I would love to be able to pick and choose which of my actions bear responsibility—or have the world only acknowledge my better choices. Unfortunately, none of us have that power. World leaders, however, at least possess the ability to influence the globe positively enough to at least minimize the regrettable deeds of yesterday, as we should prepare to observe in the final act of former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s life.

Castro is back in the public eye, and he apparently has just discovered the Internet in his absence. Speaking to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in a series of interviews and then Mexico’s La Jornada, Castro has seemingly reinvented himself as an old, ailing man with new, healthy opinions.

The 24-hour news cycle has recycled his views on Israel and Iran, as related by Goldberg, in a sort of media death grip. And it is indeed significant that Castro publicly admonished Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for denying the Holocaust. Fidel appears to defend strongly Israel’s right to exist, while empathizing with the worldview that a legacy of persecution can produce. In so doing, Castro distanced himself from Venezuela’s outspoken President Hugo Chavez, who as a socialist and American detractor has positioned his country with Cuba on many occasions. Unlike Castro, Chavez has sought the spotlight for his opinions while still in office, a policy I deplored in The Crimson last winter.

In his views on a possible showdown between Israel and Iran (I should note that these interviews were inspired by Goldberg’s controversial feature on the subject), Castro has carved out his own position, one based on unique life experience. No one alive today can say he was a leader as critically involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example—and those tense days in 1962 have, at long last, inspired Castro to stand up for global nuclear disarmament.


Castro’s Chance to Change