Charisma-Challenged Raul to Rule with "Force," not Charm

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The Wash Times gazes into its post-Castro crystal ball and plausibly suggests that the Fredo Corleone of dictatorial hellholes, Raul Castro, will crack the whip to maintain order in Cuba:

Most of the power in Cuba is concentrated in Fidel and, although Raul recently has been in charge of much of the day-to-day running of the country, his legitimacy still comes from his closeness to his older brother.

"Fidel maintained power through fear and impressive and effective internal repression and through charisma," said Mark Shaheen, a former State Department official who served in Havana from 1998 to 2000 and now works with Civitas Group, a Washington-based security consulting and investment firm….

Can Raul do the same? He can do the scare part, but he certainly cannot do the charisma. So it becomes a question of: Do people stay scared of the state? Is he able to maintain the terror apparatus?" said Mr. Shaheen.

But don't count Fidel out yet, especially after getting the equivalent of a teddy bear and Mylar balloon from everyone's favorite opera theorist and Team America star:

From Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has sent a get-well note to the recovering Cuban leader, the North's Korean Central News Agency said today.

"I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery to your health so that you can excellently continue to carry out the Cuban revolution and the great mandate given to you by the people of Cuba," Mr. Kim said in a telegram to Mr. Castro dated Aug. 2, KCNA said.

Mr. Kim, known as the "Dear Leader" at home, has ruled the North since the 1994 death of his father and the founder of the communist state, Kim Il-sung.

"Raul seen relying on force to rule" here.

God, don't you just hate craptacular countries where power is passed down through families or among brothers?

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  1. Raul is himself 75 years old. Is it known whether there is a younger generation ready to step in or might this lead to some kind of power vacuum, at least down the line?

    TIM PADGETT: No, Fidel has made it very clear that Raul will be his successor, if Raul is still alive when Fidel passes away. And even behind Raul are perhaps older people, like Carlos Lage, the current vice president of Cuba, who are not part of this younger generation of Cubans who are fiercely loyal to Fidel and are so ideologically pure in their communism that they’re sort of derisively known among many Cubans as Los Taliban.

    And it’s going to be a big question to see whether there’s going to be any friction between the sort of older guard that Raul and people like Carlos Lage represent and the younger, more fiercely ideological guard represented, for example, by figures like Felipe Perez Roque, the foreign minister, who is only 40 years old.

  2. Saddam has charisma and charm. Couldn’t he have ruled with those alone?
    Iraq a tougher neighborhood?

  3. Don’t worry. If Raul turns out to be as bad as his brother, we’ll just impose sanctions on Cuba and that wicked regime will crumble in no time.

  4. Has Bill Kristol called for an invasion of Cuba yet?

    They did find a few billion barrels of oil offshore Cuba. American companies aren’t allowed to get a piece of it because of the whole embargo thing. So CNOOC will probably have a nice oil field a few dozen miles from Florida.

    Unless . . . WMD are spotted in Havana.

  5. I don’t know a whole lot about Cuba; do people think we might end up with a civil war here, with communists in charge fighting an anti-communist insurgency, or a new anti-communist government fighting a communist insurgency of people who lost power when the Communist Party was deposed? And what about revenge killings, people whose relatives were imprisoned or otherwise persecuted under Castro hunting down the functionaries who followed Castro’s orders? And if things do get crazy, what are the chances of outside military forces getting involved to help their side or maintain order ? (I guess I’m mainly thinking the U.S. and Venezuela here, though I suppose U.N. peacekeepers, or some allegedly neutral multi-national Carribean or Latin American force might be cobbled together.)

  6. Any descendants of Jos? Mart? out there? Surely one of those with a liberal mindset would be a good alternative. Interestingly, both the Cuban right-wingers and communistas claim Mart?.

    I’ll rule Cuba if no one else wants to. I was a director for C?rculo Cubano de Tampa in Ybor City, so I’ve got Cuban street cred 🙂

  7. “Unless . . . WMD are spotted in Havana.”

    John Bolton is already ahead of you:

    http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/cuba-pr.cfm

    Bolton stated, “The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.”

  8. God, don’t you just hate craptacular countries where power is passed down through families or among brothers?

    Uh, Nick, you need to attach a winking smiley face 😉 to that statement.

    Otherwise, some readers might conclude that you really do believe the US to be the equivalent of Cuba or North Korea, and the Bushes to be the equivalent of the Castros or the Kims.

  9. Left-wing commie apologists rehearsing a litany of US shortcomings appearing in 3, 2, 1…

  10. Irony defined:

    A nation built on the egalitarian ideals of Marxism having the power of its orchestrator transferred via nepotism.

  11. God, don’t you just hate craptacular countries where power is passed down through families or among brothers?

    Where’s the net neutrality post to the Kennedy page?

  12. God, don’t you just hate craptacular countries where power is passed down through families or among brothers?

    Hey, stop posting spoilers for season 6 of 24!

  13. Don’t worry. If Raul turns out to be as bad as his brother, we’ll just impose sanctions on Cuba and that wicked regime will crumble in no time.

    Has a policy of punishing a nation (tribe or other group) of people in the hopes that they’ll throw off their leadership worked anywhere?

  14. MJh nmhh jhhjklewfm, jjewikj

    koewk io eknfwdkoj kkke..

    I realize it’s not much to work with, Captain Holly, but you’ve managed to interpret “commie apologist rehearsing a litany of U.S. shortcomings” out of less.

  15. The Wash Times gazes into its post-Castro crystal ball and plausibly suggests that the Fredo Corleone of dictatorial hellholes, Raul Castro, will crack the whip to maintain order in Cuba

    Funny stuff Nick.

    On the link to the Bush stuff. Credibility goes way south for any website that prominently links to Nostradumbass. Cuz, when you revere the shimmering ephemeral unreality of prophesy it sort of calls into question anything else that you might have to say.

  16. Has a policy of punishing a nation (tribe or other group) of people in the hopes that they’ll throw off their leadership worked anywhere?

    Well, the Civil War leaps to mind.

  17. Let’s not forget that Fredo was secretly in cahoots with Hyman Roth, who did his best to promote capitalism in Havana.

    Gentlemen, we could be bigger than U.S. Steel!

  18. Well, the Civil War leaps to mind.

    Not a good example. The southerners didn’t throw off their leaders after the civil war; the leaders were deposed at bayonet-point.

  19. RC,

    The German army trouncing the czar’s army in WWI, leading to the revolution and the peace treaty, comes to mind.

    But then, the Germans did virtually all of the damage to Russians in uniform, rather than in their towns and fields. If we leap forward 25 years, we can see the German army actually punishing the Russian and Ukranian people, and that resulted in would-be resistance fighters supporting their oppressive government.

  20. God, don’t you just hate craptacular countries where power is passed down through families or among brothers?

    Yeah Nick, you actually hit on a gut level reaction of mine. Just say no to American political dynasties.

    The Bushes. The Kennedys. Oh, and Hillary in 2008.

  21. The anti-Bush page is OK by me. I didn’t punch through to any of the links, assuming that they are tendentious and semi-libelous, but that’s part of the fun, right?

    Feel free to make similar fun of the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Browns, Cuomos, Gores, Fords(of TN), Adams, Roosevelts, Byrds (of VA) etc.

    Besides brothers and sons, don’t forget spouses and daughters. Besides the odious Clintons, there are those Alaskan Murkowskis.

    Kevin

  22. Has a policy of punishing a nation (tribe or other group) of people in the hopes that they’ll throw off their leadership worked anywhere?

    That’s the old Marxist revolutionists’ trope, “The worse, the better.” The revolutionairies oppose meliorist reforms so that the masses don’t become comfortable with the status quo. The system is supposed to eventually crack, and the cadre picks up the reins of power.

    Kevin

  23. Wow, did Kim Jong-Il really send Fidel a _telegram_? I’d love to know what the end-to-end process was, although I’d be disappointed if it’s just an email that someone printed out and called a telegram. I’m really hoping for morse telegraphy here.

  24. I figure Raoul will have Cuba joining Chavez’ Venezuela as the 24th state within 12 months.

  25. Hey!
    How come we haven’t been calling Dubya’s invasion of Iraq “The Bay of Pigs”?

  26. The German army trouncing the czar’s army in WWI, leading to the revolution and the peace treaty…

    Well, not exactly. There was a virtual stalemate on the Eastern Front. In 1916 Russia’s Brusilov Offensive was successful in its goal to have the German Army shift troops from the Western Front. Although the Russians suffered massive casualties, they had sufficient manpower to overcome it. However, the war was unpopular and that, coupled with worsening economic situation on the home front, led to political chaos. Nicholas abdicated and the Provisional Government was formed. The Provisional Govt. half-heartedly tried to continue the war, but their ineptitude led to the October Revolution, then the Brest-Litovsk treaty in 1918.

  27. How come we haven’t been calling Dubya’s invasion of Iraq “The Bay of Pigs”?

    That should be good for a few weeks of rioting once the headline makes it back to the Islamic world.

  28. Wow, did Kim Jong-Il really send Fidel a _telegram_? I’d love to know what the end-to-end process was, although I’d be disappointed if it’s just an email that someone printed out and called a telegram. I’m really hoping for morse telegraphy here.

    In response to a column that irked me, I once sent a columnist an e-mail that he mistook for a telegram. It went like this:

    “Dip. Dip. Dip, dip, dip. Dip, dip, dip, dip, dip, dip dip. Dip. Dip, dip. Dip, dip, dip, dip. Dip. Dip. Dip, dip. Dip.”

    I just meant to tell him that I thought he was a real dip.

  29. Irony defined: A nation built on the egalitarian ideals of Marxism having the power of its orchestrator transferred via nepotism.

    You’re forgetting how mediocre Raul Castro really is…

    Anyway, according to reports, Fidel’s doing well.

  30. I listened to some interesting commentary from a professor who actually knew something about Cuba (yeah, ‘professor’ and ‘cuba’ in the same sentence usually begets the requisite grimace) and she had some interesting things to say about Raul.

    According to her, the Cuban people don’t have the affection for Raul as they do for Fidel… and, pound for pound, Raul was the thug who could actually make Castro look like a kind hearted, but firm dad.

    In the aftermath of the initial revolution, it was Raul who was ordering and overseeing serial executions of the ‘opposition’ whereas Castro put a stop to it, declaring that they would at least get a fair trial before they were executed.

    Also, during the riots in a particularly poor neighborhood of a couple of decades back, Raul was the one that got on Cuban television and threatened to send in tanks if the proletariat didn’t chill. Castro again, told Raul to chill, and personally went to the neighborhood to try to reason with the rioters.

    So, in the professors estimation, most Cubans– especially the older ones would remember this and as such wouldn’t have any latent affections for El Jefe.

  31. “According to her, the Cuban people don’t have the affection for Raul as they do for Fidel… and, pound for pound, Raul was the thug who could actually make Castro look like a kind hearted, but firm dad.”

    So, Paul,
    Fidel is like church and Raul is like state, and the wall separating them is not solid?

  32. It actually wouldn’t shock me if:

    1) Some people genuinely like Fidel Castro. Dictators need some sort of base of support, some group of loyalists from whom they can recruit the people who terrorize everybody else. Hell, some Russians think that Stalin was just swell.

    2) Fidel Castro made a point of letting his brother order the worst of the vile deeds. Good cop, bad cop is an ancient game. It’s a useful game for winning the affection of the base, and also for giving people second thoughts about assassination. (“Shit, if we kill him the REALLY crazy guy will take over!”)

    Paul’s professor could be right.

    That doesn’t excuse anything, I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be shocked if the situation is a little more complicated than universal loathing of the dictator. If the loathing were truly universal there would be no loyalists to back him up and keep him in power.

    Those loyalists, of course, are scum.

  33. [Ordering drinks in a Havana cafe]
    Raul Castro: Uno. . .por favor. . . .
    [to Fidel]
    Raul Castro: How do you say “banana daiquiri”?
    Fidel Castro: “Banana daiquiri.”

  34. Ruthless:

    So, Paul,
    Fidel is like church and Raul is like state, and the wall separating them is not solid?

    I’m not sure if you’re just making a statement, or trying to suggest that someone was apologizing for Castro. If the latter is the case, the professor was definitely not an apologist– she was merely making what I felt was reasoned and reality based political commentary on the cuban people’s relationship– or view– of the two leaders.

    Thoreau:
    Fidel Castro made a point of letting his brother order the worst of the vile deeds. Good cop, bad cop is an ancient game. It’s a useful game for winning the affection of the base,[…]

    She actually made this very point. Like I said, she was pretty reasoned and had some insights I hadn’t heard anywhere else in the MSM. Was just posting what I heard because I thought it was interesting. Especially since the MSM is making a lot of noise about how Raul might be a ‘moderating’ influence on Cuban policy. She was suggesting (albeit indirectly) the opposite.

  35. Jody Hobbs,

    True enough – in a military sense, the fight between Germany and Russia in WW1 was a stalemand, so perhaps “trouncing” wasn’t well a well-chosen word. But regardless, the German military did quite a bit more damage to the Russians than vice-versa, which is the relevant point.

  36. See, “stalemand” is how us really smart intellecshuls spell “stalemate.”

    And we pronounce it “stah-le-mahnd.” You know, so we’ll sound all smart and French-like.

  37. “I’m not sure if you’re just making a statement, or trying to suggest that someone was apologizing for Castro.”

    Paul,
    Just making a statement…
    Church and state are equally out to “get” us, whether we live in Cuba or…

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