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Obama and the Empire
by Cuban leader Fidel Castro
(Click for Amazon book review)
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
People ask when they see this book's author, "Is that THE Fidel Castro?" Yes, it is, which I know because I asked that same question when I saw the book on the bookstore shelf. It is written by Cuban President Fidel Castro, who "retired" in 2008 from the Cuban Presidency (he then retired again as Communist Party Secretary in 2011, after this book was published; his brother Raul Castro still runs the country, having taken over both those roles). Fidel's retirement was marked by an ongoing set of "Reflections" which he published in the Communist-party-run newspaper, Granma; those "Reflections" are collected in book form here.
Castro's "Reflections" are written immediately after each event they discuss. In other words, these essays are his immediate reaction, without any long-term perspective -- sort of like reading a political blog. But it's a political blog where the blogger describes the United States as "a parasitical and plundering empire" (p. 8) and says "NATO is a warlike and aggressive organization" (p. 47). And of course Castro applies decades of long-term perspective when he says things like that -- he has hated the United States and NATO longer than most political bloggers have been alive.
Castro wrote this book to "understand and evaluate the Obama presidency," according to the Publisher's Note (p. x). Castro certainly addresses Obama, but Castro's real target is George W. Bush, whom Castro evidently hates with unbridled passion. Castro describes Bush as "a corrupt, lying and ignorant politician" (p. 53) whose presidency Castro describes as "dark days" (p. 59).
For Obama, Castro has mixed feelings. Castro sincerely admires Obama's accomplishment of being the first non-white president, describing Obama's election as "an exceptional merit of US society and I am the first to admit it" (p. 21). Castro admires Obama on racial grounds -- "a black man in the country of racial discrimination" (p. 25) -- but also on political grounds -- "he certainly does not resemble his predecessor in the least" (p. 49). But Castro opens his book with an essay entitled, "The Cynicism of the Empire" (p. 1) in which he bashes Obama for maintaining the American embargo against Cuba. Castro follows up with accusing Obama of violation of international law by keeping the Guantanamo prison open (p. 18) and by "praising" Obama for achieving with ObamaCare what was achieved by Cuba 50 years ago (p. 121).
Most political bloggers feel like their opinions matter, and that their readers just can't wait for their next post. With most political bloggers, that would be megalomania if they actually believe it. Fidel Castro, whom many consider the world's leading megalomaniac, in fact DOES have readers who just can't wait for his next post, although most of them are forced to do so by living in the dictatorship that Castro set up. The book has that off-the-cuff feel that most political blogs have; like most blogs, it is not well-edited (for example, Castro cites Rep. James Clyburn as being from North Carolina (p. 39); in fact, he represents South Carolina).
I could not resist this book -- and neither should any other pundit, or anyone interested enough in politics to want to understand how our opponents view us. Castro's views of Obama are not like those of Obama's political enemy Rush Limbaugh; Castro is a REAL enemy, with REAL opposition views. Castro's negative views of America are, unfortunately, common throughout the Third World, and are not uncommon in the developed world either. Understanding Castro means understanding much of the world outside our borders.
-- Jesse Gordon, OnTheIssues editor-in-chief, December 2013
by Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Page last edited: Aug 14, 2014