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Fritz Feds

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Harry Reid, Neocon?

"It is time for the Bush administration to offer a real plan to help the Cuban people finally get the freedom they deserve. In addition, we need to continue supporting those who have been leading the call for democracy and freedom within the island."
-from a Reid press release Tuesday afternoon (ht The Corner)

With Castro laid up for a while, and with last month's speculation, I admit, it becomes interesting to consider just what will happen when he finally does hop on that refugee raft to hell.  And I don't buy his doctor's claims that he will live for another 80 years.  What will the Cuban government do? What will the Cuban people do? What will/should the U.S. do?  

Castro has been in power (under various titles) for almost 50 years.  While changes in leadership are bound to occur more frequently in the future, Castro's passing will be a singular opportunity for all sides.  So, let's speculate (and I will admit to pure speculation on my part).  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  

When Castro does die, days and even hours will matter.  The communists will try to seize the opportunity to show that they can maintain control post-Castro.  A big question there is whether they will place his brother Rau, who is the constitutional successor to Fidel, in his place permanently (or temporarily again leading to permanently) or choose another (probably younger) successor. As for the U.S. (from the AP):

"If Fidel Castro were to move on because of natural causes, we've got a plan in place to help the people of Cuba understand there's a better way than the system in which they've been living under," he [President Bush] told WAQI- AM Radio Mambi, a Spanish-language radio station. "No one knows when Fidel Castro will move on. In my judgment, that's the work of the Almighty."

Three weeks ago, a U.S. presidential commission called for an $80 million program to bolster non-governmental groups in Cuba for the purpose of hastening an end to the country's communist system.

It is official U.S. policy to "undermine" Cuba's planned succession to Raul Castro. At the time the commission report was released, Bush said, "We are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change."

Me: I'll believe it when I see it.  On one hand, the conventional wisdom that Bush is a reckless cowboy eager to promote democracy anywhere possible would lead to the conclusion that he will do whatever it takes to bring about the fall of communism in Cuba.  On the other, he's taken enough criticism for enough different things that he might hesitate just a little too long, be a little indecisive, and give the party a chance to assess the situation and tighten their grip.  Both sides no doubt have contingency plans, but the best laid plans…

The real wild card is the Cuban people.  How strong is the Castro "cult of personality"?  How strong are the anti-communist rebels?  Have too many of them already fled the country (seriously) or been imprisoned?  

Then there's the question of the broader impact of Castro's demise that I won't even start in on, but that Bridget Johnson discussed today on NRO.  NRO has also pulled some older articles out of their archives, something that they point out you can now also do yourself, a great addition to the site that I had so often


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