Thursday, February 28, 2008

On Cuba (communism) and Iran

The inevitable result of this campaign was to drive Cuba ever-closer to the Soviets. In December 1961, almost three years after his nationalist movement had overthrown Batista, President Castro declared that he was now a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba was adopting Communism. His ‘conversion’ was less a product of a blinding light on the road to Havana than of the grinding hostility he encountered from Washington. President Kennedy responded to Castro’s announcement in characteristic style, by imposing the economic embargo that has shaped relations between Cuba and the USA ever since.

Background Brief: Iran

In 1979 a popular uprising against the Shah brought Ayatollah Khomeini out of exile in Paris and he became the new leader of, by now, an intensely Islamic-flavoured government in Tehran. By then, its British Empire gone, the UK had lost its clout in international affairs and America took over by massively equipping Saddam Hussein’s army in Iraq and giving him more than a nod and a wink to invade Iran — which he promptly did in 1980.

This was one of the longest wars in history — 1980-1988. Also, considering Iran’s modest population, this was one of the highest-fatality wars in history with up to one million Iranian deaths on the battlefield — at least 100,000 dying from chemical weapons long outlawed by international conventions. The chemicals for these weapons were supplied from America via — yes, you’ve guessed — Donald Rumsfeld, the late unlamented US Secretary of Defense under the present President.

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