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Miami Exiles Say Invade Cuba, Venezuela? Americans Don't Want Another Afghanistan

Pedro Portal
El Nuevo Herald
BOMBING OUT Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (center, in tie) at a rally in Little Havana last month in support of Cuban anti-government protesters.

COMMENTARY Many Latin American exiles want the U.S. to invade their home countries. The Afghanistan debacle should convince them why it's not happening.

Many Americans feel indignant, humiliated, ticked off by the U.S. exit debacle playing out in Afghanistan right now. But I hope one group of Americans in particular has put the harrowing scenes of Kabul chaos on a video loop.

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Many Cuban, Venezuelan and other Latin American exiles in South Florida have been clamoring in recent years, especially this summer, for U.S. intervención in their home countries. For the U.S.-led military invasion of those patrias. The U.S.-led overthrow of the dictatorial leftist regimes in those patrias. The U.S.-led nation-building of those patrias.

Now, once they’ve had a good, humbling look at the latest funeral being conducted in the graveyard of empires, as Afghanistan is known, I have a question for them:

Does it make more sense at this moment why intervención has not happened?

READ MORE: Cuban Exiles Want the World on Their Side, Not Cuba's. Try Persuasion, Not Petulance

Does it make more sense that your swaggering demigod Donald Trump — the guy on whom you lavished votes in the last two presidential elections because you expected him to storm Caracas and Havana — never did storm Caracas or Havana?

Does it seem more reasonable that President Biden — even though he sorely wants to stanch his and his party’s hemorrhaging of Latino votes on this peninsula — has tersely dismissed the Miami megaphone’s calls to send troops into Cuba after last month’s historic anti-government protests there? Especially Mayor Francis Suarez’s reckless and opportunistic suggestion to drop bombs on the island?

Is it more understandable — despite your eagerness to use yanqui firepower to restore your tropical idylls — that the rest of America has been smacked with the long overdue realization that remaking the world in our image that way is a booby-trapped delusion?

South Florida exiles should wake up to the reality that the military-led nation-building that's backfired like a defective rocket launcher in the Middle East would likely do so in Latin America.

I’m as dismayed as any American by how badly Biden and his administration fumbled the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. And I’m perhaps not as surprised as many are. Here in South Florida we got a sort of preview of the Biden team’s overweening disregard for political minefields during last year’s presidential campaign, when it scoffed at the idea that Trump’s tarring of Biden and the Democrats as “socialistas” would spook Latinos en masse over to the GOP.

That judgment failure was soon followed by another on the U.S.-Mexico border: Biden and company somehow missed the memo that the election of a more immigration-friendly president would trigger an overwhelming new wave of desperate Central American migrants.


And now Afghanistan. But for all of Biden’s miscalculations there, this tragedy was really set in motion a year ago, with the ill-conceived troop withdrawal deal Trump negotiated with the Taliban — and especially two decades ago, after 9/11. Then President George W. Bush’s Republican administration, led by then Vice President Dick Cheney, drank the neocon Kool-Aid and decided U.S. muscle would turn Afghanistan and Iraq into West Asian branches of Western democracy. It’d be as easy as exporting Disneyland to Paris.

That fantasy went south almost immediately in Iraq. The U.S. kept that embarrassing inevitability better hidden in Afghanistan, but military-led nation-building was bound to unravel there as well.

Now that it has, the exile cohort here should wake up to the reality that what’s backfired like a defective rocket launcher in the Middle East would likely repeat itself in Latin America. The scenarios aren’t comparable, you say? Por favor.

Consider the quicksand the U.S. would be stepping into if it invaded Venezuela.

Sure, American troops would rout Venezuela’s military in a day. But then U.S. soldiers, and the U.S. government, would own the whole trip-wired store and every rotted floorboard and angry customer in it — including, potentially, newly spawned guerrillas loyal to the ousted government. The U.S. would be the foster parent of an economically destroyed country roughly the same size and population as Afghanistan, not to mention its fractured political opposition — not a few of whose leaders were part of the corrupt ancien régime that preceded the corrupt socialist regime.

Hundreds of desperate Afghans rush to try to board a U.S. military transport plane last week in Kabul as the Taliban retake the country.

But at least Venezuela’s ancien régime was a democracy. In Cuba, the U.S. would be landing on an island that’s never really known pluralist governance – and one whose own military would put up a stronger fight before los norteamericanos could even get to the stage of establishing pluralist governance.

So Miami’s exiles will have to focus on other, less chimeric ways to regain their patrias. Americans don’t want or deserve another Afghanistan.