My thoughts on Cuba
Owen Jones

Some of what Jones is saying here is fair. I agree that Castro’s regime deserves full analysis (although it doesn’t change how he should be looked at overall, in my opinion, and I doubt Jones would offer the same cries for nuance for a Western leader like Tony Blair), but as ever Jones over-simplifies on a few occasions.

  1. Cuba’s health and education services — better than other LACs & LEDCs for sure, but given the conditions Castro was operating in, were/are these services really as brilliant as people seem to suggest? The very notion of the embargo as strangling is categorically false, due to the Soviet’s financial backing over the years. And even in the 90s, US money was flowing into Cuba. This excellent study, and debate, dismantles Jones’ praise with staggering levels of detail:
  2. The UK — Saudi false equivalence. Jones’ thinking on this issue can be summed up as follows: Saudis = bad. UK is friends with Saudis = UK must be criticised for moral hypocrisy. Little does he understand that stepping away from the Saudis, cutting ties, does not occur in a vacuum, and would make the World a more dangerous place. Lowering the flag at half mast did seem to go above and beyond all diplomatic niceties, but the alliance needs to be held; not only because the Saudis actually share vital counter-terrorism information with us, they’ve also been trying to buy nukes from Pakistan for years. The West, through diplomacy and relationships, has been able to stop that from happening. I expect this will be news to Jones.
  3. Corbyn describing Castro as a ‘champion of social justice was sheer cherry-picking of the facts and the ‘for all his flaws’ comment an absurd papering over of the fact that he killed 10s of 1000s of innocent people, forced a load more to flee (including his own daughter), and helped train terrorists. He is beyond a joke.
  4. Castro in Africa: “Foreign successes perhaps helped to obscure that the revolution was stalling badly at home. Then there was the unmissable irony at the heart of the whole policy: Havana made judgments about which third-world movements most resembled its model for the future, and then put its credibility in the hands of local leaders with their own priorities — similar to what Washington was doing at the same time.”

“Cuba’s deeply improbable campaign in distant southern Africa was an important factor in the demise of apartheid, though it was not, as some claim, the dominant or decisive one.”

Jones makes reasonable points about the apologia for Castro’s evils deeds by many on the Left, but he essentially offers no analysis into each specific act of his reign deemed to be positive but which in reality are more complicated than that.

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