Obama Tries to Promote the Dangerous Illusion That Imperialism Can Have a Human Side

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA, March 31, 2016

As is well known, owning Cuba has long been on the agenda of U.S. imperialism.

After all, one of the things the Cuban people did when they organized a revolution and overthrew the brutal U.S.-puppet regime of Fulgencio Batista, was to place certain restrictions on private ownership in the means of production.

On March 22 in Havana, Obama spoke at some length about his view that the Cuban people’s future ought to lie with the project of embracing “freedom” and “democracy” instead.

The sources of his views on this matter are easily found when one remembers that he was nominated by the Democratic Party. While the Democrats sometimes speak softly and carry a big stick and the Republicans rarely do it that way, both parties are parties which are financed, controlled, and driven by the economic and strategic interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

These two parties have long represented restrictions on private property in the means of production as a violation of “human rights.” That is because they recognize only one thing – the so-called rights of private property in the means of production, the “rights” of the capitalist class. To the Democrats and Republicans, society is not a human project for the realization of human rights, but rather a tool through which the rich can turn whole countries into their pleasure palaces.

Obama's views on this are so extreme that he wouldn't even acknowledge the people's demand for addressing the profit-motive in health care. This, despite the fact that the demand has been on the lips of the American people for decades.

Even before speaking in Havana, Obama was well-known as a president who considered “freedom” and “democracy” descriptive of a system of international relations in which U.S. monopoly and especially finance capital can, with the help of the U.S. state, penetrate smaller countries and wipe out most, if not all, of the foundations of their economic independence in the name of “free trade.”

He was also well-known as a president passionate about the use of drones and other armaments to be utilized by organized bodies of trained men under his command, for the purpose of targeting any people he considered “entitled” to U.S. intervention. Some of the people who have come to know about this first-hand have been the U.S. active duty soldiers themselves as well as the peoples of Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, and Colombia.

In Havana, Obama brought out a whole bunch of the catchphrases used by the two-party monopoly to justify this view of “freedom” and “human rights” in the case of the Cuban people. These include, “dignity,” “equality under the law,” “realization of one's potential,” “access to information,” “sustainable prosperity,” “simply being ourselves,” “freedom and opportunity,” “rights of the individual,” “common values,” “multi-party democracy,” and “open market.”

Obama also depicted the period since 1959 as a painful one. Obama’s dismissal of the great victories and joys of the Cuban people as a result of finally achieving their liberation from the Fulgencio Batistas of the world, was probably the most noteworthy aspect of his speech. After all, overthrowing the yoke of U.S. colonial domination is no small matter. Nor is defeating every major and minor initiative of the U.S. government to overturn the verdicts of revolution since that time – from the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis to open-door policies for Cuban immigrants to the assassination attempts on Fidel Castro organized by the CIA.

Each of these victorious struggles of the Cuban people have been a great inspiration to the American people, especially since they each took place irrespective of which party had a president in office or a majority in the house and senate. So too, the American people have built up a massive movement in solidarity with the people of Cuba whether the program of blockade and internal sabotage was being implemented by an executive branch of government administered by the Democratic or Republican party machine. Obama has been no exception. The only thing he has added is a program for trying to erase from the memory of the people what the struggle against the U.S. blockade is about.

For the American people, support for the sovereign equality of all nations and peoples, including the right to take up arms in defense of this sovereignty, is not and cannot be a mere phrase, but is instead, a genuine conviction. For example, in the case of Cuba, it means we genuinely want the Cuban people to have the means to enjoy independence in theory and practice and without any externally imposed restrictions whatever. That is why we have come out in our millions to organize and will continue to come out in our millions to organize an independent political movement in opposition to the parties of war and imperialism which includes the demand for the immediate end to the blockade and defense of the inviolable right of the people of Cuba to normal relations with other nations and peoples.

This will be part of the program of implementing a democratic foreign policy, which carries forward the great banners of the American people and opens the road to progress and emancipation. This program will include: 1) an end to U.S. intervention and interference throughout all of Latin America; 2) the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad and the end of U.S. support for reactionary regimes and military alliances; 3) recognition of the sovereignty of every country and 4) an end to the militarization of our country.

This must develop as a proactive movement with its own independent politics. The fact is that we will have no right to be surprised if in 2 months or 6 months, U.S. imperialism ends its empty sweet talk and the unequal relations enforced by the U.S. government are again acknowledged as an open program to starve the Cuban people into submission. After all, we know from long experience that U.S. imperialism lives by nothing less than militarism and war.