The Lunatics of Havana and Tehran
1960 Cassandra Column Compared CASTRO & MOSSADEGH
December 17, 2014 is a historic day in the U.S.-Cuban timeline. After 54 years, the United States and Cuba commenced the normalization of relations for the first time since January 1961. The move includes a coordinated prisoner exchange, the cessation of sanctions, opening up of trade and financial ties, easing of traveling restrictions, the reestablishment of a U.S. embassy, and potential cooperation on other matters, where appropriate.
After over half a century of estrangement, bitterness, failed assassination attempts, and even the chilling taunt of nuclear war, this sudden new direction is seismic. What it will mean to the world remains to be seen, and there is obviously no guarantee that this will lead to regime change in Cuba anytime soon, but it will certainly be a compelling experiment.
The success or failure of this engagement strategy will be highly instructive either way, and is sure to have a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy theorems in general.
The diaspora is, naturally, divided. Many Miami Cubans are skeptical, if not outraged, by this development, much the way a large contingent of Beverly Hills Persians are chafed by any degree of engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which doesn’t seem on the verge of collapse either. Yet as President Barack Obama noted, when it comes to influencing regime change in these tyrannies, the undeniable fact is, “isolation has not worked”.
Speaking of Cuba and Iran, here’s a lost Cold War relic from the British press about both countries. It was written by Cassandra, the pseudonymous columnist for London’s legendary tabloid The Daily Mirror (est. 1903), which at the time, enjoyed the largest daily circulation in the world. *
William Neil Connor (1909-1967), who took his pen-name from Greek mythology, was not only the “hardest-hitting and most-quoted columnist in Britain”, according to TIME, but could be so acerbic that even the gruff Winston Churchill found the “malevolent” commentator difficult to take. Nevertheless, despite Cassandra’s abrasive style and epic legal battle with entertainer Liberace (who won his 1959 libel suit), his extremely popular column lasted 32 years at the Mirror, ending prematurely due to ill health. In 1966, shortly before his death, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
* The Press: Cassandra of the Mirror — TIME, Oct. 11, 1954
In this excerpt from an August 1960 column, which was also distributed in U.S. newspapers, Cassandra dared to equate Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, whose young Communist government was consolidated the year prior, with Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the former democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, who had been overthrown only seven years earlier.
In typical form, Cassandra was loose with the insults, depicting Mossadegh and Castro, who had virtually nothing in common, as brothers from another mother. The only remotely appropriate analogy here would have been CIA maneuvers like Operation Ajax, the covert overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953, its failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and Operation Northwoods, the CIA’s operational plan to frame Cuba for terrorist attacks in the U.S. in order to justify military intervention there. Yet the first was still basically a secret, and the others hadn’t happened yet.
In Greek mythology, Cassandra is a beautiful princess blessed with the power to foresee the future, yet cursed that no one will ever believe her. In 1960, Cassandra the columnist smugly predicted that Castro wouldn’t be around long. 55 years later, Castro is not only still alive, but the Castro dynasty, now headed by brother Raul Castro, is firmly intact.
Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro on Mossadegh, Iran, the U.S. and Israel
Students Protest Lack of Human Rights in Iran — The Militant, March 30, 1964
Iowa Newspaper Says Elvis Presley Is Untalented (September 14, 1956)
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”