30 November 2008

Stop Trying to Subvert the Cuban Government (part two of a twelve step program for a new Cuba policy)

Before commencing any negotiations with the Communist Party in Cuba on dismantling the Economic Embargo, the USG needs to migrate the Embargo from a unilateral, comprehensive one to a multilateral, specific one.

The following changes will put those wheels in motion:

To read part one, click here.

(6) Cancel the 40+ million dollars sent to “non-governmental” institutions to subvert the Cuban government. And re-orient intelligence operations on the island to passive information gathering, i.e. listeners and analysts. Do not funnel money to Cuban nationals unless they are in fact U.S. spies.

(you can buy mercenaries. you cannot buy friends.)

(7) Discontinue the travel licenses for religious organizations.

(We are a secular nation, remember?)

(8) Remove Cuba (and other nations not sponsoring transnational terrorism) from the List of Nations Sponsoring Terrorism, thus redefining the list to focus on our enemy: transnational Sunni terrorists, or, if that’s not politically palatable, on Al Qaeda.

(all nations have their pet “freedom fighters.” Our pretense to standing up against terrorism everywhere fools no one. See Posada.)

(9) Swap the Cuban 5 for the 219 political prisoners and their families on the island.

(The connection is irrelevant: the Cuban government thinks the Miami 5 are innocent; we say they broke the law. The US government thinks the 219 are innocent; the Cuban government says the 219 broke the law.

The politics are not irrelevant: requiring a swap will say that we do not forgive the Cuban government for breaking our laws. If the Cuban government declines the offer, their doing so will undermine their entire PR campaign and send chills up the spines of their best spies.

And, in these negotiations, the first ones to be held, the only thing to say about the Economic Embargo is that, if they swap, we promise to talk about Embargo in the future.

Thus far, we are still correcting our moral footing.)


When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US Government thought it could starve the Cuban government into submission, a policy informed by an intellectually embarrassing Marxist assumption. Just as Marx had been wrong in failing to account for culture and the human spirit, so too were the Cuban-American lobbies that pushed this stupidity.

That said, there is indeed a chilling, new authoritarian wall threatening to form, if only in a figurative sense. And the Cuban Commies are very much a party to it. So are the Chinese, Putin, North Korea, Chavez, Iran, and arguably Syria. And of course, the group would include less (potentially) threatening governments, such as Sudan, whose existential interests are better served by the lot above than by ours.

But it is not in the interest of legitimate democracies to play their cards in such a way that these nations one day conclude that they are better off without ours. And yet, that’s exactly where the USG's current policy of both trading with them and attempting to subvert them is leading us.

Should these troubling governments erect a wall, then, yes, the USG would need to resume subversive activities. But right now, these governments (and, more important, the nations they represent) want to trade and that fact alone is at this historical moment reason enough to suspend our subversive activities.

Our larger policy (with Cuba, especially) should therefore be to listen, analyze, and broadcast creditable findings far and wide. When one of these authoritarian governments crosses a line, such as Sudan did with Darfur and is likely to do in Southern Kordofan, then we will have the credibility with our allies to form an effective response.

But now, it is as plain as day that the USG's subversive actions throughout the world are undermining our attempts to form alliances against actors committing atrocities and against authoritarian governments for their being authoritarian.

With Cuba, therefore, the USG needs (a) to align its policy with one that is consistent with an allied policy toward all of these authoritarian threats, to fold it into a coherent strategy international television audiences can understand (not a case by case one, Condi!, that leaves people baffled and cynical by its contradictions.

It does not make sense to spend 40+ million to support dissidents on the island because the government is full of Communists, on the one hand, while selling flame-throwers and Sonic Blasters to China to help them quash dissent, on the the other. Geez Louise, one wonders where she got her degree!)

(b) to excite the Cuban island with our best ambassadors, i.e. ordinary, big-tipping Americans, and

(c) to promise not to lay our greedy paws on their property again (and obviously not to let another US Marine piss on their monument to Jose Marti).

If we do that, I’m quite sure that among Cuban Cubans we can make friends and influence people so that as we enter negotiations on the Economic Embargo we have Cuban nationals on our side.