Learning about Cuba, having some food

As I chew my leftover spaghetti lunch, I’m pondering Cuba. For one thing, it’s warm there. For another thing, Fidel Castro resigned as el presidente today.

Now, I’m no foreign policy expert. So I have some unanswered questions.

Why will otherwise reasonable American politicians continue to be led around by the nose by a bunch of angry exiles living in the past in Miami? I understand that getting thoughtful on Cuba means risking Florida, Florida, Florida come election time, but is that it? Am I missing something else?

Is our fruitless embargo one of the most embarrassing failures in the history of American foreign policy, or is it just me? Do we have anything to show for it?

We bent over backwards to help make China into the world’s super Wal-Mart, despite its abysmal human rights record, on the hope that  economic dynamism would someday lead to more political freedom. We’re trading and engaging with Vietnam. We made up with Libya. We even talk with North Korea, the most tyrannical regime on earth.  The track record shows that where powerful American ideals and culture are introduced, even in small ways, they tend to catch on.

But with Cuba, we throw up an embargo and deny generations of Cubans a chance to find out what freedom and democracy taste like. Instead, we’re the bully trying to starve them out. Can someone explain why anyone thought that would work?

And exactly how long do I have to wait to get my hands on good Cuban cigars? I’d like to go get them myself, as soon as possible.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Learning about Cuba, having some food

  1. I’ll take that challenge.

    If Joseph Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong or Kim Il-Sung were still in power, none of the stance softening you mention would have taken place in those nations, either. In Libya’s case, it was Kaddahfi (spelling, I know) whose position shifted slowly after international pressures took their toll.

    I’m afraid that it is the exile-immigrants of any totalitarian regime that you should be listening to, not disregarding, even if they only live in Florida.*

    I understand the “special interest” concerns, but there is far more than a special interest lobby that would find it mighty daft to switch gears with Cuba before the regime changes, especially after this long.

    It is possible that the stooges to follow Fidel will provide (either intentionally or inadvertently) some openings for a U.S. change in policy, but until the dictator changes his stance (from standing to prone, preferably) there isn’t a whole lot that we can do that wouldn’t end up bolstering the regime.

    Keep in mind that Castro is the whole owner of most industries and land in Cuba. Any trade we would open with them would never “trickle down” to the people, but would remain firmly in his grasp. However, when he croaks, we’ll have a small window of opportunity to leverage economic reforms against trade talks.

    I think you may be right in lowballing our politicians, however. They may only be “right” on existing Cuban policy out of inertia, and, when things change, they may choose to be “wrong” by not adjusting…again, out of inertia.

    Darn inertia.

    *I hear the Cuban ex-pats have a “no freeze-to-death” clause in their escape plan. Ergo the very small Cuban exile group in Iowa.

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