The blowback of embargoes, cigars and capitalist wars

JFK's addiction to imperialism was a strong as his need for H. Upmann Petit Coronas, the cream of the crop of Cuban Cigars. On February 6, 1962, the day before the United States imposed a total embargo on Cuban goods, expanding the 1960 embargo on exports to Cuba—except for food and medicine–Kennedy told his press secretary Pierre Salinger to get "1,000 Petit Upmanns." Salinger did not disappoint and Kennedy got his fix.

The embargo—then and now—is a violation of international law, and was used alongside a host of policies that tried to "fix" the Cuban Revolution. This year marks 30 years of the United Nations General Assembly attempting to pass a resolution demanding the end to the blockade, and 30 years of the U.S. and Israel blocking the resolution.

Stories of subterfuge, assassination attempts, collusion with organized crime, and outright terror through the covert and overt support of counter-revolutionary groups on US soil are the subjects in Season 2 of the podcast Blowback.

"America's Cold War crusade brings the world to a nuclear-tipped showdown between the Kennedy brothers, Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, the CIA, and the Mafia. Co-hosted by Brendan James and Noah Kulwin, season two is a 10-part account of how the United States tried and failed to thwart the creation of a socialist government less than a hundred miles to its south."

Check out Season 1 on the Iraq War, which "examines the decades of policies that culminated in America's attack on Saddam Hussein's government and the aftermath of the invasion." And the recently released Season 3 focuses on the Korean War. You can check out the video teaser for Season 3.

You will find familiar names in US politics in all three episodes, from Donald Rumsfeld and his famous quote about "unkown unknowns" as the new raison d'être of post 9-11 wars, to JFK, Paul Wolfowitz, and various members of the Bush family. You will also hear interviews and stories of the impact of these wars on the lives of everyday people in Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.

James and Kulwin demonstrate diligent and expansive research, compiling audio interviews and newspaper reports from that time, consulting existing historical monographs, as well as contemporary interviews with participants that shed light on new information as well as complicating the inherited narratives about these wars. Each episode has extra content, with extended interviews, musical soundtracks, and other fascinating details about the impact of these wars today.