Friday, January 05, 2018

Richard Nixon Talks to Fidel Castro

The National Security Archive released a large number of documents related to U.S.-Cuba diplomacy. These were the basis for Peter Kornbluh and Bill LeoGrande's book Back Channel to Cuba (which I reviewed here). Here's a fun one written by then Vice President Richard Nixon after his conversation with Fidel Castro in 1959.

As so often happens when you read Nixon is that he often has very sound advice that he actually is incapable of taking himself. He talks to Nixon about not abusing power, not "following the mob," to appoint good people, and to learn how to take criticism well. Essentially you have two power hungry leaders who are talking past each other.

And, of course, it has to end with paternalism. Nixon's last sentence is that "we have no choice but at least to try to orient him in the right direction." He wasn't really listening to anything Fidel was saying, and certainly Fidel had no interest in and probably complete contempt for Nixon's opinions.


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