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How Should New Zealand Respond To The United States’ False Terrorism Accusations

The United States is planning to take an action in Congress to continue its formal recognition of the false accusation that Cuba supports international terrorism.

This is the ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism List’ administered by the US State Department. There are three other countries on this infamous selective list – Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Such is the extraordinary belligerent nature of this step that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) should be advising the New Zealand government to oppose it.

Recently I discussed in my politics blog Political Bytes the importance of further strengthening the constructive relationship between New Zealand and Cuba.

This was in the context of New Zealand’s support for a resolution overwhelmingly adopted by the United Nations which opposing the US economic blockade of Cuba: A relationship worthy of strengthening.

From Reagan to Trump to Biden

Cuba was first added to the list in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan. However, the alleged international terrorism was Cuba’s political support for liberation movements challenging repressive Latin American regimes, such as El Salvador.

At the same time, under the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa, both the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela were also on a State Department terrorist list.

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Cuba was taken off the list towards the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. However, his successor Donald Trump overturned this decision. Now President Joe Biden has aligned himself with Trump’s decision.

Words should mean something

It is important to understand what terrorism actually is. It begins with ‘terror’ which means extreme fear. A ‘terrorist’ is a person who seeks to enact extreme fear; usually a member of a group that uses or advocates terrorism.

This takes us to the meaning of ‘terrorism’  which is the calculated use by terrorists of violence or threat of violence to inculcate extreme fear.

Terrorism is intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

The next step in this context is consideration of when governments commit terrorism. This is referred to as ‘state terrorism’ which is what the US government accuses Cuba of.

State terrorism is similar to non-state terrorism in that it involves politically or ideologically or religiously inspired acts of violence against individuals or groups outside of an armed conflict. The key difference is that agents of a state are carrying out the violence.

To complete the picture because of its direct relevance to the US government is ‘economic terrorism’. This form of terrorism occurs when a group or government attempts to destabilise another group or government.

Hypocrisy in overdrive

The official Biden administration’s argument is that Cuba did “…not fully cooperate with the United States antiterrorist efforts for the 2023 calendar year.”

This is hypocrisy in overdrive. Ironically, the international community through the United Nations does not support this evidence-devoid accusation.

In fact, many countries across several continents have benefited from and expressed their appreciation of invaluable Cuban medical support in times of need.

Despite being a poor country Cuba sends medical missions throughout the globe. This is not the behaviour of a terrorist country; it is, however, the behaviour of a humanitarian country.

There is no evidence that Cuba seeks to cause extreme fear internationally; there is no evidence that Cuba has used or supported violence or the threat of violence internationally; there is no evidence that Cuba has sought to destabilise another country either directly or indirectly; and there is no evidence that it seeks to coerce or intimidate other countries or their populations.

In contrast, in each of these specific respects, the United States fits the bill perfectly of supporting terrorism and being a state terrorist, especially since World War 2.

There is an abundance of evidence that the United States has supported coups in many countries in order to overthrown elected governments such as Iran in 1953 and too many Latin American countries to list here.

It also supported South Africa’s apartheid government’s military endeavours to overthrow Angola’s first post-colonial government.

Even has recently as right now it is supporting (including militarily) Israel’s ethnic cleansing through genocide of  Palestinians in Gaza and repression of other Palestinians in its occupied territories.

If this is not supporting terrorism then the term has no meaning.

To compound the hypocrisy the United States has engaged in vicious devastating economic warfare against Cuba for over 60 years in a determined effort to overthrow Cuba’s government.

Again, if that is not economic terrorism then this term also has no meaning.

Time for MFAT to step up

Humanitarianism alone means that MFAT should advice the New Zealand government to inform the US government of its opposition to Cuba’s continuation on this nonsensical list. And our government should act on this advice.

When I think of the US government’s in-your-face hypocrisy words like pots, kettles and black come to mind.

I also think that perhaps the New Zealand government should have its own list of countries that sponsor terrorism and put the US on it.

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