This just in from the Pentagon: Cuba is not, after all, much of a threat to national security.
The Pentagon's intelligence report, like all matters Cuban, ignited controversy on Capitol Hill. Even before its release, House Speaker Newt Gingrich protested to the Pentagon that Fidel Castro remained "a dangerous and unstable tyrant."In the report, the Pentagon concludes that the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991 gravely eroded the size and power of Cuba's military, leaving it barely able to support itself.
The nation, once a flashpoint for nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, now poses "a negligible threat to the U.S. or surrounding countries," said an unclassified version of the report.
The Pentagon's analysis, ordered by Congress last year, was no surprise, given Cuba's economic implosion after the end of Soviet-era subsidies. But it still provoked anger among Cuba's critics in Congress, who accused the Clinton administration of softening its stand toward Castro.
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-born Republican from Florida, said the Pentagon had "blatantly minimized" what he called "asymmetric threats" posed by Castro's government, including its support for drug traffickers. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, another Cuban-born Republican from Florida, called it "a political analysis."
"They've tried to dress it up with ribbons and bows, but it's a fairly empty document."