only those who did not follow Mr. Kennedy’s pronouncements on Cuba in the days before his election were surprised by the American intervention. For Mr. Kennedy has never wavered on Cuba. When his Administration undertook yet another agonising reappraisal of foreign policy, Cuba remained the one territory which could not be contained within the “new frontier”. There were weeks in which the Administration refused to take any policy decisions over a very wide field: yet there was no pause between the promises which Mr. Kennedy held out to the Cuban emigres in the last weeks of the election, and the execution of those promises by the military and the CIA, with the full knowledge and support of the President, within his first “hundred days”. Why?
A satisfactory answer to this question would entail an examination of the new philosophy which underpins the Kennedy Administration. The “new frontier” in foreign policy is quite different from the “brink” which Mr. Dulles once defended. For Mr. Dulles, the “Free World” was maintained by the deterrent and the threat of massive retaliation. Communism would be “rolled back” by external propaganda and internal subversion. The only legitimate revolutions were those directed against the Soviet autarchy. Neutralism was “a sin”.
Mr. Kennedy’s philosophy is quite different. He has accepted the redifinition of world reality which the Russians and the Chinese have recently made. The points of engagement between East and West lie now along the outer perimeter of the “Free World”, in the under-developed and nonaligned nations. Mr. Kennedy appears to have taken a rather unsophisticated view of this shift in strategy. He thought that the first phase could be brought to a neat close (with arms control and perhaps a measure of disarmament in Europe) before the second phase (the struggle for the uncommitted nations) began. Here, he misread the movement of history: the two phases could not be so neatly separated and the battle for the second was already well under way before the first had been brought to any safe conclusion.
The shift in strategy has forced both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev to alter the terms of the argument between East and West. For social revolution in Asia, Africa and Latin America is not in essence concerned with the Cold War. It is a revolution of the hungry countries against the industrially advanced: more especially, a revolution against the old structure of imperialism and therefore, profoundly hostile to capitalism as an economic system. It is essential to see that these social and economic revolutions would have taken place in this decade, whatever shape world politics had assumed after 1945. Of course, a conflict with imperialism provides Mr. Khrushchev with a point of entry. But both he and Mr. Kennedy are now engaged in an attempt to exploit the colonial revolution, and adapt it to the world power struggle. Thus, at the recent meeting of Soviet and Chinese leaders, classic communist doctrine was drastically revised to take account of “national revolution”; a parallel revision has been taking place in American policy as well.
A strictly conservative world view such as Mr. Dulles maintained was of little use to Mr. Kennedy in the new phase. Mr. Kennedy has had to define, within the limits of a new liberal rhetoric, the precise degree of “revolution” compatible with American interests. Those which guaranteed the characteric American freedoms could be endorsed and incorporated within a network of massive technical and financial assistance. Neutralism became respectable. The most distinguished of Mr. Kennedy’s team were
It is this “new frontier” which informs the US Statement on Events in Cuba under the Castro Regime (April 3, 1961). This document is a dramatic attempt to put America on the side of history. It admits that the Batista regime deserved to be overthrown: “The character of the Batista regime in Cuba made a violent popular reaction almost inevitable. The rapacity of the leadership, the corruption of the government, the brutality of the police, the regime’s indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic opportunity—all these, in Cuba as elsewhere, constituted an open invitation to revolution”. The Paper makes no mention of the United States’ relationship with that regime; it ignores the millions of dollars America poured into Batista’s army, the yearly American exploitation of the Cuban agriculture, industry and resources. The indictment is rather that “the revolutionary regime betrayed their own revolution”, that it was “transformed into an instrument employed with calculated effect to suppress the rekindled hopes of the Cuban people for democracy”.
The Castro regime, it argues, has reneged on the liberal promise of the revolution with regard to “individual and politics rights”, “freedom of information” and “general elections”; the 26 July Movement has been “suppressed as the main political instrumentality of the regime by the Communist Party”; it has been “a history of disillusion, persecution, imprisonment and exile”; “professional groups and civic institutions have lost their autonomy”; the Castro regime has “seized control” of the nation’s educational system and the agencies of public communication.