Talking 'Blowback' Season 2 With Brendan James and Noah Kulwin
Today in 'What Now': the podcast hosts on their new season about the Cuban Revolution.
For this week’s What Now, I talked to Noah Kulwin and Brendan James of the very good podcast Blowback, which returned for a second season earlier this month. This time, the show is exploring the Cuban Revolution. So we talked about Cuba then and now, America’s failed attempts to stop the revolution, and how Men in Black helps explain the CIA.
Paul Blest: In the second episode you quote Thomas Jefferson on how Cuba was “the most interesting addition that could be made to our system states.” And there was that Bill Kristol tweet from last month where he's talking about how Cuba could be the 53rd state "once it becomes free." Where does this desire to dominate Cuba come from?
Brendan James: American leaders and American elites have always liked the idea of Cuba becoming part of our empire, but the reasons change. Originally, there was a great interest to kick Spain out of our hemisphere. It was by no means a humanitarian mission to enter Cuba in the Spanish-American War, because what we immediately did was carry out a military occupation and then run Cuba as a neo-colony for several decades, basically until the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
It's been a humiliation to America that we weren't able to knock off the revolution, to knock off its leadership, to negate the ongoing referendum of its people to run their country this way. And so, I think without psychoanalyzing anybody—least of all Bill Kristol, because we'll be here all day—you could say that at the very least, it is adopted as a desire these days to finally put to bed this humiliating failure of the American empire to topple the government of this island.
Noah Kulwin: And I would also add that there are strong domestic political incentives to maintain the status quo—aggressive isolation of Cuba, up to and including outright sabotage.