Response to Revolution
Response to Revolution, by Richard E. Welch Jr., is an honest and unbiased look at America’s policy towards Cuba during the Cuban Revolution. It covers the general history of and preconceived notions about the revolution in depth and gives ample attention to both sides of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. In addition to this Welch analyzes the reactions of America’s various factions during the early years of the revolution. Upon taking this into a change of the status quo, and of one that only played the international game of politics on its own terms.
The general idea underlying Response to Revolution is the evolution of the U.S.’s opinion of the Cuban revolution from good to bad. Yet to understand this, the author shows that it is first important to understand the events and attitudes that took place between the U.S. and Cuba in the years between 1958-1961. At the onset of the Cuban revolution we find that the U.S. government supported the Batista regime and that while it was technically a democracy it reinforced bitter class differences. Eventually various factions united under Castro and the Batista government was overthrown. While the United States for the most part stayed out of this war and even cut off arm sales to Batista before his overthrow, Welch shows that by then it was to late for the U.S. to ever create a good relationship with Cuba. The reason for this is that the years of and U.S. dominated Cuban economy, combined with the troublesome Platt Amendment, fueled the fire of class differences and created in Castro’s mind a distrust of U.S. involvement in Cuba. However, while Castro’s anti-American stance no doubt hindered relations with the U.S., it was more the fault of the Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies reluctance to offer aid outright to Castro and accept change in Cuba. This unwillingness of Castro to adhere to the U.S. standard or democracy in turn led to unwarranted economic sanctions, which later led to Cuba’s need for Soviet economic support. “The U.S. government measures went beyond the retaliation warranted by the injuries American citizens and interests had up to that time suffered at Castro’s hands” (Welch 58). The author further contests that the problem was only furthered when Kennedy took the matter to be personal and put into act Eisenhower’s counterrevolution invasion force that created the Bay of Pigs blunder. “Eisenhower’s authorization of March 1960 combined with the machismo requirements of the new frontiersmen to make probable, if not inevitable, the Bay of Pigs” (Welch 68). With the events of the revolution put on the table the author moves to the American social reaction to the revolution, which proves to be the book’s strongest analytical aspect.
The author’s examination of the various sections of American society during the revolution is the books’ greatest source of data in support of its thesis. Society in the book is broken up into three...