Recognizing Cuba: what do we get out of the deal?

December 19, 2014
"Pues, yo venci."

“Yo venci.”

It was announced a couple of days ago that the Obama administration had concluded months of secret negotiations (facilitated by Canada and the Vatican) leading to the diplomatic recognition of Communist Cuba. The deal includes the exchange of ambassadors; the humanitarian release of an American held unjustly in Cuba; an exchange of captured spies (three of theirs for one of ours); and the easing of some economic and financial restrictions. President Obama will also ask Congress to end the half-century old embargo against the neo-Stalinist island.

Now, to be clear, I’m not unshakably opposed to opening relations with Cuba. Few policies are etched in stone, and, as circumstances change, so should policy if it no longer serves American interests. And there are rational arguments to be made in favor of relaxation. For example, my friend Jazz Shaw is of the “it wasn’t working, so let’s try something else” school, while analyst Tom Nichols makes “The Conservative Case” for normalizing relations. (For cogent rebuttals, please read Andrew McCarthy and Fausta)

So, like I said, there are rational arguments on both sides of the matter.

But, look at it another way. Try looking at it like a good capitalist would and ask yourself “What’s in this for us?”

A deal like this is a transaction in which each party gives up something of value to get something it values. What you’re getting is (or should be) worth as much or more to you than what you gave up. Otherwise, why are you making the deal?

And that’s where I’m stumped; I can’t figure out what we got that’s worth anything like what we are giving away. Consider:

If the agreement is carried out, the US gives up:

  • Official recognition of the Castro regime
  • Permission to export to US markets, potentially worth billions
  • Access to US financial markets, see above
  • Lots of US tourists and the dollars they’ll bring

Cuba gives up:

  • An unjustly held American
  • A spy who had been working for us.

Cuba gets:

  • See what the US gives up, and remember this will probably strengthen and shore up the regime, since all those dollars have to flow through them, first.

The USA gets:

  • ???

In other words,”What, exactly?” American recognition and the end of the embargo is of incredible value to Cuba’s struggling totalitarian regime, possibly guaranteeing its survival for decades to come. Is giving all that up worth what amounts to an ornament for Obama’s legacy? I don’t think we’re getting a good deal for our side.

Jazz and others argue that times have changed and that Obama was right to change policies from something that wasn’t working.

My argument is that since the policy (embargo and non-recognition) was not significantly harming us; since lifting it probably won’t measurably help the Cuban people (what incentive to liberalize do the Castros have now?), but does reinforce the idea that we will bargain for hostages; and since we aren’t getting anything of equal or greater value, why not keep the policy in place? It isn’t as if we’re talking about China or Russia, where other factors would outweigh our outrage at their barbaric record on political and economic liberty. American recognition and trade is an incredibly valuable asset worth far more than what Cuba offers (even if they do make great cigars); the Castros need us far more than we need them. If they want it, let them give us something big. Here’s what I would ask for at a minimum:

  • The release of all political prisoners
  • An end to media censorship
  • Tolerance for and free participation by opposition political parties
  • Religious liberty

I suspect the Fidel and Raul would turn down my offer.

The making of bad deals, however, is a trademark of the Obama administration. Senator Rubio (R-Fl), who’s livid over the agreement, puts it succinctly:

“I think the people of Cuba have a right, if they are free, to choose any economic system they want. Nothing the president will announce today will further that goal. It is ironic a week after he imposed sanctions on human rights violators in Venezuela, we are lifting sanctions on the government that has taught the Venezuelans how to commit these human rights violations,” Rubio continued. “It’s absurd, and it’s part of long record of coddling dictators and tyrants that this administration has established.”

“It’s par for the course and administration possibly giving away unilateral concessions for Iran or Cuba in exchange for nothing,” said the Florida senator. “His foreign policy is, at a minimum, naive, and perhaps truly counterproductive to the future of democracy in the region.”

Barack Obama is the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the modern history of this country,” Rubio concluded.

Yes. Yes he is. Rubio could also have mentioned the bizarre trade of five vicious Taliban warlords in return for one alleged deserter, Bowe Bergdahl.

The question is, why? Why make a deal with Cuban oligarchs that gives away the store in return for bupkis? Aside from Obama’s general leftist affinity for Socialist tyrannies and aside from political changes in the younger generation of Cuban-Americans that leads then to care less and less about the issue, I have another sneaking suspicion. Way back in the 60s and 70s, the leadership of the Weather Underground were great fans of the Cuban revolution and, especially, of Che Guevara. One of those leaders was Bill Ayers, who became a professor at the University of Chicago and then became close with one Barack Obama.

And now, years later, President Obama showers gifts on Cuba.

Just sayin’…

RELATED READING: The Diplomad: “The Castros pull it off again.” Elliott Abrams: The triumph of ideology over US national interests. McCarthy: Rewarding Castro in return for nothing. Rubio: Not so fast with that embassy construction, bud. Sean Davis: Free trade with Cuba is a fantasy. Mike Gonzalez: Obama didn’t tell the whole story about Cuba. Legal Insurrection: Is this the opening of Rubio’s campaign for president?

UPDATE: Reader SteveInTN links to an analysis at Stratfor suggesting major problems for Venezuela arising from this deal. One can only hope.


(Video) Senator Rubio makes a fool out Senator Harkin over Cuba

February 25, 2014

This is truly a popcorn-worthy use of your time, my friends.

Background: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the leading progressives in the Senate, took a trip to Cuba recently. Perfectly legal, members of Congress can go on such fact-finding missions when they wish. The senator must have visited an alternate-Earth Cuba, however, because, when he came back, he had nothing but praise for the Communist dictatorship:

It makes sense that as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Tom Harkin would want to check out how other countries are doing when it comes to public health. So he spent last week in Cuba, where he saw all sorts of things that made quite the impression on him.

Cuba is a “poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours,” the Iowa Democrat said to reporters Wednesday. “Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It’s interesting—their public health system is quite remarkable.”

This was all a bit much for Marco Rubio (R-FL), himself the son of Cuban refugees who had to flee the island to escape that wonderful health system, and so much else. (1) So, in a speech before the Senate, he proceeded to mop the floor with Harkin’s useful idiocy. From the Miami Herald:

This wasn’t some Cold War-era fulmination about Castro’s regime.

Rubio’s speech was about current events: the protests in Venezuela, the Maduro government and the ties it has with the Castros, who repress their own people and helped inspire the suppression in Caracas.

Venezuela is becoming the new Cuba.

For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

Enjoy:

My only question is at what point did Harkin sneak out in embarrassment?

I know Rubio has lost his luster with conservatives because of his support for the Senate immigration bill last year. Indeed, he’s fallen well-off my own short list, as I came to question his judgment. But, in this speech on Cuba and Venezuela, on the fecklessness of the Obama administration’s policy in the region, and the fatuousness of Castro apologists such as Tom Harkin, all I can say is “Viva, Marco!”

RELATED: More at Hot Air.

Footnote:
(1) If you want to read one of the best books about what life under the Castro brothers has really been like, I recommend Armando Valladares’ memoir, “Against All Hope.” I’m tempted to send Tom Harkin a copy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea caught smuggling missiles though Panama Canal?

July 16, 2013
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“I’ve got some bad news, boss…”

Couldn’t be. I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation:

A mystery with potential international ramifications is unfolding in Panama, where authorities discovered military equipment hidden inside a North Korean-flagged ship that originated in Cuba.

Cuba has long been at odds with the United States, and North Korea is banned by the United Nations from importing and exporting most weapons because of its nuclear ambitions. Suspicions were further raised when the ship’s captain suffered an apparent heart attack, and then tried to commit suicide, Panama’s president said.

These facts were sufficiently intriguing for President Ricardo Martinelli to travel to the port and examine the ship himself.

The president tweeted a photo of what he saw — a green octagon-shaped tube with a cone at its end and another similar-looking piece of equipment behind it.

Is it a missile, a reported asked?

“Maybe,” Martinelli said. “I am not familiar with that, but it would be good if such things didn’t pass through Panama, which is a country that loves peace and not war.”

The Panamanians originally became suspicious when they heard there was a load illegal drugs on the ship (North Korea regularly raises money through the drug trade). Boarding the ship, instead of heroin under all those bags of brown sugar, they found something a lot more worrisome. President Martinelli has asked the UN to examine the cargo to determine what it really is (I suppose they could be massive cigar humidors), but you can bet the CIA will be all over it, too, working quietly in the background. Don’t be surprised of this cargo spends a long time in a Panamanian warehouse because of “customs irregularities”  –long enough for us to dismantle and examine the missiles– before the rest of the cargo and the ship are released back to North Korea. This happens whenever the weapons of one power fall into the hands of another.

(And can you imagine what will happen to that crew when they do get back to North Korea? Consider this guy’s fate.)

Aside from the likely intelligence boon for us, though, this discovery raises several questions: Where were the missiles headed? North Korea? Iran? What was Cuba’s role: a transit point, or are they cooperating with the Norks on missile development, something that would concern us greatly? How long has this been going on, and is anyone else, such as Cuba’s client Venezuela, in on the operation?

This incident has given us a brief glimpse of the deadly-serious game being played behind the scenes between the United States and its adversaries, something we don’t often see because the MSM is covering what’s truly important, such as Kim Kardashian’s baby and Wendy Davis’ shoes. It’s a game the other side is playing for keeps.

Which makes it a good thing we have President Lead-From-Behind in charge.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I may have to turn in my “Irish” card

February 24, 2012

My ancestors left Ireland to escape oppressive tyrants, so I can well imagine what they’d be thinking now at hearing the news that an Irish city wants to erect a statue to murderous tyrant Che Guevara:

A major and innovative monument to the Irish-Argentinean revolutionary, guerilla, doctor, writer, and politician Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, has taken a step closer to becoming a reality this week.

The Galway Advertiser understands that City Hall’s arts officer James Harrold will commission a scale model of the proposed monument to be made. This will then be presented to the Galway City Council’s Working Group on Public Arts for consideration, and later city manager Joe O’Neill for final approval. The approval of city councillors may also need to be sought.

The idea to erect a monument to Che Guevara comes from a proposal made by Labour councillor Billy Cameron, an ardent admirer of the revolutionary, that a monument be erected in Galway and that the project be undertaken in conjunction with the Cuban and Argentinean embassies to Ireland.

The proposed monument has been designed by Simon McGuinness and it is understood that it will feature the iconic image of Che created by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, commonly seen on posters and T-shirts.

Pardon me while I hurl. Billy Cameron is either an ignorant fool, or he approves of Guevara’s crimes. Regardless, he’s a disgrace. Here’s an example of the man Galway would honor:

“When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad,” said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to your humble servant here, “you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.” As commander of the La Cabana execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che’s second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.

Hey! I’ve got an idea for Cameron and the other Galway commissars councilors! Don’t stop with Che Guevara, honor his soul mates, too: Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Kim Jong-Il! Why, there are so many you could build an entire park dedicated to psychopathic, murdering bast… er… “gentlemen.”

Go ahead. Cover your city in glory. Idiots.

I’ll leave the last word (and a hat tip) to Fausta:

There should be no room in a beautiful city like Galway, in a free country like Ireland, to honor a mass murdering sociopathic racist Communist whose aim in life was to destroy the very freedoms and rights the Irish have struggled so hard to attain throughout their history. To build this monument, with the aim of making it a tourist attraction, is an insult to the very ideals of the Irish nation and the city of Galway.

Exactly.

UPDATE: No Pasarán is incensed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Not that I can afford a Mercedes-Benz…

January 12, 2012

But, after this, slap me if I ever do try to buy one:

“Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism,” Mercedes-Benz Chairman of the Board of Management Dieter Zetsche said onstage at CES today, speaking about Mercedes’ new CarTogether initiative. “But if that’s the case, viva la revolucion!”

To be sure, a luxury-car maker like Mercedes is not actually promoting communism. But during his CES talk, Zetsche pushed hard on a vision that the company has for a greener future that allows drivers to reduce emissions by using connected and social technology to easily find compatible passengers to share rides with.

Still, it’s odd–and no doubt intended to stir up conversation–to hear a company so inexorably tied to money and lavish lifestyles invoking philosophies like communism. Especially with a picture of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara towering over Zetsche as he talked. Of course, Che’s signature beret sported a Mercedes logo.

What’s next? VW embracing its past as the “People’s Car” and using Hitler in its ad campaigns?

I could go on a rant about stupid people treating murderous tyrants such as Che Guevara as trendy fads (the ubiquitous t-shirts come to mind), but two writers have already done a fine job of showing why this is not only mind-numbingly stupid, but a nauseating insult to Che’s victims. First, Michael Gonzalez at The Huffington Post, quoting Guevara’s own words:

Hatred is the central element of our struggle! Hatred that is intransigent…hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him violent and cold- blooded killing machine…We reject any peaceful approach. Violence is inevitable. To establish Socialism rivers of blood must flow! The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we’ll destroy him! These hyenas are fit only for extermination. We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm! The victory of Socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims!

Then Humberto Fontova at Big Peace, who’s often written of Che’s murderous sociopathy:

“When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad,” said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to your humble servant here, “you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.” As commander of the La Cabana execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che’s second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.

Even as a youth, Ernesto Guevara’s writings revealed a serious mental illness. “My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any vencido that falls in my hands!” This passage is from Ernesto Guevara’s famous Motorcycle Diaries, though Robert Redford somehow overlooked it while directing his heart-warming movie.

Guevara was also a rabid racist (see the Gonzalez link) and set in motion plans for a mass terror-bombing of Manhattan in November, 1962, a plot foiled by the FBI.

And this is the figurehead for the new Mercedes-Benz campaign.

Now, I could write something about how this shouldn’t be surprising, because MB is a German company that collaborated with the Nazis, and Naziism was form of Fascism, and Fascism is a product of the Left, as is Communism, so by extension it’s only natural that a Mercedes-Benz executive would feel drawn to Che Guevara, but that would be leaping to conclusions. (1)

It’s much more likely that Herr Zetsche is simply crass, ignorant, and stupid.

But I still wouldn’t buy his cars.

via Dan Mitchell

Footnote:
(1) Perhaps. Maybe.

UPDATE: Fontova on Mercedes-Benz and Che.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Couldn’t happen to a more deserving fascist

July 1, 2011

Aw, my heart breaks. Venezuelan dictator and coca-addict Hugo Chavez, who’s been hiding out in Cuba for weeks, now, finally went on television to admit he has cancer:

However, and in spite of the favorable general course, throughout the process of draining and healing, there appeared suspicion of the presence of other cellular formations that had not previously been detected. Therefore, a series of special tests was started immediately, cytochemical, cytopathologic, microbiologic, and pathologic, which confirmed the presence of an abscessed tumor with the presence of cancerous cells, which necessitated a second surgery.

(Translation by Fausta, who also has the video)

To say I have little sympathy for Chavez would be to assume I have any sympathy at all — and I don’t.

This loathsome commie-caudillo, who thinks of himself as the new Simón Bolívar, has destroyed democracy in Venezuela (admittedly a feeble thing before he arrived, but he put the bullet in it), has stolen elections, wrecked his nation’s economy, made common cause with our deadly enemies, sponsored terrorist groups against our allies, and is a dirty little anti-Semite.

And those are his good points.

Meanwhile, the Diplomad loves the hypocrisy of a supposed “Man of the People” fleeing his own country to get medical treatment elsewhere:

Don’t you love the men of the people? When, for example, crazy leftist Forbes Burnham of Guyana got sick, he got himself some Cuban doctors–he had minor throat surgery and the Cuban docs ended up killing him, so he might have been better off going to Massachusetts General. When Castro was at death’s door in 2006, he spared no expense in bringing Spanish doctors to save him from his Cuban ones. When Chavez gets sick, he, too, hightails it out of the country. Now we can all understand when rich, corrupt, rightwing dictators go abroad for medical treatment, but aren’t these lefties supposed to be of, by, and for the people? Aren’t they giving their people the wonders and glories of socialism, including state-run medical services? In fact, the Chavez-drafted Constitution declares health care a right, and obligates the state to provide it. 

It says something about the state of medical care in Venezuela under Chavez that he would prefer to go to Cuba. Or maybe he’s just afraid of an “accident” on the operating table in Caracas?

So, if Hugo is in danger of dying, all I can say is … good. And I hope the end is an agony for him.

Heaven knows, he richly deserves it.

LINKS: Iowahawk was having too much fun on Twitter last night when the news broke.

UPDATE: The Venezuelan Army insists Castro’s Mini-Me is still in charge. Is this like a president expressing “full confidence” in an aide, just before firing him?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Castro: Tea Party means fascism for America

November 18, 2010

Call it a contrary endorsement: if this bloody-handed dictator is against the Tea Party movement, it must be a good thing:

Speaking to a group of students visiting Havana, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the Tea Party of leading the United States towards “fascism.”

In his comments, Castro chided the United States as a “ruined nation” and derided the Tea Party as “extreme right.”

Forgetting for a moment that fascism is a product of the Left and is the opposite of everything the Tea Party stands for, I just have this sneaking feeling that, given their choice, many Cubans would prefer a Tea rather than a Communist Party, right about now.

(via Mark Hemingway)


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