Elio Delgado Legon

Illustration: escambray.cu

HAVANA TIMES — When, on December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and acknowledged that the embargo (or blockade) policy applied on Cuba for more than 50 years was a failed strategy that had to be changed, a number of futile international policies pursued by Washington came to mind, even though these were never publicly recognized as such.

In the Americas, the policy of imposing and supporting military dictatorships in many countries, coupled with the systematic murder of many leading revolutionaries met with the resistance of the people. The situation was no longer sustainable and they decided to change the dictatorial system for more or less democratic elections, where they always tried to impose their candidates on these countries, without ever acknowledging that the previous systems had failed.

Only in Cuba and Nicaragua, the dictatorships of Batista and Somoza were overthrown by popular uprisings, despite Washington’s failed military support for these regimes.

The invasion of Vietnam brought incalculable human losses, both American and Vietnamese, and the campaign’s failure was resounding. People still recall the images of US soldiers clinging to helicopters, trying to flee the country anyway they could.

More recently, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States proclaimed it was declaring war on terrorism and, despite the fact that Fidel Castro publicly warned them that a war was no way to combat terrorism, then President George W. Bush decided to start a war that ended in failure. The result of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan completely devastated those countries and made them ungovernable, where terrorists have become stronger, precisely thanks to the weapons supplied by the United States, and now threaten the security of the entire Middle East.

The war on Libya had a result similar to the previous two: a country plunged into chaos, where weapons supplied by the United States ended up in the hands of terrorists.

Despite these failures, the policy of overthrowing governments that do not appeal to Washington was applied in Syria, where terrorist groups received weapons and training to topple the legitimate government of Bashar al Asad. The situation in Syria became more complicated with the entry of other terrorist forces belonging to the so-called Islamic State.

The United States continued to supply weapons and munitions to groups set on overthrowing the government, but these weapons and many of the operatives ended up in the Islamic State, which everyone believes should be stopped. The United States has attempted to combat them, but has maintained its objective of overthrowing the government, not realizing that, this way, it has strengthened the terrorists and worsened the country’s situation, to such an extent that millions of Syrians are emigrating to neighboring countries and Europe, fleeing from the conflict.

Incredibly, after having created and aggravated the crisis in Syria, the United States has approached the Greek and Bulgarian governments to have them deny Russian airplanes carrying humanitarian aid to Syria access to their air spaces.

Meanwhile, only Russian bombers have successfully hit the Islamic State, having worked in coordination with the Syrian government. However, the Western press distorts the facts to minimize the importance of this success. Finally, however, the Pentagon has had to hold talks with the Russian high command to coordinate actions with them. Likewise the Obama government admitted the United States failed in its attempts to overthrow the Syrian government. Yet another failure. Let us hope they finally learn their lesson.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

33 thoughts on “Washington’s Many Policy Failures

  • I think it’s safe to say that we won all the battles but lost the war. They were all tactical victories but since we ended up withdrawing I guess you can calm if a strategic defeat. Even the Tet offensive was a military disaster for the North, but in terms of the media and public perception, it was a victory.

  • Read General Giap’s memoirs of the war. In case you don’t recall the name, Võ Nguyên Giáp was the top commander of the North Vietnamese Army. The US generals who fought against Giap considered him a military genius. The Tet Offensive launched by the NVA was intended to overrun US and South Vietnamese positions, driving the US to withdraw from the war. Instead, the US forces held their lines and advnaced. By the end of the Tet Offensive, the US had increased the number of soldiers in Vietnam, while the NVA had been devastated in soldiers and materiel. At the same time, the US was pressing North Vietnam to the negotiating table in Paris.

    General Giap wrote about mood in Hanoi, where the top political & military leaders were discussing how to salvage something out of the devastating destruction of their fighting forces. Then something remarkable happened.

    The North Vietnamese watched US television to try to gauge US public opinion. They saw Walter Cronkite go on TV and announce, “It should be clear by now, the US war in Indochina is lost. It’s time to bring home our soldiers”.

    The Vietnamese Generals were stunned. They knew the US military had triumphed. And yet the US public was being told by Cronkite they had lost, and US politicians were repeating this baseless charge. So Giap reasoned, if the American politicians are so stupid they think they lost, then lets go to Paris and meet with the Americans. We will pretend we won and see what they give us. The US government wanted out of the war for domestic political reasons, not military.

    The political mood in the US had set against the war, for a variety of reasons. As a means to ending the war, the politicians decided to insist the war was lost, which made continuing to support South Vietnam less attractive.

    The deal the US & North Vietnam agreed to at Paris included the pledge by North Vietnam not attack South Vietnam and not to re-arm the Viet Cong guerrillas they operated in the South.

    Vietnam remained relatively peaceful during the ceasefire period while US troops withdrew. Back in Washington, Congress voted to cut funding for South Vietnam. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese had rearmed and smuggled materiel along the Ho Chi Minh trail into South Vietnam. In 1975, the NVA launched a major offensive against the South, in violation of the Paris Peace Accord. The US refused to help the South, a betrayal of the promise Kissinger had given President Theiu.

    South Vietnam fell to the Communist North Vietnam two years after the US had left the country. More Vietnamese died in the fighting after the US left, than during the whole time the US was involved in the war.

    There is a common misunderstanding in the US that the Vietnam War began with the first large units of US troops to landed in the country in 1963 and ended when the last US troops withdrew in 1973. Not true. The war began as soon as the Japanese were defeated in WWII and French soldiers attempted to reconstitute their old colonial regime. The fighting didn’t stop until 1975, more than 2 years after the US had withdrawn.

    Militarily, the US defeated the NVA, but then for domestic political reasons gave up and went home.

    By the way, as this is a Cuban themed blog, Fidel Castro supported the North Vietnamese by sending Cuban troops to fight alongside the Viet Cong. Senator John McCain and others have claimed that Cuban interrogators tortured US POS’s in North Vietnamese prisons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War#Cuba

    In very similar fashion, the US military succeeded in Iraq, but then for domestic political reasons (i.e. the election of Barack Obama), the US give up and pulled out of Iraq before the new Iraq government was stabilized and the new Iraqi army was fully ready to defend the country. Shia militias seized control in the south. Kurdish groups controlled the North. In the western part of the country, the remnants of the Saddam regime joined up with radical Islamists to form what is now known as ISIS.

    In Afghanistan, against the advice of his generals, Obama ordered an early withdrawal of US troops. He compounded that strategic blunder by pre-announcing the date the US would leave Afghanistan. In recent days, Obama has had to order the last 5000 US troops to extend their mission in Afghanistan because of the now resurgent Taliban seem set to attack Kabul again.

    You asked why does the US not support the winning sides in these wars they get involved in. The better questions would be, “Why does the US decide not to win these wars?” In Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan, the US was militarily dominant and successful. Final victory was lost because the US governments of the day decided, for domestic political reasons and not based on any military consideration, to give up, quit and leave a mess behind.

    I argue the reason is because the US Democratic Party, or at least the left wing of that party, does not want to win. They want the US to lose, because losing confirms their ideological view of America. Obama declared he “ended the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a lie. All he did was pack up the US troops and quit a war while the enemy remained dangerous. The enemy regrouped, rearmed and kept on fighting.

  • I never said their cause was noble, nor did I say the picture was rosy. Just that the US military was winning until domestic political pressure compelled the US government to withdraw before the job was done. Russia & China do not have those concerns. They can invade and conquer countries without the problems of a nagging free press or political opposition.

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