In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Cuban dictator Raul Castro attacked what he called the blockade, demanded the return to Cuba of the U.S. base at Guantanamo, and asked for an end to the Radio Marti broadcasts. He defended Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro and his Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa. He sided with Bashar Assad's Syria, with Iran, with Russia, and with the cause of Puerto Rican independence. He criticized the market economy and, in a heavy-handed flourish, he closed with a quote from his brother Fidel, an obligatory gesture in Cuba's unctuous revolutionary liturgy.
Shortly thereafter, Castro met with the U.S. president. According to The Washington Post, a somewhat disappointed Barack Obama mentioned to him the overlooked matter of human rights and democracy. There was no glimpse of a political opening.
Obama doesn't understand that with the Castro brothers there is no give-and-take. To the Castros, the socialist model, as they repeat constantly, is perfect, their democracy is the planetary ideal, and the dissidents and the Ladies in White who ask for civil liberties are merely salaried servants of the yanqui embassy, invented by the media, people who deserve to be thrashed.
The Cuban government has nothing to rectify in the Castro view. Let the United States, that imperial power that abuses other nations, rectify. Let capitalism, that system that spreads misery worldwide with its free markets, repulsive competition, hurtful inequalities and lack of commiseration, rectify. To the Castros and their troops of battle-hardened Marxist-Leninists, indifferent to reality, the solution to all evils lies in the collectivism managed by army officers, and with the Castro family directing the puppet show.
Raul, Fidel, and all those around them are proud of having created the greatest of subversive cores in the 1960s, when they founded the Tricontinental and nurtured all the terrorist groups on earth who knocked at their doors or forged their own intelligence services.
They worship the figure of Che Guevara, dead as a result of those bloody goings-on, and recall with emotion the hundreds of guerrillas they trained or launched throughout the world, including against democracies in Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay.
They become teary-eyed when they remember their feats in Africa, carried out for the purpose of creating satellites for the glory of the Soviet Union and the sacred cause of Communism, as they did in Angola, where they managed to dominate the other anti-colonial guerrillas. Later, in bloody combat on the Ogaden desert, they defeated the Somalis, their friends before the war, who are now confronting Ethiopia, Havana's new ally.
They feel not the slightest remorse for having executed adversaries and sympathizers, for having persecuted homosexuals or religious believers, for having confiscated estates that had been honorably acquired, for having separated families and pushed into exile thousands of people who ended up at the bottom of the sea. What does this minor individual suffering matter when compared with the glorious feat of "seizing the skies by storm" and changing the history of humanity?
Oh for the grand days of the not-so-cold war, when Cuba was the spearhead of the worldwide revolution against the United States and its minions in the West! A glorious era, betrayed by Gorbachev, when it seemed that soon the Red Army would triumphantly camp on Washington's boulevards.
Obama's mistake is thinking that his 10 predecessors in the White House erred when they decided to challenge the Castros and their revolution, identifying them as enemies of the United States and of the ideas upheld by democracy and freedom.
Obama doesn't understand the Castros, nor is he capable of gauging their significance, because he was not -- as Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr. were -- steeled in the defense of this country against a very real Soviet threat.
Even Clinton, who dodged the draft rather than fight in Vietnam, in the post-Soviet era understood the nature of the Cuban government and signed the Helms-Burton Act to combat the regime. George W. Bush inherited from his father the conviction that an enemy sat crouched 90 miles away, and treated Havana in that spirit during his two terms of office.
Obama is different. When he came to the presidency, 18 years had passed since the Berlin Wall had been toppled. To him, the Cold War was a remote and foreign phenomenon. He didn't realize that there were places, like Cuba and North Korea, where the old paradigms survived.
Like many U.S. liberals and radicals, especially those in his generation, he thought that little Cuba had been the victim of the imperial arrogance of the United States and could reform and normalize as soon as his nation gave it a hand.
Today, he is incapable of understanding why Raul bites that hand instead of gripping it. He doesn't know that old Stalinists kill and die with their fangs always sharp and ready. It's all part of the revolutionary nature.