One day after the 24-gun battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana Bay,
killing 268 U.S. sailors, the February 16, 1898, headline on William Randolph
Hearst's New York Journal blared: THE WARSHIP MAINE WAS SPLIT IN TWO BY AN
ENEMY'S SECRET INFERNAL MACHINE. The "enemy" was Spain-occupier of
Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
The Maine was in Havana Harbor in 1898 on a purportedly friendly
mission. "Yet," writes author Tom Miller, "the visit was neither
spontaneous nor altruistic; the United States had been eyeing Cuba for almost a
American newspapers, especially those run by Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer,
jumped on the Maine explosion as the ideal justification to drum up public
support for a war of imperialism. When Hearst sent artist Frederick Remington
to Cuba to supply pictures, he reported that he could not find a war. "You
furnish the pictures," Heart famously replied, "and I'll furnish the
war." Within two months and despite Spain's willingness to negotiate for
peace, the Spanish-American War has commenced.
Spain was easily defeated, the legend of Teddy Roosevelt manufactured,
and the Cubans exchanged one colonial ruler for another. Today's perception of
Cuba has little to do with the fabricated heroics of one of the faces carved on
Mount Rushmore (TR said: "Democracy has justified itself by keeping for
the white race the best portions of the earth's surface.") Since 1959,
it's all about Fidel Castro.
The Cuban Revolution, the ensuing U.S. blockade, and seminal events like
the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis have all been documented-in varying
degrees of veracity-elsewhere. We know much less about the lower intensity U.S.
assaults on Cuba.
The Cuba Project, a.k.a. "Operation Mongoose," was initiated
by the Kennedy administration in 1962 with the stated objective of helping the
"Cubans overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba and institute a
new government with which the United States can live in peace."
"What has happened is a level of international terrorism that as
far as I know has no counterpart, apart from direct aggression," says Noam
Chomsky. "It's included attacking civilian installations, bombing hotels,
sinking fishing vessels, destroying petrochemical installations, poisoning
crops and livestock, on quite a significant scale, assassination attempts,
actual murders, bombing airplanes, bombing of Cuban missions abroad, etc. It's
a massive terrorist attack."
The U.S. aggression toward Cuba since 1959 denied the world a chance to
witness what that revolution may have become. "The world will never know
what kind of society Cuba could have produced if left alone," says William
But, in reality, Cuba has never stood a chance. As far back as the
American Revolution, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams announced that U.S
control of Cuba was "of transcendent importance."
"The need to possess Cuba is the oldest issue in U.S. foreign
policy," Chomsky concludes.
Postscript: The event that set all this into motion, the alleged bombing
of the Maine, was investigated by Admiral Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy in
1976. Rickover and his team of experts concluded that the explosion was
probably caused by "spontaneous combustion inside the ship's coal
bins," a problem common to ships of that era.
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most
recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know"
(Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at www.mickeyz.net.