Several readers have requested that I post more often on Cuba. But because nothing of substance is really taking place on the U.S.-Cuba policy front, it has been a bit since I penned on the matter. This past week, however, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has reportedly sent a letter to the Obama Administration asking them to remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list. With that gem in hand, it is time for a Cuba post.
Removing Cuba from its well-earned slot on state sponsor of terrorism has been a favorite rallying cry for time now of supporters of the Cuban regime. The left-leaning Council on Foreign Relations thinks it outdated, while a considerable number of influential academics and policy writers – regrettably some on the right included – mock it. One would think these folks could find another hot-button foreign affairs matter to entertain themselves with, but, regrettably, the Cuba fever has no cure.
Cuba earned its way on to the state sponsors of terrorism list because it has done, and continues to do, a lot of bad things (it is not just al-Qaeda or Iran you know). It has been on the State Department’s watch list since 1982; and there it should remain until Cuba decides to stop supporting and spreading terrorism in the Western Hemisphere and beyond. A somewhat current list of Cuba’s antics is available here. Some of the benefits of keeping Cuba on the list include, roughly, (1) maintaining political leverage over the regime to change its ways; (2) maintaining the ban on the export of arms and dual-use items; and, (3) maintaining bans on various forms of economic assistance (Cuba is neck-deep in foreign debt).
I have not seen the most recent letter from Rep. Rush requesting the delisting; however, based on what was read to me by a Senate source, the request is consistent with a provision in HR 2272, “The United States – Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2009.” Rep. Rush is the primary sponsor of the bill. According to HR 2272, the Cuban regime “is no longer a threat to the United States or the Western Hemisphere,” hence, the Cuban Democracy Act and the Cuban Liberty and Solidarity Act – essentially the foundation for all of U.S. policy toward Cuba – should be repealed. Sec 10 provides for the repeal of the state sponsors designation but provides no reasons as to why that should done.
That Rush and other Members of Congress continue to advance the cause of the Cuban regime in the Congress should come as no surprise. We have heard this song before, it is from an old familiar score, and the Cuban regime officials want to dance. And, this time, the dance card is full and there are credible reports in town that the Administration may take a second look at the designation. To the extent possible that politics can be removed from these designations, the better. These laws and procedures are in place because some people, along time ago, thought long and hard about how to marshall and project U.S. power to enhance and protect U.S. interests. Despite the odd conclusions on Cuba from the 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism released in April of this year, a sober review of the Cuba situation will show that it should remain on the list along with Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
In just a few weeks Obama Administration officials that manage Western Hemisphere relations have put in great jeopardy the democracy-building and strengthening efforts of various U.S. Administrations (as well as billions of taxpayer monies and many Americans that have died in that struggle). From openly backing the anti-democratic, but legally ousted former President of Honduras; to supporting a reintegration of Cuba to the politically anemic and increasingly irrelevant Organization of American States (OAS); punishing Colombia by refusing to support an FTA; or its recent announcement on medical marijuana, without giving thought as to how it could impact our ally Mexico in its current struggles, the Obama Administration should steer clear of the Cuban state sponsor designation. A delisting would be inconsistent with the facts and it, in turn, would embolden the enemies of freedom throughout the Western Hemisphere. Such a rush to judgment will also leave our southern flank, from South Florida, to the Gulf region, all the way to southern California, at risk.
P.S., it is good to know that the antics we witness with Cuba are not limited to the Cuba case alone. Over at the Capitol Hill Cubans website they penned an item on North Korea, with video, that is worth a look.