Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

Cuba: Last Hot Border of the Cold War... Almost

There was a time, not that long ago, when forces of the West were arrayed against forces from the East along what was called an 'Iron Curtain.' Communist nations trapped in or controlled by the Soviet Union had cut themselves off from interaction with the 'freedom-loving' nations of the West. Their ideology, as espoused quite clearly by Kruschev, was to, bury us.

 While the West, led by the capitalist industrialists of the United States eager to open markets for their goods, was by no means innocent of inflammatory speech, it would be difficult to defend the position that we initiated the problem. Indeed, communist movements in various countries across the globe were responsible for a half-century of terror whose ravages live on across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. To defend our mutual selves from imminent invasion, troops, tanks, aircraft, and everything to respond to a surge of the red hoard were garrisoned along this curtain which stretched from the Baltic to the Mediterranean in Europe, and ran in a broken line across various nations of the east including Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and others.

 This was the world in which I grew up. A world prepared for war. The Cold War we called it, though there are plenty for whom it was sufficiently hot. Thankfully it is mostly gone now. The people behind the Iron Curtain can now at least see across the borders and in many places, it's removal has been a boon and a blessing. I can even buy clothing sewn by garment workers in Vietnam and camera lenses made in Russia. Prior to 1990 I'd have never believed goods made in those countries would ever be sold here. And the fact that they are has probably been good for everybody. Yes, American jobs are, and remain, an issue. But for the Vietnamese there is little doubt that it has improved their economy. And not being at war is always nice. From all indications, there are even people in former Warsaw Pact nations reading this blog.

 But there are two places where that old Cold War border remains, though the reason it remains is different in each. North Korea and Cuba. One is far from the US. The other is the second closest nation to the United States after Canada and Mexico which share our physical borders. In one, the United States fought a war to prevent Soviet expansion. In the other, the Soviet's based nuclear missiles which almost led to a war that might have seen them used. In one, the United States built a virtual wall to keep them contained. In the other, they built their own wall to keep themselves contained. Both are impoverished. One is still a threat. The other is not. One keeps it's wall defended for fear of a U.S. attack that will never come. We maintain the wall on the other because we still have egg on our face.

 It is interesting to consider why the Soviet Union 'fell'. Thankfully it didn't require a war. But what was it? Certainly economic pressure had a lot to do with it. The centrally controlled Soviet economy simply couldn't compete with the west. There are, however, too many reasons to go into in this short post, and books will continue to be written about it for many years to come. One of the primary factors, however, was the infusion of goods and information from the West, a result of Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost. To a large degree the people trapped behind the Iron Curtain just got sick of it. And as it became impossible to keep the reality of a much better life on the other side of the wall from reaching the people on the inside, maintaining that wall became impossible as well. Pandora's Box had been opened and could not be once again shut.

 So what is the deal in Cuba? The Soviet Union fell because good and services flowed in and exposed the government for the sham it was. Even China's hard line government is slowly changing to accommodate capitalism so they can avoid what happened to their Russian counterparts. It would seem then, that the best way to eliminate the Cuban 'threat' would be to flood their nation with goods and services. Threat? There is no threat! What is the purpose of an ongoing travel and trade embargo other than to assuage the bruised egos of those who fled when Castro came to power? (Now living comfortably in their Miami mansions plotting their return.) Okay, so Castro made us, the US, look like idiots. What a coup d'etat! But that was before I was even born. With the exception of Robert Byrd, how many people in power today were in power then? The nation that sponsored them doesn't even exist anymore. An entire island held hostage by the greed and anger of the wealthy elite who bugged-out the instant things got dicey. I seriously doubt some poor bastard trying to keep his grandfather's 1958 Ford Fury running still remembers his Marx.

The hot border in North Korea is still necessary. While not crazy, North Koreas have a world view that doesn't really mesh too well with... okay, they're crazy. But in Cuba? It would make more sense to fence off New Orleans. The Big Easy, as the uncontested crime capital of the United States, or even Mexico as the home of ruthless cartels that export billions in drugs every year, present far more danger to our security than an impoverished Caribbean Island with an inefficient government. And the beaches are great. Or so I'm told.

Futbol Guru,