Fidel Castro On Obama’s Libya Speech – OpEd


For reasons of space and time, I didn’t say one word about the speech on the Libyan War given by Barack Obama on Monday the 28th. I had a copy of the official version, supplied to the press by the U.S. government. I had underlined some of the things that he asserted. I reviewed it again and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth wasting too much paper on the matter.

I recalled what Carter told me when he visited us in 2002 about tree farming in the United States; because he owns a family farm near Atlanta. During this visit I asked him again about tree farming and he restated that he plants pine saplings at a distance of 3 x 2 meters, equivalent to 1,700 trees a hectare, and they are harvested after 25 years.

Many years ago I read that a Sunday edition of The New York Times consumed the paper extracted from the felling of 40 hectares of woodland. Hence my concern about saving paper.

Of course, Obama is an excellent articulator of words and phrases. He could earn a living writing stories for children. I know his style because the first I read and underlined, long before he assumed the presidency, was a book entitled Dreams of My Father. I did so with respect and, at least, I could appreciate that its author knew how to select the precise words and appropriate phrases to win the sympathy of readers.

Obama addresses the nation on Libya. Photo source: White House
Obama addresses the nation on Libya. Photo source: White House

I confess that I did not like his tactic of suspense, concealing his own political ideas until the end. I made a special effort not to search in the final chapter for what he thought about various problems, to my mind crucial at this point of human history. I was certain that the profound economic crisis, colossal military spending, and the young blood spilled by his Republican predecessor would help him to defeat his electoral opponent, despite the enormous racial prejudices in U.S. society. I was conscious of the risks he was running of being physically eliminated.

For obvious reasons of traditional politicking, prior to the elections, he sought backing from the Miami anti-Cuba voters, in their majority led by pro-Batista and reactionary people, who converted the United States into a banana republic in which electoral fraud decided no less than the triumph of George W. Bush in 2000, tossing into the trash a future Nobel Prize winner: Al Gore, Clinton’s vice president and a presidential aspirant.

An elemental sense of justice would have prompted President Obama to rectify the consequences of the notorious trial which led to the inhuman, cruel and particularly unjust incarceration of the five Cuban patriots.

His State of the Union address, his speeches in Brazil, Chile and El Salvador and the NATO war on Libya, obliged me to underline, more than his own biography, the abovementioned speech.

What is the worst of that speech and how to explain the approximately 2,500 words contained in the official version?

From the internal point of view, its total lack of realism places its happy author in the hands of his worst adversaries, who wish to humiliate him and avenge his electoral victory in November of 2008. The punishment they meted out to him at the end of 2010 is still not enough for them.

From the external point of view, the world has become more aware of what the Security Council, NATO and yankee imperialism signify for many peoples.

In order to be as brief as I promised, I will explain to you that Obama began his speech by affirming that he was fulfilling his role of “stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe.”

He immediately adds: “For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom.”

As readers know, this is something the veracity of which can be confirmed by we Cubans, Latin Americans, Vietnamese and many others.

After this solemn declaration of faith, Obama invests a large part of his time in talking about Gaddafi, his horrors and the reasons for which the United States and its closest allies: “— like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey — all of whom have fought by our sides for decades […] have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.”

He later adds: “…NATO has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone.”

He confirms the objectives of the decision: “Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly.

“So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.”

He returns to his obsessions about Gaddafi and the contradictions that are troubling his mind: “Gadhafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous.”

“It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.”

“The task that I assigned our forces — to protect the Libyan people […] carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support.”

His obsessions are reiterated time and time again: “We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air.”

“…we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars.”

A few days after the NATO bombings were initiated, news began to circulate that a U.S. fighter plane had been brought down. Later, it emerged, via some source, that that was a fact. Upon seeing a figure parachuting down some campesinos did what is traditionally done in Latin America; they go to see; and if someone is in need of help, they give it. Nobody could know what they were thinking. They were no doubtless Muslims, they were working the land and could not have been in favor of the bombings. A helicopter which suddenly appeared to rescue the pilot fired on the campesinos, seriously injuring one of them, but, miraculously, didn’t kill them all. As the world knows, by tradition, Arabs are hospitable toward their enemies, they put them up in their own homes, and turn their backs so as not to see what road they are taking. Not even a coward or a traitor would ever represent a spirit of social class.

Only Obama could have thought of the outlandish theory that he included in his speech, as can be appreciated in the following extract.

“There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. […] we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

“In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action.”

“That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States — in a region that has such a difficult history with our country — this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, ‘We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.’

“This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.”

“Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes.”

Everyone knows that Mubarak was an ally of the United States and when Obama visited the University of Cairo in June 2009, he could not have been ignorant of the tens of billions of dollars which the former stole in Egypt.

He continued with the moving story:

“…we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.”

“…our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.”

“And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.”

The spectacular story brought to my mind the Tea Party, Senator Bob Menéndez and the eminent Ileana Ros, the big bad wolf who defied laws in order to retain the kidnapped Cuban child Elián González. Today, she is no less than chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Gaddafi is constantly reiterating that Al Qaeda is making war on him and sending in combatants against the Libyan government, because he, Gaddafi, supported Bush’s war on terror.

In the past that organization had excellent relations with the U.S. intelligence services during the battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and has a wealth of experience on CIA working methods.

What would take place if Gaddafi’s claims should be correct? How would Obama explain to the people of the United States that part of those land combat weapons had fallen into the hands of Bin Laden’s men?

Would it not have been better and more intelligent to have fought to promote peace and not war in Libya?

This was originally published March 31

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and then President from 1976 to 2008.

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