Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 12/19/14
For more than fifty years spanning ten presidencies it has been U.S. policy that the island nation of Cuba be without the economic benefits of open relations with the United States until such time as Cuba begins respecting and protecting human freedom.
On Wednesday, that policy was turned on its head by President Obama, again through unilateral executive action.
Reasonable people may disagree as to the effectiveness of the U.S. diplomatic and economic embargo of Cuba that began during the Kennedy administration. Those who defend the president’s action say that U.S. policy toward Cuba is out of date and in need of change and they may well be right. There are good arguments on both sides.
It is, however, hard to argue that giving much while getting nothing constitutes good statesmanship. Such will lead friends and foes to very quickly conclude that you’re an easy touch.
Yet that’s exactly what Barack Obama did this week with respect to Cuba. The president conceded to Cuba all that he could possibly concede while getting nothing in return.
No promise of free elections. No independent press. No free speech. No Cuban citizen right to travel. No unfettered access to the Internet. No expansion of individual property rights. In other words, not a single step away from the (often brutal) repression that brought U.S. sanctions down on Cuba in the first place.
Obama abandoned principle and forfeited leverage in return for exactly zip.
This story is much bigger than Cuba. Those around the world who have counted on the United States to stand resolutely for freedom are bound to be disappointed that Obama gave a dictator like Castro a Christmas present while getting nothing in return for those who still suffer on his island-turned-prison.
For their part, the nuke-seeking Iranians, the leaders of ISIS, that crackpot running North Korea and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are among the world’s bad actors who took due note of how easily President Obama will give away the store. As a result, our friends trust us less while our foes fear us less.
Not exactly the a step forward this Christmas season on that long, tortuous path toward Peace on Earth.