In This Review

Cuba the Morning After: Confronting Castro's Legacy
Cuba the Morning After: Confronting Castro's Legacy
By Mark Falcoff
AEI Press, 2003, 285 pp
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Cuba on the Verge: An Island in Transition
Cuba on the Verge: An Island in Transition
By Terry McCoy
Bulfinch Press, 2003, 200 pp
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For a road map to the future of U.S.-Cuban relations, Falcoff's is an odd book. The author provides much useful history, as we would expect from a serious historian, but the Cuban field is already well tilled. Concrete policy options are lacking entirely. Falcoff instead spices his text with tiresome diatribes against the "dewy-eyed," anti-American, pro-Castro left in the United States, a powerful group that, he claims, "currently controls our institutions of higher education and much of our print and electronic media" and "finds resonance among important congressional Democrats and their staff." This is, to say the least, an exaggeration, and it fails to recognize the sensible view that U.S. policy toward Cuba is hopelessly frozen, a condition that will greatly hinder Washington when it attempts to respond to Castro's eventual demise. In this regard, Falcoff's alarmist predictions about post-Castro Cuba are convincing: he foresees a failed state across the Florida strait -- economically nonfunctional, a hotbed of criminality and potential terrorism, lacking the institutions of a viable civil society apart from the military and the Catholic Church, and facing widespread civil disorder that could spur a massive exodus and provoke a U.S. military response. But on the vital question of what Washington can do now to avoid this future scenario, Falcoff is silent -- no doubt because any proactive policy would require reevaluating his belief that anyone who argues for a rethinking of U.S.-Cuban relations is an "apologist" for Castro. Such blindness, if it persists, will make this book's gloomy prognosis self-fulfilling. Although Falcoff cannot find much romance in Cuba, Cuba on the Verge certainly does. But then Falcoff would not be surprised: its contributors are all charter members of his "dewy-eyed" brigade. On full display here are what William Kennedy describes in the book's introduction as the "mythic landscapes" of the revolution. These accompany vivid portrayals, in photographs and text, of what Cuba looks and feels like today. Not least, there is the mandatory "surprise" meeting with Castro, the aging caudillo whose endless rule, Arthur Miller concludes, is "like some powerful vine wrapping its roots around the country while defending it from the elements choking its natural growth."