Last week The Wall Street Journal reviewed the intrepid struggle of freedom fighters in Afghanistan, Angola and Cuba, and pronounced our State Department's staid response "a national shame." Sometimes shameful policies are also stupid policies.
In Afghanistan, the citizens are now entering their second year of resistance to Soviet brutality. No major Western nation will give them the powerful arms they need. The dreamers in our State Department once thought this pitifully one-sided drama might become the Soviet Union's Vietnam. They forgot that to have a Vietnam-like war, you must have access to a Soviet-like arsenal. The Soviet army has been surprised here, but its pugnacious ardor has not been dampened.
In Angola, Jonas Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) continues its five-year resistance to white imperialism, and UNITA has the imperialists in trouble. However, now the white imperialists are not Portuguese but East German, Cuban and Russian. Russian? Surely they are only Russian technicians building a few sports stadiums. Were these Russians actually combatants, our State Department would be up in arms.
Well, Savimbi's forces are apparently proficient not only with guns but also with cameras. On Dec. 13, his secretary for external coordination of UNITA, Jermias Chitunda, released photographs -- color photographs -- of two woebegone Russian airmen whom UNITA forces had shot down from Angolan skies. The comrades had been flying an Antonov-26 transport carrying 22 other Russian, Cuban and East German soldiers. What will our State Department do about this scabrous development?
The third example of what the Journal saw as "spontaneous and heroic resistance" was closer to home and even more propitious to those of us who worry about the ambitions of our Soviet friends. A year ago Cuba released Huber Matos from one of its progressive prisons where Matos had served a 20-year term -- most of it in solitary confinement, some of it in an underground concrete box, and always with visits from the revolutionary government's professionally trained staff of torturers. According to The Daily Journal of Caracas, Venezuela, Matos had been "the bravest of [Fidel's] guerrillas and their most effective leader." Naturally, you will understand then that when Matos quit the government in objection to its transformation into dictatorship, Fidel slammed him into the calaboose. t
But Fidel made a mistake. He thought 20 years of torture and prison would mellow Matos. Fidel should have read his Solzhenitsyn. Now the 62-year-old Matos is on the loose and up to his old tricks. In Caracas this past October, he formed a new revolutionary organiztion, Cuban Indendiente y Demoncratica, and the evidence is filtering in that this revolution has friends even in Fidel's island paradise. Does our State Department find this development cause for joy or anxiety?
Lowell Weicker must feel anxiety. Weicker is one of those senators strenuously referred to in the press as "moderate." Recently, he returned from Cuba after having smoked long and diligently the Castro weed, and in a People magazine interview he noted that Fidel is "a man of enormous intellect and idealism. Castro's been known to snow people, but he didn't snow me." No indeed. "We flew all over the place," Weicker confirmed, "and I saw what he's done with my own eyes. They deliver a quality of life to those people they've never known before. By Caribbean and South American standards, it's Park Avenue. I want to know why the U.S. isn't there. We can gain the affection of the Cuban people by working side by side." Weicker is another one of those no-nonsense types, and you can be sure that he is virtually unsnowable. When he got home you can bet that he got the answers he sought.
I wish he had begun his inquiry with Carl Gershman, the indefatigable student of dictatorship now resident at Freedom House. Gershman has been following Huber Matos closely and reports that Matos has gained the support of Latin America's major democratic parties and trade unions. Democratic Latin American governments also favor his cause, and within Cuba there is spreading unrest.
Castro's interventions abroad, particularly in Angola, have cost him popularity at home. Gershman reports that there is within Cuba today "resistance to the regime" in the form of "industrial sabotage, stealing from the state, draft evasion, pervasive negligence and lack of discipline. Every corpse that returns from Angola adds to the dissatisfaction. Fidel has alluded to these problems himself, and the recent exodus of over 125,000 Cubans from what Weicker calls the "Park Avenue of the Caribbean" testifies to the extent of the dissatisfactions.
In the year ahead, the Afghans plan to continue their resistance. Savimbi will continue to harass Soviet-bloc troops, most of whom are Cubans. sAnd Huber Matos will remind disgruntled Cubans at home that the author of their woes is old Fidel, Weicker's "man of enormous intellect and idealism." The role of his movement in exile is, Matos believes, to provide support for those inside Cuba. Toward this end, he has set up a radio station in an unnamed Latin American country. Will our State Department ever perceive the benefits of all this?