Comparing President Obama to predecessors is in vogue, so far we’ve seen Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan offered. Perhaps President Kennedy will prove a closer comparison; Russia Reviving Military Bases Around the World may describe a replay of what was called on Kennedy’s watch, the Cuban Missile Crises.
In short, the U.S. put nuclear-capable missiles around the Soviets in the U.K, Italy and Turkey while allowing Cuba’s takeover by communists. The Soviets countered by building and arming missile bases in Cuba, threatening the U.S. just as the U.S. missiles in Europe and Turkey threatened the U.S.S.R. President Kennedy blockaded Cuba to prevent delivery of the hardware while the world held its breath in late 1962. In October, the Soviets agreed to remove the missiles and the U.S. agreed to remove its missiles from Italy and Turkey and the tension dissipated.
Today, the U.S. has installed anti-missile defenses in about the same places over Russian objections; now the Russians are returning to the old Soviet bases in Viet Nam, the Seychelles–and Cuba. Indications appear to expect nuclear-capable missiles that can reach the U.S. at the Cuban base, along with other military hardware. From a geopolitical standpoint, President Kennedy’s decision to withhold adequate support from the famous Bay of Pigs attempt to dislodge Castro shortly after the Communists took over was as significant a mistake as his later decision to stop the Russian installation of missiles was a correct and courageous one. Now, President Obama will deal with the result unless President Romney faces it instead.
The situation has changed a bit; missiles able to deliver nukes have proliferated into numerous hands and nuclear tech is proliferating too. Missiles that can reach North America aren’t rare anymore; adding some to Cuba isn’t as uniquely threatening as it was in 1962. It is nevertheless a threat. From current news, President Obama seems unlikely to handle it as Kennedy did; his back-and-forths with President Putin have suggest a more accommodating attitude. The highly accommodating media will no doubt support whatever the Prez does or does’nt; if he allows the missiles in Cuba, we won’t hear much about it. Unless of course, something happens as a result.
A President Romney is a guessing game; we don’t know what he might say he would do and absolutely know not what he would in fact, do. The President who allows Russia to move into the Caribbean with a base next door to the U.S. Guantanamo Bay will be making rather undesirable geopolitical history, seems to me and Russia is not particularly strong these days; it might back off under pressure just as did Krushchev in 1962. Or not; the U.S. cannot sustain the level of spending needed to support its recent military operations, nor a level even resembling that. Putin knows that, even if U.S. voters do not.
For the best interests of the United States, this new Cuban Missile Replay needs to be settled by Obama post-haste while the country remains strong enough to play a winning hand. Unfortunately, indications suggest that the President intends to accommodate Russia, aided by the newsfolks’ silence on the subject. With missiles elsewhere aimed at North America already, so what? No biggie, right? Well…
Remember hearing about the Monroe Doctrine? That was when the U.S. became strong enough to tell the Europeans to leave Latin America alone, cutting off foreign political fishing in American waters. Allowing a Russian Caribbean military base will reverse generations of U.S. policy and constitute America’s withdrawal from its historical international role. Maybe that’s a good move; there’s no visible means for financing that role in sight. Maybe such a withdrawal from power will open another of Pandora’s boxes to add to the collapse of the American economy. We will have to see. But such an enormous reversal of longstanding affairs should never be imposed in silence without thorough, public discussion. It would resemble the City Council converting ten blocks of downtown business into a park without telling the business owners before construction started.
Those unfamiliar with Presidents Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crises may wish to Google it, a fascinating international chess game with real nukes. Then, when people offer comparisons with Kennedy for President Obama, you’ll be able to both decide for yourself and appreciate the stakes.