Americans have a profoundly compassionate side. Many not only appreciate the freedom and prosperity with which they have been blessed but fervently wish to share their good fortune with others. Time and again, they have proved willing to support foreign interventions that are presented as missions to rescue less fortunate people.
When President McKinley said he was going to war with Cuba to stop "oppression at our very doors," Americans cheered. They did so again a decade later, when the Taft administration declared that it was deposing the government of Nicaragua in order to impose "republican institutions" and promote "real patriotism". Since then, every time the United States has set out to overthrow a foreign government, its leaders have insisted that they are acting not to expand American power but to help people who are suffering.
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The Cuban revolution, and especially Castro's turn toward anti-Yankee radicalism, baffled most Americans. Few had any idea of how the United States had treated Cuba in the past, so naturally they could not understand why Cubans wished so fervently to break out of the American orbit. Many were astonished, just as their grandparents had been in 1898, to learn that "liberated" Cubans were ungrateful to the United States. . . . .
Castro was a pure product of American policy toward Cuba. If the United States had not crushed Cuba's drive to independence in the early twentieth century, if it had not supported a series of repressive dictators there, and if it had not stood by while the 1952 election was canceled, a figure like Castro would almost certainly not have emerged. His regime is the quintessential result of a "regime change" operation gone wrong, one that comes back to haunt the country that sponsored it.