Towards a Chinese missile crisis?

Six decades after the Cuban missile crisis, nuclear-armed imperialists remain firmly on the warpath.

People demonstrate against war on October 27, 1962 in front of the White House in Washington, DC, during the Cuban missile crisis. On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy informed the American people of the presence of missile sites in Cuba. Tensions mounted, and the world wondered if there could be a peaceful resolution to the crisis, until November 20, 1962, when Russian bombers left Cuba, and Kennedy lifted the naval blockade. (Photo by AFP)
People demonstrate against war on October 27, 1962 in front the White House in Washington DC, during the Cuban missile crisis. [AFP]

We have all heard the story. In October 1962, the world nearly suffered a nuclear holocaust on account of the so-called “Cuban missile crisis”, when the villainous Soviet Union undertook to install weapons of mass destruction on the island of Cuba, just 150km (93 miles) off the coast of the United States.

Often lost in the narrative – even to this day – is that Soviet missile activity in the Caribbean transpired only after the US had installed nuclear-equipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey, which bordered the Soviet Union.

More than sixty years later, Cuba is still a thorn in the side of the US, in spite of the ongoing, asphyxiating US embargo – which dates from the same year as the missile crisis and constitutes a weapon of mass destruction in its own right.

The Soviet Union is long gone, but the annoyingly resilient island nation has now allegedly decided to play host to yet another existential menace: the People’s Republic of China.

On June 8, the right-wing Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported that Cuba would soon boast a “secret Chinese spy base” focusing on the US, with Beijing signing up to pay Havana billions of dollars for the “eavesdropping facility”. Then on June 20, the same newspaper sounded the alarm regarding a new joint Chinese-Cuban military training arrangement on the island, raising the “prospect of Chinese troops on America’s doorstep”.

And although the veracity of the reports has yet to be established, there is plenty of room for imperial hypocrisy in the meantime.

For starters, the Wall Street Journal takes for granted that China is the aggressor in this equation – even while acknowledging such relevant trivia as that the US engages in electronic surveillance in the South China Sea, sells arms to Taiwan and presides over a military base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay that has been used “as a signals intelligence station”.

Indeed, the very same paper reported back in February that the US was “markedly increasing the number of troops deployed to Taiwan” – speaking of “doorsteps” and of islands located just off of enemy coasts. And speaking of joint training exercises, the article also specified that the Michigan National Guard was busy instructing a “contingent of the Taiwanese military” on US soil.

Obviously, the US beats China hands down in everything from international eavesdropping and cross-border political meddling to bombing the living daylights out of other countries.

But while the US views itself as unilaterally endowed with the right to do whatever it pleases wherever it pleases, any remote approximation of such behaviour by other countries is cast as an unpardonable and barbaric violation – particularly if it occurs in the United States’ self-declared “backyard”.

And just like earlier this year, when the US media and political hypesters took the Chinese “spy balloon” and ran with it, the alleged Cuba-China conspiracy has provided all manner of fodder for the United States’ resident warmongers.

Case in point: A recent article at the Washington, DC-based website The Hill by John Bolton – longtime US diplomat, former national security adviser to Donald Trump, and, in his own words, “somebody who has helped plan coups d’état” in other countries.

Bolton argues that China’s “intrusion into Cuba reflects a significant escalation in its hegemonic aspirations, equal to or graver than the 1960s Soviet presence”, and that the US must “think again about whether and how to overthrow Havana’s post-Castro regime”.

After all, US-backed coups are never intrusive.

Regime change or not, Bolton prescribes a severance of diplomatic relations with Cuba and increased sanctions against both China and its Cuban accomplice. Lest the current US political establishment be at a loss for what to do with its illegal prison and torture centre on occupied Cuban territory, Bolton suggests: “Guantanamo Bay, for example, was never prepared as a staging ground for anti-Castro activities but remains fully available to us today.”

Meanwhile, in a June 27 Fox News intervention titled “What China is doing in Cuba is a big threat to all of us”, retired US Army lieutenant colonel and vice president at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Chuck DeVore also advocates for Cuban regime change, reasoning that China “might seek to turn Cuba into a deadly dagger pointed at America – a dagger that might be withdrawn in exchange for the US abandoning Taiwan”.

For his part, Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz recently advised the use of US military force to remove Chinese military assets in Cuba, while also introducing an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act to “ban taxpayer funds from being used to host drag shows on military bases”.

There is no end, it seems, to the existential threats facing the global hegemon.

And in case the direness of the China-Cuba situation has failed to register domestically, Gordon G Chang of the far-right Gatestone Institute warns of “nuclear-armed communists on the warpath”, who are liable to install surface-to-air missiles on the Caribbean island and threaten Taiwan’s allies with “nuclear destruction”.

The terrifying upshot, according to Chang, is that, “thanks to Cuba, a war in Asia will be fought on, near, and over the American homeland – perhaps with nukes”.

Suffice it to say that, six decades after the Cuban missile crisis, nuclear-armed imperialists remain firmly on the warpath.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.