03 September 2007

Vote for Barak Obama

U.S. policy toward Cuba is a casket full of laws, regulations, and executive orders, not just the set of code sections entitled the Economic Embargo.

But to evaluate the politics, we can simplify the subject by thinking of US policy in terms

(1) of the Government’s stated attempts to subvert the existing Cuban government using methods we would not tolerate were they directed at us, including belligerent violations of Cuba’s sovereign rights, and

(2) of our refusal to do business with what we perceive as a brutal tyrant, a regime that’s gone beyond the pale, or both.

For historical reasons, Americans have no business subverting (nor any moral authority to subvert) the Cuban government. Period.

And quite apart from the damage this hostile aspect does to our critical efforts to coordinate international responses to transnational terrorism, the price we pay for the hearts and minds of the Cuban people is going up, too, because we are finally making enemies of our patient neighbors on the island.

Sentiment on the island toward Americans has clearly changed since the 90’s when many Cubans wanted nothing more than to be politically hegemonized by Americans.

Now, after we flouted Cuban pleas to ignore the chimera of Fidel Castro and jump through the foreign-investment window, and, after they witnessed us destroy the Iraqi government in service of our energy industry and our Chicken-hawk's attempt at global domination, skepticism toward US government could not be higher.

It’s as though, with these two strokes, we vindicated every ugly thing the Fidelistas had said about us. The chip on the shoulder toward the “yankee” is now approaching pre-Revolution size.

And a typical Cuban’s attitude toward Americans is profoundly conflicted, drawn to us, yes, but quick to regurgitate that Americans come from a “land of liars.” (Right, he said it in English.)

So much for Republican foreign policy.

But as a democracy, America should always reserve the right to refuse to do business with brutal tyrants that threaten our national security, including the stability of our markets.

And that refusal could include restricting travel, although with Cuba I think as Obama does that travel restrictions are brain-dead because there is no better way than foreign intercourse to remind Cubans that there are other ways to govern themselves.

The problem here, though, is that the international jury, so to speak, is out on whether Fidel Castro rises to the level of a brutal tyrant. He does not in my judgment, certainly not as one who sufficiently threatens US national security.

In fact, the USG has not even been able to persuade Canada, Mexico, and Great Britain --all of whom depend on the stability of the US--that Fidel is such a threat, either.

So one must ask what the evidence is because these nations, supposedly our strongest allies, have each enacted counter legislation (or have interpreted existing ones) to block the USG from sanctioning US subsidiaries for doing business with Cubans.

To be sure, it is not as though these (and other) allies are stepping out of our way as we enforce that particular extraterritorial section of the Economic Embargo to cope with the mighty Cuban threat to our existence.

Quite the contrary, our allies are increasingly sanctioning foreign US subsidiaries for not doing business with Cubans.

Clearly, if only to get our subsidiaries out from under this catch 22, it’s time to review the evidence that the Cuban government poses a significant threat to the security of the USA.

But that is not Obama’s position. He accepts that Cuba is a national security threat and argues that through trade, specifically through tourism and remittances, we can subvert the government.

Obviously, I don’t think that goal should be our purpose, not as long our nation isn’t frightened of Fidel.

In the absence of a threat to our national security, then, it is for the Cuban people to dissolve their government, not Americans.

And so far, we haven’t heard a peep out of Cuban Cubans, which is all the more reason to exchange ideas with them about good governance.

Traveling to Cuba is best way you can do that.

So for whatever reason, Vote for Barak Obama.