Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s announcement he will make a state visit to Cuba in March couldn’t be more mistaken.
It already has been some months since those who follow international events have recognized that the Obama foreign strategy has failed. The Cuban aspects of that failure are all too apparent.
From his now notorious speech in Cairo in 2009 on his voyage of apology, the President has indicated that he believes an extended hand of friendship to former enemies would be answered in kind. That has not been the case, neither with the Shia Moslem world he sought to placate in his Iran appeasement nor others. Instead increasingly, as among the Sunni longstanding allies, our friends have felt betrayed.
Our traditional allies in the Mideast region are fearful, quite logically, of the hegemonic aspirations of the mullahs in Tehran. His underhanded sponsorship of the Palestinian cause while mouthing reassurances to Israel has not moved those negotiations one step further. How could they, when there was no negotiating Arab partner for Jerusalem ready to recognize the existence of the Jewish state.
With less publicity, the U.S. standing in Latin America has taken similar blows. Rather than rally to the Americans and Washington’s traditional and longstanding attempt to bring stability and democracy to the region, anti-American regimes have sprung up in half a dozen countries. Cuba’s Communist and proto-Communist friends in the area continue to place the blame on the U.S. for failed socialist and state capitalist policies as they sink into debt and chaotic political environments. Venezuela, the prime example, has an enormous eternal debt that could bring on another worldwide 2007-08 financial crisis.
Furthemore, the Obama Adminsitration has ignored national security interests in Latin America. We know now from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s e-mails just reluctantly released by the State Department that she and the Administration ignored the growing infiltration and influence of Hezbollah in the area. That is Hezbollah which made the U.S. its first target as far back as the Marine Barracks Massacre in Beirut in October 1983. That suicide bombing took 299 U.S. and French soldiers’ lives and set the pattern for the suicide bombings that have afflicted the region ever since.
“Ending the Cold War” with Cuba, after our onetime adversary in the Soviet Union had seemed to be a dead issue, may have seemed logical to some. But just as Moscow has come creeping back with aggression in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria and threats in other areas by a saber-rattling Vladimir Putin, there is no change in Castro’s Cuba.
The negotiations for the opening of relations – pushed in part by a greedy and selfish business lobby joining hands with leftwing activists – were a one-way recipe. They have neither ended the repression of dissidents nor fostered in any real hope for a recovery of the Cuban economy. Within days of the announcement of the resumption of relations with Havana, the regime incarcerated new and additional political dissidents. The Ladies in White, spouses of political prisoners, are still beaten almost daily in their protests against an authoritarian regime which flirts with Communist China and will soon be back to old games with the Russians. Much publicized permission for the reinauguration of small businesses have been thwarted by new regulations and the state enterprise’s monopoly of capital.
What Obama’s trip proposal proves is that once again, his narcissism may convince him that his direct communications with Raul Castro, the Cuban dictator, and his public appearance there will change Havana’s policy. It is an invalidated assumption and not one to be fulfilled. Instead, he is inferentially lending support to a deteriorating dictatorship.
Just to clear the air and reconfirm that American foreign policy still has a moral as well as a practical aspect, we hope the Congress will go forward with a joint resolution, again denouncing the Cuban regime and proposing a transition to a representative government. That has to be the sendoff to the President on this misadventure. Anything short of that is passive consent to another betrayal of American trust to the many martyrs to the regime.