Friday, November 5, 2010

Research Paper on Communism

Research Paper on Communism

There is the argument that the US did prevent the spread of communism to Cuba, but through American policy and paranoia they pushed a nationalist leader, with no intention of communism or even socialism into the opening arms of a Communist government.

In 1889, the USA first became involved in Cuba; by helping to overthrow their ‘old world colonial masters’, Spain. Cuba then became all but an American colony, even with an amendment in its constitution stating that the US government had the right to intervene in Cuban affairs; this was though to be repealed in 1934. Batista came to direct power in 1933, yet he was a puppet of his American masters, his regime got more and more despised within Cuba. Castro was to first raise the revolutionary standard in Havana on January 8 1959, a week after Batista had fled the country.

1960 saw the visit of Premier Mikoyan to Cuba, Castro signed a trade agreement with him in order that he could start to improve the economy, to do this e had to nationalise over a billion dollars worth of American industry. Eisenhower enforced an economic blockade upon Cuba as a reprisal; this however had dire consequences, as the USSR agreed to purchase all of the sugar export. When the US then refused to sell petroleum products to Cuba, the USSR again stepped in to aid Cuba, despite the major strain that would be placed upon Soviet shipping. It can be said that the consequence is that Cuba became a Communist state.


There are two views of history that concern the cold war: they are the Traditionalist and Revisionist views. These two schools of thought evolved at different times and current thinking would suggest that there deserves to be a compromise between the two, central to this debate is the foreign policy of the two ‘warring’ states.

The Traditionalist view endorses the official view of the United States Government’s position of who started the cold war: that it was the US who had to resist a series of aggressive and expansionist moves by the USSR. However, the ‘revisionists’ of the world are more critical and cynical about the use of American foreign policy; arguing that the US had ‘acted in an aggressive and unreasonable manner after the Second World War, provoking a Soviet counter-response.

The Marxist view of history must not be forgotten: that communism will spread through out the world at an ever expanding rate. In this view there would have been nothing that the US could do nothing to prevent the spread of communism to Cuba.

It is now the general consensus that ‘the Cold War was the result of mutual misunderstandings and of unavoidable clashes between Soviet and American foreign interests’. The question remains though, why did Khrushchev place his ‘dog’ in ‘Uncle Sam’s backyard’. It can be seen that it was ‘Uncle Sam’ himself who opened his ‘pants’ to allow Khrushchev to put his ‘hedgehog’ – ‘down there’.

Batista came into power in 1933, and ruled for over twenty-five years, either directly, or through puppetry, however, as time went on, the Cuban population realised that the regime was corrupt and dictatorial, and so it lost much of its support. William D. Pawley had the idea that Batista was “to capitulate to a caretaker government unfriendly to him, but satisfactory to us, which we could immediately recognise and give military assistance to in order that Castro not come to power”. This was in addition to the fact that US citizens and corporations controlled 80% of Cuba’s utilities, 90% of the mines, 90%of the cattle ranches, almost 100% of the oil refineries, 50% of the railways and 25% of all the bank deposits. The US was using the island of Cuba, effectively as a colony.

When Castro came to power, Cuba was in the mists of social catastrophe, over 600,000 people were unemployed, proportionately the same as in the US during the Great Depression. Half the population did not have electricity, only 1.5% of landowners controlled 46% of the nation’s land, whilst 85% of the small farmers paid one-third of their income in rent. Cuba’s threat lay in the fact that it was an example to a continent trapped in poverty and misery by the existing socio-economic power structure.

On September 4 1933, Batista led a revolt with student revolutionaries; he would oversee and manipulate the Cuban political landscape for the next 26 years. Ramon Grau San Martin became the provisional president: the USA failed to recognise the regime. In 1934, Batista removed Martin and the US abolished the Platt Amendment. In 1940 a constitutional convention meets, at which all political forces are represented at which a new constitution is formed: Batista is elected the same year as the constitutional president. The communist party was part of the coalition that brought Batista to power; he described himself later as a ‘progressive socialist’. He used the communist party to take control of the labour unions, in an attempt to gain control over the economy which was all important.

In 1959, Castro and is followers overthrow the brutal dictatorship of Batista; they came into government with little experience, but plenty of reforming zeal. Castro was though, at this point not a convinced Marxist, yet to the American administration it looked very communist.

On January 10 1959, Castro publicly announced that “I am under the impression that the US is changing its attitude toward Cuba and will remove the things that caused friction in the past”. This would appear that the relations between the two states were improving, yet this would all appear to be a falsehood, it would have appeared that even though Castro’s regime was through a revolution, the US administration was willing to improve relations: this would show that there was initial support for Castro in the US. There was even a general consensus among officials that ‘for a substantial period of time the Cuban revolution was democratic, anti-dictatorial and anti-communist’, and that it had been given every assistance to flourish, namely in the event that the regime would become favourable to the US.

The two original sources of antipathy against the new regime instilled in Cuba was the fear of Communism, due the aggressive tactics of McCarthyism; this was compounded with the fear of social reforms, which would create a climate unfavourable to US investments. With hindsight though it is possible to quickly dismiss the threat of communism, as during the first six months of the new regime there was little trace of communism was detectable, this was though not publicised in the US administration.

Yet in May 1959 Castro publicly said: “the tremendous problem faced by the world is that it has been placed in a position where it must choose between capitalism, which starves people, and communism, which resolves economic problems, but suppresses the liberties so greatly cherished by man.” Castro also called for “Cubans and Latin Americans cherish and foster a revolution that may meet their material needs without sacrificing those liberties.” Surely this would show that there was no more intention for Castro to implement a communist regime than, to pull Cuba of its economic and social black hole. In order to enable this to occur Castro proposed industrialisation to take place at an unprecedented rate, yet the Cuban economy could not sustain this and so Castro had to ask the US for a loan in 1959 to pay for this economic programme. Some have been, as I am, to see this as a turning point in the revolution, and the promotion of communism into Cuba. This was though refused, and so Castro tried again, this time from the Economic Council of the Organisation of American States, he failed for a second time. When he returned to Cuba he arrived to find his government and programmes under attack from both the conservatives and communists: in retaliation Castro subsequently acted to block all communist influence in the labour movement.

Castro’s government was more Cuban nationalist than revolutionary socialist, there was no initial policy to nationalise American industry or seize hold of the important sugar export. The US was pleased when Castro, a strong nationalist leader took power, and removed a corrupt Batista which had left the arms of the American President. Yet this was not to last, as American officials became increasingly nervous about the socialist policies that Castro wanted to implement; the fear of communism was still very strong.

In 1952 US Secretary of State, J.S Dulles was key in implementing the US policy of containment of communism, within boarders already established: yet this was not enough “Soviet Communism dominates one-third of all the world’s people and is in the process of trying to extend its rule to many others”. Relations started to take a down turn, with Castro’s repeated attempts to secure new loans from the Organisation of American States, due to increasingly difficult requirements, the US threatened Cuba with the cutting the sugar import. The USSR saw this as a crucial time for them to intervene and possibly create another communist state, adding to the Marxist theory that communism would spread throughout the world.

By 1960 the US had carried out their threat and cut the import of Cuban sugar, the USSR undertook to purchase all the sugar export from Cuba, despite major strains that would be placed upon Soviet shipping. By January 1961 the US had cut all diplomatic ties with Cuba, as a reprisal against them for accepting the sugar deal from the USSR. J. F. Kennedy speaking before his success in the presidential elections said that America is “responsible for the maintenance of freedom around the world”: this was though to be interpreted by English historian Arnold Toynbee as “America’s decision to adopt Rome’s role has been deliberate”.

The Agrarian Reform Law was the second assault upon the communists in Cubs, and it was formulated by Castro himself; not only were large US companies hit, losing over one million acres of land, but also Cuban land barons, this was to definitely split the revolutionary coalition. The coalition was now to be one split by class boundaries, the proletariat against the landed people, the revolutionaries were now to move to the left, a people’s militia was built up and an intelligence organisation created: this was a further step in the eyes of the Americans to a communist state being formed in Cuba. Even in July 1960 Castro still made no extensive use of communists or their party, although there were individual communists within the government.

The US would only make a loan if Cuba were to stabilise its economy, as other countries had done. However, Castro was unwilling to put the Cuban people through the pain and suffering that reform would entail. Castro set abut using the Agrarian Reform Law in an attempt to restore the economy to a more stable state. Yet, on 14th October the US sent Cuba a note opposing the expropriation and other provisions of the Reform Law.

In February 1960 a trade pact was signed and diplomatic relations were resumed with the USSR in May. In June of the same year a series of ‘tit-for-tat’ actions occurred, starting with the refusal of US oil companies in Cuba to process Soviet crude oil, President Eisenhower was also given permission from Congress to cut the sugar quota, Cuba’s lifeline. On July 7th the sugar quota was cut completely, in a speedy event of actions, the USSR declared only two days later that they would use rockets to prevent Cuba from coming under attack from US forces. The US could not have been in a more dangerous situation; everything that they had feared was coming to fruition. The next day, Khrushchev agreed with Castro that he would purchase all 700,000 tons of Cuban sugar. The US was also calling for adequate and prompt compensation against the appropriation of land and revenue that had taken place; there was however, the small problem that there was no way in which Cuba could pay for what they had appropriated.

The assistance that the Soviet government gave to Cuba, gave the USSR a much needed new ember to the socialist camp, but at a price of over $4 billion a year. In the face of this soviet help, Castro had by 1961, that the best way in which to continue the revolution to its best conclusion that he had “best conduct is revolution by taking over, and then, working through the communist party”. In the eyes of the US government Castro had moved from being a respected middle class Catholic boy, to a communist, intent on spreading communism throughout Latin America. Yet there was no suggestion that Castro himself, had intentions to spread communism, however, the riches that the USSR was able to lavish on Cuba could have been seen as an advert to turn to the socialist camp for assistance.

Under a plan devised by President Eisenhower and the CIA, President Kennedy, in April 1961, supplied; arms, equipment and transport for 1,400 Cuban exiles to invade Cuba, and overthrow Castro. The plan was a complete failure, with over 20,00 Cuban troops waiting on the beach head where the exile force landed, all of the exiles were killed or captured within days. The heads of the CIA assured both Presidents that the invasion, ‘Operation Forty’ would not end up as another Guatemala, which had caused much embarrassment at its time. In short “the US was trying to overthrow a popular non-communist nationalist government that tolerated a hostile opposition”.

The idea was that an American force would follow the invasion force, and seize power over national and local governments, before any opposition could be mounted. Te second task for ‘Operation Forty’ was that key political figures would be assassinated, during the confusion of an invasion; these deaths would be put down as communist deaths, and would not be widely publicised. This counter-revolution that had been planned was a logical expansion of US attitudes towards the Cuban revolution and social revolutions in general.

A series of drastic mistakes were made, both by the CIA and President Kennedy: a series of pamphlets were to be dropped to raise popular support for the invasion they never were, aerial support was to be used, that was cancelled, finally the invaders were told to ‘go guerrilla’ if they could not advance, they were never taught guerrilla tactics. These pamphlets were designed to be dropped before the landing, on 17th April, and appeal to the Cuban people’s anti-communist feelings, yet these were produced, with no details of when or where the invasion would take place, or what it exactly was: this was in an attempt to ensure security. “The uprising was utterly essential to success in terms of ousting Castro”: the pamphlets were though never dropped, and no appeal was made in order to stir anti-communist feelings. Castro had though already found out about the invasion, through his intelligence agency, and ordered the arrest of all possible opponents, that the pamphlets would have appealed to.

Aerial support as designed to take place on two days, D-2 and D day, they were to be US planes painted in Cuban colours, to add to the impression that there was a national revolution. The adage to this was that the USSR and Cuba would not be able to distinguish them as US, as Kennedy had ensured that the plan, had it gone correctly would have no signs of being US backed. Yet it was the President and a few CIA officials that decided the planes would be too risky to use, if they were to be shown to American: especially as the USSR had declared that they would prevent US action on Cuba by missiles if necessary. This meant there was no sign of invasion or destruction of Cuban military instillations of troop movements: “D-2 was more of a plot than a plan”.

Thirdly the invasion force was badly equipped and was told to go guerrilla if they could not make substantial gains, yet the force was never trained to do so. The beach-head that they were to initially land on was though not suitable to these tactics.

There is the theory that the CIA had deliberately planned for the invasion to go as it did, and put the President in the situation that he would have to send in aerial support and the US army, in order to prevent the reign of communism to continue. Kennedy choose disaster, and not the military, this was not the answer that the CIA were expecting, further leading to suspicion of CIA influence in the shooting of President Kennedy.

The Bay of Pigs invasion created a severe hatred of the US in Cuba, yet in the US the feeling was that no enough was done to get rid of the Cuban leader: operation Mongoose was set up by Bobby Kennedy, and a dirty war was to be waged against the former ‘house of fun’, including assassination attempts, an economic blockade and sabotage.

After the invasion attempt, Castro had publicly declared himself as a Marxist; this was, for the US a clear sign that Cuba was now a Soviet satellite, in early 1962; Cuba was thrown out of the Organisation of American States. Cuba now needed protection, and it was to be sort in the arms of the USSR, as a result weapons and missile bases started to appear in June. With this addition it would bring nearly all US cities under the Soviet trigger, creating widespread panic and fear that a nuclear war between the two super powers in the world, would occur. The Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee reported that: “Cuba was handed to Castro and the communists by a combination of Americans in the same way China was handed to the Communists.” However it was JFK who publicly declared that it was the fault of the Eisenhower administration that Cuba had become the first Communist base in the Caribbean. Yet it has been said that Communism was the only response to Yankee Imperialism, this harks back to the writings of Toynbee, and the comparison between the US state and the Roman state.

In 1962 the USSR had only a handful of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, that were capable of reaching the shores of the US, yet America had close to 300 ICBM, which at a push of a button could destroy the USSR. There was also the issue of the placement of US missiles in Turkey, increasing the pressure that was placed at the foot of Chairman Khrushchev. The Chinese communist government placed fierce criticism against Khrushchev for capitulating with the West over the Berlin Wall: he now needed a foreign policy that would stamp his mark on the word, as Stalin did. John. W. Mason put it that “what began in Berlin in 1958, ended in Cuba in 1962”, the USSR needed a decisive battle over the Capitalist West: this was aided to the fact that the Bay of Pigs caused the Cuban leader to seek assistance in the protection of his state.

The placement of nuclear missiles on Cuba, just outside the US, would at a stroke redress the imbalance of nuclear missiles that the USSR faced. However, the issue of missiles on Cuba would though be no substitute for the long term build up of ICBM, which would secure the USSR, was on an equal standing with the US. The placement would though cost a fraction of the expense that would have been needed to radically increase the manufacture of nuclear missiles capable of accurately hitting the Western world. However the Communist government in Moscow was adamant in its assurance that the missiles were in fact placed on Cuban soil so as to protect the Cuban people and its government from any further attack sponsored by the US government.

Hindsight though has allowed us, to hypothesise that had less offensive and intimidating tactics been used then Cuba could have been more effectively defended. This though surely would have been considered by Khrushchev, that sending in conventional troops would have proved far less provocative: however, the equality that the Cuban missiles proved would have been irresistible to Khrushchev. This was to be the first time that Soviet missiles were to be placed outside the boarders of the USSR. The US and countries allied to it had over 3.5 million soldiers placed around the USSR boarder, with listening stations placed all over the world, and nuclear warheads placed in over five countries, all aiming at the USSR.

The US based their decisions as if Khrushchev was continuing upon the same dictatorial lines as Stalin, in fact this could not have been further from the truth. By 1962 Castro had asked Moscow for strategic hep four times, it was only on his forth attempt that Khrushchev agreed: this was on the back of new intelligence reports as to the number of thermo-nuclear war heads that the US had control over, approximately 5,000, compared to the USSR’s. Khrushchev was striving for equality: it is claimed that there were ever any plans for the missiles to actually be used, but more to make the US government sweat.

Khrushchev himself admitted that Cuba’s existence was “good propaganda”, that with the advent of a socialist state in Latin America it would serve as an example of how prosperous and secure other states could be, not every country had to turn into another Guatemala. The final outcome of the Cuban missile crisis was that both sides saved face: America got the missiles out of Cuba, and the USSR kept Cuba communist. However it was Cuba that lost out in the deal between the two main powers, they exchanged what would have been American dominance for USSR dominance. This was not what Castro had planned, yet he could be secure in the knowledge that under the agreement for disarming Cuba, the US could not back an invasion attempt upon Cuba; Castro’s rule was guaranteed for another 30 years. This agreement between the US and the USSR can be seen as the start of dĐštente, and the possible end to the causes that could have produced a Third World War.

The cost that Cuba had caused the USSR meant that no other countries were recruited to join the socialist club; they could not afford the expense or the fear that the consequences could be catastrophic. It can be seen that this was because of the way in which the US almost forced the removal of the missiles, or that the USSR was unwilling to put world security at risk for the advancement of the ‘socialist club’.

The removal of the missiles was done is secrecy, as the placing of the missiles had been: this was to retaliate at the US, who had placed missiles in Turkey in secret. However, by doing so the USSR incurred major disadvantages: previously favourable African nations that allowed use of airstrips and re-fuelling; now refused this advantage. This had a knock on effect with all shipments to Cuba now had to be done by shipping, forcing an enormous strain on the Soviet economy.

The ultimatum was forced upon the USSR, that if they did not remove the missiles from Cuba themselves, and under UN supervision, then the US would invade the island and remove them themselves. The USSR realised that it would be a very possible realisation, and reluctantly agreed to the conditions. However, there was compromise on the side of the US as well, it was agreed that the Titan missiles in Turkey would be dismantled and removed. This action was though shrouded n mystery, as the US government spun their way out of admitting comprise to the US: whilst the removal of the missiles from Cuba was published by the American and Western media. This even true with the Cuban leader himself, believed that Khrushchev had too easily capitulated to the American President to the extent that he briefly broke off diplomatic relations. Castro was only convinced to talk to Soviet Emissary Mikoyan once the threat of cutting off Cuba’s oil supply was made: relations were though still at a lengthy distance. By 1968 the USSR had seriously started to restrict oil shipments and other economic aid; that in 1970 Castro had to return back into the Soviet fold.

As the crisis started, it had ended, with deceit and cover-up stories: Khrushchev could not be seen to back down to Capitalism, by the communist community; likewise JFK could not be seen to be removing the missiles from Turkey, as they would be contravening UN policy to further its own gain. The balance of owe had been redressed, which Khrushchev had intended to.

After the collapse of the USSR the Cuban economy took a sever downturn and is now rating as one of the lowest income per capita in the world. Without the guiding and resources of the old Soviet bloc Cuba is lost in a mire of political, economic and social ruin. Yet communism shows all the signs of continuing in Castro’s Cuba, there as been the continual degradation of all its citizens’ rights.

The US did fail to prevent the spread of communism to Cuba: it was a shinning example of what the USSR could provide to a country under threat from American imperialism. Without the communist fears that were notably brought about by McCarthyism and the ardent desire of the US to ‘win’ the Cold War, the US would not have been so willing to jump to certain conclusions that were not based on fact. Had the US been more willing to appease Castro, and help him in his attempts to stabilise the Cuban economy and Cuban society then, it would appear that the communist tendencies would have been suppressed. Yet, had the US tried to appease the Cuban dictator then the international consequences would have been dire for JFK, just as Khrushchev had come under fire from the rest of the socialist camp at the end of the Cuban missile crisis. The US administrations did though prevent the spread of communism to the rest of Latin America: this is though equally due to the US efforts, as it was to the economic and international strain that the aid to Cuba produced. The US had proved a formidable enemy, but the USSR had shown itself to be resourceful and more than a force to be reckoned with.

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