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year to repeal the Helms-Burton embargo on trade in medicine and food, likens Cuban-American politics to “a sophisticated game of chicken” two cars heading toward one another in the same traffic lane, each driver expecting the other to yield. Our State Department Chief of Mission in Havana, Michael Kozak, heads a diplomatic contingent of maybe 300 Americans, doing business in the stately American Embassy. Because our government still does not officially recognize Cuba, Kozak’s operation is technically, in arcane diplomatic jargon, a section of the Swiss Embassy, But Kozak tells me we recently have spent about $38 million rehabilitating our handsome embassy that looks back upon downtown Havana and out upon the Caribbean, directly across from Cape Canaveral. Kozak wants the Cuban government to open the domestic political process, making it easier for independents and rival political parties to field candidates for the National Assembly. He sees this and other internal political reforms as the first step toward normalizing relations. When l suggested this possibility two days earlier to Cuba’s young Foreign Minister, Roberto Robaino, he went into an orbital oratorio about the presumption of a big country that it may dictate cultural and political modalities to its smaller neighbors. “Your people don’t seem to realize,” he storms, “that a far greater percentage of people vote in our elections than do so in yours!” Castro, calmer and less strident, points to Cuba’s attainments in education and public health, to problems suffered by the Soviet Union when it tried to change everything overnight. He stresses modest steps. His regime has undertaken on its own, he says, to open up elections, particularly for state and local offices, and to make some accommodations to free enterprise. From the Cuban point of view, our dropping of trade sanctions con stitutes the best, and necessary, beginning toward political detente. Torres deplores the lack of concessions on both sides as a “macho standoff,” Whatever the embargo might be costing the United States in trade or investments, its greatest cost is in world opinion.. On October 14 the United Nations condemned the U.S. economic ern Owing our country to repeal it. The vote in the Gene to 2, with only Israel standing beside the Unite substantial current investments of its own in thei The embargo’s defenders hope that, by strangling Cuban chances at economic growth, it will bring about the fall of Castro. It has, undoubtedly, slowed the Cu ban economy. But the embargo began in 1961, and there sits Castro across the table from me. He offers no hint of retiremart His appearance belies periodic rumors of ill health. Pro for a gala nationwide celebration in,January to m sary of the revolution. The aging ,r f g maftoarr mes ‘ looks trim. I guess him at 6’e, voice is older, not as strong as trademark olive green uniform wit his shoulders do not droop. The dark faci outnumber the gray. At the e tion, our translator seems ex clear. His face shows no sig n’ Somehow, this is a differ kinder. More tolerant, maybe. M Jim Wright is a former Speaker of the House. “Dialogue,” from page 2 when it counted most. Don’t talk to me about the failure of the New Left. It was really the failure of the left itself, the entire progressive community, such as it is in America. Certainly Dugger’s review is in some ways more flawed than the book. He never really understood New Left politics or radicals who were entirely ready to throw off the mantle of the Cold War mentality and reject gradualism in the struggle for racial equality, nor for that matter their moral response to the Vietnam War. Dugger can own up to firing Rod Davis because of his supposed association with what Dugger incorrectly calls Maoism. But can he admit to forcing Greg Olds out as editor because of Greg’s openness to and coverage of the New Left? Or his virtual dismissal of radical activists on the ruse that they advocated violence? Okay. That was then, this is now. Dugger is not the issue. He does have an accurate reading on some of the core failures of the book, and I generally agree with his last five paragraphs, especially the last one. We have to wonder who this Doug Rossinow is. Was he involved or a close observer to our history, as it happened? He lists me among those he interviewed and gives a date for the interview. But I have no recollection of being interviewed, nor is there anything on my calendar on that date to support the meeting. I have never met Doug Rossinow as far as I know. Perhaps he called on the phone. If so, the “interview” was far too brief for me to have given him my own reflections on that memorable period. Nevertheless, one cannot totally disparage any serious attempt to describe and analyze the exciting times that the sixties were in Austin, in Texas, and in the whole country or an effort to understand what went wrong between the dream of peaceful revolution and the failure to bring it about. There were, still, significant victories won. The war ended. A nation’s consciousness was raised in many ways we see today. And, of course, the New Left is not dead, only waiting for propitious times to come again. James Simons Austin MAINSTREAM VALUES Ronnie Dugger and all others wishing to put the New Left into historical perspective might do well to add The Dark Side of the Left by Wi Iliamette University professor Richard Ellis to their reading lists. It narrates the S.D.S.’s evolution from the Port Huron statement to Chicago’s “days of rage.” Perhaps Dugger can review it in a future issue. Of course, the New Left was not without its inflexible doctrinal purists and extremist ideologues. The movement’s unwillingness/inabil ity to police its own ranks sowed the seeds for its demise. Had those folks made an earnest effort to appeal to the historic values of the mainstream, they might have made more lasting changes in this country. \(Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind, as do the kids who resolved The movement’s biggest blunder, however, was allowing the media to anoint spokespersons who were not at all representative of most of the rank and file. I hold in deep scorn the theatrical flag-burning fringe whose antics paved the way for Nixon and Reagan’s electoral triumphs in their respective presidential and California gubernatorial elections. Face it, we all see now the folly of committing troops to relatively unstrategic backwaters where our political leadership has neither the wholehearted support of an informed electorate nor a clearcut victory plan to “bring the boys home” by an agreed upon date. Would that the Kennedy/Johnson men had learned the Korean War’s lessons about prolonged, unwinnable, stalemate wars! Finally, to me at least, the obvious legatees of the New Left are to be found in today’s strident Libertarians who consistently fight any and all encroachments of the state. Brad O’Brien Austin FEBRUARY 5, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19