Circles Robinson Online

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Location: Havana, Cuba

is a blog to give a fresh angle on a fascinating and beautiful Caribbean Island country that, despite being relatively small and with only 11 million people, has been a major player in American and world politics for a half century. I also suggest you try

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cuba Among U.S. Evil 7, Iran Tops List

by Circles Robinson

As Cuba remembers the 45th anniversary of the CIA directed Bay of Pigs invasion (April 17-19, 1961) the island’s media and observers of US-Cuba policy remind us that little has changed in Washington’s intentions to destroy the Revolution.

“America is at war,” begins George W. Bush in his introduction to the latest US National Security Strategy (NSS) guidelines. “We seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it,” he confides.

“The path we have chosen is consistent with the great tradition of American foreign policy. Our approach is idealistic about our national goals… and realistic about the means to achieve them,” states Bush.

The NSS document then goes on to set the priorities. It lists North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe as candidates for future aggression, calling them tyrannies and/or sponsors of terrorism, with Iran clearly topping the list as today’s chosen land.

“We face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran,” warns the report.

This statement is probably the most significant in the 54-page document. A little over three years ago, Iraq was Washington’s public enemy No.1 and despite talk of diplomacy, Pentagon plans to attack were well advanced and the rest is history still unfolding. The fabricated justification alleging WMD was what being “realistic about the means” signifies in real terms. A year earlier, and riding on 9/11, Afghanistan was No.1.

On April 11, when the president was telling a group of international relations students at John Hopkins University that talk of an attack was still premature, Israel, the closest US ally, and the Middle East’s nuclear weapons power, said Iran should be “confronted by a broad and determined coalition.” The following day Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for “strong steps” from the UN Security Council.

The fact is that the US has been itching to launch a full-scale attack against Iran for years; what better place to try out the latest in “tactical” nukes. The only deterrent has been Iran’s defense preparation and the unknown effects of such an attack on the region and the world. When the US backed Saddam Hussein in his 1980-89 war on Iran, it wanted to help topple the Iranian Revolution; however, the resolute Iranians proved a much tougher match than expected.


Preparing to defend against a superpower aggressor is not something that takes place overnight and can involve virtually an entire population. Cuba, more than any country, can share its experiences.

From the time the Cuban Revolution triumphed on January 1, 1959 no time was lost in the preparation for what would inevitably come in the form of the Bay of Pigs invasion 28 months later. Just as with Iran, the US has longed to turn the clock back on Havana to the days when the “friendly” dictator Batista and Meyer Lansky’s boys ran the Caribbean island.

Analogical to current events, it should be remembered that the US denied plotting an invasion of Cuba well into the invasion itself.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco was defeated in less than 72 hours and the Kennedy administration got cold feet about sending in more troops or bombers. Subsequently, successive US governments have enforced a fierce blockade against Cuba.

For its part, Iran believes it has the right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop a nuclear power program to diversify its energy sources. President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian authorities have repeatedly said that Iran’s nuclear program is being developed for peaceful domestic energy purposes.

However, the US maintains a policy that says only its allies should be allowed to develop such nuclear technology. The irony is that the original idea of Iran developing nuclear energy came when the United States sold it a reactor back in 1959. At that time Iran’s dictator, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, was in power and Washington supported the idea.

Of the world’s currently operating 443 nuclear plants, 383 or 86.45 percent are in developed countries—North America (122), Europe (174), Japan (56) and Russia (31).

Since it refuses to buckle under US pressure, Iran is now close to facing sanctions when the UN Security Council meets in the coming weeks and Washington prepares its ultimatums, which could soon include military action.

“Suddenly it looks like the policy is not tough diplomacy, but the path to war,” Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told the Los Angeles Times.

US intelligence agencies and the Pentagon routinely draft plans to undermine or attack countries that fail to respond to hardball diplomacy or outright threats.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-Tenn) tried to calm fears this week of a pending attack by saying, “We believe there has been much overstatement in the American press with regard to the use of military force in Iran.”

To put the “overstatement” into perspective, in the last 50 years the US has carried out military and CIA operations in among other countries: Puerto Rico, Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Guatemala, Egypt, Lebanon, Panama, Iraq, Laos, Cuba, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Oman, Chile, Angola, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Honduras, Bolivia, Virgin Islands, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Haiti, Zaire, Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Philippines and Pakistan.

Whose next?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Reflections from Cuba on Martin Luther King Jr.

by Circles Robinson

On April 3, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. left Atlanta for Memphis, Tennessee, for a rally in support of sanitation workers. In his prophetic speech that evening at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple he stated:

“As we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, ‘We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.’”

On the following afternoon MLK was shot dead, at age 39, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel while preparing to lead a march in support of the predominantly black Memphis sanitation workers union that were on strike.

He wasn’t alone. During the 1960s and early 1970s, hundreds of Black American activists, religious leaders and revolutionaries struggling for long overdue civil rights or political power were assassinated by FBI agents, infiltrators, the KKK, Police, Prison Guards and State Troopers in dozens of US cities and states. Others were relentlessly persecuted and forced into exile.

The same strategists who plotted the reign of terror that took hold during this period from Latin America to Southeast Asia were also quite active at home. Stopping Communism were the Cold War buzz words, both in the USA and abroad, and no blow would be too low in doing so.

Similar to the discredited Lee Harvey Oswald one-killer theory in the Nov. 22, 1963 Kennedy Assassination, most researchers believe that James Earl Ray either did not act alone or was not the killer of Dr. King.


Dr. King’s leadership role began shortly after civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to comply with the Montgomery, Alabama segregation policy on buses on December 5, 1955. Black residents then began a bus boycott and elected King as their leader. Like India’s Mahatma Ghandi before him, non-violent political action became his trademark.

While some Blacks criticized MLK for seeking an unattainable justice with White America others attacked him as an extremist for moving too fast by taking the civil rights struggle across the South. Speaking from Birmingham Jail after a protest against a notoriously violent opposition to integration, MLK wrote on April 16, 1963: “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial, ‘outside agitator’ idea.”

Dr. King believed that no opportunity should be wasted to further the cause of Black Americans, a century from slavery but clearly still second class citizens. In accepting the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 1964 he stated: “I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award in behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice."


By 1967, the Johnson administration had sent hundreds of thousands of troops to prop up a corrupt South Vietnamese government. With an even greater US involvement in the making and no end in sight, Martin Luther King Jr. could see the writing on the wall. The president who had signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act had become totally wrapped up in the “domino theory” of a world communist takeover, and Vietnam was the primary battlefield. Besides the Vietnamese who suffered the most, the massive killing was falling heavy on poor Blacks drafted into a war that was supposedly fighting for a democracy that they didn’t have in their own towns and cities.

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, MLK gave a landmark speech titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” at the Riverside Church in New York. Dr. King had begun to bridge the gap between part of the civil rights movement and the anti-war effort. He steadfastly maintained that the two were related and maintained that the Johnson Great Society, in which some gains were made, was all but eclipsed by the massive war buildup.

“There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor - both black and white - through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

MLK himself was constantly being hounded by covert agents working for FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who saw commies at every turn and considered Dr. King one of them. However Dr. King was aware that the Vietnamese, his black colleagues and other anti-war activists were not the only ones on the receiving end of US government aggression.

“During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.”


In his book titled The Trumpet of Conscience, published in 1967, Dr. King said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Unfortunately many of the lessons of the 60s and 70s appear to have been squashed in the United States by the writers of high school history books, consumerism, Christian fundamentalism and a substitution of the word communism with terrorism. Nearly thirty-one years after the last Marine scrambled up the ladder to abandon Saigon, the US is in just as deep in the Middle East and Asia.

The carnage in Iraq has combined with record deficits and cuts in virtually all social services. In the wealthiest country on earth, an estimated 43 million US citizens are without medical insurance and millions of “illegal aliens” are under threat of deportation.

But at the same time, Dr. King’s legacy continues on as many church and civic organizations and even some countries have taken the baton of his and Ghandi’s quest for peace and justice.

Cuba, a Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million people, is one of them. It has fought nearly a half-century long struggle of non-violent resistance to US attempts to usurp its sovereignty by way of a relentless economic, financial and commercial blockade and uncountable terrorist acts.

While the revolution led by Fidel Castro has always maintained that a well prepared people’s defense is a deterrent to direct US aggression –a principle used during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion--, it has practiced a policy that has employed reason and justice to challenge military might and injustice.

Even though Dr. King and the Cuban Revolution were never close, the legacy of his cause has lived on in Cuba, perhaps more than in any country. When in a speech in Detroit on June 23, 1963, MLK said “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live,” he was characterizing millions of Cubans without knowing them.

When he said “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men,” he was characterizing a long list of US governments.

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