The Cuban Revolution gave birth to a rich literature in the United States, including journalism, fiction, and academic studies of Cuban affairs. It also promoted a new type of professional pursuit, anti-Castroism, in which Cuban Americans have been heavily, but not exclusively, involved. While ideological persuasion has colored many critical accounts of events in Cuba, academic studies are still expected to be objective. And yet, it is sometimes difficult to draw a clear line between academic and partisan interpretations of Cuban events. That the subject has invited ideological polarization and continues to do so is evident.
Cuba’s international activism, as it was known for almost three decades of revolutionary foreign policy, had decreased noticeably by the last half of the 1980s and continued to do so into the 1990s. The crisis and demise of Eastern European socialist regimes, followed by the end of the Soviet Union, largely accounted for this policy retrenchment. The days when Cuba exerted a considerable influence in world affairs in spite of its small size are practically over, at least for the foreseeable future. On this point—which provides the rationale for the book—George Fauriol, Eva Loser, et al. are generally correct. Nevertheless, the book seems to be mostly a group celebration of Cuba’s international retreat or, as Irving L. Horowitz puts it poignantly in the foreword, of “Fidel Castro redux.”
Today, Cuba is involved in international affairs as much as before. For the last few years, however, the substance and objective of its foreign policy—its new agreements and alliances—have changed drastically. Currently it seeks new markets and relations, foreign investment, and ways to overcome the U.S. economic blockade, which was tightened under the last administrations. The United Nations’ vote for three consecutive years condemning the economic blockade has not deterred Washington.
The so-called core relationships with the Soviet Union (now a matter of historical record) and the United States are covered by two militant Castro opponents, Jiri Valenta and Jaime Suchlicki. Cuba’s policies up to the late 1980s in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Canada are treated with uneven objectivity or lack thereof. In the final and largest section, “Functional Policy Areas,” several conservative Cuba watchers render their own version of these issues. Some areas are examined with scholarly quality, such as Jorge F. Pérez-López’ essay on international economic relationships; others, such as Constantine Menges’ assessment of 30 years of revolutionary warfare, are mostly ideological statements.
The book constitutes a valuable bibliographical reference, but more for what anti-Castro conservatives in academia and in and out of government have to say about Cuba’s policy dilemmas since the late 1980s than for the study of the events themselves. The downside for Cuba, as well as for the United States, is that this kind of study is what nourishes Washington’s increasingly internationally isolated anti-Cuba policy.