Debating Cuban Exceptionalism (Studies of the Americas) by Laurence Whitehead, Bert Hoffmann

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By Laurence Whitehead, Bert Hoffmann

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Take the example of sanctions. From a realist perspective sanctions are simply a cost that any rational actor will try to avoid provided the price of securing relief is not too great. But on several occasions-in the late 1970s, and again in 1996-it is plausible to argue that the Cuban regime faced the possibility that sanctions against it might be lifted, and acted in ways calculated to avert that outcome. If Cuba was not the object of unilateral (internationally illegitimate) sanctions by an overbearing enemy, then the discursive consequences would be serious.

Dominguez ("Cuba since 1959," pp. 95-148). 5. Perhaps the closest analogy was with Britain's occupation of Egypt between 1882 and the outright declaration of a Protectorate in 1914. S. Secretary of State Elihu Root, although the contrasts are also evident. 6. Somoza in 1979 is the closest analogy, one that was very influenced by the Cuban precedent. 7. Recent events associated with the Varela Project-former President Carter's live broadcast on Cuban television, President Bush's reaffirmation of Washington's sanctions policy, followed by President Castro's sponsorship of the signature campaign to make the revolution "irrevocable"-all fit ~1thin this pattern.

If these people asserted (for their own reasons, rather than in deference to Soviet compulsion) that the world's most advanced capitalist nation was hypocritical and exploitative, this provided Moscow with an ideological vindication of exceptional value. The Cuban gesture came at precisely the moment when Moscow most needed it (when the breach with China had led to the withdrawal of all Soviet aid from Beijing). Moreover it was backed by an expressive willingness to assume risks and absorb costs in order to prove Cuba's new allegiance was irreversible.

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