Reading your special issue, Cuba: The Invasion and Its Consequences, was indeed a painful experience. In the aftermath of the Cuban “fiasco” surely more could be expected from a magazine that claims to be democratic socialist and radical than this equivocal scolding of the Administration and the recommendation of a set of proposals, the first of which is to reimburse the American investors in Cuba for their losses. (Even Business Week, which supports the Administration plan for government reimbursement of future nationalization, did not have the audacity to suggest such a proposal.)
My chief complaint, however, is the total vacuum in which the article is written and the facile dismissal of any attempt to set a context for U.S. foreign policy as “pseudo-Marxist” or “corrupted Marxist,” etc. Although Walzer opens the article by pointing out that the U.S. throughout its history has treated Latin America as a colony, he continues to assume that Castro’s anti-Americanism was a “fantasy-ridden world view” and some kind of xenophobia. He also comes to the unsupported conclusion that the Government has learned its lesson with the Cuban invasion and that we may now expect a radically different policy.
There are several underlying assumptions in the article which are completely incompatible with democratic radicalism. 1) The assumption that a complete and unequivocal condemnation of American foreign policy is “morbid anti-Americanism.” A radical draws distinctions when he discusses alternatives. Certainly there would be alternative if there were a radical and progressive movement in the United States to make basic changes in foreign policy. But how can a radical naively picture Eisenhower stumping in the Cuban villages or the Kennedy Administration actively assisting the nationalization of U.S. investments. That is true fantasy and it does nothing to show why the U.S. has consistently followed a conservative policy or what forces could change it in a radical direction. 2) The article simply assumes Kennedy has had the wrong advice and perhaps he will call a few DISSENT editors to Washington to set him straight. 3) There is a conservative assumption regarding the role of the middle classes in Cuba. What does the writer mean in commenting on their “tragic” exodus, or that the middle class possessed “the numbers and social power to control” the revolution? What are the “vested interests” of this class that might have opposed the Fidelistas? Is this the alternative a radical commends? 4) And why assume that supporting radical reformers is “a matter of grim necessity” when they are anti-American? An American radical should welcome such a “grim necessity.”