…with Walter Russell Mead, who wrote of Fidel Castro’s death in American Interest.
In some ways, Fidel has to be accounted a success. … He wanted to assert Cuban independence of the United States; Cuba not only sided with the USSR in the Cold War, but it intervened against US interests in wars in Angola, Ethiopia and the Middle East.
That’s not independence, though. Castro tied Cuba irrevocably to the US by basing his actions on their relation to the US’ activities, as those examples illustrate. Indeed, by being a “symbol of resistance to US power and to capitalist order,” he cemented Cuba’s dependency: he did not create Cuba as a symbol of anything related to Cuban independent behavior—a Cuban model of socialism, for instance, or a Cuban font of socialist revolution support, as Che Guevara made himself (not his own movement) into.
On the contrary, Castro demonstrated his long-term failure, as Mead showed in the rest of his article. Castro’s only success was in his ability to impose and then maintain his rank and rancorous dictatorship for as long as he did. And even in this he had American aid at critical moments, from Jack Kennedy’s waffling over invading Cuba during a nascent Castro…administration…to Barack Obama’s open support for the Castro regime in the latter stages of both administrations.