To set foot in the house of the oppressor is to justify the oppression. As long as a people have not conquered its rights, he/she who visits the house of those who trample on his/her rights to party and have a good time is an enemy of the people, Cuba’s Founding Father and poet, José Martí (via Babalu Blog)
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans in Havana will once again see Old Glory proudly waving at the U.S. Embassy in the Havana. While clearly a win long fought for by the American and international Left, it is clear a defeat for U.S. leadership around the world. As for the people of Cuba, it is a very cruel taunt that will raise expectations that soon, with Uncle Sam’s help, things will get better for them.
History show us that American foreign policy cannot rest on human rights alone. U.S. national interests are much broader and, most of the time, human rights must be downgraded for other more issues. The classic case study for this is China. As a conservative, to a certain point, this approach makes a lot of sense. It is up to the people of Cuba to decide who their leaders will be and what political system they desire. This does not mean that the United States ignore ongoing human rights abuses in Cuba, as certain people, including the President, have managed to do.
In addition to ignoring human rights abuses in Cuba, the President, and his national security team, have also put national interests in the trunk of the car, hoping that talking with Communist Party leaders will lead to change. Nothing will change that advances U.S. interests. Quite the opposite.
The Communist Party now has a license to repress. They are already making good on that. But the United States has also lost political leverage that could have been used to exact concessions on more pressing matters such as compensating Americans for stolen properties or securing the extradition of many criminals hiding in Cuba.
Despite the foolish removal from the state sponsors of terror list, Cuba remains a state sponsor of terrorism. We need look no father than Venezuela to make that argument; however, that national security risk goes much deeper, reaching all the way to Tehran. Cuban regime officials are still drug dealing and money laundering. Asymmetrical political warfare led by Cuba is alive and well in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. And, because of this faux rapprochement, Cuban intelligence agents have been handed new missions to spy on the United States government and the private sector.
Why is President Obama ignoring all this? If we are to take him at his word, I do not, he says that he wants to try something different. Good for him, however, I think it is much deeper than that. His national security and foreign policy team, therefore the President too, are ashamed of American global leadership. They believe we should put global interests ahead of U.S. interests, no matter what. They aim to secure international favor by subjugating U.S. interests for the global greater good. This, in turn, will lead us to the land of milk and honey, peace in our time.
This worldview nonsense does the opposite of what the acolytes of world government purport it will do. The Middle East is in shambles because of it. And, to a certain extent, Asia is much more unstable than the Middle East with the prospect for a nuclear arms race becoming much more possible in the near future thanks, in large measure, to the Iran “deal.” And while never in the media, Latin America is a political tinderbox that stretches from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.
The Communist Party of Cuba, and its legions throughout the Americas and elsewhere, are having a field day undermining U.S. interests. They will keep doing so, especially now that we’re doing things from a position of weakness. We’re telegraphing to every rogue leader or tin horn dictator in the world, break the law, violate human rights, terrorize your neighbors and, in the process, we’ll all sit down and, well, talk. My friends, that is a sure path to less freedom and security. There are, indeed, two or more views to problems. But there is always a right way and a wrong way to do things. Dancing with these enemies is surely wrong.
I hold the minority within a minority view that U.S. policy toward Cuba, especially the roadmap contained a unique bundle of laws such as the Cuban Liberty and Democrtatic Solidarity Act of 1996 and the Cuban Democracy, supported by the Trading with the Enemy Act, has worked remarkably well despite the lack of leadership from many Presidents and Congresses.
Without this lethal combination of words and, at times, action, it would have taken much longer for groups such as the Ladies in White to come into existence or for Oswaldo Paya to advance his referendum idea. By the way, Mr. Paya paid dearly for his two decades long effort – he was assassinated by the regime in 2012. Many others have died as well. Without U.S. support for civil society it would’ve taken Presidential Medal of Honor recipient Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet a lot longer to get the word out about his movement, even with Bono’s support (see video below). And there are many more leaders in Cuba that have benefited from U.S. law and policy that are fighting today to make freedom a reality for all Cubans; and there is an effort to unite the groups that our own Secretary of State has called, counterproductive. The United States did well and the Cuban regime, lost.
Today the United States government transitions from guardian of liberty and Cuban civil society to Cuban regime enabler and facilitator. It is akin to singing a peace treaty with the likes of Adolf Hitler at the end of World War II. However, all is not lost, for Congress, if it chooses to do so, can learn from the mistakes it made in the Iran deal and do something positive to advance U.S. interests in Cuba and the Americas.
Congress can and must do better job advancing forcing the hand of the Obama Administration to focus on U.S. interests for a change as well as supporting Cuban civil society. While Congress can’t erase symbols or muzzle the bully pulpit, it can and should use the power of the purse as well as robust oversight to present a more sensible approach toward U.S.-Cuba engagement that focuses on existing law of economic sanctions against the regime while empowering the people of Cuba to demand real political change on the island. But for this to work, sanctions must stay firmly in place and strengthened. Congress must make clear, once and for all, this is as far as this diplomatic chicanery can go.