War games: why do our leaders keep wasting their time?
The 2016 Bastion Strategic Exercises are finally over. A week marked by the flexing of useless military muscle, an exhibition of political paranoia. Perhaps no other Government in the world actually televises its military exercises. Here we Cubans have endured, day after day, the regime's response to the victory of Donald Trump in the US elections.
In reality Cuba is not threatened by invaders, foreign or domestic. The maneuvers have been a waste of resources aimed at boosting the troops' flagging morale, and that of the leaders of the Government and the Communist Party too, who have still not recovered from what Obama's visit to the island meant.
Since then the official rhetoric has asserted the need to increase production to defend Socialism against the "new subversive tactics employed by the empire." In Castro's ranks there is despair and frustration. Its friends are gone, and the country is not just an Island, but now an isolated one, surrounded by ambitious capitalists from China and Vietnam.
The problem of Cuba has no military solution, because it is economic in nature. Investors who are not willing to taking risks with Raúl Castro's allegedly new economic policies are no enemies of the Cuban people. They are potential friends that the archaic system of the socialist State enterprise is actually driving away. People who, when they see a bankrupt government spending money it does not have to conduct massive military maneuvers, are further discouraged from placing their capital on Cuban socialism's perpetual roulette wheel of waste, corruption and irresponsibility.
Within, the effect of the maneuvers was varied: bravado, arrogance, spending, the giving of chauvinistic speeches ... Outwards: the perception was one of madness, a disconnection from reality, isolation, and fear of accepting any change.
The results will soon be seen: a flight of potential investors, decreased productivity, more impoverishment, more young emigrants, more frustration and apathy, as "every man for himself" spreads as a moral norm in the society that Cuba's Communists continue to spawn.
In politics, as in economics, a speech, a bad investment, an unfriendly gesture or a military maneuver may have unintended consequences. And Cuban rulers are too accustomed to bluster, bombastic speeches, chestbeating in loincloths, and the exploitation of the people, as hostages, to inspire a sense of sympathy.
It might said that for over almost 60 years the Cuban Government has never been one of politicians. Or even technocrats. Rather, it has been a Government of the "enlightened," a band of fanatics guided by voices whispering to them that they are infallible, telling them to deforest the country and plant sugar cane, to fiercely oppose cruise tourism, to build an airport on the tiny island of Granada, or to create a new breed of native, multi-faceted cattle, to incite guerrilla wars in Latin America, to send troops to Africa, and hold Pan American games and then declare a "special period for peacetime."
It is very likely that the voices that arouse mystical inspiration in Cuba’s leaders come from the spirits of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini.
Otherwise there is no way to fathom how our leaders have not realized that the trial-and-error method is based on discarding what produces unwanted results. And, in the case of Cuba, wars have not been the reason for the country's endemic poverty, so preparing for one that will never happen is just a waste of time and resources.
Instead of reveling in games with a bunch of old weapons, our leaders should try abolishing the country's centralized state economy. Maybe this would produce results similar to those enjoyed by China, Vietnam, the former Soviet republics and European socialist countries, which, although also conducting military maneuvers, don´t broadcast them on television.