Cuba – Another Test For Commonsense
A quiet sigh of relief flowed out in Washington, DC yesterday when President Obama announced his intentions to normalize US and Cuba relations. Congress members’ public the statements followed more closely to party lines. No one, however, presented a convincing case why the Cuban isolation and sanctions had accomplished anything or that if continued just a little longer would make a positive impact on US national interests.
That didn’t prevent some Congress members and pundits from taking an anti-Cuban position
- You may heard that Cuba is a communist leaning country and we all know how bad communism is. Hmmm. Communism certainly is not America’s cup of tea. The US economy is built upon a slightly regulated form of capitalism. Russia and China, on the other hand claim to be communist countries in principle, and the US engages both countries without regard to their economic philosophies.
- You may have heard that Cuba is a repressive regime and has imprisoned hundreds of Cubans. Hmmm. It turns out that the US has incarcerated more people than Cuba (absolutely and in terms of number per 100,000 citizens). And who can forget Guantanamo detention facility and the nearly 200 uncharged detainees. Hmmm.
- You may have also heard that Cuba is a dictatorship and the Castros have refused to turn the government over to free democratic elections. This is probably true but lets look at that statement in world context. Democratic elections only work in countries where the population understand the responsibilities associated with free elections. A voting box with multiple candidates in no way assures democratic processes. The real question is why does anyone think that isolation and sanctions will bring about the miracle of free elections? Consider Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and a smorgasbord of Central African countries.
A more interesting question is why now?
Normalizing Cuban relations is no more appropriate today than it has been for decades. Pandering politicians have prevented normalization in the past. These politicians have couched their rhetoric depending upon where the most votes lay. The anti-normalization faction has traditionally won this popularity contest. President Obama near the end of his sixth year brings a different set of circumstances.
He has little to lose.
The President has not received much credit for guiding the country out of a severe recession and huge unemployment situation which he inherited. His compromise “Affordable Care Act” (which did not give Progressives the single payer plan they wanted) never the less mended a modern day sin against humanity (insurance companies right to cancel policies or outrightly refuse to insure some people). And following over 10 years of war, the President has let the air out of the war machine. All this with little popular recognition.
When historians write their texts covering the years of George W Bush and Barack Obama, my guess is the Bush years, despite his best intentions, will be marked as policy failures with the Iraq War topping the list. For Obama, historians will likely write that as a leader, he was not very effective, but as a policy maker, he made courageous and correct decisions more often than not.
Normalizing relations with Cuba will be just one of them.