Some Thoughts on Osama bin Laden and Luis Posada Carriles

5 05 2011

Cuban poster showing George Bush and Luis Posada Carriles metamorphosing into Adolf Hitler

Osama bin Laden was the mastermind of a terrorist network that, amongst other outrages, hijacked two airplanes and flew them into the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, killing 2752 victims. He spent the last nine and a half years in hiding, latterly in Pakistan. To some Islamic extremists he was a hero.

Luis Posada Carriles was the head of an anti-Cuban terrorist network that, amongst other outrages, planted a bomb on a Cuban airline flight from Venezuela in 1976, killing 73 people. Despite attempts by both Cuba and Venezuela to extradite him for that crime, he remains at freedom in the USA., where he is a hero to some extremists in Miami.

USA armed forces tracked bin Laden down to his hideout in Pakistan and, without even informing the Pakistani Government of their plans, murdered him. Despite myself shedding no tears for his demise, US triumphalism, as demonstrated on our TV screens in the hours and days after bin Laden’s death, is not a pretty sight.

Can anybody imagine the US Government reaction if Cuban special agents were to track down Posada Carriles in Miami and kill him? At the very least there would be attempts to apply further economic sanctions against Cuba. It’s not hard to imagine the episode being used as an excuse to launch bombing raids on the island or even an invasion.

Yet would there be any difference between the two? I cannot see any. Would there be any legal or moral justification for either act? I think that Cuba would have the greater moral justification, in the light of the USA’s refusal to extradite Posada Carriles. Pakistan would have been happy to cooperate in extraditing bin Laden. The last thing that the USA wanted, it appears, is a trial for bin Laden, whereas Cuba and its people would relish the prospect of a trial involving Posada Carriles. Both trials would have been very revealing about the murky activities of the CIA.

Neither act would have had any legal justification in international law. But then the USA, which does not even recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, seems oblivious to international law, or to morality. It does what it does because it can. It can do so because of its size and power.

We live in an unequal and unfair world. The USA can launch invasions against other countries; can kidnap people in other countries and imprison them without trial; and can murder people in other countries. Cuba, on the other hand, has to put up with the USA occupying part of its territory, where it runs a prison camp in which people are held without trial for years on end; with a US economic blockade which each year is condemned by almost every country at the United Nations; and with the US spending $20 million each year on activities to undermine its Government and promote “regime change”.Despite all of this, the USA seems to think that it can lecture Cuba on human rights; and describes Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

The cold, hard facts of life are that it is not international law which governs the behaviour of the world’s governments; nor is it morality. It is power: military, economic and political. That is why China does not receive too many human rights lectures from the USA, whilst Cuba does.

Set against this backdrop, the survival of Cuba’s revolutionary Government, after 52 years of US opposition, which has included sponsoring an invasion, terrorism, sabotage and an economic blockade, is all the more remarkable. The people who have suffered, of course, are the 11 million people who live on the island, including the relatives of the 73 victims of the Cuban airline that was blown up above Barbados in 1976. In the meantime, Luis Posada Carriles is free to enjoy his liberty and lap up the adulation of the extremists who appear to dominate Miami politics.

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4 responses

6 05 2011
John Abbotsford

yes the sheer hypocrisy of the USA (and other parts of the western world like our own?) never ceases to stun me! There is also SO MUCH that the Miami mafia criticise regarding infringements on personal liberty in Cuba and yet the practices of the USA in regard to its own citizens is quite insidious.

6 05 2011
Michael N. Landis

Not much has changed in the intervening 2,500 +/- years since the “democratic” Athenian Empire crushed Melos; the names of the empire and the island may have changed, but not the hypocracy. Thank you for your eloquent and cogent observation!

6 05 2011
Jennifer Thorsborne

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Yes the triumphalism and nationalistic fervour was quite scary, so scary that the ABC here in Oz actually had a very short discussion about it on one of the news/current affairs programs. What’s even more scary is that the invasion of Afghanistan to capture bin Laden has now morphed into something that defies description. The chaos for civilians there and in Iraq can never be understood – or appreciated – by those young Americans cheering about shooting an unarmed man. At least the people in Cuba who have coped with hardship for so long still have their country, still have their pride, have access to healthcare and to education – and still make the greatest music as well.

12 05 2011
Grady Ross Daugherty

Thanks, Michael, for a brilliant article. You write superbly. I’ve just discovered your blog, and would like to receive future posts.

Grady in Santa Monica, California

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