In Arnold August, Cuba, Iran

Iran & Cuba Promoting Pluripolarity: International Book Launch of Farsi Translation of Cuba-US Relations. This webinar will be held on February 12, 2022. The webinar will include two Resource Materials for Discussion: 1) Preface by the author, Arnold August, to the Iranian version; 2) Epilogue to the Iranian edition by renowned, award-winning Cuban journalist and author Luis Toledo Sande: “An essential work finds a new audience.”

Published on NCW, Jan 28, 2022

New York, Toronto 9 am EST

Teheran 5:30 PM

Beijing 10 PM

London 2 PM

Click here to register on the Eventbrite website


Preface by Arnold August to the Iranian version

I feel honoured and humbled to be addressing Iranian readers of this book. The Iranian people have accomplished so much with the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In that year, as I sat on the edge of my seat watching it unfold on television, I fully identified with your historic contribution to world history. Since then, for all its efforts, the international corporate media has not succeeded in turning me against you. On the contrary, as I write these lines, once again the international media is collaborating with the US government as it starts a new offensive against you, and my resolve to support your revolution and leaders has deepened more than ever.

This Farsi edition comes at a very opportune moment. In the original version, the only other country dealt with (aside from Cuba of course) was Venezuela. This book on Cuba-US relations is unique in that it focuses on the cultural war waged by the US against the Cuban social/economic system. Irrespective of who occupies the White House, the main content of the cultural war against Cuba remains the same. Iranians can therefore relate to this cultural aggression, as it is being used in a similar fashion against the Islamic Republic.

In the context of this ongoing ideological/political assault against Cuba by the US and the West, I emphasize what I call its “centrist” tendency. This consists of feigning a degree of support for Cuba, with certain commentators even sometimes apologizing for US actions as represented by the Democratic party, even as it carries out the same war on ideas as the Republicans. The culture war is permanent and seeks to undermine the resolve of the Cuban Revolution, even as it is uncompromisingly defending itself against the US goal of recolonizing this Caribbean nation. Iranians have similar experience, as I have witnessed here in Canada. In theory, in many Western countries such as Canada, this centrist tendency supports Iran’s right to self-determination. However, whenever US pressure increases, it leans more toward Washington than Teheran.

In the context of Cuba-US relations, this centrist outlook has two main features. Firstly, it creates illusions about US policy toward Cuba, as when diplomatic relations were re-established between the two countries in December 2014. This action nevertheless hid the central fact that Washington’s new Cuba policy was a mere change of tactics. Behind its pretence of détente, it still aimed to achieve the old goal of subverting the Cuban Revolution. In other words, the US was merely replacing aggression with a not very subtle form of seduction.

Secondly, while maintaining this pretence, it completely ignores the reality of US policy toward Latin America. I am referring particularly to Venezuela and US attempts to coerce Cuba into abandoning its support for that country, with which I deal in the book.

There are some parallels that can be drawn with Iran. In much of the West, Cuba enjoys relatively good standing in corporate media. However, the same media that often reports favourably on Cuban advances in science and health, demonizes the Bolivarian Revolution. At the present time, we are witnessing one of the most important and sustained media wars in contemporary international geopolitics, against Venezuela.

The other main victim of the current hybrid war is, of course, Iran. However, the current of history is bringing Venezuela and Iran closer together, and further allying both of them with Cuba. As a result of crippling US sanctions against Venezuela, Iran has begun to assist the country by providing fuel and other necessities. Furthermore, the resistance by Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and others to the media war, is contributing in various ways to a broader, multipolar world. In fact, opposition to a unipolar hegemonic world under US domination is becoming stronger than ever.

I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the last chapter: the Western media blitzkrieg on the passing of Fidel Castro. In many cases, it is the same media that targets your own leaders. Whether they be Cuban, Venezuelan or Iranian, the US and its allies are targeting both the leaders and their steadfast defence of their sovereignty.

In conclusion, the book highlights ideas. There are thus lessons for all the peoples of the world. Another obvious case comes to mind, that of the Palestinians. While the military/political wing of the US-Israeli alliance is the key feature in that ongoing genocide, an equally important ingredient is the blatant, racist, apartheid ideas that are propagated to justify Zionist state policies.

In the end, ideas based on justice will triumph. ز

Montreal, Québec, September 2020


Epilogue by Luis Toledo Sande

“An essential work finds a new audience”

Canadian author Arnold August has gained increasing recognition for his writings on Cuba, focusing among other things on the hostility with which this country is continually attacked by US leaders and the forces they represent. August owes this recognition not only to his sustained, assiduous incursions into the subject but also, and especially, to the resolute position he has taken, in both writings and personal actions, in defending the just cause of sovereignty — Cuba’s, and that of other nations — from this hostility. The consistency of his position is anchored in passion and solid argument, and he has maintained it in the face of his own government’s complicity with various schemes of the empire, in particular those that have targeted Bolivarian Venezuela, another key focus of his attention and solidarity.

That this book has been proved right about Cuba-US relations — relations typified by the aggressive stance taken by the latter country against the former — is confirmed by the basic facts. It has shown itself to be on target over and over since the time it was first written and published, and one can only predict that it will continue, tirelessly, along this righteous path. That first English edition was prepared by the author at a time when the Barack Obama administration had announced initial steps toward a significant change in the relationship between the two nations. As it turned out, the impact of that announcement was not felt so much in the insufficient consummation of those steps as in the hopes — and even, for some observers, the outsized illusions — it aroused, not to overlook certain tendentious reactions. As an illustration of the book’s clear-sightedness, that edition, published in 2017 when Donald Trump had begun his tenure in the White House, contained some discussion of the new administration, as indicated by its subtitle Obama and Beyond.

The author’s great strength was in refraining from idealizing Obama’s role and, more important, from adopting — as some did — a halcyon view of the imperial impertinence with which Obama had proclaimed that the blockade against Cuba had not achieved its aims; that these would have to be attained, at long last, by other means. Despite the tremendous damage caused to Cuba by the blockade — no mere embargo, although that interventionist modality alone would have been a crime — Obama said that it had not served its purposes. What can be inferred from such a statement, other than that those purposes could only be fully achieved by crushing and subjugating Cuba — by forcing it to abandon its revolutionary path of independence, sovereignty, dignity, and social justice?

There is reason enough to link this development with Obama’s evident awareness that the blockade had been isolating the United States with respect to the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, deeply involved as they were in a progressive project that the empire has cruelly attempted to reverse, with success in some instances. In this context, announcing that the United States would move forward with the elimination of the blockade and the normalization of relations with Cuba — goals that Obama did not do everything in his power to reach — may have been seen as treacherously consistent with the imperialist plans. It was in the empire’s interest to create an atmosphere in which Cuba’s principled position, which has made it a respected and influential player in the region and beyond, could be neutralized.

It need not be added that Cuba would never let itself be tricked by the carrot dangled in front of it. Still, that was the card the empire opted to play, just as in other circumstances it has opted for naked aggression, and still does. One can predict, or already descry, that it has no intention of ruling out either of these options; that it will continue calculatedly employing them as it sees fit. In fact, the debate over which of those options to implement, and what balance to strike between them, continues to rage within US political circles, most notably between the two parties taking turns at the presidency, whose essential affinities reside in the class interests they represent and even in the names, in large measure pleonastic, by which they are identified: Democrat and Republican.

As evidence of the dangers posed by the United States for peoples beyond the Americas, it suffices to mention what its imperialist rapacity has meant for those of other continents, Africa in particular. While Cuba has assisted the African peoples in their processes of emancipation, the Obama administration, like some of its predecessors, maintained his country’s well-worn criminal posture toward that continent. One crystal-clear proof of this, albeit far from the only one, is the genocidal devastation of Libya.

With respect to Cuba, which occupies a central place in Arnold August’s clear vision, Obama and his team tactically adopted the straw man of “good neighborliness” once promoted by the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States from 1932 to 1945. In this connection, they stepped up the cultural war against Cuba — not a new tactic, but one that became more preponderant in this context. John F. Kennedy, another Democrat whom Obama took for his role model, had perceived the utility of such methods when used in conjunction with economic manipulation. Chastened by the failure of the imperialist invasion at the Bay of Pigs, he took expeditious steps to set in motion what was dubbed the “Alliance for Progress.” Later evidence suggests that Kennedy may have been seeking a “rapprochement” with Cuba, and some have regarded this as the motive for his assassination on 22 November 1963 by forces of the US far right, led by Donald Trump these past four years.

The Spanish translation of the book was published in Cuba in 2018, when it was already pertinent not so much to predict as to begin examining — as August sensibly did — how President Donald Trump would break with Obama’s policy of subterfuge and resume, with renewed intensity, his country’s traditional policy of hostility against Cuba, Latin America, the Caribbean, and indeed the whole world. The subtitle Obama and Beyond was thus given the translation demanded by the context:  What Has Changed? (¿Qué ha cambiado?). Following similar logic, the author has updated the content for the Iranian edition in light of Trump’s disastrous performance, which is now at an end — although Trump has, in his obsessive striving to be re-elected, brazenly and perversely refused to admit defeat, and may yet do grave damage before his term runs out.

As these lines are being written, the anti-Cuban maneuvers of the defeated leader — from whom one can only expect more horrors until the day he is ejected from the White House, not to ignore what he may continue to do afterward — appear to be aimed at leaving his successor, Joe Biden, a path strewn with the land mines of rage and hatred against Cuba and its Revolution. The intended outcome may be to hinder Biden from his stated intention of resuming Obama’s tactics. Whatever transpires, Cuba must not and will not let down its guard. It must and will preserve the memory of the April 1961 events at the Bay of Pigs, when it fended off the mercenary invasion backed by the Democratic Kennedy administration, in continuation of the plans hatched by his Republican predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower. Unyielding in its struggle since 1959, Cuba has thwarted the continual attempts of “the two Caesars” to subdue the island nation. It is resolved to keep dealing new defeats to its adversary for as long as that arrogant superpower’s aggression makes this necessary.

This state of affairs has confirmed the core similarities between the two parties monopolizing politics in the United States, both of them in service to the economic interests that heinously dominate the powerful nation. Cuba knows too that imperialist tactics are modified and masked at will: they do not disappear. At the Bay of Pigs, these tactics basically consisted of securing a beachhead for US operations, and also included the introduction of terrorist bands at several mountainous sites. Today, the imperialists can and do seek other, preferably urban strongholds in which to install their mercenaries. And while physical weaponry continues to be used — as in the cases of Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, to mention only three — it has in large measure been replaced by cultural, or more accurately anticultural weaponry, as part of efforts to produce “soft coups.” The latest events in Havana confirm this, although these lackeys of empire and their backers are headed for yet another defeat and may well have been forgotten by the time this edition of August’s book makes its appearance.

The facts corroborating the persistence of plunder as the cardinal north of US foreign policy are inscribed within geopolitical relations that have significance for the entire world. Within this complex panorama, the imperialist power has reserved a special place for the country where August’s book now finds a new audience. The imperialists have, as is their wont, targeted Iran with threats and “sanctions” lacking so much as the slightest basis in international law or ethics.

In broad daylight, and perhaps also out of sight, they have postured against Iran’s right to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes. This bitter opposition comes, be it recalled, from the sole nation to have committed flagrant acts of genocide with nuclear weapons, as Hiroshima and Nagasaki can testify. And this posturing could very well lead to a war against the Persian nation, a conflagration ignited by the United States with the help of its ally Israel in their attempts to maintain their hold over the region. There is evidence that the Israeli government sponsored the recent assassination, near Tehran, of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahavadi, shortly after a sinister meeting in Saudi Arabia between the US chief diplomat, the hereditary prince of that monarchic satrapy, and the Israeli prime minister.

One would be foolhardy to suppose that Iran could sit back and do nothing after such an assassination, which was immoral and illegal from any standpoint. But its government also knows that the empire seeks to fabricate pretexts for taking a bellicose stance against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and any country it chooses. This is not just a prediction, but a certainty reaffirmed by historical patterns of conduct on the part of the dominant US forces. Countries threatened and assaulted in this way must act with intelligence to avoid the traps laid by the empire.

The need for an international alliance — an internationalist one, if we are being precise — to confront the most predatory power the world has known is every day more evident. That power becomes more dangerous as its breakdown and decay proceed, its latest president having done much to accelerate the process. But at the same time, other peoples are showing signs that they will not stand for the empire’s designs. This is corroborated by the resolute stance of Cuba, for example, or by the return of the Movement for Socialism to power in Bolivia after it was ousted by a US-backed coup. And these pages are being written in the light of a new victory in Bolivarian Venezuela, where peaceful parliamentary elections have been held with full guarantees of democratic participation, and with the results reflecting the deep popular roots of the revolutionary, emancipatory project set in motion by Hugo Chávez. At the same moment in the United States, boorish Donald Trump stews in the rage brought on by his own defeat, and is free to continue doing harm until January 20, or even afterward.

Arnold August’s book, now appearing for the first time in Farsi, pays tribute to the spirit of solidarity that must urgently be created among the world’s peoples in the face of this reality.

Havana, 6 December 2020


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