Cuban Revolution
Fidel Castro becomes the new Cuban leader
author Paul Boșcu, September 2017
The stage for the violent upheaval was set by the existence of striking political, economic and social inequalities with more than one-third of the population considered poor and lacking social mobility, coupled with the growth of a frustrated middle class whose rising expectations could no longer be met by a stagnant, sugar-based economy. A corrupt and repressive government supported by the United States had alienated its own people and spurred the growth of a Cuban identity and nationalism divorced from the United States.

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The Cuban Revolution was an armed conflict perpetuated by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July movement against president Fulgencio Batista’s authoritarian government. The revolution began in 1953 and ended on the 1st of January 1959, when the rebels deposed Batista and replaced his government with a socialist one.

Castro’s plan for a Cuban revolution started poorly. On the 26th of July 1953, he led a band of 119 rebels in an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba, the most important military base in eastern Cuba at the time. Government troops captured Castro. He stayed in prison until Batista granted a general amnesty two years later.

Upon his release from prison, Castro organized a small group of underground leaders in eastern Cuba. Castro moved to Mexico and used money from Cuban exiles in the United States to organize and train a small military force of 82 men. He called the force M (Movement)-26-7, after the date of the failed 26th of July attack on the Moncada barracks.

Castro returned to Cuba in a leaky yacht named the Granma. He landed at Cape Cruz in eastern Cuba. Batista’s army crushed the rebel force shortly after it landed. Castro and 11 others (including future commanders and revolutionary heroes Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Fidel’s brother Raúl, and Camilo Cienfuegos) managed to escape into the Sierra Maestra range.

At first, Castro’s underground was unable to rally the local population to his cause; however, by the end of 1957, Castro’s revolution had captured the imaginations of the Cuban people. His rebels were carrying out guerrilla warfare—descending from the mountains to raid cane plantations and mines, and then hiding out in the mountains again. A radio station, set up at his headquarters in the Sierra Maestra, kept the people informed of the revolution’s growing strength.

Castro had repulsed efforts by Batista’s army to push him from his Sierra Maestra stronghold. Raúl Castro controlled a second eastern front in the Sierra de Cristal. Together, the Castro brothers had Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city, surrounded. Guevara and Cienfuegos were in charge of a third force in the Sierra del Escambray in central Cuba. By mid-1958, all three forces could hold their own in pitched battles against government troops.

Castro’s forces moved quickly out of the mountains. They scored major victories against Batista’s army in large cities: Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, and Santa Clara. The armies of Guevara and Cienfuegos won victories in central Cuba and then swiftly moved towards Havana, compelling Batista to flee the country.

The stage for the violent upheaval was set by the existence of striking political, economic and social inequalities. More than one-third of the population was considered poor and lacking in social mobility. Coupled with this was the growth of a frustrated middle class whose rising expectations could no longer be met by a stagnant, sugar-based economy. A corrupt and repressive government supported by the United States had alienated its own people and spurred the growth of a Cuban identity and nationalism divorced from the United States.

Revolutionary struggles are rare throughout history. Successful revolutionary struggles are even more rare and they are the result of many factors that come together in a given place at a given time. Cuba was no different.

The Cuban crisis during the 1950s went far beyond a conflict between Batista and his political opponents. Many participants in the anti-Batista struggle certainly defined the conflict principally in political terms, a struggle in which the central issues turned wholly on the elimination of the iniquitous Batista. But discontent during the decade was as much a function of socio-economic frustration as it was the result of political grievances. Batista's continued presence in power compounded the growing crisis by creating political conditions that made renewed economic growth impossible.

Fidel Castro had run for the Cuban House of Representatives as a member of the Ortodoxo Party. He had been a supporter of Eduardo Chibas, the Ortodoxo leader who had committed suicide during a radio broadcast. When Batista seized power, Castro began organizing a group in Artemisa with the express purpose of toppling Batista. Many in the group had been active in the Ortodoxo Youth Movement. Most of Castro’s followers in 1953 were not university graduates, but primarily workers and farmers.

The group included Abel Santamaria, an employee of an American sugar refinery, his sister Haydee Santamaria, Jesus Montane, an accountant for a Cuban branch of General Motors, and Melba Hernandez, a lawyer who would later marry Montane. Santamaria and Montane had previously published a secret political newsletter entitled Son Los Mismos. It contained political propaganda to further the revolutionary cause.

Castro and his men commenced operations in a peripheral region of the island where the politico-military presence of the government they were committed to overthrowing amounted to no more than isolated Rural Guard outposts. In waging war against the Rural Guard, however, the rebels attacked both the local power-base of the Batista regime and the symbolic expression of Havana's presence in the Sierra Maestra region.

The plan, which was worked out in Abel Santamaria’s office in Havana, was to attack the Moncada Barracks at Santiago and the Bayamo Barracks in the early morning of the 26th of July during a carnival. The purpose of the attack was to capture weapons that would enable Castro to arm his movement in the future and spark a popular uprising in Oriente Province, which had a long tradition of revolutionary activities. The attacks at both the Moncada and Bayamo Barracks were doomed from the very beginning given that Castro’s group was outnumbered and poorly armed. Castro was captured and imprisoned.

Castro escaped initially but was later captured by Lieutenant Pedro Sarria, who did not approve of the torture that was taking place at Moncada Barracks. He took Castro to the civil prison in Santiago under the spotlight of the local media. This probably saved Castro from torture and death.

It was hoped that the dancing, partying and drinking during the carnival on the previous night would make it difficult for the soldiers to respond effectively to an attack early in the morning.

Castro was tried, and chose to act as his own defense council. He gave an impassioned plea ending with the statement, ‘Sentence me, I don’t mind. History will absolve me.’ The speech would later be smuggled out of his jail cell one sentence at a time on matchbox covers. Later, it was rewritten and his ‘History Will Absolve Me’ speech was put into a pamphlet and used as an effective propaganda tool. Castro, his brother Raúl and the other conspirators who were not executed were sentenced to prison on the Isle of Pines.

During his prison stay, Castro wrote many letters that gave clues as to the future of the revolution he would lead. He emphasized the corruption, greed and repression of the Batista government. On the other side, believing he was in control and feeling invulnerable, Batista made a fateful decision. He granted a general amnesty to all prisoners. Castro and his comrades walked out of the prison on the Isle of Pines.

In Castro’s absence, women assumed much of the leadership of the 26th of July Movement. They included Haydee Santamaria, who was with Castro at Moncada, and Haydee Hernandez, who had helped to defend Castro during his trial. They formed contacts with other women’s groups opposed to Batista, such as the Association of United Cuban Women and the Women’s Martí Civic Front. They also distributed Castro’s ‘History Will Absolve Me’ speech in a pamphlet form.

While in prison, Castro wrote letters on various subjects such as the unemployment, illiteracy and healthcare problems of the Cuban people; the need for land reform given the terribly unequal distribution of land; the problems with an economy based primarily on sugar; and the dependence of Cuba on the United States. Other letters focused on the use of propaganda and the media as tools of a revolutionary. Finally, Castro emphasized the need for Cuban unity.

Batista finally agreed to hold elections and stepped down from the presidency, so he could campaign to be officially elected as president. The Autentico candidate, Ramon Grau San Martın, withdrew from the election that was a sham from the very beginning. Batista was elected without any opposition. Vice President Richard Nixon visited the island and gave the government US support.

Castro immediately began attacking Batista in speeches at public meetings and on the radio. He wrote articles for various newspapers, the journal La Calle and the magazine Bohemia. These came to be censored by Batista.

Castro decided, once again, that the use of violence was the only way to topple Batista. Raúl Castro and others left for Mexico to begin preparations for an armed invasion of Cuba. Fidel Castro met with those supporters who were to remain on the island, then left for Mexico. Enough money was raised to purchase some arms and a farm outside Mexico City to begin the military training of Castro’s group of revolutionaries. The Mexican government frequently harassed Castro and his group by seizing their arms and arresting some of their members.

The supporters who formed the basis for the 26th of July Movement on the island included not only those from the ill-fated attack at Moncada, such as Haydee Santamaria and Pedro Miret, but also Frank Pais, Celia Sanchez, Faustino Perez, Armando Hart and Carlos Franqui.

Among Castro’s revolutionaries was Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, a young Argentinian doctor who would become second in command and play a major role in Castro’s revolution.

The students at the University of Havana, led by Jose Echeverria, began a more violent campaign against Batista after negotiations with the major opposition parties failed to bring about a political settlement. Police arrested and brutalized many students at anti-Batista rallies in Havana and Santiago.

Student rioting continued through the early months of 1956 across the island. Batista retaliated with increasing violence. Many students were killed and became instant martyrs.

Echeverria organized a nationwide student strike. By the end of 1955, Echeverria organized the Revolutionary Directorate, a clandestine student organization whose goal was to topple Batista.

Dissident officers in the army, led by the nationally known and decorated Colonel Ramon Barquin, conspired against Batista. Barquin represented the young, professional, non political officers who had come to resent the politicization of the armed forces by Batista. Barquin’s supporters represented the best of the Cuban military. Two hundred and twenty officers were implicated in the conspiracy and most were tried and thrown in jail.

This conspiracy clearly surprised Batista and publicly exposed the open dissension within the Cuban military. Batista became obsessed with loyalty to him as the major requirement of his officers. This increasingly led to the Cuban military coming under the control of political appointees—officers who lacked the professional qualifications necessary to gain the confidence of the men serving under them.

Anti-government opposition was not confined to civilian political groups. By the mid-1950s dissension had become rife within the armed forces. Batista's return to power had signalled the wholesale transformation of the army command, with old officers, many of whom had retired in the previous years of Autentico rule, returning to positions of command. Political credentials and nepotism governed promotions and commands in the early 1950s, Batista virtually dismantling the professional officer corps.

The return of Batista’s officers produced widespread demoralization among younger commanders who were proud of their academy training. They took umbrage at appointments that made a mockery of professional standards and placed the old sergeants in positions of command.

The plot led by Colonel Ramon Barquin implicated more than two hundred officers, including the most distinguished field commanders of the army. In the subsequent reorganization some four thousand officers and men were removed, reassigned and retired.

Echeverria then traveled to Mexico and met with Castro. He agreed to support Castro’s invasion with diversionary riots and student demonstrations in Havana. Frank Pais, the leader of the 26th of July Movement’s national underground, also traveled to Mexico to work out the details of the invasion. Castro and eighty-two companions crowded onto a small yacht named the Granma and left Mexico. They arrived on Cuban shores, but a naval vessel started bombarding the rebels as they made their way inland. With the assistance of some local peasants, the revolutionaries avoided capture for the next several days and made their way into the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.

The faculty and administrators cancelled classes at the University of Havana while Pais and the 26th of July Movement staged an uprising in Oriente Province. The rebels attacked several military installations and engaged in several acts of sabotage, such as derailing trains and cutting down power lines. By the time Castro and his followers landed near Niquero, the uprising in Oriente had been crushed by Batista’s forces.

Castro’s men made it to a sugarcane field in Alegria de Pio where Batista’s troops surprised them. Castro and eleven others were the only ones to escape the ambush.

On Christmas Eve, the 26th of July Movement encouraged strikes and bombed several facilities in Oriente, causing a blackout in several cities. On New Year’s Eve, bombs exploded in several hotels in Havana and in the city of Santiago. Batista responded with torture and brutality against anyone associated with the opposition, but the bombings continued. Still, the rebellion was not considered to be a major problem by either Batista or the United States, which continued to support him politically and economically. It was in the Sierra Maestra, the mountains of southeastern Cuba, that Castro waged his guerrilla war against Batista.

The hardships suffered by the bearded guerrillas, the constant moving from one place to the next to avoid a major confrontation with the Cuban army, the harassment and hit-and-run tactics used by the guerrillas against the army, the support given to Castro by the local peasants and the ability to attract new recruits to the revolutionary group added to the growing heroic image of Castro over the next two years.

Castro knew the power of the media and realized that he desperately needed to get his message out to the rest of Cuba and to the world. He arranged for a reporter, Herbert Matthews, to come to the Sierra Maestra and interview him. Matthews’s interview appeared in the New York Times, complete with pictures of the bearded Castro in his army fatigues. This interview helped to create the legend and mystique of Castro as a hero, a modern-day Robin Hood fighting for justice and resisting oppression. It made him an international figure and all of Cuba finally knew that Castro was alive and well in the Sierra Maestra.

With about twenty men, the Fidelistas successfully attacked a small military outpost at La Plata and obtained some much-needed supplies. Even after this success, the morale among Castro’s small force was low due to the harshness of the mountains, the presence of planes above them and the necessity of dealing with traitors in the group.

By this time, Celia Sanchez, the daughter of a physician in Pilon, together with Haydee Santamaria and Vilma Espin, the daughter of a wealthy Bacardi Rum Company executive, had joined the guerrillas in the mountains.

Castro and his guerrillas also met with leaders of the 26th of July Movement from across the island in late February. Pais promised Castro reinforcements and sent fifty-two new recruits from Oriente to join the Fidelistas in the mountains. Among these recruits was Hubert Matos, a local rice grower who would later become a guerrilla commander.

In Havana, Echeverria and his Revolutionary Directorate staged a daring attack on Batista’s palace. The goal was to assassinate Batista, capture Havana radio and announce the end of the dictatorship. Echeverria and most of the student rebels were killed during the attack.

Besides Castro, Echeverria was the most important opposition leader. With his death and the increasing repression and brutality of Batista, all of the opposition now looked to Castro for leadership.

News of insurgent victories kept Cubans alive to the struggle unfolding in the Sierra Maestra and attracted new recruits to the guerrilla camp. Rebel operations also forced government troops to leave the security of the cities to give chase to the rural insurgents. In the process, the arbitrary manner in which the government conducted field operations served to further alienate the rural population and generate additional support for the guerrilla force.

Castro and his guerrillas captured a military outpost at El Uvero. This much-needed victory gave the rebels necessary weapons, ammunition and supplies, as well as a boost in morale. Castro’s guerrillas had come of age and they began to believe they could defeat Batista’s army. Pais was trapped in Santiago and shot. A general strike immediately began in the eastern provinces of Cuba. Throughout 1957 Castro’s force in the mountains continued to grow in size and a headquarters was established at La Plata. At the same time, an urban underground in Havana and Santiago waged a brutal terrorist war against Batista.

Knowledge of the mountain terrain gave the guerrillas an advantage over the Cuban army. Repression by Batista’s army and local police caused peasants to join Castro, and rural villages provided invaluable assistance to the guerrillas.

Segments of the navy in Cienfuegos mutinied and captured the naval installation at Cayo Loco. The rebel sailors worked with armed units of the Autentico underground and the 26th of July Movement. Batista was able to put down the rebellion only after extensive troop reinforcements arrived with tanks and aircraft. He then purged the officer corps of the navy.

It was found that some Cuban air force pilots had refused to bomb Cienfuegos during the naval uprising. With the Barquin conspiracy in the army and the navy and air force rebellion in Cienfuegos, it was clear to Batista that he could no longer count on the total support of the armed forces.

By the end of 1957, US ambassador Earl Smith and the American business community wanted an end to the political crisis. The war widened when Raúl Castro led rebels to the Sierra de Cristal on the northern coast of Oriente to set up a second front. A few influential members of the US State Department were not supportive of Batista and were upset that US arms were being supplied to his repressive regime. The United States suspended a shipment of arms to Cuba. In effect, the United States had put an arms embargo in place. Many Cubans viewed this as a change in US policy and it clearly affected the morale of the Batista government and the armed forces.

Batista launched a major offensive against Castro’s guerrillas. It consisted of between 10,000 and 12,000 men moving into the Sierra Maestra. Naval units bombarded the mountains while planes strafed and bombed areas of suspected guerrilla activity. Batista’s offensive had failed by August 1958. Castro captured and turned over 443 prisoners to the International Red Cross. He also gained much-needed ammunition, guns and tanks from Batista’s soldiers.

Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos set up additional guerrilla fronts in Las Villas. By this time, desertions and defections from the Cuban army were common. The Fidelistas treated prisoners with respect, gave medical attention to the wounded and returned soldiers unharmed. The end of the struggle was near, since the Catholic Church, the business community and others put pressure on Batista to find a peaceful solution.

Cuba was on the verge of revolution through most of 1958. In July representatives of the leading opposition groups met in Caracas to organize a united front and develop a common strategy against Batista. The Pact of Caracas established Fidel Castro as the principal leader of the anti-Batista movement and the rebel army as the main arm of the revolution.

By the end of the summer the government offensive collapsed, signaling the beginning of the disintegration of the Cuban armed forces. The army simply ceased to fight as desertions and defections reached epidemic proportions. Retreating army units became easy prey for advancing guerrilla columns. Demoralization turned to fear and, ultimately, panic. Batista held elections in November 1958. With the victory, via rigged elections, of Batista’s self-appointed successor Andrés Rivero Agüero, most Cubans came to the conclusion that only violence would bring an end to the Batista government.

Even as the United States sought to persuade Batista to leave office, the revolutionary momentum had sealed the fate of the regime. The failure of the government offensive and the success of the guerrilla counter-offensive had a galvanizing effect on Cubans, provoking spontaneous uprisings across the island. In the closing weeks of 1958, both the ranks of the urban resistance and the guerrilla columns increased rapidly.

Events escalated as the guerrillas chalked up one military victory after another over Batista’s demoralized troops. Guevara and Cienfuegos set up a front with the guerrillas from the Revolutionary Directorate in the Sierra de Escambray, while Castro and Raúl began to encircle Santiago. Castro took Guisa near Bayamo. Guevara captured an entire train of Batista’s troops while he was advancing on Santa Clara. Santa Clara fell on the 30th of December. In the evening of the 31st, Batista was told that Santiago was about to fall to Castro and his guerrillas.

During the early hours of the 1st of January 1959, as guerrilla columns marched across the plains of central Cuba, General Eulogio Cantillo seized power and appointed Supreme Court Justice Carlos Piedra as provisional president. The 26th of July Movement rejected the coup and demanded unconditional surrender to the rebel army. Seeking to revive the moribund war effort, Cantillo summoned the imprisoned Colonel Ramon Barquin and relinquished command of the army to him. Barquin surrendered to the rebels, saluting their revolutionary spirit.

With the news of Batista's flight, army units throughout the island simply ceased to resist further rebel advances. Cantillo complained to the US embassy that he had inherited the command of a ‘dead army’.

Barquin ordered an immediate ceasefire, saluted the insurgent ‘Army of Liberation’, and surrendered command of Camp Columbia and La Cabana military fortress to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

At 2:00 AM on the 1st of January 1959, Batista and his closest associates fled to the Dominican Republic. That evening Castro entered Santiago and called for a general strike. The next day Guevara and Cienfuegos entered Havana. The stage was set for Castro’s triumphant parade across the island to Havana. A new chapter in the history of Cuba was about to be written.

Cuba was an island of stark contrasts. Havana was the industrial and commercial center, the eastern part of the island was mostly large estates dedicated to export - agriculture and cattle - and the western part of the island was made up primarily of farmers working small plots of land. Clear distinctions were evident between the urban and the rural areas, between Havana and the rest of the island and among social classes.

When Fidel Castro and his bearded guerrillas triumphantly entered Havana, no one could have predicted the direction of the revolution or that this small island nation of 6.5 million people would become a flashpoint for the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Fulgencio Batista had been the dominant figure in Cuban national affairs for a quarter of a century. But suddenly Batista was gone. A new leader, young and bearded, who for two years had led a guerrilla war in eastern Cuba, gradually spreading the influence of his forces to the western provinces, slowly assuming the leadership of the urban and the rural resistance to the Batista regime, marched into Havana.

Audacious and effective in his military campaign and political skills, persuasive and commanding in his public speech, Fidel Castro had become the leader of the future. Power had passed, somewhat unexpectedly, to a new generation of Cubans.

The old regime collapsed in Cuba and a revolution came to power. The rebel army became the defender of the new revolutionary state, sweeping aside the parties that had structured political life in previous decades. Only the Communist party (Partido Socialista Popular, PSP) was left intact. The fall of the old regime required that new norms, rules and institutions be devised to replace those that had collapsed or been overthrown. Politically, Cuba became an ally of the Soviet Union during this period.

The history of Cuba during the next thirty years addressed the needs of revolutionary creativity: the persistent commitment to create order out of revolution and the need to uphold a revolutionary faith in the implementation of that new order.

President Manuel Urrutia was forced out, leaving no doubt that Prime Minister Castro was Cuba's uncontested leader. The question of communism was also an issue for Urrutia, who had stoutly defended the government against charges of communism while accusing the Communists of attempting to subvert the Revolution.

The question of communism also mattered for the slowly evolving links with the Soviet Union. The first official contacts with the Soviet Union were made in Cairo by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, although at this stage Soviet-Cuban trade was as insignificant as it had been before the Revolution.

Relations with Moscow changed qualitatively from October 1959. Soviet deputy prime minister Anastas Mikoyan visited Cuba to sign the first important bilateral economic agreement between the two countries and to promote other relations.

The US government viewed with concern the affairs of a country that seemed uncharacteristically out of its control. Cuba mattered to the United States because of its strategic location and its economic importance. While US military forces had not been stationed in Cuba outside Guantanamo for several decades, in the 1950s the US ambassador was still the country's second most important political figure after the President of the Republic. Fidel Castro sought to affirm Cuban nationalism.

The United States operated a naval base at Guantanamo under the terms of a 1903 treaty that recognized nominal Cuban sovereignty but guaranteed the United States the right to operate the base for as long as Washington wished. Despite subsequent Cuban protests, the United States retained the base.

In the symbols used and histories evoked, in the problems diagnosed and solutions proposed, there was a strong emphasis on enabling Cubans to take charge of their history. However, during the revolutionary war there was only limited criticism of US government policies and the activities of US enterprises in Cuba. Castro had bitterly criticized the modest US military assistance initially extended to the Batista government under the formal military agreements between the two countries, but this aid was eventually cut.

In the early months of the Revolution there were three principal themes in Cuban-US relations. First, there was mistrust and anger over US criticism of events in Cuba. The second major factor was the Revolution's initial impact on US firms operating in Cuba. The frequency of strikes increased sharply as workers sought gains from management under the more favourable political situation. Foreign-owned firms were affected by such strikes and in some cases the question of their expropriation arose. The third feature of this period was changing Cuban attitudes to new private foreign investment and official foreign aid. Cuba under Fidel would not seek foreign aid.

The new Cuban government brought to trial many who had served the Batista government and its armed forces; most of these prisoners were convicted and many were executed. The trials were strongly criticized in the United States. Fidel Castro and other Cuban government leaders were offended by this, and they denounced their critics in the US mass media, especially the wire services and the US Congress. The onset of poor relations between Cuba and the United States stemmed from this clash between the values of justice and retribution - held by revolutionaries - and the values of fairness and moderation even toward enemies - held by a liberal society.

A strike at the Royal Dutch Shell petroleum refinery raised the question of the expropriation of British property, authorized by a law issued by the rebels in retaliation for British military sales to the Batista government. Fidel Castro obtained generous concessions from Shell in exchange for forgoing expropriation ‘at this time’.

US ambassador Philip Bonsal presented a formal US government protest complaining of irregularities and abuses in the early implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law against US firms. The head of the Air Force, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, quit and fled to the United States, accusing Communist infiltration of the government.

The Agrarian Reform Act, moderate in many respects, was also strongly nationalist. The Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria (INRA) was more willing to intervene in labor-management conflicts when farms were foreign-owned, and to suspend the strict application of the law in these cases to expropriate foreign-owned land. Such local agrarian conflicts soured US-Cuban relations.

In April 1959 Castro announced that on a forthcoming trip to the United States he would be accompanied by the president of the National Bank and the Ministers of the Treasury and of the Economy to seek funds for Cuba. This trip to the United States became a deadline for making decisions that the overworked revolutionaries had hitherto postponed. Castro told his economic cabinet that they were not to seek foreign aid. The purpose of the trip, therefore, changed from acquiring aid for capitalist development to gaining time for far-reaching transformations, the specific form of which was still uncertain.

A small number of revolutionary leaders, therefore, concluded well ahead of the rest of the citizenry that it was impossible to conduct a revolution in Cuba without a major confrontation with the United States. A revolution would require the promised extensive agrarian reforms and probably a new, far-reaching state intervention in public utilities, mining, the sugar industry and possibly other manufacturing sectors. Given the major US investments in these sectors and United States hostility to statism, revolution at home would inevitably entail confrontation abroad.