President Barack Obama declared the end of America's 'outdated approach' to Cuba Wednesday, announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as economic and travel ties with the communist island – a historic shift in U.S. policy that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity.In addition to promises to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana, carry out high-level exchanges and visits between the countries, lift the U.S. trade embargo, ease travel bans to Cuba and increase the amount of money Americans can send to Cuban citizens, among other measures, the U.S. got the release of American Alan Gross and the swap of a U.S. spy held in Cuba for three Cubans jailed for spying in Florida. Oh, yeah -- the Cubans also promised to loosen restrictions on the Internet and to release 53 political prisoners. They did not promise they wouldn't arrest them again next week, or mention how much restrictions would be loosened.
'Isolation has not worked,' Obama said in remarks from the White House. 'It's time for a new approach.'
And that's it. Cuba gets a bunch, the U.S. gets fuck all. Gross probably feels differently about that, but maybe he shouldn't have gone to Cuba in the first place, given that nation's propensity to arrest Americans and accuse them of spying. It's kind of like going to Iran: you're asking for trouble. Oh, yeah -- and Secretary of State John Kerry will be reviewing Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror, which means that will be lifted, too.
So what did the U.S. not get? We did not get a promise to release all political prisoners, to stop arresting political prisoners, to allow private sector commercial activity, or to institute democratic reforms. Actually, the U.S. didn't get much of anything, really. And no one seems to know whether the deal with Cuba does anything about extraditing back to the U.S. the 80 or so American fugitives, including a pretty good number of murderers, hijackers and cop-killers, currently enjoying asylum in Cuba.
Emperor Barry, at least according to the Constitution, cannot lift the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba by himself: that is a law passed by Congress. On the other hand, not giving work permits to illegal immigrants also is a law passed by Congress, and the emperor already has decided to ignore that one, too, so it wouldn't be a stretch to believe that Emperor Barry will do whatever the fuck he wants, legal or not, and dare Congress to stop him.
As you might expect, U.S. liberals are overjoyed that this longtime leftist talking point goal has become a reality. They don't mind that we got pretty much nothing in return. Most progressives seem to think Cuba is a socialist paradise, apparently not having spoke to a lot of average Cuban citizens about that.
It is somewhat surprising, then that The Washington Post editorial board, not exactly the most conservative group in the country, wrote a scathing editorial in opposition to Barry's Cuba actions. As The Post notes, the emperor's actions will likely provide enough of an economic lift for the Castro regime to stay in power, while doing absolutely nothing to drive reform or even improve the lives of ordinary Cubans:
On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.The Post was unimpressed with Emperor Barry's rationale for the move, to say the least:
Mr. Obama argued that his sweeping change of policy was overdue because the strategy of isolating the Communist regime “has had little effect.” In fact, Cuba has been marginalized in the Americas for decades, and the regime has been deprived of financial resources it could have used to spread its malignant influence in the region, as Venezuela has done. That the embargo has not succeeded in destroying communism does not explain why all sanctions should be lifted without any meaningful political concessions by Cuba.
. . .
The administration says its move will transform relations with Latin America, but that is naive. Countries that previously demanded an end to U.S. sanctions on Cuba will not now look to Havana for reforms; instead, they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela. Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.
3. No mention of Cuba’s role in repressing democracy abroad. “Cuba has sent hundreds of healthcare workers to Africa to fight Ebola.” Yes, and Cuba has also sent experts in repression to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Cuban agents also allegedly beat and raped Venezuelan protestors earlier this year. For decades, Cuba assisted guerrilla armies abroad, fomenting bloody revolution in some countries and propping up communist regimes elsewhere. It continues to do so.Pollack is not alone in noting the basic dishonesty in the stated rationale for the policy, something The Post also noted. At The Federalist, Mike Gonzalez, whose grandfathers fought in the long war for Cuban independence from Spain at the end of the 19th century, likewise notes the emperor's thematic and factual dishonesty:
4. Suggesting that Cuba does not support terrorism. “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.” Yet Cuba was caught, only last year, smuggling “missile equipment” to North Korea, the dictatorship that targeted America with a cyber-terror attack on the day Obama announced the new Cuba policy. Cuba continues to offer other kinds of support to terrorists.
Why did President Obama go for broke on Cuba, announcing the United States would normalize relations with that repressive regime? The answer appears in his statement to the nation. There, the president not only made clear that this change has been on his bucket list for some time, but also that his knowledge of Cuba comes straight out of the international Left’s playbook.Gonzalez proceeds to lay out a number of Barry's statements versus actual facts. By all means, go read the whole thing. As Gonzalez shows, often Barry sins by omission -- a favorite tactic of his always has been to ignore inconvenient facts -- while other times he simply lies. As his speech makes clear -- and as so many previous speeches also have shown -- Barry is not a thinker, he is a lockstep ideologue. He tries to sound like he has weighed all sides and come up with the most rational decision which, oddly enough, is always the left-wing choice. This time is no different.
“When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Obama said, proving once again that last month’s midterm shellacking seems to have had an odd effect on our president. Rather than make him humble, rejection at the polls has liberated him to do all the things he wants in his “legacy.”
His rationale for acting was instructive, too. In essence, for 15 minutes Obama reeled off a list of talking points one could hear anywhere from the Left Bank of the River Seine to, say, any dusty classroom in Cuba. The only thing missing was the picture of Che so omnipresent in Paris or Havana. The image his platitudes sought to create was the following: the embargo, not Communism’s internal insanity, has left Cuba a pauperized police state; our relations have been frozen by ideology, not principles or national interests; and the United States used to be Cuba’s colonial power.
Now, the one thing all these views have in common is that they are A, untrue, and B, favorite talking points of the international Left.
None of this is to say improving relations with Cuba is not a good idea. But doing so while gaining absolutely nothing in return, and in fact propping up a brutal, repressive police-state regime, is insanity. Or liberalism. Same thing.