Fulton Armstrong's Unwitting Revelation

Sunday, December 23, 2012
The new edition of Foreign Affairs magazine has an article entitled "Our Man in Havana" about the Castro regime's imprisonment of American development worker Alan Gross and U.S. efforts to free him.

Sadly, the article is more akin to a novel (or ego-trip) narrated by former CIA analyst and Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Fulton Armstrong, transcribed and edited by Daily Beast editor R. M. Schneiderman.

The plot-line is quintessential Fulton Armstrong:

Alan Gross is not a victim of the repressive Cuban dictatorship, which has unjustly imprisoned him for over three years, but of the democratically-elected Cuban-American Members of the U.S. Congress, whom he refers to as "the Cuban lobby."

It'd be interesting to know whether Armstrong and Scheinederman similarly refer to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) or other Jewish Members of Congress as the "Jewish lobby" or former U.S. Senator and now President Barack Obama as the "black lobby."

Such labels are insulting and reveal ethnic biases, as former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is currently being reprimanded for.

In the case of Armstrong, it may be due to his blinding ideological bias.

Armstrong has long history of internally working against U.S. policy towards Cuba. During his time at the CIA, Armstrong authored, together with his former colleague at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Belen Montes, an oft-cited 1998 report that argued that Cuba no longer posed a security threat to the United States. Ironically, just three years later (in 2001), Montes was identified as a Cuban spy, arrested, convicted and is now serving life in a federal prison.

He has fervently opposed any endeavor that promotes freedom for the Cuban people, whether its USAID's democracy programs, Radio and TV Marti, or a simple Senate resolution calling for the release of political prisoners.  If the Castro regime dislikes it, so does Fulton Armstrong.

Moreover, Armstrong is particularly insulted by  the concept of "regime change" in Cuba.  Perhaps he finds the alternative -- "regime preservation" -- to be more appropriate.

During his three-year stint as a staffer to Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Armstrong often forgot who was the elected Senator (obviously not him) and led a mostly unauthorized assault on all-things Cuba policy under the Senator's name.  This led to Armstrong's retirement in 2011.

However, in Armstrong's zeal to promote unconditional dialogue with the Castro dictatorship and to demonize elected Members of the U.S. Congress, the article contains an important Freudian slip:

"[T]he Cuban government adopted an attitude of wait and see. By fall, there had been little talk about easing the U.S. embargo or taking Cuba off the list of terrorist states -- two top priorities for Raúl Castro, who was by then in charge."

Easing the embargo is a priority for Raul Castro?

How could this be?

Cuba "experts" have assured us that Castro really doesn't want the embargo eased, for it gives him an "excuse" for his failures.

Of course, anyone who has witnessed first-hand how hard the Castro regime lobbies to have the embargo unilaterally lifted in Washington D.C. knows just how important it is for Raul.

This reality is reinforced by a second "slip" about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba last year:

"Both Carter and Castro tried to minimize expectations; they made it clear this was still part of a trust-building dialogue. And to build that trust, Carter called for an end to the embargo."

In other words, to get in Castro's good graces, one has to lobby against the embargo for him.

Clearly, the unilateral ending of the U.S. embargo is Raul's end-game.

So much so, that he's even willing to take an American hostage.

And Armstrong unwittingly confirmed this.