Debate Magazine

On Cuba, Obama and Conservative Hypocrisy

Posted on the 18 December 2014 by Lowell

On Cuba, Obama and Conservative Hypocrisy[Photo from The Famous People]
It's about time.  No, it's way past time!
What follows is from Shakesville:
"The United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement came amid a series of sudden confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S. Gross arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington late Wednesday morning. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro were to separately address their nations around noon. The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961."
Finally!  I have always thought our policy toward Cuba which evolved when we dropped support for the dictator Batista as he fled the land, and turned toward Castro only to dissavow him when his growing affinity for "Communism" became evident, was not only misplaced, but outright wrong!
And stupid!
But, in south Miami there is a contingent of anti-Castro Cubans and their descendants - many of whom were quite happy with Batista as they had become wealthy and powerful under his dictatorial regime, but lost it all when Castro came to power - who for years have fought every attempt to modify the U.S. position toward Cuba.
The U.S. position included open hostility, economic embargo, the discontinuation of diplomatic relations, and discouragement of any travel between the two countries or communication between Cubans in the U.S. and their families in Cuba.
One of the silliest actions was the ban on Cuban cigars!
Our position over these many years cemented Cuba's hatred for the U.S., created terrible economic hardship for much of Cuba's population, and gave our enemies around the world more ammunition to use against us.
Communism is a failed system.  We've known that from the beginning and it has failed over and over again.  That doesn't mean that every Communist country is going to become capitalistic and democratic overnight or ever.  China many never become a democratic society in the same way the US is a democratic society, but major changes have occurred there over the years so it is a much more open society and its economy has been modified to include some capitalistic characteristics.  It remains, however, a communist country!
But we haven't dared act on what we knew.  The anti-Commie neo-cons in this country are too strong and too numerous and what president or Congressperson doesn't want to be reelected?  The Miami Cuban bloc was always a threat to anyone who came out in favor of mitigating our stance on Cuba; in fact it was courting political death.
Jeb Bush, ex-governor of Florida, who made a mess out of that state, and now wants to be a another "Bush" president, criticized President Obama for restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba.   This is, he whined, a "dramatic overreach" of executive authority.
Jeb said "Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators."  It's going to hurt the Cuban people but help the "heinous Castro brothers."
Marco Rubio, the dim bulb Senator from the Miami area, who has lied in the past as to how his father came to this country from Cuba, implying he was fleeing persecution from a terrible regime when in fact he sailed to the U.S. in 1956 (before Castro) without incident, has also thrown in his two cents.  Obama's move, which rewards "the Castro regime," is inexplicable, saith Marco.  Furthermore, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Western Hemisphere subcommittee, he intends to "make every effort" to block Obama's normalization action.
Another wacko on the far right, Teddy Cruz, is also whining and complaining about Obama's "overreach," and Obama's flirtation with Communism, and is terribly pissed off to think that our President would reward terrible dictators like Fidel and Raul.
The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.  None of these people have bitched about our continuing support of dictators throughout Latin America or elsewhere.  So long as the U.S. could buy the dictators, they became our dictators and "good" guys because with enough money passing into their hands they would seek to protect American business interests in their countries.  The only time the conservatives in Congress gave a damn about a dictatorship anywhere was when the dictator stopped doing our bidding!
The Bush family really has no clothes.  They've been in bed with the Saudi rulers for many, many years because of a mutual interest in money and oil.  Anyone who thinks Geo. W. Buski led our troops off to die in Iraq was because of WMDs or the terrible Saddam is terribly misled. Bushki's Iraqi adventure was a way to guarantee that Iraqi oil went to the right place as dictated by Saudi Arabia!  Hell, Saddam, terrible dictator that he was, remained our friend for years and we basically armed his army, which, ironically, gave him the firepower he needed to at least resist our military incursions into his land after he fell out of our favor.
If there is any country with a worse record on human rights than Saudi Arabia, such country would be hard to find.  Some 50% of the Saudi population are treated as chattel without any of the rights we consider necessary for human and humane life - the Saudi women.  Yet Saudi remains on the A-list so far as the U.S. is concerned!
And China is no paragon of human rights, yet these conservative hucksters in the U.S. have no problem with our continuing diplomatic relations with that country.  They've even made it easier for American companies to flee to China to manufacture products which rake in huge profits when they're sold back in the United States.
Rubio's staff and the staff of another rabid anti-Castro Republican in South Florida, Ros-Lehtinen, went on a junket to China recently - a junket that included luxury hotels and visits to all the great tourist sites such as the Great Wall of China.  These junkets were paid for by the Chinese government and cost upwards of $10 grand per person!
Yet, when Jay Z and Beyonce traveled to Cuba on a U.S. Chamber trip, Rubio bashed them, saying it was "misguided and fraught with peril of becoming a propaganda coup for the Castro regime - to the detriment of America's strategic interest in protecting human rights around the world, as well as the Cuban people."
And that, Mr. Rubio, is hypocritical bullshit!  What fools are these conservative twits.  Everyone knows we support all kinds of dictators and always have.  Everyone knows Rubio's concern with "protecting human rights" is a display of hypocrisy that boggles the mind!
We cannot remake the world in our own image.  We've tried over and over again and we've failed miserably.  The fact is democracy is not in the future for much of the world.  We are learning that we must accept that and try to find a way to live amicably so we don't end up killing everyone on earth and destroying the planet in the process.
In an essay titled "Under Western Eyes" by John Gray in the November 2014 issue of Harper's magazine, he claims "All Western mainstream political parties and sections of opinion hold to a creed in which tyranny and empire are relics of the past, ethnic nationalism is fading away, and the rise of militant religion is a temporary aberration."
Unfortunately, that creed is a crock.  "The practical upshot" of this thinking "has been a type of evangelical democracy, and the principal legacy a litter of failed states."
And that's why, later in the essay, he comments "The West has yet to acknowledge the possibility that it is going to live with an authoritarian Russia indefinitely."  He might as well have said "Cuba" instead of Russia.  And we've lived with an authoritarian Cuba since 1960!  We've lived with other authoritarian states just as long or longer!
Thinking that given enough time, people in these states, seeing the advantages of democracy, are going to rise up and demand change is a false hope.  Gray refers to the American historian, Barbara Tuchman, who noted in her 1984 book, The March of Folly, that "many of history's catastrophes have been the result of hubristic policies that should have been known in advance to be unworkable or self-defeating.  Much that the West has done over the past quarter-century can be described in this way."
Certainly our policy toward Cuba can be so described.
My point is that had we treated Cuba, not as our enemy, but as our close neighbor (only 90 miles from Key West), worthy of recognition and a smidgen, at least, of respect, it is likely that we could have developed a positive relationship which would have benefited both countries, and created one hell of a lot less heartache for all concerned!

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