William F. Buckley
Well, did you hear what Castro, that old joker, did when he went on stage to speak to the General Assembly at the United Nations? There is a light on the podium that begins to blink five minutes after the head of state begins talking. That is a signal: It says, Sir, end your speech and get your arse off the stage; there is another head of state waiting to speak. What Castro did was theatrically to place a handkerchief over the light, an acknowledgment of his renowned verbosity (What comes after a Saturday night speech by Castro? Sunday).

He did, in fact, observe the time limit. He then removed the handkerchief, and continued his theatrics when two U.N. personnel materialized to take him to where his next meeting was scheduled. He feigned surprise and fear, turning to a fellow dignitary and saying in mock concern, "Where are they taking me?" He should be able to do that routine rather authentically, since there are thousands of Cubans who, when thus accosted, have been led, under Castro's direction, to prison or execution.

But the day had only begun for President Castro. He managed in his five-minute talk to deplore the influence of the United States throughout the world and to rail against the oppressions of the wealthy countries at the expense of the poorer countries. Castro is an authority on oppression, presiding as he does over a country that gasps for breath under the load of his socialist strictures.

Mr. Castro is here in New York addressing 150 world leaders and blaming the wealthy nations for, in effect, becoming wealthy -- by encouraging freedom of economic and other human activity. Mr. Castro added that Cuba is "more free" than other states because inasmuch as Cuba doesn't belong to any of the international economic organizations (World Bank, etc.), Cuba need not fear retaliation from the United States when it goes its own way; and that's true.

By nice coincidence, the same day Castro spoke, the Kennedy Library released the recording of conversations in the White House during the Cuban missile crisis, a record of President Kennedy's discussions of the pledge he would make to Khrushchev not to invade Cuba, in exchange for the removal of the Soviet missiles. That was 38 years ago, and Castro is now absolutely senior in rank among the world's tyrants, a living example of the failure of U.S. policy, economic and homicidal.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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