As The Atlantic's own Jeffrey Goldberg publishes a multi-part report of his recent discussions with Fidel Castro, bloggers are slowly processing some rather surprising revelations. Castro, for example, says the Cuban Missile Crisis "wasn't worth it at all." Also, he thinks Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should ditch the anti-Semitism. Then there was his admission that "the Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." (To which Goldberg wonders: "Did the leader of the Revolution just say, in essence, 'Never mind'?") Here's how this attention-getting, "totally surreal" series is being digested out there:
No Kidding Communism Doesn't Work "Given the economic failures of Cuba, and of Communism generally around the world, this is hardly a new revelation," observes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, "although it is striking to hear it come from the mouth of the guy once known for given three hours stem-winding speeches on the virtues of state-run economies." He also wonders what "Castro is aiming at here," in these interviews, and suggests he start a blog.
- Maybe He Should Have Realized That Before He Messed Up Cuba "The Cuban people languish in abject poverty as a result of
Castro's oppressive policies," writes Cato's Daniel Mitchell, offering a chart comparing the Cuban and Chilean per-capita GDP over time.
- Hang On: You Can't Blame All Cuba's Problems on Communism "I think," responds Matthew Yglesias to Mitchell's chart at the liberal blog Think Progress, "this mostly illustrates the difficulty of having a rational conversation with Cato Institute employees about economic policy in the developed world. Cuba is poor, but it's much richer than Somalia." Yet Mitchell probably wouldn't consider Somalia's case "an illustration of the human costs of inadequate taxation."
- Is Castro Opening the Door? At conservative Hot Air, Allahpundit
points out that Castro consciously uses Goldberg to communicate to
Ahmadinejad. Could his comment about the failure of the Cuban model
then be "meant as a communique to American leaders that a little
capitalist outreach right now might be received, if not warmly, at
least not coldly"? He ponders how Obama, with "some cover from the
GOP," might be able to "reconsider the embargo."
- Looks Like Castro and the Kennedy Officials Agree on History The Atlantic's James Fallows comments that Castro's reflections on the Cuban missile crisis are "a significant complement to the views of the Kennedy Administration officials who were in charge at the time, many of whom looked back in relief and horror at how close the world had come to an uncontrolled nuclear exchange."
- Castro the Statesman? Really? "I find any respect for this old dictator distasteful," adds another Atlantic colleage, Andrew Sullivan, "but Jeffrey manages to describe him with the requisite aplomb." At TalkLeft, Big Tent Democrat is more explicit: when Goldberg referred to Castro as "the great man" he probably meant in the historical sense, he writes, "but it still startled me." Goldberg's friend, a Cuba expert he took along, interpreted Castro's various declarations as evidence that he is trying to "[revisit] his own history" and "[reinvent] himself as a senior statesman." Responds Big Tent Democrat, no doubt as some other readers are: "Trying to wipe away 51 years of tyranny is hard work."
- Castro, Champion of Jews? Really? Israel blogger Carl in Jerusalem is perplexed: "It's no great secret that most of Cuba's Jewish community left after the Communists took over. And I've always had the impression (admittedly garnered from children of Cuban exiles ... ) that Cuban Jews were not free to worship once Castro was in power." He admits Castro's apparent 180 on Jews, which appears to be part of a larger, "relatively recent epiphany," might be further evidence of his "desire to be treated as an elder statesman."
- Danger in the Modern World "For what it's worth, I think Castro's right that the looming Israel-Iran clash could be the spark of a new and dark age of global war," writes Andrew Sullivan darkly. "Somewhere in the back of my head, I drank in this summer as deeply as I could, because it feels at times like 1913 with nukes and anthrax."
- And What's with the Dolphin Show? Jason Kottke highlights his "favorite line" in one of the many tidbits that likely led Matt Yglesias to call the whole series "surreal." Castro invited Goldberg to a dolphin show, of which Goldberg writes: "I've never seen someone enjoy a dolphin show as much as Fidel Castro enjoyed the dolphin show."