Cuba:the square peg

Campaign News | Friday, 6 July 2007

Despite its best efforts, the US cannot make Cuba fit its round-hole definition of a terrorist state.

by Wayne S.Smith, former US Diplomat in Havana

The cold war is long since over. There are no longer any Soviet troops or bases of any kind in Cuba. Cuba has scaled back its own armed forces, and even without that, would present no threat whatever to the United States. It has virtually no amphibian capability. Some of its aircraft could reach Florida, if they could penetrate US air defences, which seems unlikely. But even if some got through, they have no weapons of mass destruction to deliver.

Back in March of 2004, the undersecretary of state, John Bolton, charged that Cuba was "developing a limited biological weapons effort" and remained "a terrorist and biological weapons threat to the US".

But Bolton presented not a shred of evidence to back up his allegations, and, interestingly, in subsequent reports, the state department has not repeated his charge regarding biological weapons. Further, the Centre for Defence Information and the Centre for International Policy sent several delegations to investigate and found no evidence at all that Cuba was in any way involved in the development of biological weapons. As retired marine General Charles Wilhelm put it after one visit: "While Cuba has the capability to develop and produce chemical and biological weapons, nothing that we saw or heard led us to the conclusion that they are proceeding on this path..."

The state department claims that Cuba endorses terrorism as a policy and thus represents a threat to US security. But, in fact, Cuba has condemned terrorism in all its manifestations, has signed all 12 UN anti-terrorist resolutions and offered to sign bilateral agreements with the US to cooperate in efforts against terrorism. The Bush administration ignored the offer.

Nor surprisingly, the annual state department report on Cuba as a terrorist state puts forward what can only be described as misleading evidence. For example, it complains that "Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba's Law 93 Against Acts of Terrorism...."

But the obvious response to that is "what assets?" There is no evidence at all that al-Qaida or any other foreign terrorist organisation has assets in Cuba. And so, there is nothing to seize. The statement does make clear, however, that Cuba has laws on the books against acts of terrorism!

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