Wednesday, December 17, 2014

President Obama's gamble on Cuba


I hold no brief for President Obama.  I believe he's deliberately trying to destroy the United States of America as we've known it most of our lives, and holds the Constitution and our Founding Fathers in contempt.  I don't trust him further than I could throw him, which isn't very far at all . . . but on Cuba, I think his policy change announced today is probably the right thing to do.

Consider that ever since the Cuban Revolution, the USA has maintained stringent sanctions against that country to no effect at all.  They didn't change the regime;  in fact, they drove it into a harder-line embrace of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.  When we eased restrictions on trade with Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed, and tried to improve relations with other Communist-era countries and governments, we conspicuously failed to do so with Cuba - with the inevitable result that the hard-liners there took an even harder line.  We also drove the Chavez/Maduro revolution in Venezuela into ever closer ties with Cuba, to the latter's economic and the former's security benefit.

If President Obama plays his cards right, this could have far-reaching consequences.  The USA has far more to offer Cuba, economically speaking, than Venezuela does, so it could put enormous pressure on that alliance.  It could potentially also reduce Russian influence in the Caribbean, if a more capitalist Cuba can be persuaded to be less of a Cold War-style Communist lackey.  It would have domestic implications, as the large Cuban exile community in the USA would probably benefit in many ways from closer ties with their former motherland.  This, in turn, might shake up the so-called 'Hispanic' bloc among the US electorate, changing long-standing allegiances.

I don't know whether President Obama's doing the right thing here;  for that matter I instinctively, viscerally distrust anything he does.  However, I've also got to be honest.  The USA's former policy towards Cuba was a failure, and a dismal one at that.  Einstein famously defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".  In that light, the former US policy towards Cuba was, indeed, insane.  Perhaps a new approach might yield more positive results.  We've nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain.  Therefore, no matter how reluctantly, I've got to give President Obama credit for trying.  For all our sakes, I truly hope he succeeds.

Peter

12 comments:

gunfreezone said...

"We also drove the Chavez/Maduro revolution in Venezuela into ever closer ties with Cuba, to the latter's economic and the former's security benefit."

Sorry but that is incorrect. Chavez was a not-so-closet communist while in the Army as early as when he was in the military academy. He chose his alliance with Castro because he admired the bastard and he said so many times.
And forget about "opening Cuba" via commerce. Canadians and Spaniards did go into great commercial ventures with Cuba only to be "nationalized" when the regime needed it. And you will not be paying salaries to Cubans but to the Government who will tell you how much they will collect from you for every worker and they will give some 10-15% of those monies to the worker. Rank and file will not see the difference and only the fat cats will get even fatter.

Charlie said...

I agree.
I think Obama has, accidentally and unplanned by him, done the right thing here.
I always thought that the Cuba regime would self-destruct once they saw what can happen in a free-market, liberty, democracy, etc. system.

- Charlie

Inconsiderate Bastard said...

I'll agree with gunfreezone and Charlie, above.

Assuming a free-market, liberty-based, private sector practice can be inculcated in Cuba, all the better, because it will breed more freedom. Avoiding incredible, and incompetent, government interference will, however, be the key; it's possible that could be accomplished with some pressure from the US government, given time, but I'm quite confident Obama's not the one who can accomplish it - he doesn't have the skills, nor does he have a founder's interest in private sector success, which will pretty much be a death sentence to any such project.

My father, in the decade before WWII, took a year off from college and spent it in Cuba working as a chemist in a sugar mill to earn tuition money. Back then, Cuba, and especially Havana, was a beneficial extension of Miami's social life, and his stories of that year conveyed that.

Insty, announcing Obama's new policy, said it might enable him to get a cheap seaside villa from which to stage his Caribbean SCUBA vacations. I'd suggest that he try for a "nothing down, very long term mortgage" on it, just in case the Cuban government decides on another round of nationalization, their proclivity to which will stymie nearly all but very limited, very quick return, US investment.

Timbo said...

Nothing to add to what gunfreezone wrote as he nailed it imho.
I lived in Caracas during the riots, coups and first election of Chavez; and now in Spain we're getting ready for "Socialismo del siglo 21" redux with this new party called Podemos!

Rusty Gunner said...

I would like to think that capitism and the liberty spirit are subversive enough to erode the common folks' tolerance of their servitude over time, and either force liberalization out of the nomenklatura's naked self interest, or prime another revolution. Either way, I don't think we can make things any worse for those folks by opening up, and making our market their primary market (and we will) we gain a lot more influence there than we've enjoyed in decades.

Buddha said...

Said the same thing to Mrs Buddha as we heard the jackass make the announcement. This is a move I actually support, and it's been too long in coming. However, I'm thinking it's yet another executive action taken where Congress should have acted.

Charlie said...

I sort of mis-spoke in my first comment.
I meant to say that once the Cuban people see what's available in the rest of the world, the people themselves will bring down the Castro Incorporated system of government.


- Charlie

Anonymous said...

I think it the start of a larger plan or misdirection to close GITMO.

- 7.62BattlePack

Murphy's Law said...

My comment is one we've heard before regarding this president:

He acted alone again, without even bothering to consult the American people or their representatives. That was improper, and I see no difference in that aspect between him and the Castro brothers. And this is why revolutions happen.

Rich S. said...

You are not the first person I've seen express this view. The other was a Cuban born veteran of the USMC. His opinion, as does yours, holds significant weight for me.

I tend to agree. Isolating Cuba arguably served some purposes before the fall of the Soviet Union, but I can see no purpose to it now. Perhaps, over time, closer ties will help enable the Cuban population to overthrow the dictatorship.

As to Obama's methods, they are deeply troubling, and as to his goals, they are perhaps even more so. My consolation at this stage is that much of the population of this country also seems to be aware of this. It's no longer a few people screaming truth into the void.

The Raving Prophet said...

After more than 50 years it's past time to change our policy. It's clear it wasn't working and the regime wasn't feeling any particular pressure.

This will only open up Cuba to what life could be like for them. We have seen what trade has done with Vietnam and China... sure, they're communist, but they're reforming (albeit slowly). If we can have full relations with Vietnam I find it foolish that we can't do it with a nation as close to us as Cuba.

Chris said...

I am not 100% certain, but I *think* this is the only decision Obama has made that I agree with.