Is Paul Martin ready for a U.S. attack on Cuba?

Would Bush actually invade Cuba or is he just playing tough guy to ensure he scoops Florida in the November election?

Prime Minister Paul Martin chatted with George W. Bush at the G8 meeting last week and apparently talked about the same old topic — American bullying on the tradefront — with predictable results. What he should have added to the list wasthe U.S. plan for military action against Cuba.

What plan, you ask? Good question. And it is one that Martin and his policy advisors and foreign affairs analysts ought to be asking themselves right now. Given the unendingforeign policy catastrophe of Iraq, rational thinking would suggest thatsuch a question need not even be posed. But rational thinking in the WhiteHouse is an oxymoron. These people are not humbled or chastened by defeat —they seem emboldened by it.

While Martin can put his hands over his eyes on Iraq and hope it goesaway because his predecessor made the key decision, he won't be able to doso with Cuba.

And he has a further problem. While he is desperate to please the U.S., and isunder unrelenting pressure from the Bay Street's Canadian Council of ChiefExecutives (CCCE) to do whatever the U.S. asks, Martin is sitting on a long-standingCanadian policy regarding Cuba, a policy that differs dramatically from thatof the U.S. Indeed, our Cuba policy is the single most dramatic expression ofCanadian foreign policy independence. Will Paul Martin simply jettison thispolicy to please George W. Bush and CCCE president, Tom d'Aquino?

Would Bush actually invade Cuba or is he just playing tough guy to ensure hescoops Florida in the November election? What seems inconceivable istragically quite possible given recent moves by Bush and his cabal of“regime-changers.” They have already implemented moves that are clearly inviolation of international law and transparently designed to provoke Cubainto an action that can be spun to justify an attack.

Bush has implemented a whole series of provocative actions on the advice ofa Commission on Free Cuba. One of the most provocative initiatives, amongmany, is Bush's decision for an immediate deployment of the C-130 “CommandoSolo” airborne platform, in coordination with the Office of CubaBroadcasting for weekly airborne radio and TV transmissions into Cuba. Inthe medium term, the U.S. is to establish a “dedicated airborne platform forfull-time transmission of Radio and TV Martí into Cuba.”

If Paul Martin is serious about his promise to establish Canada's place ininternational affairs, a good start would be a phone call to Bushexpressing concern about his deliberately provocative moves. If he does not,here is the scenario that Martin may face sooner rather than later.According to Halifax-based Cuba scholar and author Isaac Saney the plan fora broadcasting platform is an “act patently illegal under international law,violating various treaties constituting a deliberate provocation aimed atcreating the pretext for a military strike.” Cuba would be perfectly withinits rights to shoot down any of these planes if they violate Cuban airspace, as such a violation is an act of war in international law. That, ofcourse, is exactly what the Bushites want.

What has Cuba done to bring on this renewed threat of U.S. military action?Nothing but having the misfortune of being the key issue for a powerfulminority of Cuban exiles in Florida. That Bush caters to these thugs andterrorists is just one more piece of evidence that he does not really carethat much about terrorism unless it serves his predetermined foreign policyobjectives. If you doubt this, then you missed the TV broadcast of a speechgiven by Bush in Florida on May 20, 2002. On the platform behind Bushas one of his invited guests was none other than Cuban exile Sixto ReinaldoAquit Manrique a convicted terrorist and unrepentant advocate for violentregime change.

Perhaps the other reason George W. wants to end the Communist regime is thatit has embarrassed the U.S. for so many years regarding its incredibleachievements in human development even in the face of one of history's mostruthless embargoes. Cuba nearly matches the U.S. on a whole range of UN humandevelopment indexes; it sometimes surpasses it. While the U.S. has troublegraduating 85 per cent of its youth from high school, Cuba comes in at 99 per cent. Itsstudent/teacher ratio is 12/one, less than half that of the U.S. Despitedoing literally everything the U.S.-dominated World Bank says developingcountries should not do, the Bank felt obliged to laud Cuba: “Cuba has donea great job on education and health,[surpassing all other poor countries]”says Bank president James Wolfensohn.

Whatever the diagnosis of Bush and America's anti-Cuba pathology, Canada hasproudly avoided contracting it. If Paul Martin is still prime minister after the election, he needs to let Bush know that Canada does not support regime change in Cuba. And he needs to do it before U.S. troops are mobilized, not after.

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