Withdrawal From Guantanamo

The United States decision to comply with the British West Indies request to withdraw from the five naval bases within their territory should please everyone by its unimperialistic character. And, in itself, the withdrawal is laudable. But it is also insignificant these bases are almost totally useless, large portions are rented out to local peasants, and the only one which is really practical--it tracks missiles launched in Florida--will continue in this function on a more limited scale. The withdrawal is embarrassing because of its blatant omission why not Guantanamo?

Cuba has not yet asked the United States to leave Guantanamo, presumably because of the propaganda value Castro sees in having a foreign military force imperialistically situated on Cuban territory. But signs indicate that Castro will soon enough demand negotiation for withdrawal and eventually World Court arbitration in which the U.S. would stand little chance of victory. Is the United States waiting to suffer ignominy when forced by an unfriendly nation to back down? Is it waiting to be accused of belligerence by refusing to leave when the request is made? Or is it hoping that counter-revolutionary forces will overthrow Castro before he has a chance to ask the U.S. to withdraw?

Perhaps the base is even intended for use in cooperation with a counter-revolutionary movement. This, in fact, seems the only possible reason to remain, and it is a reason which all of Latin America would construe as rabidly imperialistic. But all other excuses for staying in Guantanamo are derisible. As pleasant as the base may be for a training ground and weekend spot, there are others. Furthermore, without full-fledged assistance from outside the island, the base cannot possibly serve as a deterrent to Cuban aggression towards other nations, as President Eisenhower maintains. Cuba could too easily destroy Guantanamo by blockading the bay and cutting all supply lines.

By remaining in Guantanamo, the United States is taking a chance unwarranted by the prize it seeks. If Castro were unseated before he had the opportunity to ask the U.S. to leave, U.S. would win nothing but an easily replaceable naval training ground and the continuing ill-will of Latin Americans who feel the U.S. should provide more economic assistance and less military imperialism. It stands to lose a great deal of prestige.