti-imperialist, argued in his book, Rogue State, that if you consider “education and healthcare…then it would appear that during the more-than-40 years of its revolution, Cuba has enjoyed one of the very best human-rights records in all of Latin America.”


Notes

[1] Oliver, Ronald and Atmore, Anthony. Africa Since 1800 (Fifth Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 72, 91; Green, Duncan. Faces of Latin America (Third Edition). London: Latin America Bureau, 2006. 11; Zinn, Howard; Konopacki, Mike; and Buhle, Mike. A People’s History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaptation. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008. 32. On this same page, they write that this war erupted in “1868 when Carlos Manuel de Cespesdes, backed by other white farmers in Oriente province, freed his slaves and announced Grito De Yara [Cry of Yara literally, a call to arms], declaring Cuba’s independence.” This is important to understand in understanding this revolutionary history.

[2] Ibid, 32, 37, 39

[3] Ibid, 43, 44.

[4] The promotion of war was within promotion by vaudeville entrepreneurs to fake movies of the war, making it America’s “first filmed war.” Yellow journalism established certain precedents for mass-marketing war and empire, adopted by “respectable” newspapers” in later years and that “the continued mass-marketing of wars and empire, through the media apparatus and official public relations channels, proves that yellow journalism is still with us.” Richard Seymour argues that a “number of Japanese soldiers in Hawaii worried the planters” when the US was conquering Cuba and the Philippines and that before 1898, the US “even tried to purchase Cuba several times,” but this did not succeed. For the full citation: Seymour, Richard. The Liberal Defense of Murder. New York: Verso, 2008. 86, 93.

[5] Zinn, Konopacki and Buhle, A People’s History of American Empire, 51, 52.

[6] Seymour, The Liberal Defense of Murder, 94, 125; Weber, Cynthia. Faking It: U.S. Hegemony in a “Post-Phallic” Era. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 20, 25; Green, Faces of Latin America, 73. Green expands on this by saying the following: “young radicals formed guerrilla groups in Brazil, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, all of which met with failure or were forced radically to rethink their tactics…with intensive counter-insurgency training from the US, the Bolivian army soon tracked down and defeated the isolated ‘freedom fighters’ [in Bolivia], and Guevara was shot” (page 75)  Weber also argues on page 3 that “the Caribbean is the location to which the United States historically has turned to “find itself.”” This is is relevant considering U$ imperialist actions in the Caribbean over the years.

[7] “Interview With A New Man – A Cuban Revolutionary.” The Black Panther, April 17, 1971. Page 12.

[8] Green, Faces of Latin America, 194;  CIA, January 3, 1984:“Cuba: Castro’s Propaganda Apparatus and Foreign Policy”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the searches here give me different identifying numbers, the document is apparently the same.

[9] Green, Faces of Latin America, 58, 78.

[10] Seymour, The Liberal Defense of Murder, 126-7; Weber, Faking It, 2-3. I’m not sure about this whole “reading” thing, but it is clear that the United States saw Cuba differently before the revolution than after.

[11] Fitzgerald, Romane. “Prospects for Revolutionary Intercommunal Warfare.” The Black Panther, May 8, 1971. Page 16; Green, Faces of Latin America, 78, 86, 101; Weber, Faking It, 13, 14, 22, 28, 31.

[12] Goodman, Melvin A. National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. San Francisco: City Light Books, 2013. 24, 33, 50.

[13] Weber, Faking It, 14.

[14] Kennedy, John K. “The Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy’s Address to the Nation (1962).” A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America (ed. William H. Chaffe, Harvard Sitkoff and Beth Bailey). New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 27; Seymour, Liberal Defense of Murder, 127.

[15] CIA, 1962: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP79M00098A000200070001-2. Based on the document, it was likely written in 1962. However the tone of the document makes it seem that it was written well after then. This report is assumed to be the U.S. Intelligence Board or the CIA in general. At the meeting of the USIB it was also declared that “the Soviets evidently hope to deter any such attempt by enhancing Castro’s defensive capabilities and by threatening Soviet military retaliation…they…recognize that the development of an offensive military base in Cuba might provoke U.S. military intervention and thus defeat their present purpose…the threat inherent in these developments is that, to the extent that that Castro regime thereby gains a sense of security at home, it will be emboldened to become more aggressive in fomenting revolutionary activity in Latin America.” The fact that even the USIB recognized this is significant.

[16] CIA, 1960: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP90T00782R000100120008-3. Based on this link, I can determine this is a document from 1960.

[17] CIA, 1985: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the title is unknown the sections cited are the following “Negotiations of President Reagan” and “Draft Proposed Language Rejecting a False Political Solution.”

[18] Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. 93.

[19] For the words “actually overthrow” see this page. For the words “angry Cuban exiles” see these two pages here and and here. For the words “acts of sabotage” see this page. For the words “internal revolt” see this page. For the words “cause chaos in Cuba” see this page. For the words “sabotage operations” see this page. Richard Seymour describes Operation Mongoose on page 127 as a “policy of sabotage, attempted assassination and planned terrorist attacks” which were aimed against Castro, who wasn’t even Communist when he began his revolutionary path. For the words “anti-Castro terrorist activity” see pages here and here. For the words “Cuban dissident groups” see this page. For the words “escalating covert operations” see this page. In terms of other pages, they show that the U$ was worried about supposed Cuban “retaliation,” the CIA telling a Cuban contact that material would be provided to kill Castro and wanting a speech by Kennedy to serve as a signal to dissident elements in Cuba that the US government supported them.

[20] Durnham, Robert B. Operation Northwoods. False Flags, Covert Operations, and Propaganda. First Edition. Pages 143-5. This assassination attempts included trying to sabotage Castro’s speeches, poison Castro’s cigars (with the poison even tested on monkeys), using gambling contacts to try and assassinate Castro, and other wacky plans like a poison pen, by rifle and so on. Also see Blum, William. Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000. 39, 108-9.

[21] Hanley, Richard. The World Trembles. Celia Sanchez: The Legend of Cuba’s Revolutionary Heart. New York: Agora Publishing, 2005. 146; Ellston, Jon. Operation Mongoose. Psywar on Cuba: The Declassified History of U.S. Anti-Castro Propaganda (ed. Jon Ellston). New York: Ocean Press, 1999. 117. Commentary before a USIA and CIA document about this blimp on the following page.

[22] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 94-7. As Gleijeses writes on page 97, at the same time, the “CIA mercenary army” which included Cuban exiles was “slaughtering Simbas,” with some saying it was “target practice for Fidel Castro”; Robert McNamara admits this, writing on page 215 of the book, Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy that “covert operations almost always convey to those on the receiving end more hostile intent or capability than is meant or available. The 34-A operations against the North Vietnamese were just like Operation “MONGOOSE” against Cuba…We in Washington thought MONGOOSE was…merely “psychological salve for inaction.” The Cubans…believed it was a forerunner to invasion by the United States. This was a factor leading them to seek assistance from the Soviets, which in turn led to the Cuban missile crisis.”

[23] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 98.

[24] Ibid, 95.

[25] Green, Faces of Latin America, 191.

[26] By 1969, the Williams family returned. Page 51 of the book by Freedom Archives (cited in next footnote) notes that Mabel said that Fidel Castro agreed that Rob could have his own program, called Radio Free Dixie, a weekly program which was rebroadcast, with Rob writing the script and editorials, Mabel collecting news items. Also see Freedom Archives. “Transcription of Self-Respect, Self-Defense, and Self-Determination” (audio documentary). Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide. San Francisco, CA: Agape Foundation, 2005. 13, 14, 25, 30.

[27] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 85-87. Later, as noted on page 87, one of the FRELIMO leaders, Mondalone, admitted in July 1968 that Cuba helped them “materially and technically, sending us war material [sic] and training some of our [military] cadres.”

[28] Ibid, 87-8, 90-2, 98, 99, 100; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 242. Gleijeses argues that Raul Castro was focused more on creating a powerful military than “Cuba’s wars of national liberation” on page 91. Gleijeses argues that there is little evidence that the Chinese provided more assistance than the Soviets in these liberation struggles and that the Soviets did not know about this training until April 1965 when Che told the Soviet Ambassador at the time. Gleijeses also argues on pages 98 to 99 that the Cuban perception of what was happening in Africa was not completely accurate because of an “overstimulation of the revolutionary potential” in Africa in general, and Zaire in particular, and there were no Cuban intelligence service in Zaire until early 1965.

[29] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 102, 104.

[30] Ibid, 105, 106, 119.

[31] Valdes, Nelson P. Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola. Cuba in the World (ed. Cole Blasier and Carmelo Mesa-Lago). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979. 95, 96.

[32] Mittelman, James H. Underdevelopment and the Transition to Socialism: Mozambique and Tanzania. New York: Academic Press, 1981. 38, 40; Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 95. Around that time, a Cuban delegation headed by Armando Acosta went to Mozambique after its independence, but is unknown what was said as noted on page 98 of Cuba in the World by Valdes.

[33] “Hollywood, Si! Cuba, No!: U.S. Government Conspires to Keep Revolutionary Films from American People.” The Black Panther, June 10, 1972. P. 5, 17.

[34] Newton, Huey. “Message of solidarity to our Cuban comrades.” The Black Panther, August 6, 1971. Pages 8-9. Letter sent on July 24, 1971.

[35] Blum, Rogue State, 109, 111.

[36] For the 97.7% number: Suchlicki, Jaime. The Decade of Institutionalization. Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond (Fifth Edition). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2002. 299; Cannon, Terence. Revolutionary Cuba. Crowell: 1981. 245; Hanke, Lewis and Rausch, Jane M. People and Issues in Latin American History: From Independence to the Present: Sources and Interpretations. Makus Wiener Publishers, 1999. 346; Deutsch, Karl W., Dominguez, Jorge I., and Heclo, Hugh. Comparative government: politics of industrialized and developing nations. Houghton Mifflin: 1981. 440; Suchlicki, Jaime. Historical Setting. Cuba: A Country Study (ed. Rex A. Hudson). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2001. 79; best information comes from this source: Dominguez, Jorge. Mass Political Participation. Cuba: Order and Revolution. London: Belknap Press, 1978. 301. More books can be found here, most of which I didn’t list because you can only read “snippets” of them.

[37] Mujal-Leon, Eusebio. Higher Education and the Institutionalized Regime. Cuban Communism 1959-1995 (Eighth Edition, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz). London: New Brunswick Publishers, 1995. 365; de la Barra, Ximena and Dello Buono, Richard A. “Challenging the Existing Legality.” Latin America after the Neoliberal Debacle: Another Region is Possible. Plymouth, UK: Roman & Littlefield, 2009. 128-9; Unknown author. Cuba Since 1959. Cuba: A Short History (ed. Leslie Bethell). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998 reprint. Originally published in 1993. 129; Diaz-Briquets, Sergio and Pérez-López, Jorge F. Law and Practice of Environmental Protection. Conquering Nature: The Environmental Legacy of Socialism in Cuba. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000. 47-8; Gargarella, Roberto. Constitutionalism at the Mid-Twentieth Century and the Return of the “Social Question.” Latin American Constitutionalism, 1810-2010: The Engine Room of the Constitution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 126.

[38] See Travieso-Diaz, Matias F. Foreign Investment Legislation. The Laws and Legal System of a Free-market Cuba: A Prospectus for Business. London: Quorum Books, 1997. 106; Venegas, Cristina. Introduction. Digital Dilemmas: The State, The Individual, and Digital Media in Cuba. Rutgers University Press: London, 2010. 27.

[39] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 227; “Mozambique is Our Home.” The Black Panther, October 13, 1971. Page 11. Printed in the section of The Black Panther called “Intercommunal News.” In The Black Panther it is noted that after Mozambicans tried to peacefully demonstrate and were massacred by Portuguese colonists on June 16, 1960, the Mozambican people “learned that revolutionary violence was the only avenue left. So, in 1962, FRELIMO was formed, and armed struggle began in 1964.”

[40] “Mozambique is Our Home.” The Black Panther, October 13, 1971. Page 18. Printed in the section of The Black Panther called “Intercommunal News.” This article also notes that at the time, Portugal was “even attempting an appeasement program in the yet-to-be liberated portions of Mozambique…the Mozambican people are winning, just as the Vietnamese people are winning, just as all of the oppressed people of the world will someday win over the oppressive United States Empire.”

[41] Sadukai, Owusu. “People’s Survival Programs Thrive In Mozambique: Free Hospitals, Free Food, Free Schools for the Oppressed Black Community of Mozambique.” The Black Panther, April 7, 1972. Page 9-10. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity. On page 11 it is noted that when a former Portuguese soldier was captured, instead of being tortured like the Portuguese do to FRELIMO fighters they capture, he was “given the standard FRELIMO treatment – intense political education. He was made aware of Portuguese exploits in Mozambique.”

[42] “Where Bombs are Common: Afro-American Brother Endures Portuguese Attack with FRELIMO Guerrillas.” The Black Panther, April 15, 1972. Page 9, 15, 16-17. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity; Sadukai, Owusu. ““Tradition” Used to Oppress Africans.” The Black Panther, April 8, 1972. Page 8, 9, 11. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity. It is important to note, as pointed out in page 10 of Sadukai’s article, that “the first hospitals (and the only ones in those areas) came with the FRELIMO forces. In the area was visited, a few Italian doctors had come in and trained a corps of FRELIMO medical officers who in turn tutored local people in basic bio-medical practices such as administering shots and the like.”

[43] Dorsch, Hauke. Trans-Atlantic Educational Crossroads: Experiences of Mozambican Students in Cuba. Transatlantic Caribbean: Dialogues of People, Practices, Ideas (ed. Ingrid Kummels, Claudia Rauhut, Stefan Rinke, and Birte Timm). Transcript Verlag (also by Columbia University Press), 2014. 85.

[44] Mittelman, Underdevelopment and the Transition to Socialism, 105, 117.

[45] Ibid, 118.

[46] “U.S. Empire’s Ethiopian Estate.” The Black Panther, Feb. 6, 1971, pages 12-3; Schoultz, Lars. Reconciliation and Estrangement: The Carter Years. That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. 313. Human Rights Watch balked, calling the government “dictatorial” in nature, of course.

[47] Weldemichael, Awet T. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 161.; Keller, Edmond J. Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People’s Republic (First Midland Books Edition). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 201, 223, 231, 268. Clearly an anti-communist, but something can be gleaned from the book, something

[48] Weldemichael, Awet T. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 155, 162-3; Crummey, Donald. Transformations: State, Land, and Society in Twentieth-Century Ethiopia. Land and Kingdom in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia: From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000. 251.

[49] Weldemichael, Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation, 196.

[50] This article also notes the following: “the history of Cuba’s large medical workforce begins in 1959. At the start of Fidel Castro’s revolution most of its doctors fled to the US. By necessity it had to train a large number of its own doctors. Since then the Government has focused on developing and maintaining a first-class universal healthcare system, actively encouraging its youth to pursue training in the health sciences and putting no restrictions on the number of doctors it trains. As a consequence, Cuba now has the highest number of doctors per capita in the world: in 2005 it had one doctor for every 159 people.”

[51] “Gulf Oil – From Atlanta to Angola.” Intercommunal News, June 5, 1971. page 13. The Intercommunal News was printed inside of The Black Panther. This article also says the following: “the same ruling circle that would stifle the revolutionary movements in Angola would do so here in its attempt to maintain and control of all the communities of the world. We must unite as oppressed people with the revolutionary forces in our world communities in order to transform this Empire into a new world, free of dominion and exploitation of man by man.” In a later article, “the Tanzaniation of Tanzania” in The Black Panther on June 26, 1971 (page 16), they imply that movements in Angola other than the MPLA are not revolutionary ones: “Tanzania has opened her doors in militant solidarity to revolutionary and progressive people throughout the world, and headquarters many African revolutionary organizations, such as MPLA…FRELIMO…[and] SWAPO…all located in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar Es Salaam…because of Nyerere’s strong and effective leadership…the U.S. Empire and its lackey, Great Britain, have been unable to establish any economic domination or control over Tanzania.”

[52] Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 97-101. The text says Nixon but it is wrong as he was NOT in office at the time, having resigned in 1974.

[53] Ibid, 101-3; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 277; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 277, 278.

[54] Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 105-6. There is a revealing quote by Cuban Communist politician Carlos Rafael Rodriguez who said the following, with my italics at the end: “Cuba and Angola did not have all the technical means for their men to fight the racist South African army [basically UNITA]. Without the USSR, imperialism would have defeated the Angolan people.” However, he may be over-stating Soviet support.

[55] Ibid, 107, 108.

[56] Ibid, 109-12; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 279, 299; Valdes “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 113.

[57] Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 302, 339; Keller, Revolutionary Ethiopia, 268; Green, Faces of Latin America, 33; Johnson, Chalmers. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. 57.

[58] CIA, 1982: “Key Judgments“; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I say 1982 because of the tone of the document overall implying it was written that year. The number of Cuban military personnel is strangely enough reported by Bob Woodward and numerous other sources. This document is important because it is Interagency Intelligence Memo requested by the Policy Planning Staff and Assistant Secretaries for Inter-American and African Affairs of the US State Department. This Memo was prepared under the “auspices of the National Intelligence Officer for Africa” with contributions from the CIA, DIA, and State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, along with coordination with the CIA, State Department, NSA, intelligence organizations of the military, DIA, and numerous other government bodies. This document also said the following: “most Cuban advisers and troops are rotated after a two-year tour…the Soviets supply virtually all the equipment, ammunition, and petroleum used by the Cubans.” It also says that Castro “probably agrees with Moscow that Cuban troops: [1] support pro-Soviet regimes in Ethiopia and South Yemen [2] Counter US influence in the region, particularly in Somalia [3] Provide a base for the potential development of Cuban forces to other areas in the region. Furthermore, the USSR does not appear to have any pressing financial or military reasons to favor the reduction of Cuban forces…Moscow may see the Cuban troops as a means of furthering its aims and exerting psychological leverage on the Mengistu regime.”

[59] Weber, Faking It, 33.

[60] Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 317, 340.

[61] CIA, December 1986: “Cuba: Training Third World Guerrillas;” Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. This document also declares that “Castro’s longtime strategy for promoting and supporting armed revolution in the Third World remains virtually undisturbed…this extensive infrastructure [of Cuba’s government and affiliated organizations] has as its principal long-term goal the systematic destabilization of governments targeted for overthrow by Havana” with the last part of destabilization of governments sounding more like what the CIA DOES than what Cuba ever did. The document also says that Cuba “funded and offered materiel assistance to regional leftist organizations in an effort to unify splintered radical groups” and that “the Cuban Communist Party’s 14-member Politburo theoretically functions as the chief decision-making and oversight body for Havana’s tightly controlled guerrilla support program” but that in practice “specific components of the larger Central Committee” are responsible for this effort, for “providing cohesion and direction to Cuba’s “liberation” programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

[62] Johnson, Chalmers. Blowblack: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004. 28; CIA, 1985: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the title is unknown the sections cited are the following “Negotiations of President Reagan” and “Draft Proposed Language Rejecting a False Political Solution.”

[63] CIA, 1966: “Cuba’s Sugar Crop Failure Poses Major Problems”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While I didn’t print out the page that had the data, using inference it seems this document was created in 1966. This document also said that “Cuba’s sugar is now harvested and the results pose a rather bleak outlook for the island…the fundamental reason for the poor harvest was bad weather…there are many other factors…related to the nature of the Castro regime…the poor sugar harvest will have serious repercussions on the entire Cuban economy…most of the [sugar] crop goes to the Soviet bloc, but Cuba also sells substantial amounts of sugar in the Free World.

[64] CIA, 1980s: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD.  I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP88T00768R000300290001-2. I say 1980s because I do not know the specific year and the document has a tone that seems like it was written AFTER the 1970s had ended. This document also says that “since 1975, construction and upgrading of military facilities have been stressed.”

[65] First document: CIA, November 7, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP97-0077R00100640001-2. Second document: CIA, July 18, 1986: “Cuba: Growing Foreign Financing Problems.” Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While this not the title of the document, it is the title of the section that I quote from. The first 1986 document said that “President Castro appears to have little choice but to eventually tighten economic austerity…Havana may try to negotiate its July rescheduling agreement with the Paris Club in hopes of reversing the commercial creditors’ decision not to commit any new funding…Cuban policymakers appear to be planning spending cuts, probably under the assumption of little immediate hard currency relief…increased austerity…is likely to raise the level of domestic dissatisfaction already exhibited in escalating antisocial activity.” The second 1986 document says that “Havana has…unilaterally suspended interest payments on both its official and commercial debt coming due in early July” and that “start-up delays, planning and distribution problems, agricultural disasters, and the continued impact of the US trade embargo also were cited by Cuban officials as major factors retarding the growth of hard currency exports last year.”

[66] CIA, August 22, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP88-00798R000400130005-1. CIA, August 29, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP88-00798R000400140005-0.

[67] CIA, 1988: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number: CIA-RDP88T00768R000200170001-6. A caption of one picture mentions that the Soviet Embassy Complex was “inaugurated last year,” that year being 1987. That means the document had to be been created in 1988. This document also said that “Castro continued to try to justify his requests to Moscow for increased aid by reminding the Soviets of his usefulness to them in the Third World…Castro has had no new “victories” in the Third World to herald in recent years, however, and in our judgment, the Cuba leader’s ability to deflect Moscow’s pressures is at its lowest point since 1967.”

[68] Blum, Rogue State, 109-10; Johnson, Blowblack, 119.

[69] Nye, Joseph. “Letters.” Foreign Policy. 161 (2007): 4, 10, 12-5. ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2016; Ignatius, David. “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.” The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext): c01. Sep 22 1991.ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Ignatius was then foreign editor of the Washington Post. One article, I found when researching, which focuses on the Solidarity Center, part of NED, claimed that this article was in the New York Times but it turns out that that wasn’t correct. Still, the article did seem to be otherwise comprehensive in its criticism. Even Melvin Goodman, the former CIA analyst calls Ignatius an apologist for the CIA, especially for its crimes in recent years (see here and here).

[70] See documents here, here, here, here, and here. Also see documents here, here, here, and here. There’s also these documents on US State Department funding of NED here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[71] Even the former UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine (basically) Human Rights, Richard Falk, who has often written about Israel and Palestine, wrote in a 2012 opinion piece the following: “…Washington shrieks of wounded innocence, as if Cairo had no grounds whatsoever for concern, are either the memory lapses of a senile bureaucracy or totally disingenuous. In the past it has been well documented that IRI and DNI were active in promoting the destabilisation of foreign governments that were deemed to be hostile to the US foreign policy agenda. The Reagan presidency made no secret of its commitment to lend all means of support to political movements dedicated to the overthrow of left-leaning governments in Latin America and Asia.” This is important to note as the US thinks that other countries “forget” its past efforts of destabilization.

[72] Johnson, Blowblack, 87; Blum, Rogue State, 80, 110-1, 197;  de la Barra, Ximena and Dello Buono, Richard A. “Fragilities of Representative Democracy in the Washington Consensus Era.” Latin America after the Neoliberal Debacle: Another Region is Possible. Plymouth, UK: Roman & Littlefield, 2009. 21.

[73] Goodman, National Insecurity, 264, 377.

[74] Green, Faces of Latin America, 153, 157, 165. On page 157, Green notes that “one writer noted that although male Communist Party militants may offer to do the washing, they insist that their wives hang it out to dry so that their neighbours won’t find out!”

[75] Johnson, Dismantling the Empire, 14; Blum, Rogue State, 140-1, 169; Weber, Faking It, 1, 4, 7, 35; Green, Faces of Latin America, 135, 145-6, 148.