May 1 1991

Will the “New Hitler” Have a Beard?

The same hawish pundits who so successfully demonized Saddam Hussein are now looking for a new target. For most, the demon of choice is an old foe: Fidel Castro.

Georgie Ann Geyer, an old cold warrior with a new biography out on Castro, gave the Today show (3/4/91) a description of Castro that seemed remarkably similar to the dirt dished out by unnamed U.S. officials on Khadafy, Noriega and Saddam: of “illegitimate” birth, he abused his first wife, admired Hitler and Mussolini for their power and toted Mein Kampf around with him. The interview–more like a monologue–concluded with Geyer speculating on Castro’s future: “I don’t think he’ll go quietly into the night. I’m worried that Cuba could be our next conflict, our next crisis….He’s so grandiose, he might attack Florida or something.”

Jeane Kirkpatrick (Washington Post, 4/1/91) wrote that a nuclear power plant under construction “with Soviet help” in Cuba, “two years away from completion…could be used to ‘produce weapons grade plutonium.'” Her source: an anonymous “U.S. official” quoted in the Rev. Moon-owned Washington Times (1/4/91). She also suggested that the recent defection of a Cuban officer in a MiG aircraft might have been staged to test U.S. air defenses and demonstrate “what a few determined men with a few nuclear warheads and a few low-flying MiGs could do to South Florida.”

Unable to resist the temptation to tie Castro to the coattails of a villainized Hussein, Reagan spokesperson-turned-columnist John Hughes (Christian Science Monitor, 3/28/91) wrote that “Saddam and Fidel have had a long relationship.” Hughes cited that fact that Hussein went to Cuba for elective surgery and that Castro sent medical teams to treat victims of U.S. bombing in Iraq. Now Cuba, he concludes is “crumbling”: “Bicycles are replacing cars.” Hardly a frightening thought, viewed from the blackened skies of “Free Kuwait.”

One columnist has dissented from the naming of Cuba as the next menace: Leslie Gelb, writing in the New York Times (4/10/91), proposed instead that North Korea is “the most dangerous country in the world today.”