September 01, 2003


Cuba-lovin’ Brit MP Brian Wilson replies to an e-mail from reader Robert B.:

Of course I would like to see open elections in Cuba and everywhere else. but I think one of the counter-productive aspects of US policy has been to ensure such a state of abnormality in Cuba that it becomes unreasonable to demand what we would regard as normal politics. Lift the embargo and things would change very quickly. But would the US be capable of allowing what is good in Cuba to survive or would they want to wipe the whole thing out in order to restore Bacardi, the United Fruit Company and the Mafia? I fear so.

That’s the plan, Brian. The Mafia must be restored.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 1, 2003 03:36 AM

What, you didn't watch Godfather 2? If it wasn't for the revolution, the Mafia would have made it into another Las Vegas!

Posted by: gek at September 1, 2003 at 04:29 AM

So you are against dictatorships are you Tim? Good for you.

Been on any good protests over Western support for nuclear-armed General Musharraf, military dictator of Pakistan, receiver of billions in loans, weapons sales etc?

How about Uzbekistan?

Are you boycotting the oil companies that prop up the Burmese junta?

You must be gutted that liberated Kuwait is still run by a feudal tyrrany, like Qatar, and U.A.E.

I could go on, but what's the point. I already know the answer.

You just disapprove of dictators when you are told to by the powerful you worship. Otherwise you are quite happy to support them.

Posted by: Analogue Voter at September 1, 2003 at 04:36 AM

Actually, Analogue, all those dictatorships are awful, and Tim would agree. I never hear anyone defending those countries. I hear plenty of people on the far left defending Communist tyrannies, though.

If the civilized countries of the world could deal with all the dictatorships, conservatives would favor it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, that's just not possible. Reality forces one to use diplomacy and other methods short of war even when dealing with nasty countries. So conservatives tend to focus on the ones we can do something about.

I think that's a better approach than that of the Left, which is apparently to use all the dictatorships we can't deal with at the same time as an excuse to not confront any of them. Sometimes it seems like certain people on the Left just want to feel superior by criticizing dictatorships, but don't actually want to get rid of any. Just protesting doesn't do anything to actually help the people suffering, you know, so it doesn't exactly make me feel that you're so moral.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 1, 2003 at 04:47 AM

I've never heard Tim praise Uzbekistan's literacy rate (99.3% according to the CIA factbook). And I've never heard him describe Musharraf as erudite or having a thirst for knowledge. Anyway, what would you have us do with those countries? Impose a Mafia restoring embargo?

Posted by: scott h. at September 1, 2003 at 05:11 AM

It's funny that he can be half right-- without the embargo Castro would be quickly swept away-- and wrong about the actual consequences-- there is nothing in Cuba worth saving, but lots of pent-up energy which would shortly go toward creating a new, free society, not some banana republic.

Posted by: Mike G at September 1, 2003 at 05:44 AM

As pointed out above, it can indeed be prudent to work with dictatorships for various reasons, on pragmatic grounds. Still, that is quite unlike actively rooting for them - something that seems to be far more prevailing on the left.

Posted by: Döbeln at September 1, 2003 at 05:50 AM

Okay, before someone distorts it what I meant by "there is nothing in Cuba worth saving" is that there is no aspect of the regime that is worth saving, not, of course, that the country and its people are worthless. And of course certain services which are provided "by" the government, and which are often trumpeted (ie health care and schooling), would survive the removal of the regime-- doctors don't stop being doctors because Fidel is no longer there.

Posted by: Mike G at September 1, 2003 at 06:06 AM

I said it in another thread and I'll say it here, the left likes tyrants because of the social services they provide (education, medical services, bleak housing etc.). It would seem that having those services, as bad as they are (see France, heatwave) they are more important than freedom, because in their minds these social services somehow make us all equal. And equality is more important than freedom to the left. This I believe is the 'fundamental' difference in the way conservatives and liberals view how the world should work. The problem now is that the left at least here in the west no longer views these services as the path to equality, but more of a method to secure power.

Posted by: Imam Psycho Muhammed at September 1, 2003 at 07:50 AM

And what is so wrong with the mafia. Hey as long as they provide premium booze, dynamite hookers, honest tables, kind bud etc., and top-notch entertainment I got no problem with them running Cuba. Hell everone there would at least have a minimum wage job. And it sure's hell beats cropping tobacco. WooHoo. Who said conservatives can't have a good time.

Posted by: Imam Psycho Muhammed at September 1, 2003 at 07:56 AM

What part of "communist" do some of you not understand? Even if we opened up trade with Cuba it does not necessarily mean that the capitalist would sweep the country and create a lively liberal democracy.

We have trade deals with Vietnam for instance. Nothing substantial has changed there one bit. It's a fact that just about every other major trading country on the planet trades with Cuba. In fact, I think the EU is Cuba's major trading partner.

Posted by: Cody at September 1, 2003 at 08:31 AM

The point, Cody, is that the only country that hasn't become more like is is the one we've propped up via embargo etc. I think Castro's regime would have imploded in '89 with his Soviet patrons if not for that.

Posted by: Mike G at September 1, 2003 at 08:34 AM

Cuba has the entire rest of the world to deal with. If it can't make a go of it trading with and getting investment from the EU, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, why should we expect adding the U.S. to the list to have any significant impact?

Furthermore, trade with the U.S. has not been acompanied by political liberalization in China, Saudi Arabia, or Singapore. Why should we expect Cuba to react differently?

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at September 1, 2003 at 10:07 AM

Analogue- Are you a troll or a deeply stupid individual. Whenhas Tim praised any of the regimes you mentioned?

Comparing Qatar and UAE to Cuba is absurd, although they are undemocratic and somewhat repressive, they are two most free countries in the arab ocean of repression, wheras Cuba is the lone dictatorship in an overwhelmingly free region of the world.

By the way what the fuck does "You just disapprove of dictators when you are told to by the powerful you worship" mean? Admit it, you just cut and paste that from "Pilger for Dummies"

Posted by: ross at September 1, 2003 at 10:23 AM

Lift the embargo? I thought free trade was bad.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at September 1, 2003 at 10:42 AM

The best part about Anal-log's list is the country that is not on it, Iraq. It would seem odd that "the log" fought so hard to make sure that it would always remain there.

I wonder why that is?

Posted by: Jon Black at September 1, 2003 at 11:16 AM

Cuba would pick up a shitload of foreign exchange by blasting Beardy-Boy into orbit just by being able to legally export stogies to the US.
That's another reason the left is happy with how things are- a free Cuba is one thing, but a free Cuba grown wealthy out of EVIL TERBACCY is enough to cause a spontaneous cerebral haemmorrhage throughout the entire lefty world.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 1, 2003 at 11:42 AM

The United Fruit Company! Man, that is hilarious. The good ol' left, always singing from the same hymnal, copywrited circa 1966.

Wow, that's good stuff.

Posted by: KevinV at September 1, 2003 at 12:26 PM

Darn. Brian Wilson never replied to _my_ email. Perhaps I offended goddamn fucking dictator-felching fucktard.

Funnily enough, I read the original article, though, and I never really got the impression that he was arguing for the lifting of the embargo for the sake of getting rid of Castro.

I disagree with John Thacker's point about the impossibility of dealing with dictatorships as they deserve. I reckon that with a well-judged combination of diplomatic and military pressure, we could make it clear to the dictators of the world that their particular brand of "government" was no longer acceptable. The only two dictatorships which present a significant military hurdle are China and Pakistan, and I'm sure that once democracy was installed in every other country, the Chinese and Pakistani people wouldn't stand for dictatorship too much longer.

I see the eradication of dictatorships as the great moral imperative of the 21st century, much as the eradication of slavery was the great moral imperative of the 19th. In generations to come our descendants will look back on us and wonder how we could have stood back idly while dictators enslaved millions, much as we look back on our ancestors who were complicit in slavery.

So in conclusion, let's invade Cuba!

Posted by: Jorge at September 1, 2003 at 01:00 PM

I don't know why people think a trade embargo props up Castro. Guns and secret police prop up that old sleasebag. Trade or lack of trade's got nothing to do with it.

On dictatorships generally, the UN should be ditched and replaced with the DN - democratic nations, and phoney-baloney democracies like Malaya ought to be left out.

We need to understand that there are two categories: legitimate governments, which are the result of free elections; and defacto governments, which are based on guns, secret police and other manipulations. Dickweed dictators should be left out of any international deals on things like human rights. Having Libya, of all places, heading the human rights commission is an affront to every poor bastard that's ever been tortured, murdered etc.

Posted by: PJ at September 1, 2003 at 02:26 PM

'Pilger for Dummies'

The thought is horrendous.

Pilger is never for dummies. Pilger is for highly intelligent, independent-thinking people who make up their own minds for themselves.

Dummies don't even know who Pilger is. If they did, it would be necessary to find another, more exclusive, Pilger.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 1, 2003 at 02:48 PM

What I would have preferred in Brian's email is an outline of the political system in Cuba. A good general overview would have been nice - but from his point of view so I could have understood what he was on about.

In the end his reponse to me was - yeah good point but at least they are better off than being under the mafia. He has been watching too many episodes of the Sopranos I think.... or maybe not enough??

Posted by: Rob at September 1, 2003 at 04:04 PM

" The Log," I love that one. Cheers to you Jon Black! I think you've done us all a great service, in creating such an accurate visual. Every time " The Log " posts from this day forward, I will be Pavlov-prompted toward the image of a toilet log. A perfect nickname for a walking piece of log, and his posts, which are invariably " full of log."

Posted by: Mike at September 2, 2003 at 12:17 AM

Nice place ya got here....hate to see it busted up.

Posted by: Two in the Hat at September 2, 2003 at 04:01 AM