Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Fidel is at an early stage of reinventing himself"


That's the opinion of Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted in Jeffrey Goldberg's account of a recent visit with Fidel Castro.

Castro's recent statements on various matters seem to fit that hypothesis. I'm not as interested in what Castro's doing or thinking or saying as I am in the question that popped into my mind as soon as I started reading the article:

How would I respond to an invitation to sit down and shoot the bull with a monster like Fidel Castro?

The answer, frankly, is ... well ... I don't know for sure, but I'd probably accept the invitation.

I don't see it as a personal safety issue -- so far as I know he doesn't invite Americans down allegedly for interviews and then clap them in irons and ship them off to Isla de Pinos la Juventud or anything.

A woman walks past graffiti on a wall that reads "Fidel", which refers to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in Havana September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS)
A woman walks past graffiti on a wall that reads "Fidel", which refers to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in Havana September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS)
Yes, Fidel is a monster, but he's an interesting monster. He pulled off a revolution, or at least a glorified coup d'etat, and he's held its resulting regime together for 50 years 90 miles off the coast of, and through constant conflict with, the greatest "superpower" in human history. He's no idiot.

And hell, I've talked with monsters (and less interesting ones to boot) before. Some of them I didn't know to be monsters at the time (at least one murderer, at least one child rapist), some of them I did (klansmen/neo-nazis, congresscritters who voted in favor of legislation that resulted in at least as many innocent deaths as can likely be laid at Castro's feet, for example), some of them merely potential monsters (presidential candidates whose fingers I'd tremble to imagine anywhere near the nuclear button).

So yeah, I think I'd accept the opportunity to talk with Fidel Castro, on the off chance that I might come away from the encounter with a better understanding of what makes monsters tick.

Would you?

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