December 17, 2014

Marco Rubio vows to "make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the President to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense."

"Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naiveté during his final two years in office,” he said. “As a result, America will be less safe as a result of the President’s change in policy. When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores, it represents a terrible setback for the hopes of all oppressed people around the globe.”

ADDED: "This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican and especially from Pope Francis for the improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States," said Cuban President Raul Castro.

220 comments:

1 – 200 of 220   Newer›   Newest»
Hagar said...

Marco Rubio appears to be quite a nice young man, and I wish him a long and happy career - as a Senator.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

If we open relations to Cuba, it seems like eventually, Cubans will find freedom through commerce. Sorta like how Vietnam is doing now. While Vietnam still has quite a terrible government, they are becoming quite the capitalist society. Could the same thing happen to Cuba?

And if we do start having better relations with Cuba, could we then get rid of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot law and start sending these people back home, instead of allowing all of them to stay in the United States just for making it here?

Seems unfair to the rest of the world. In which case, the answer isn't to give the same deal to the rest of the world.

FleetUSA said...

Will this change how Cuba operates? Will this free their people from decades of oppression?

Michael K said...

I frankly don't care. My leftist daughter went to Cuba about ten years ago convinced that she would see that Socialism "works !" Unfortunately, she speaks fluent Spanish and she was only there a day or two before she realized it is a prison. I overheard a conversation she was having with a friend and heard this so she was not trying to please.

It might accelerate the collapse of the Castro brothers' regime. Then, the Cuban middle class that left for Miami, might revive the Cuban economy.

garage mahal said...

Lame duck Obama gets shit done!

Gahrie said...

OK...

Here's a hypothetical.....President Obama hates the US and is actively trying to weaken and destroy it.

What would he be doing differently?

Anonymous said...

Is Obama naïve or is he doing everything he wants to do all his life? To take down the racist Great Satan, at least a couple pegs.

The problem with the stupid American voters is they believe politicians would do what is best for the country, instead of advancing politicians' own agenda.

Hagar said...

Something should happen in Cuba when Raul Castro dies; let us hope for the better.
But there is the example of Venezuela; it got worse when Chavez died.

Hagar said...

I have wondered if there is a group of people in Washington who feel they are honor-bound to refrain from interfering in Cuba because of the Kennedys' promise to Khrushchev to keep hands off after "the missile crisis."

Chance said...

Interestingly, on the TV show Alpha House, a presidential hopeful seeks to normalize relations with Cuba to appeal to business interest groups and to win favor with his Cuban fiancé.

Maybe somebody in the west wing was watching...

buwaya puti said...

If they were going to reform they would be doing it already, as they can trade as they like with the rest of the world and they have passed up many chances to attract investors and develop export industries. Fact is the Cuban government does not want foreign investment, not really. What they really want is a line of credit to keep the current system viable, without making real changes. First they had Soviet subsidies, and lost them, then the Euros loaned them a pile, until they ruined their credit, then they got the Venezuelans to subsidize them with oil money. Thats drying up.
The real prize is US government subsidies and loans, which will keep the regime, and its stable system, going. Any commercial loans, from whatever chumps they manage to swindle, will be gravy.
This is not like Vietnam, which had no choice but to find a rational way to make a living after their Soviet subsidies went away.

MikeR said...

I'm not sure why I should oppose this. We should have diplomatic relations with them, and continue to complain when they do wrong. What do we lose? What do we do with all the other bad countries in the world?

madAsHell said...

This is Obama's Muriel boat-lift.

LYNNDH said...

BFD

MayBee said...

If we open relations to Cuba, it seems like eventually, Cubans will find freedom through commerce.

It hasn't happened yet, and they trade with just about every other country on the planet.

John Lynch said...

Cuba is irrelevant and has been for a long time.

Cuba is not a threat, not because of their intentions but because of their powerlessness. The dictatorship has crippled itself.

Having better relations for the tactical aim of keeping the Russians and Chinese out isn't a bade idea. But don't expect anything to change.

MayBee said...

I only don't like it because once again, its Mr Transparency doing a totally secretive big announcement.

And I certainly don't think Obama is the guy to make Cuba become more free. The rest of the world isn't doing so well with an Obama presidency.

buwaya puti said...

The US has no diplomatic relations with several "bad" countries other than Cuba, Iran and North Korea come to mind, but I may be overlooking some. The US has broken relations with several other countries for extended periods in the past also, I believe with Iraq, Albania, and several others.

John Lynch said...

This sort of deal has to be kept secret for it to work. I have no problem with secret talks.

The details matter, but this is a good idea. We have to be engaged in our hemisphere, and we need to keep out other powers.

MayBee said...

I mean, one guy Obama released without any consultation is a convicted murderer.

MayBee said...

This sort of deal has to be kept secret for it to work. I have no problem with secret talks.

He didn't even consult with Congress.

At least Bush consulted with Congress when it came to "his" torture program. But hey, Obama has to keep secrets.

buwaya puti said...

The problem with establishing a US embassy there is what the US will have to give the Cuban government in exchange.
The price will be a price indeed, a subsidy to them.

MayBee said...

Of course we are going to end up subsidizing them. They are poor, and they need a hand up, and they need aid. Right?

Rusty said...

You know nthe difference between Gitmo and the rest of Cuba?
The prisoners in Gitmo eat better than the rest of Cuba.

Cuba is a shithole. Having diplomatic relations with Cuba will not make it a better shithole.

John Lynch said...

No one should be naive enough to think that this means Cuba is going to change.

MayBee said...

Lame duck Obama gets shit done!

Ha hahahaha!

How hard is it to get shit done if you just do whatever you want?

Michael K said...

"The price will be a price indeed, a subsidy to them."

I don't think this will fly in the new Congress. I certainly hope we can get back to budgets and appropriations bills early in the spring.

Normal business in Congress will do a lot to make government transparent. It wasn't just Obama who was hiding the pea, Reid kept protecting his side from having to vote on anything so they could lie to voters.

Lucien said...

It seems empirically true that sometimes the intensity of feeling by a minority group makes up for their lack of numerosity. Thus, while most people support background checks for firearms purchasers in a sort of lukewarm way, a minority who are very strongly opposed can achieve success; and while most people see no reason while our policy should be more harsh toward Cuba than to Vietnam or China, a minority who care deeply (and who live in a swing state)and oppose normalized relations can also achieve success.

So, as a part of our democratic republic, is this phenomenon a bug or a feature? Is it a necessary evil, or is it the way things are supposed to be?

Sigivald said...

Strangle Castro with trade, I say.

The embargo isn't doing that, and lack of diplomatic relations is pointless.

(At very least it should open more access for the CIA and other anti-Communist activity.)

I don't know what Rubio's thinking, claiming normalizing relations will hurt the Cuban people; it ain't gonna make them any worse off than they are now, and may well help.

Henry said...

Every once in a while President Obama gets something completely right.

Twice, I think, the count is.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

"Lame duck Obama gets shit done!"

Fat fuck bitchtits weighs a ton!

MayBee said...

Why not just wait until Raul dies, so the US doesn't just admit failure for nothing?

Oh. Because that wouldn't have gotten Obama the day of "history" he is looking for.

Bobby said...

After fifty-plus years, I think all sensible people can agree that: (1) Socialism failed to improve the conditions of the Cuban people relative to other economic systems applied throughout Latin America; and (2) the US embargo and severed diplomatic relations have failed to create regime change in Cuba.

That Raul Castro and his remaining cronies won't want and don't intend to liberalize their political system, shouldn't preclude us from accepting that our foreign policy didn't work and we should try something different. Most Communist dictators didn't intend to open up their political systems either and had changed forced upon them from below. Cuban-Americans can remain hopeful that perhaps the Castros might share the same fate as Ceausescu before this is all done. There's no reason to still believe that the status quo would have ever yielded such an outcome.

--Bobby

buwaya puti said...

If trade was going to "strangle" the Cuban state it would have already done so. Heck, their main foreign exchange source is remittances from their exiles. They are perfectly capable of refusing trade, investment, and throttling/skimming off transactions to keep alternate power centers limited.
This all is just a play for subsidies to keep the state and its social system going.

cubanbob said...

Obama is going to bail out Castro. Why is this a surprise? First the USSR collapsed and with it went Castro's patron. Chavez came along and bailed him out. Now Venezuela is about to collapse and take Castro with them and here comes Baracky to the rescue.

There is no benefit for the US to open relations with Cuba at this time.

Eric do you think American's are some special form of beings that will bring a miracle to Cuba under the Castro brothers? Cuba has commerce with the rest of the world and yet its still a disaster. And why hurt our own-PR and the VI just to have American tourists bail the Castro brothers out?

MayBee said...

Isn't it interesting he didn't do this and put a Democratic Senate in the position of having to lift the embargo?

machine said...

Too bad rubio can't make any human rights or individual freedom arguments...thanks Mr. Cheney.

cubanbob said...

garage mahal said...
Lame duck Obama gets shit done!

12/17/14, 10:56 AM"

So true! All he does is shit!.

Brando said...

I don't see why ending our embargo would have to mean approving of the Castro regime. We traded with the Soviets and Red Chinese, and if anything that trade and influence probably did more to liberalize those regimes (leading to the Soviets' eventual collapse and turning China now into a corporatist state rather than a communist one) than isolation ever would have.

As noted above, we tried embargo for over 50 years, and Cuba is no more ready to overthrow Castro than it ever was. Cutting off our goods, if anything, emboldens our enemies and enables them to blame their own mismanagement on foreign powers (i.e., us) pushing them around. That's also why sanctions against Putin are likely to backfire.

This might be different if the regime in question was itself dependent on us, and they valued our trade and approval--then they'd have something to lose if we cut them off. But Castro has always benefitted from standing up to us. How about we try something different?

William said...

On the surface, it does seem that Cuba gets the better of this deal. But there will be all sorts of unintended consequences, so see how it turns out......In any event, the way Obama turned US policy on a dime was high handed and arrogant and sets a bad precedent.

MayBee said...

Are people happy with Obama's lie about the embargo keeping Cubans from having advanced telecommunications equipment?

Is he just banking on Americans being stupid like Gruber says we are? Or does he not know you guy buy and sell Cuban goods in Europe, Asia, South America....

traditionalguy said...

If any Hispanic tyrant needs a champion, he has to look no further than the Pope.

buwaya puti said...

They don't want to liberalize the economic system either, and they know very well how to keep it stagnant in spite of everything.
They have had lots of practice over the last 25 years.
They are real experts at keeping prosperity away, deliberately. They dangle a reform or concession as bait to grab a tranche of loans, then pull in the hook, go back on their word and keep the money.
The reason that the Cuban state has been able to finance itself for the last 25 years is that they have found sucker after sucker to subsidize them. Now its our turn to be the suckers.
No more suckers would be a disaster for them as they would not be able to keep the payoffs going to their bureaucrats and enforcers. A regime like this lives by handing out valuables and privileges.

MayBee said...

Brando-How about we try something different?

Ok. How about Obama make his case to the American people and Congress before acting suddenly and secretly?

Jupiter said...

What everyone appears to have forgotten (actually, I doubt that Obama was ever made aware of this, or anything else about American History) is that the embargo was put in place, at least formally, because the Cuban revolutionaries seized the property of US citizens. Those citizens, or their heirs, would still very much like to get their property back. Normalized relations without the return of property is a betrayal of US citizens. So, no problem there for Obama!

MayBee said...

Obama's love of the big secret move just killed another country's hostage on the verge of being freed.

He's just a jerk.

mccullough said...

Obama is caving into to demands from Big Baseball

buwaya puti said...

May I add that its a disgrace how important elements in the Democratic party, academia and the press have treated Cuban exiles in the US.
These people, as a people, have been the targets of massive amounts of hate press, of a vileness and acidity I have never seen applied to any other ethnic group by "mainstream" institutions. For a large number of well connected, powerful people, it seems, they are an enemy race.
On this thread in fact we already see the patronization that is the forerunner of another such expression.

jr565 said...

will normalizing relations turn them more capitalist or us more socialist.


This just strikes me as more of the magical thinking that lefties and libertarians engage with. If we just treat them nice and deal with them without preconditions they'll like us. Or, if we just trade with them they'll become great.
theres a good chunk of the electorate that frankly wish we were more like cuba.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Marco Rubio's remarks trounce the combination of Obama, Raul Castro and Pope Francis hands down.

Brando said...

"Ok. How about Obama make his case to the American people and Congress before acting suddenly and secretly?"

Oh, I don't disagree with that--the way Obama has been carrying out his policies is reprehensible, even if I agree with the overall substance of the policy. I was just commenting that Congress should overturn the embargo already and normalize relations. That doesn't mean Obama should exceed his authority when Congress doesn't do what he wants.

Titus said...

Cuban Cock-yum.

On what date can we fly there and be totally free...and gay?

Totally going to be more South Beach than South Beach.

And really this is not a BFD.

hog hog

Bobby said...

buwaya puti,

Scholars of democratization (Diamond, Linz and Stepan, the late Huntington, Moore, etc.) argue over the details, but generally agree that consolidated democracies require five things- political institutions, autonomous civil society, rule of law, economic society (and Barrington Moore goes so far as to say "no middle class, no democracy"), and free and fair elections. Cuba doesn't really have any of these things to the desired degree, so their transition to democracy- if it ever happens, whether or not it's already started- is likely to be very turbulent and it might take decades or more to undo the damage that Castro did to his country.

That said, the Castros have used the phantom menace of the American boogeyman to maintain their control over the island and subject to their people to some of the most heinous conditions in Latin America. Normalizing relations and opening the island to US economic activity are likely to do far more good for the Cuban people- and far more harm for the Castro regime- than maintaining the failed policies of the last fifty years. Although Raul Castro might think he can maintain control (and Vietnam has, so far, proven they can pull it off), there's a very real possibility that it's going to spin out of the regime's control and lead to a degradation, if not outright collapse, of the regime. It's not guaranteed, but it's likely a higher probability than that the embargo will finally do what JFK promised fifty years ago.

We should also note that Obama is not the first, second or probably even the third President to take this approach. According to Kissinger's Years of Renewal, Nixon and Ford tried this very tactic in the 1970s- and Castro repaid the overture by sending 30,000 troops to Angola and to destabilize US client regimes in Africa.

This is only a first step, but it's a necessary one.

--Bobby

jr565 said...

You don't normalize relationship with Cuba when their socialist leadership is in ascendancy. You normalize it when the country is in turmoil. But you force concessions. Like, You have to adopt capitalism. You have to stop your nuke program etc.
if you normalize but don't get the concessions you're just bailng them out.

jr565 said...

NOw might be a good time to normalize relations with Russia. Provided we got a lot out of the deal. We'll bail you out IF you abandon Syria. IF you stop acting as our counter in the UN, if you back us 100% on Iran sanctions etc. What we demand of them may be too much to bear. In which case we let them flail on their own.

Brando said...

"This just strikes me as more of the magical thinking that lefties and libertarians engage with. If we just treat them nice and deal with them without preconditions they'll like us. Or, if we just trade with them they'll become great."

I don't expect our trade to make Cuba turn "great" as if our being nice could have magical results. But opening trade with them is likely to have positive effects for the people of Cuba as well as undermining their dictatorship.

1) Wealthier countries tend to revolt against repressive regimes as citizens. Having more property tends to make people less desperate for government handouts and more eager to protect what is theirs and get more of the same. China and the USSR, to name two of the bigger examples, liberalized as they became richer and traded with us. North Korea's isolation has done more to preserve its regime.

2) Cuba's citizens, with more access to U.S. goods (and seeing more of our tourists and businessmen) will notice the higher quality American goods compared to the crap produced in their own regime, and the greater relative wealth of Americans. They're also more likely to be exposed to greater information and culture from the U.S., all of which will make them more favorable to the U.S. and less enamored with their incompetent, corrupt regime.

3) The regime's ability to blame the U.S. embargo and antagonism for their own failures can be weakened when they're trading with us. Castro has long been able to use "standing up to the Yankees" to bolster his own support, despite leading a repressive regime over a poor country. That becomes a less useful tool when trade is reopened.

This isn't to make the dictatorship like us, but rather to create conditions where regime change becomes more likely. I can't think of an example where a dictatorship hostile to us was ever forced to change through total isolation, so I don't see why it will work in Cuba--especially as we've tried it since 1961.

Bobby said...

With normalization comes an Embassy. With an Embassy comes lots of CIA operatives, acting under official cover, with the resources to build a proper network and enable them to foment change from across society. You also get all of the above-board programs- from Public Diplomacy to small grant projects that also help to build civil society and other competitors to the regime's monopoly on power. You got very, very little of that over the foreign policy of the last fifty years.

--Bobby

Henry said...

What Brando said.

Plus, it will be good for baseball.

Here's a crazy story:

A South Florida businessman pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in a conspiracy to smuggle Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig out of Cuba in return for a sizable cut of the outfielder's multimillion-dollar salary....

Investigators and court documents say Suarez was one of the Miami-based financiers of the 2012 smuggling venture in which Puig was taken by boat from Cuba to a fishing village near Cancun, Mexico, eventually crossing into the U.S. at Brownsville, Texas, on July 3 of that year. In return, the financiers were getting a percentage of the seven-year, $42 million contract Puig signed with the Dodgers.


So if you are looking for good outcomes, here's one. There will be less smuggling of baseball players (and, I predict, of other Cubans as well).

buwaya puti said...

The difference vs Vietnam and China is that both regimes did sincerely intend to liberalize the economy. This is not the case with Cuba.
The regime is perfectly capable of keeping nearly all Cubans poor and suppressed in spite of being able to host a stream of rich western tourists, indeed, it is well practiced in it. There will be no Cuban middle class no matter how many US embassies open or how many tourists come, as long as someone is giving the regime cash instead of making them live off their own economy.
As for Titus - being gay is one thing, but cheering the ability to hire third world boys to meet your needs is something else. A joke is a joke, but this ?

buwaya puti said...

You will get a figurehead embassy, inaccessible to ordinary Cubans. Your intelligence operatives will be well wrapped in a cloud of their own counterintelligence operatives. And any programs to subvert the Cuban state will instead be co-opted by that state. We are not dealing with idiots.

MayBee said...

Less smuggling of Cubans like there's so little smuggling of Mexicans?

MayBee said...

Embassies in Egypt, Libya, and Syria have done a world of good.

William Chadwick said...

Down in Commie Hell, Obama's Uncle Frank must be once again feeling mighty proud of young Barry.

buwaya puti said...

Cuba has had access to western consumer goods, businessmen, internet, etc. For 25 years.
There are shops that sell foreign goods for foreign exchange, and to the favored of the regime.
They have millions of exiles in the US and around the world (there are plenty in Europe too, and Latin America), as the major source of funds for daily life of millions more in Cuba. I doubt there are many Cubans who don't understand how they are cheated by their system.
The regime is expert at limiting the effect of foreign economic relations as they throttle these mainly through state agencies.
You really, really need to understand the details by which regimes like this work. I came of age under a dictatorship so perhaps I understand better as a matter of instinct, but for heavens sake, there is so much first hand material out there on conditions in Cuba that one would think Pollyannaish misconceptions like this would have died long ago.

Rusty said...

Sigivald said...
Strangle Castro with trade, I say.


No. All this will do is make The Castro family even more wealthy.
In order for trade to improve the lot of the average cuban you must nfirst get rid of Communist Cuban government ie; the Castro family and their friends.

Michael K said...

"Too bad rubio can't make any human rights or individual freedom arguments...thanks Mr. Cheney."

The mental gymnastics of the left are a wonder to behold.

Revenant said...

Will this change how Cuba operates? Will this free their people from decades of oppression?

Does it matter? We're talking about diplomatic relations.

We have diplomatic relations with almost all of the nasty, oppressive governments of the world. Hell, we send *money* to quite a few of them...

Michael K said...

"And any programs to subvert the Cuban state will instead be co-opted by that state. We are not dealing with idiots."

Cuban intelligence has been running our Cuba policy for years,

Bobby said...

Well, I don't pretend to have a crystal ball and don't know what the future portends. Way too many variables out there for someone of my more limited abilities.

This is just the first step- diplomatic relations, easing of American tourist restrictions and increased limits on remittances, as far as I understand it. If it's the final step, then I'd say things aren't going to get a whole lot better for the Cuban people (though the remittances will help considerably). Certainly, many, MANY more things have to happen before we can be optimistic about Cuba's future- the confiscated property is going to have to be sorted out and dueling claims to land ownership is going to be a nightmare (as I said before, it's probably going to take decades to undo what Castrohas done to his people). The economy is going to have to liberalize, and we certainly shouldn't be providing any state-to-state aid to help them avoid that. They have no real civil society, and it needs to be allowed the space to operate and grow.

They've got a long, long way to go, but our abilities to influence things has improved today relative to what it was yesterday, there's no doubt about that.

--Bobby

Rusty said...

2) Cuba's citizens, with more access to U.S. goods (and seeing more of our tourists and businessmen) will notice the higher quality American goods compared to the crap produced in their own regime, and the greater relative wealth of Americans. They're also more likely to be exposed to greater information and culture from the U.S., all of which will make them more favorable to the U.S. and less enamored with their incompetent, corrupt regime.

Visitors to Castros Cuba are closely monitored and are directed to those areas set aside strictly for foreigners. The average cuban will never meet a foreigner unless they are meant to.

3) The regime's ability to blame the U.S. embargo and antagonism for their own failures can be weakened when they're trading with us.

No, Because all trade will be handled by the Cuban Government. Even cubans with dollars-sent to them by their relatives in the US- are strictly limited as to what they can buy with those dollars. In most cases they must trade them for special cuban money that will them buy goods from a strictly limited foreign markets. These markets aren't the same as the lavish ones reserved for the cuban nomencultura.


This isn't to make the dictatorship like us, but rather to create conditions where regime change becomes more likely.

Not going to happen unless and until the Castro family gives up power. And that is never going to happen.

Revenant said...

In order for trade to improve the lot of the average cuban you must nfirst get rid of Communist Cuban government ie; the Castro family and their friends.

Why? It hasn't worked that way in China or Vietnam. For that matter, most of the non-Communist Latin American nations we supported during the Cold War followed the crony-capitalist model you're describing, where the politically connected enjoyed most of the gains. The common people still saw gains too, though, and eventually that led to pressure for reform.

buwaya puti said...

The Castro's (or rather the organized criminal conspiracy that is the Cuban state, of which the Castro's by this time are merely figureheads) will not be strangled by trade, because it all must pass through their hands. They will dole out the fruits of this to reward their supporters and withhold it from the rest, as they have always done. They can do this because they have very low-level control of the population through a system of secret police and informers that's probably more extensive than the East German Stasi. Whatever private ventures exist there are on sufferance, to compensate for short rations from the state.
The better the state apparatus is funded, the less reason for them to liberalize the economy. They can increase the peoples rations but this will also permit them to crack down on private farming and the black market in food, just as an example.

Bobby said...

Maybee,

The Embassies in Cairo and Damascus played a vital role in pushing Bush's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in their countries, which ultimately led to the Arab Spring. That the Arab Spring didn't turn out to be the unmitigated success that Bush (or Obama) had expected, or that Assad's strong man tactics have (so far) been enough to crush the opposition is a different story (and perhaps altogether expected), but our ability to foment social change is very, very well-documented throughout history.

Not saying that Cuba will go that way- Cuba is not the Middle East, Cubans are not Arabs, etc. etc.

--Bobby

Birches said...

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Good work Obama.

lgv said...

The same Cuban Americans who publicly condemn any dealings with Cuba are the same ones who quietly send dollars to their relatives in Cuba. Sure, the dollars end up helping the regime, but their families need the help. Should we ban relationships with all communist countries, e.g. China, Vietnam?

kcom said...

"Too bad rubio can't make any human rights or individual freedom arguments...thanks Mr. Cheney."

Nope, he can't make any at all. Because, as we all know, a writer put in jail for writing something a politician doesn't like is morally equivalent to someone who plans the murder of 3000 civilians in an office building or the targeting and killing of young school children hiding under desks. If you can't advocate for one, you can't advocate for the other? Is that the rule? If it is the rule where you are, you live in a strange, strange world. But then again, we know from past experience you don't really care about anyone in Cuba and that you're crying crocodile tears for them. This was just your latest opportunity to try to stick it to Dick Cheney (and massage your ego), and that trumps actually making any sense. And the Cuban population is just an afterthought.139

buwaya puti said...

In Vietnam and China it was the leadership itself that adopted economic liberalization as a policy. This was from the top down, not from the bottom up. These regimes made sure that it was able to retain political control after every stage of liberalization.
These are very poor examples vs Cuba, because there economic liberalization is most definitely anathema.

n.n said...

The Castro regime is not the Taliban. If we can negotiate with the latter, then we can certainly negotiate with the former.

However, neither was the Gaddafi regime in Libya, nor the Mubarak regime in Egypt, nor the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine. I wonder why Obama doesn't support assassination of the Castro family. He seems to have a preference for Marxist regimes to replace other left-wing regimes.

Neither is the Putin regime in Russia, yet we seem intent to provoke a war with Russia, or perhaps an extrajudicial murder of Putin a la Gaddafi or even bin Laden.

mccullough said...

Now Colt, Remington, and Smith & Wesson will be able to sell guns to Cubans.

n.n said...

buwaya puti:

I don't think it is. Capitalism is a natural economic system developed by free people. All that it will take to spark an entrepreneurial spirit in Cuba, is to remove the central government's encumbrance of individual initiative.

mccullough said...

Baseball players, cigars, and rum. And tourism.

What else would Americans directly buy from Cuba?

What would Cubans buy directly from American? Baseball bats? Cars? I can't think of much.

MayBee said...

Bobby- None of Obama's foreign policy initiates have turned out well. None. So the whole idea that an Embassy in Cuba is some magic way to get change in Cuba seems unlikely.

I don't have a crystal ball, and this isn't a move I would be against if it had the actual consideration of lawmakers behind it.
But Obama is really bad at foreign policy, so I really don't like him engaging in it secretly and solitarily.

All the pie in the sky "Oh this will mean more CIA people!" and "Oh Cubans will finally be able to buy Western Goods" just seems naive. Which sadly, is how I think Obama saw it happening, too.

mccullough said...

n.n.

As American's, shouldn't we be more concerned about how to remove the central government's encumbrance to individual initiative in the U.S. of A.?

buwaya puti said...

China and Vietnam officially declared themselves as no longer being enemies of the US, and ceased to work against US interests, such as attempting to subvert US allies such as Thailand, the Philippines, etc. China is beginning to express hostile intentions again, but at the time of the liberalizations 30-40 years ago it most sincerely ceased hostilities.
Cuba has not done this, it maintains official hostility and continues to assist hostile elements in friendly states, such as in Colombia. It has every intention of maintaining this hostility as long as it can afford to do so, as that is the source of whatever international influence they have. Without ideology and ideological threats they are nothing, like North Korea they live partially on Danegeld. To date the US has refrained from paying Danegeld, but things have changed it seems.

Bobby said...

Maybe,

"But Obama is really bad at foreign policy"

On that, we can both agree. Indeed, truer words have never been spoken on this blog.

--Bobby

sean said...

Prof. Althouse should be pretty happy with Obama. As she said, only boring old dweebs complain about Communism.

buwaya puti said...

The essence of the Cuban regime is the encumbrance of individual initiative. Thats what the regime strives to achieve.
Trade with Cuba will not change this, as the trade will not be with individual Cubans but with the apparatus of the regime. There will be no selling of US products in Cuba, no Cuban Amway. There will be "Cuban" products in Cuban state stores and, maybe, better rations given out by the Cuban state. In exchange, as Cubans may see a slightly improved standard of living, there will be the opportunity to suppress whatever slight expressions of private enterprise that have been tolerated so far, as as means to alleviate shortages. Less shortages, less need for free enterprise. This has been the practice of the Cuban state.

Brando said...

"This isn't to make the dictatorship like us, but rather to create conditions where regime change becomes more likely.

Not going to happen unless and until the Castro family gives up power. And that is never going to happen."

The regime won't willingly give up power, but even dictatorships rely on a certain amount of support from some of the people and contentment (or resignation) from others. It's when enough of those groups get sick of the regime and incited to get more that regimes fall, or are at least forced to liberalize.

I get that the Castros will do what they can to control the trade, and of course enrich themselves (though considering they already trade with so much of the world, and have a fist on their entire country, they already are about as enriched as they could be). But the more there is an exchange of goods and information with the U.S. the harder that control becomes.

William said...

I was alive fifty years ago. I live much better nowadays. Those Cubans who were alive fifty years ago do not. Perhaps Cubans should be analyzing the failure of their American policy rather than the other way around.......I don't know how you quantify such things, but perhaps Trujillo of the Dominican Republic was as much a despot as Batista. Well, he's gone now. The DR has evolved, and the living standard there has improved. If you play the odds, violent revolutions don't end well very often. Puerto Rico is probably the best place to live in the Caribbean and it's the most besotted with American imperialism. The left tries not to draw any comparisons between Cuba and PR........Hemingway said that divorce happens slowly and then all at once. That's the way it will be with the Castros. Someday someone will stage some small protest and the police will decide they don't want to go to work.

buwaya puti said...

As for domestic relevance of the ideological issues raised by the Cuba business, it is clear that part of the reason for the desire to improve relations with Cuba is an underlying ideological sympathy with the regime there.
This has been observed quite regularly in the US's ideological hothouses, universities and the intelligentsia. Cuba has always, to many, been an ideal, a romantic ultimate, impractical perhaps but attractive nonetheless.
What I observed in thoroughly corrupt regimes is that such romantic ideals still influence the cynical outlook of the most corrupt officials. People are complicated. What I have very often seen are many-layered men who - show a bland, official rectitude in public, under that of course have a (thick) layer of corrupt self-serving cynicism that they show only to players of the game, but underneath it all, seen only by their actual friends and family, they are still the ideological university radicals they once were. This underlying true nature does directly influence policy, as even the most corrupt character shies away from seeing himself as an outright villain, and all else being equal his "moral" nature, as he sees it, cannot help but find expression. The influence and damage of this hidden ideological outlook cannot be dismissed no matter how ostensibly corrupt or pragmatic the system is supposed to be. This is partly why economically illiberal policies and regimes persist in crony-capitalist systems.

lgv said...

"These are very poor examples vs Cuba, because there economic liberalization is most definitely anathema."

The point wasn't to compare what they did, but compare our policy toward the country. We have been allowed to visit those countries and spend dollars in those countries, whereas Cuba is much different. There were other political issues that shaped our Cuba policy and caused inconsistencies.

buwaya puti said...

Which is a long winded way of saying that a lot of the reason many American liberals want to liberalize relations with the Cuban regime is that they are to a degree, semi-unconsciously, sympathetic to it.
They are still wearing that Che T-shirt.

Steven said...

"If we open relations to Cuba, it seems like eventually, Cubans will find freedom through commerce."

No, all it means is more idiots like this Canadian will build up a bit of a business in Cuba, then get expropriated and imprisoned.

Cuba could have reformed itself along Chinese/Vietnamese lines on its own (trading with the whole damn rest of the world) years ago if that's what the Castros wanted. They don't. Until they're dead, there won't be any liberation through commerce.

I'm not opposed to doing this, but let's avoid the more obvious bullshit about it, please?

Michael K said...

A little information about Cuba can be found here.

Several who have worked in Cuba in the past warned me not to bring a laptop. “That alone will be a red flag,” said one. “They’ll put you under surveillance.”

I’d also have to hide my notebook.

“Cuban security agents from the Ministry of Interior will sweep through your hotel room,” warned a veteran American visitor to Cuba, “so lock all your note-taking materials up in your room safe.”

“The Castro government already knows who you are and what you’ll be doing,” said Valentin Prieto, a Cuban exile in Miami and founder of the blog, Babalu. “And make no bones about it, the KGB, Stasi, et al have nothing—and I mean nothing—on the Cuban security apparatus. It may seem primitive, but it is highly effective. You will be monitored from the moment you step on the tarmac. You will never be alone while on the island, even in your hotel room if not especially so. Be careful and keep in mind that you are in a very closed society whose fuel is fear.”


Yep. A lot of fun.

buwaya puti said...

Travel and trade were permitted with those countries when they ceased to be hostile to the US.
BTW, other countries also blocked travel and trade to them for the same reasons, such as Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malsysia, Indonesia, Singapore, etc.

viator said...

It's a done deal. People will love it. Cuba will be the new it destination. Billions of Fed created dollars will flow into Cuba and digest the socialist paradise without a burp. There are bargains to be had for the early adapters. Are the Cuban communists as crooked as their Soviet brothers proved to be, probably.

damikesc said...

Strangle Castro with trade, I say.

The embargo isn't doing that, and lack of diplomatic relations is pointless.

(At very least it should open more access for the CIA and other anti-Communist activity.)

I don't know what Rubio's thinking, claiming normalizing relations will hurt the Cuban people; it ain't gonna make them any worse off than they are now, and may well help.


Who outside of us DOESN'T trade with that regime?

Everybody else does.

And it's a massive shithole, worse in basically every possible category than it was under Bautista.

Here's a hypothetical.....President Obama hates the US and is actively trying to weaken and destroy it.

What would he be doing differently?


Remind me of McCarthy's comments about Marshall (paraphrased): "If his ideas were just stupid, odds are SOME of them would benefit us"

That said, the Castros have used the phantom menace of the American boogeyman to maintain their control over the island and subject to their people to some of the most heinous conditions in Latin America. Normalizing relations and opening the island to US economic activity are likely to do far more good for the Cuban people- and far more harm for the Castro regime- than maintaining the failed policies of the last fifty years.

That didn't work in Venezuela. Don't see a logical reason to expect success in Cuba.

2) Cuba's citizens, with more access to U.S. goods (and seeing more of our tourists and businessmen) will notice the higher quality American goods compared to the crap produced in their own regime, and the greater relative wealth of Americans. They're also more likely to be exposed to greater information and culture from the U.S., all of which will make them more favorable to the U.S. and less enamored with their incompetent, corrupt regime.

That's adorable, given that they have had plenty of wealthy tourists there for years.

The government won't let their citizens NEAR them. It's cute that you think it'll change.

Bobby said...

buwaya puti,

"Trade and travel were permitted with those countries when they ceased to be hostile to the US."

Can you give some recent examples of continued Cuban hostility to the US? (Obviously, I'm assuming we're both talking about hostility that rises to the level of severing diplomatic relations with a country, not minor things like disagreeing with us on UN resolutions or other international efforts).

You earlier referenced Cuban activity in Colombia- do you have a reference for that? In what form does it take- money and weapons to the FARC? Or something else? How much is it? I did a tour in Colombia during my previous life in the service- part of the overmatched effort to curb drug trafficking and the left-wing insurgency- and I can't say we noticed any Cuban involvement, but it seems we were mistaken. Or it's more recent than when we were there. I had thought all of that adventuring pretty much ended when the Russians stopped funding Cuba, and Cuba went broke.

Is it just Colombia or do you know Cuba to be involved with opposing US interests in other parts of Latin America? What form is it taking?

--Bobby

buwaya puti said...

Was already the it destination (Europe, Canada, etc., they already get hordes of tourists) and the Cuban commies already had all the corrupt $ they could ever want.
Correction, they already have all the corrupt $ they could ever want. Its better though to be rich and the boss than just to be rich.
Shortly after all this loot started coming in the regime cracked down harder on the liberalizations they were forced into during days of hardship.
It does not work in the direction you think it does.

buwaya puti said...

Money, weapons, training in camps in Venezuela in cooperation with the Venezuelan regime. This has been yelled about for years.
When the Cubans had Soviet money they used that. When they had no money they had no money. When they had Venezuelan money they used that. Chavez and Castro had a real partnership
Cuba has also offered sanctuary and training to wannabe rebels from all over. Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Mexican, etc.

garage mahal said...

Next step: move the Tampa Rays--with the worst fan base and stadium in USA--to Havana.

Bobby said...

damikesc,

As far as I know, US-Venezuelan relations were only severed from September 2008 (when Ambassador Duddy was declared persona non grata after having been accused of having supported anti-government elements in Bolivia) to June 2009 (when Ambassador Duddy returned), although the Charge d'Affaires remained in the interim so perhaps "severing" is too strong a word. Is there some other time you are referring to when we normalized relations with Venezuela?

If not, it's probably not apropos since it was the Venezuelans who severed relations, not the US.

In any case, the kind of change that I'm talking about that would help establish the conditions that could enable regime change in Cuba- empowering political competitors, fostering an autonomous civil society, emergence of a middle class, etc.- would take more than just a few months or years to manifest itself. Sorry for not being more clear about that.

--Bobby

AJ Lynch said...

Like they say: Obama will talk to anyone but conservatives.

AJ Lynch said...

Maybee said:

"Ok. How about Obama make his case to the American people and Congress before acting suddenly and secretly?"

Thread Winner!

tim in vermont said...

He certainly has lots of "flexibility" now, that is for sure.

tim in vermont said...

Maybe Obama will start using the Cuban snipers, the ones that Venezuela has been using to kill protesters who want food, to deal with his Tea Party problem.

tim in vermont said...

I bet wannabee defectors, who run a gauntlet of snipers, nets, and grenades to make it to Gitmo are cheering this news!

Bobby said...

buwaya puti,

Okay, but most of what you just listed happened a long while ago- very little of that is going on today.

Cuba supporting the Venezuelan government with training (I'm quite certain the money is going the other direction) doesn't seem like that would be worthy of keeping relations cut off. Venezuela is a sovereign government, with whom we have diplomatic relations, so I don't see how a country supporting them with training would be so objectionable. We supply weapons, training and money to Taiwan (in far higher degrees than what Cuba could possibly be giving to anyone anywhere these days), but that's not something that China would expel Ambassador Baucus from Beijing over (being an idiot would be a good enough reason, of course), and they don't even recognize Taiwan as a sovereign government.

I agree that a lot of liberals like Cuba, turn a blind eye to its regime's abuses and want to normalize relations with it because they're sympathetic to Marxism and to its anti-Americanist rhetoric. But is it possible that your disdain for these liberals getting what they want might be driving you toward a policy that you'd otherwise acknowledge is not consistent with the rest of US foreign policy?

--Bobby

n.n said...

mccullough:

As Americans, we still have an unprecedented privilege to engage in philosophical debates. That is separable from, but complementary to, the actions we take to secure our own unalienable rights in the course of progressive encumbrances.

jr565 said...

Brando wrote:

I don't expect our trade to make Cuba turn "great" as if our being nice could have magical results. But opening trade with them is likely to have positive effects for the people of Cuba as well as undermining their dictatorship

why would it undermine he dictatorship? They get to be a dictatorship rewarded with a trading partnership with the U.S. despite being a dictatorship. Why would they need to change?

Michael said...

I think we should open travel and trade. It will show a great many American sympathizers what a shithole the country is today and it will show the patient the influence of capitalism over the long term. If information can flow freely into the country in the form of ugly Americans it will be a short step before there are major changes in the country.

The President's plan will not change current travel restrictions and will permit those who do travel there to bring back up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco.

that will equate to two or three MonteCristo #2s.

damikesc said...

Is there some other time you are referring to when we normalized relations with Venezuela?

We had normalized relations and the leadership STILL held power, largely by attacking us.

In any case, the kind of change that I'm talking about that would help establish the conditions that could enable regime change in Cuba- empowering political competitors, fostering an autonomous civil society, emergence of a middle class, etc.- would take more than just a few months or years to manifest itself. Sorry for not being more clear about that.

I don't see it EVER happening. We should stop trying to build up countries. It's not worth the effort.

David said...

John Lynch said...
No one should be naive enough to think that this means Cuba is going to change.


Because Cuba will never change? Or because there is a better way for change to happen? What are your views on those questions?

damikesc said...

Because Cuba will never change? Or because there is a better way for change to happen? What are your views on those questions?

Cuba won't change and a policy of ignoring them is our best option.

jr565 said...

If thinGS went well in Cuba they'd say it was in . Spite of the US and the U.S. was just their to exploit their interests and If things ent badly it would be BECAUSE. Of the U.S. and the US was just there to exploit their interests.
Further it undermines trading wih allies that are turning capitalist in the region, since there is less incentive to reform if the communist state gets the sawe deal regardless.

No, let Cuba collapse under the weight of communism and then trade with them when they've given up. Russia has money troubles up the wazoo and Venezuela basically socialized itself to death. So where's the money coming from? Communism needs to delivered a death blow at its own hand. If they want evil imperialist dollars they better get on ther knees and grovel. Then apologize, then adopt serious reforms. Otherwise. Let communism sort them out.

buwaya puti said...

Last I heard FARC is still working out of Venezuelan sanctuaries (Dec 2014) and last I heard Cuban cadres are still deeply involved with Venezuelan security services and I cannot believe they aren't similarly deeply implicated with the Venezuelan security services pet projects, as both Cuban and Colombian FARC apparently have participated in suppression of dissent in Venezuela.

Jon Burack said...

Rubio is wrong. I guess he has to do this given his political base. It is long time to end an embargo that has done absolutely nothing. I only hope this is not a prelude to a deal with Iran, which is an entirely different matter.

buwaya puti said...

And more to the point, as long as the Cuban regime retains its hostility to the US, which it can't help but do as that is fundamental to their reason to exist, they will automatically cooperate with any new enemy of the US whenever they show up with $ in hand. Enmity to the US is baked in to the regime, drilled into the brains of every senior member thereof, and they cannot change their spots like the Vietnamese and Chinese did.

buwaya puti said...

Its a prelude to deal after deal, with Iran or whomever they can get away with selling out to, because the people in charge here have such desires bred in their bones.

jr565 said...

buwaya puti wrote:
Enmity to the US is baked in to the regime, drilled into the brains of every senior member thereof, and they cannot change their spots like the Vietnamese and Chinese did.

Vietnam actually suggests that it wants to change its spots. Does Cuba? or are they just trying to get imperial dollars while at the same time maintaining Communism. F that. Let Raul have to answer to his policies once and for all.

Michael said...

I would like to play poker one day with former President Obama. He is one shitty trader, really world class bad.

retired said...

I would love to buy a used car from Obama, he is so weak and such a terrible negotiator.
It's time to end the embargo and stop kow-towing to a bunch of old Cuban ex-pats. It won't change anything in Cuba, the place is so broken.
Only Obama could do it and make America look like hapless patsies at the same time.

buwaya puti said...

Vietnamese cadres were up for making deals with the US even before the Soviets fell, and Viet communism was, oddly enough, not as ideological on that level. The US wasn't the big bad after the 1970s.
The Viet's dumped doctrinal communism very quickly post-Soviets. And they weren't communist for very long, the senior guys in 1990 were still products of the colonial era French system.

The Chinese had a couple of intra-party civil wars and the pragmatists won, which meant that communism was for lip service only. The full-octane communist system was on tap for a rather short time also; mid 50's to @1978 or probably earlier.

Cubans can't do that, as the party has justified itself with an almost pure and hysterical anti-Americanism (adopted almost casually, opportunistically, held on to because it would be embarrassing to stop). 55 years of this system means every senior active cadre from toddlerhood has drunk in the crazy juice daily. They may be corrupt, have Swiss bank accounts and vacation on the Riviera, but they aren't going to switch from what they learned in kindergarten. The whole lot of them will have to be purged to make a change.

garage mahal said...

I would like to express my opinion 20 times that this means NOTHING.

buwaya puti said...

It means we will be giving Castro and his friends money.
That will save their asses for the next few years and keep them from the pressure to make changes in their economy and society.

Sebastian said...

"He is one shitty trader, really world class bad."

Are you assuming he wants the U.S. to win?

Bobby said...

jr565,

Communism needs to delivered a death blow at its own hand. If they want evil imperialist dollars they better get on ther knees and grovel. Then apologize, then adopt serious reforms. Otherwise. Let communism sort them out.

Was this the standard that we applied to China? To Vietnam (with a regime with which we'd actually gone to war and lost more than 56,000 American lives)? Cuba survived during the post-Soviet, pre-Chavez financial assistance period by basically accepting a reduced standard of living rather than liberalizing their institutions. Are we convinced the Castros wouldn't be willing to accept a Haitian standard of living for their people before they "groveled, apologized, and reformed" as you demand? Would that be good foreign policy?

buwaya puti,

Last I heard FARC is still working out of Venezuelan sanctuaries (Dec 2014) and last I heard Cuban cadres are still deeply involved with Venezuelan security services and I cannot believe they aren't similarly deeply implicated with the Venezuelan security services pet projects, as both Cuban and Colombian FARC apparently have participated in suppression of dissent in Venezuela.

Can you point me to any references for any of that? I'd really like to read more on that.

I do have first-hand knowledge of FARC sanctuaries in Venezuela- that's definitely happening. Of course, that's happening in Venezuela- not Cuba- so it seems like the offender is the regime in Caracas. And more to that, there's Taliban, HIG and Haqqani network sanctuaries in Pakistan (where Americans are getting killed), and we still have diplomatic relations with Pakistan. There are AS sanctuaries in Malaysia who are attacking our Filipino allies, and we still have diplomatic relations with Malaysia. There are sanctuaries for Hezbollah fighters who kill Israeli allies, and we still have diplomatic relations with Lebanon. And so on and so on. I guess my point is that we have diplomatic relations with a whole lot of countries- the exceptions, as far as I know, are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and Taiwan [Bhutan and Taiwan are special cases, of course]- and Syria as of two years ago. Nothing you've mentioned seems to me to rise to that level unless you were to go throw a bunch of other countries on there. Now I'd go along as a matter of policy if we had reason to believe that it could force regime change, but 50 years later... Well, it's hard to make that case convincingly. I say let's try a new tactic.

I would have preferred that we'd normalized in 1974, when Nixon and Kissinger were calling the shots and the likelihood of it working in our favor would have been MUCH greater than with the junior varsity that's in the White House now (and by saying that, I understand that I'm maligning JV teams around the country). But Castro put an end to that, so it's not really our fault it didn't happen. In any case, normalization is happening. We'll have to see what happens from here.

--Bobby

garage mahal said...

Communism needs to delivered a death blow at its own hand. If they want evil imperialist dollars they better get on ther knees and grovel.

I bet that doesn't extend to China, does it.

jimbino said...

"When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores..." is more properly rendered "When America is unwilling to advocate individual liberty and freedom of political expression for Cubans just 90 miles from our shores...."

It's past time we nipped "advocate for [a cause]" in the bud. Marco Rubio, born in Miami, is a native English speaker with a law degree and no excuse for misusing "advocate."

One hopes that we could find more politicians like Reagan, whose English was inspiring and nearly faultless.

Michael said...

Garage:

I hope you are wearing your Che T-Shirt as you type. I can picture it.

Rusty said...

China and Vietnam weren't run by criminal family.

The average cuban will never see any american goods unless the Castro family lets them.

buwaya puti said...

China and Vietnam did grovel.
They begged a lot for MFN status, GATT, tarriff treatments, etc.

Michael said...

Sebastian:

No, not really. But even a guy trying to lose the houses' money is generally more, how shall we say, nuanced.

Michael K said...

"But is it possible that your disdain for these liberals getting what they want might be driving you toward a policy that you'd otherwise acknowledge is not consistent with the rest of US foreign policy?"

I don't care if we end the embargo. It was originally created because Castro seized a lot of US assets but that was 1959 when even I was young.

However, read my Michael Totten link and see if you still think this will liberalize Cuba.

buwaya puti said...

Well, China certainly has quite a number of criminal (by our standards) families that run parts of the government.

garage mahal said...

One thing that separates us from totalitarian regimes, like Hitler in Germany and the Castros in Cuba, is the right to form unions. I'm glad to see conservatives demanding that change before an embargo is fully lifted.

Matt said...

Rubio is a fraud. And absurd. Ending the embargo will bring capitalism and end Communism faster than any embargo ever could. It's been 50 years and communism is still there. So much for an embargo. It only hurts the locals. This also begins to normalize relations with Cuba, which is important for a country so in our hemisphere.

What's more we negotiate all the time with Saudi Arabia - a country far more oppressive on their citizens. This is a good move. Thank you Obama for being the adult in the room once again.

jr565 said...

garage mahal wrote:
I bet that doesn't extend to China, does it.

I'm not a huge fan of china at all. they keep playing with their currency and stealing our intellectual property. And buying up our debt. I view China as an enemy, frankly.

jr565 said...

Why am I not surprised that commie lovers want to normalize reliations with Cuba?

jr565 said...

Matt wrote:
|Ending the embargo will bring capitalism and end Communism faster than any embargo ever could. It's been 50 years and communism is still there. So much for an embargo.

I don't see how propping up communist regimes through trade will somehow end communism. If anything it will give it an infusion of cash to keep going.Communism is not too big to fail.
Communism will also end itself over time. There is no more money to bankroll communism. All the states that normally do are having issues of their own. So lets let communism try to sort out its mess thorugh communism.
If they want to abandon that model because they finally agree that it doesn't work, THEN we can start dealing with them. But they don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

garage mahal said...

People are still afraid of Cuban commies. That's pretty funny.

jr565 said...

" Cuba survived during the post-Soviet, pre-Chavez financial assistance period by basically accepting a reduced standard of living rather than liberalizing their institutions. Are we convinced the Castros wouldn't be willing to accept a Haitian standard of living for their people before they "groveled, apologized, and reformed" as you demand? Would that be good foreign policy?":
Then it can continue to do so. They are the ones advocating communism. We are not forcing them to live under such a regime. Why should we reward them for not liberalizing?

DougWeber said...

My concern here is not the policy. I see arguments both ways.

It is that this seems to show the administration's tin ear on politics.

This should not just be announced as done. It needs to be discussed and some level of agreement found. But this administration seems to believe that what it thinks must be true and the best. That makes the next two years a little frightening.

jr565 said...

With cuba I'd adopt a variation of Reagan's Trust but verify, and instead Verify, then trust. Lets see them make reforms before we start in with the trading.

jr565 said...

Venezuela was more than happy to yank our chain as imperialists and render sweeping socialistic changes in their country. And while they were living high on the hog Cuba was more than willing to align with Venezuela to tweak our nose.
Now though Venezuala is broke as shit. And no more money is coming Cuba's way. So their system has to produce or flounder. What is it that Alinksy said "Make them live by their own rules?" Yeah, how about that.

Lets see how well communism works.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Lets also not forget that Cuba was the one that severed all economic ties to us. and shifted its entire economy to the USSR. Big mistake.
We are now simply honoring Cuba's own decision to be fools. Arent lefties for self determination of their comnuist brethren?

ALl industries are owned by govt. If we trade with Cuba we then strengthen the govt. It's not a good idea if we want to have Cuba move away from communism.

Michael said...

Garage:
Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba

Michael said...

Garage:

Nobody is "afraid of Cuban commies." Not sure where you would get that idea from reading these comments which are about the freedom of the Cuban people.

I am sure you have been to Cuba. No? Well there is nothing there that is scary unless you live there and cannot leave. Then you might have reason to believe that Cuban commies can cause fear.

And if you do go, I hope they let you leave. Because they do not have to.

jr565 said...

As Michael Totten wrote:
"I heard no end of horror stories about soap shortages, both before and after I got there. A journalist friend of mine who visits Cuba semi-regularly brings little bars of hotel soap with him and hands them out to his interview subjects.

“They break down in tears when I give them soap,” he told me. “How often does that happen?” I said. “A hundred percent of the time,” he said.
"None of this economic impoverishment is the result of American policy. The United States is hardly the world’s only soap manufacturer, for instance. Cuba can buy it from Mexico. Or Canada. Or the Dominican Republic. Cuba can make its own soap. It fact, it does make its own soap. The reason the country does not have enough is because the government historically hasn’t cared if the little people can’t wash. Soap is just one item among thousands that is strictly for the elite, for the “haves,” and for those lucky enough to find some in the shops before it runs out.

In a non-communist country where such a basic product is in short supply, somebody would mass-produce it and sell it. Soap-making doesn’t require nuclear physics. You can make it at home. Google “soap recipe” and you’ll see how easy it is. But Cuba is a communist country where private commerce is banned. If you make stuff and sell stuff, you might become “rich” and “bourgeois,” and the authorities will send you to prison.

That’s why Cuba is poor. Lifting the embargo would have little or no effect on such tyrannical imbecility."
So trading with Russia, when Russia doesn't reform but stays communist does nothing to give the people there soap. But it will surely put money into govt's pocket.
That's why so many on the left want us to lift the embargo. Because otherwise Cuba would have to sink or swim on its own ideology. They want us to prop up Cuba now that their Russian benefactors have fallen by the way side. No thanks.

jr565 said...

Rather than normalize relations with Cuba, obama should treat Cuba like he treated Egypt's Mubarrack. The Castros have got to go.
This is not me saying we need a regime change in Cuba (though it would be nice). it would be, until we get one, because the people have gotten tired of, for example, not being able to buy soap or have access to any medicine, we don't normalize relations.

The ball is in Cuba's court. they took their ball away. Now, if they want to come back to the court, they have to stop acting like morons. If they still want to call us imperialists, then they can not take our evil imperialist dollars.

jr565 said...

agian from Michael Totten:
"Sanctions against Cuba would be lifted at once if the regime were to hold just one free election and adhere to the human rights norms in our hemisphere. Since that hasn’t happened, only one conclusion is possible: Cuba’s Communist Party would rather rule alone in a poor country than share power in a prosperous one. No matter what the United States does or does not do, Cuba will underperform until that changes.

The regime does want Cuba to prosper, but within limits. Otherwise its officials wouldn’t even consider economic reform. They would just plod along North Korean–style. Therefore, keeping the US embargo in place will sooner or later force them to choose prosperity or power. They cannot have both. The Communist Party might finally cry uncle. It’s possible. If so, the sanctions will finally produce their intended effect—the democratization of Cuba. But if not, the embargo will continue looking like a spiteful anachronism that pointlessly punishes Cuban citizens who have already been punished enough by their own government.

If the US were to unilaterally lift what’s left of the embargo right now, the standard of living for the average citizen would probably go up a little as a result of Raúl’s concurrent reforms. Cuba could become in time a Caribbean China—a clear improvement over what it has been since Fidel came to power. Yet Cubans would still suffer under a power-mad police state, and the US would have exhausted its leverage for nothing."

The embargo is our leverage. What's keeping Cuba from being prosperoius is not us, but Cuba itself.

garage mahal said...

Michael
I've never been to Cuba although I would like to someday. Maybe I could get the license for IT related work.

Michael said...

Garage:

Well, if you do go be on your Ps and Qs, because if they want to they can keep your passport which means you won't be able to get on the plane which means….

They have plenty of IT people. They have great wifi and high speed in the senior govt. offices. Not so much anywhere else, including the hotels.

You will have to join their union if you want to work down there, but then again they don't pay much if anything. As you will see

Drago said...

Garage is still afraid to accurately characterize the comments of others.

That's pretty funny.

garage mahal said...

You will have to join their union if you want to work down there, but then again they don't pay much if anything. As you will see

No I wouldn't be working for the Cuban government I can assure you that. I meant using a IT related trip as an excuse to enter/visit Cuba.

jr565 said...

As Marco Rubio points out just this week the administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela for human rigts violations in Venezuela we are lifting the normalizing trade relations with Cuba and they have offered NOTHING suggesting they are moving one inch towards freedom.
What did we get for this capitulation? Absolutely nothing

Steven Wilson said...

Lame duck Obama gets shit done!

Curious that you want him to accomplish shit rather than something positive.

Speaking of positive, this will reduce the airfare for NAMBLA members and other sexual tourists.

buwaya puti said...

Expat work in third world countries can be a sweet deal for an adventurous fellow, I did my share.
Still, it is very much a matter of luck (right skills, right time) and cultivating contacts.
Cuba is not a very usual location for expat posts as there aren't many multinationals and AFAIK the government there doesn't encourage it.

buwaya puti said...

I am afraid of "Cuban commies", not for the sake of the US but for the troubled third world countries that can still be tempted to fall in this trap, or fall further into it. Venezuela did fall in much of the way, and it had much more on the ball than some others. Argentina is perpetually threatening to fall even further in, saved so far because no sufficiently charismatic pied piper has shown up.

Rusty said...

garage mahal said...
Michael
I've never been to Cuba although I would like to someday. Maybe I could get the license for IT related work.


Even if an average Jose Cuban owned a computer-very rare-it would be impossible for them to get internet access.
There are no wifi hotspots in Cuba.

Bobber Fleck said...

If I were President I'd do the Sudetenland routine on Cuba. Nice climate, good beaches, Hemingway history, people who deserve a better life...

khesanh0802 said...

@Michael K at 1145. I have been thinking about my reaction all afternoon and I don't really have one. It boils down to I don't seem to care one way or another. I do think this is another Obama bow to his left and I am not happy about the suddenness of the announcement nor the imperialist presidency aspects.

However I think your point that Congress get back to work and not be distracted by this and other Obama moves is right on target. "Doing their job" is what the American people are expecting and hope for. Getting distracted by the background noise will be self-defeating.

Revenant said...

Ok. How about Obama make his case to the American people and Congress before acting suddenly and secretly?

Obama is well within his Constitutional rights here. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Hagar said...

Should have waited until Raul Castro dies, which can't be that long now, and then offer this to whoever looked to be the best prospect when they start fighting for the succession.

Big Mike said...

Go for it, Marco.

Milwaukie guy said...

I was in Cuba in 1972 with the 5th Venceremos Brigade. Yes, it is a shithole. But ignoring it economically and diplomatically for fifty years has not brought down the Castro brothers.

PJ O'Rourke once made the astute observation that the Soviet Union failed because no one wanted Bulgarian dungarees but only Levis Blue Jeans.

Let the new Republican Congress exact a higher toll for repealing the embargo. Let Obama have his stopped-clock moment.

Static Ping said...

Garage: The Cuban commies nearly caused a nuclear exchange. One should fear anyone that insane.

I'm not sure what to think of the change in policy. What I have observed is our President seems obsessed with making friends with enemies while alienating allies. So far this has not produced useful results. My confidence in his Cuba diplomacy is therefore non-existent.

What was this administration's last major move in this hemisphere? The Honduras fiasco where they were actively supporting a wannabe dictator?

jr565 said...

Maybes made this point and it's worth repeating:
If we open relations to Cuba, it seems like eventually, Cubans will find freedom through commerce.

It hasn't happened yet, and they trade with just about every other country on the planet. You'd think of commerce would solve the problem then they'd already be well on their way. Only they are the same police state they have always been. And the whole point of the embargo was to get them to reform democratically.
lifitbg the embargo makes no sense if you don't get any reforms out of the deal. So what did Obama get? Absolutely nothing. since give controls business how are we doing anything but strengthening the police state?
You know why garage is for this. Because lefties live commies. And you know why rev is for this, because libertarians think trade will solve anything and don't care who they trade with. But for the rest, don't be
Stupid. Even if you think the embargo is antiquated. We only strengthen Castro by doing this. And it shouldn't be our goal.
It's certsinly Obamas goal, but he's a man of the left. Repubs should not be carrying Obama's or castro's water on this.

jr565 said...

Here is the problem: lifting the U.S. embargo will not do a darned thing to change Cuba or make life better for the people. Instead, it will provide the Cuban state companies who do joint ventures with international companies with an opportunity to draw on U.S. export or import credits.

Furthermore, Cuba needs these "credits" because most countries are sick and tired of doing business with the Castro regime and not getting paid on time. Just ask Mexico and others, who have had to write off or reschedule their debts!

In other words Cuba can't even pay its bills and would be using our import/export credits to draw us into their horrible business practices. What do we get out of the deal?
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/10/the_emny_timesem_is_wrong_about_the_cuba_embargo_again.html#ixzz3MDTSAiv2
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

Michael said...

Garage

If you want to go to Cuba you fly to Nassau and take a plane. Or Toronto Or Mexico City. Easy

They won't stamp your passport and the U.S. will not likely notice the double entries into Bahamas, Mexico or Canada.

Most people go this way.

Drago said...

Rubles are hard to come by and the venezuelans are short of cash so who do the commie police-staters turn to?

Their pal obama.

Hooray! More hard currency for the guys that imprisoned gays and had them lobotomized!

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
One thing that separates us from totalitarian regimes, like Hitler in Germany and the Castros in Cuba, is the right to form unions. I'm glad to see conservatives demanding that change before an embargo is fully lifted."

What bullshit.

mccullough said...

So when are the mafia getting their casinos back?

Revenant said...

One thing that separates us from totalitarian regimes, like Hitler in Germany and the Castros in Cuba, is the right to form unions

More accurately, one thing that separates us is the right to NOT be in unions.

When you belong to a union, you work when, and how, and for the wages the union bosses say. That's communism in a nutshell.

el polacko said...

i've been told that the mandated maximum personal income for cuban citizens is the equivalent of $20-a-month.
what american goods will they be buying with all of that money ?

veni vidi vici said...

If reports are correct that there's no liberty-seeking conditions attached to opening the door with Cuba, then this much is true:

Francis certainly ain't no John Paul II.

Michael K said...

"I'm glad to see conservatives demanding that change before an embargo is fully lifted."

Conservatives have always been in favor of craft unions and many members are Republican. This is especially true of those with apprenticeship programs.

Industrial unions were harmful to their industries as they were parasites with no contribution. They would have been harmless if the leaders had acted as symbiotic parasites but they killed their industries with competing claims to suck the life out of the employers.

That's one reason why firemen and police unions are tolerated.

Public employee unions other than those two have all the problems of industrial unions with the added moral hazard of capturing the politicians who run government and negotiate their contracts.

Tom Gallagher said...

Diplomacy by waving your checkbook and getting despots to say nice things about you is historic or something; how about normalizing relations with Congress instead?

Revenant said...

Francis certainly ain't no John Paul II.

John Paul II visited Cuba.

J. Farmer said...

I cannot fathom how anyone could continue to support our absurd, utterly failed isolation of Cuba. Elections? Human Rights? China? Saudi Arabia? Vietnam? UAE? Bahrain? Uzbekistan?

Michael said...

J Farmer
Cuba is open to the entire world other than the U.S. they can trade with Canada, Mexico, Germany, China everybody but us.

How is it that we are the only thing holding them back from being able to buy soap or have Internet or drive modern cars. Think of that for a moment. Could it be that they are the architects of their own misery?

J. Farmer said...

@Michael:

That may perfectly well be true. But the fact that resuming normal diplomatic relations with Cuba is not a panacea is not an argument against doing it. It is especially absurd to make a "human rights" argument when the United States supports--diplomatically, militarily, and financially--some of the most authoritarian regimes on the planet for geo-strategic reasons.

Michael said...

J. farmer

I was confused by your use of the word "failed" and took it to mean something you did not intend. You agree then that having diplomatic relations will not alter the Cuban political system and the misery it brings to its citizens?

What then is the argument in favor? Cuban cigars? A fun new exotic destination?

Rusty said...

J. Farmer said...
@Michael:

That may perfectly well be true. But the fact that resuming normal diplomatic relations with Cuba is not a panacea is not an argument against doing it. It is especially absurd to make a "human rights" argument when the United States supports--diplomatically, militarily, and financially--some of the most authoritarian regimes on the planet for geo-strategic reasons.

So what you're saying is; Why not support another dictator and fuck the Cuban people.
That about right?

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brando said...

There's a distinction between resuming diplomatic relations and lifting the embargo. The former is something we should maintain in almost all circumstances, not because we wish to "legitimize" a regime but rather that we are recognizing the reality that that regime is the de facto controlling government of that country. It's why we "recognize" Saudi Arabia, the USSR, and after way too long, Red China. The only time we don't want to "recognize" a government is where there's a genuine dispute about who rules it (say, if a temporary rebel group tries to break away, or there's a recent coup). The reason we have diplomatic relations with those countries--many of not most of which we disapprove of!--is that it enables us to find leverage and influence as circumstances exist.

Now maybe Obama didn't get some great concessions here, beyond the release of that one prisoner, but that doesn't mean that recognition can't put us in a better position down the road. But more importantly, refusing to recognize the Castro government--which again does not mean approving of it--doesn't actually accomplish anything for us or its subjects. As noted above, 60 years of trying to isolate them (poorly, I'd add, because we're almost the only country to do this) has done nothing to weaken Castro. How could diplomatic recognition make things worse?

As for lifting the embargo, again, trading with a country doesn't mean approving of them, or else we'd have to vastly narrow our trading partners. The 60 year embargo hasn't worked, in fact I can't think of an example where isolation has forced a vile dictatorship to fall or reform. Increased contacts and influence on the other hand are likely to help.

I realize Castro and company have no intention of giving up power or giving up communism--but this was also true of the USSR and its allies, and undoubtedly the Chinese in the late '70s believed their reforms would strengthen communism rather than convert the country into corporatism.

Brando said...

"So what you're saying is; Why not support another dictator and fuck the Cuban people."

The problem with that conclusion is that (a) so far our attempt to isolate Cuba has if anything "supported" Castro and fucked the Cuban people, and (b) extending recognition and trade with that country has a better chance to reform or overthrow its government and help the Cubans.

I also note that the Castros won't be around much longer--Raul is 83, and Fidel is older than that (if he's not actually dead already!). We may be in a position to either influence a reform-minded successor, or enable increased American contacts with that country to let events take their own course in the direction of democratization. There's at least a better chance of doing that with recognition and trade than there is with the status quo.

Michael said...

Brando

The Cubans can trade with any country they wish, excepting us. Are you arguing that we are the only thing between their misery and their prosperity, that we are so all powerful that our tourism trumps the Germans, that our credit cards will dwarf the Canadians'?

I am seeing that many who do not think much of our country believe it all powerful. That our own racism and evil ways would be somehow good for Cuba.

Rusty said...

Brando said...
"So what you're saying is; Why not support another dictator and fuck the Cuban people."

The problem with that conclusion is that (a) so far our attempt to isolate Cuba has if anything "supported" Castro and fucked the Cuban people, and (b) extending recognition and trade with that country has a better chance to reform or overthrow its government and help the Cubans.

I also note that the Castros won't be around much longer--Raul is 83, and Fidel is older than that (if he's not actually dead already!). We may be in a position to either influence a reform-minded successor, or enable increased American contacts with that country to let events take their own course in the direction of democratization. There's at least a better chance of doing that with recognition and trade than there is with the status quo.

But the state, despite the deaths of the Castros-and there is no indication that their heirs are willing to give up control-will still be in the hands of the party loyalist who will do anything to maintain control of their prerogatives. The change has to come from the people themselves. Whether a violent revolution or a mass peaceful resistance, only then will Cub change.
Right now the Castro family are rubbing their hands together anticipating some of that sweet US foreign aid money.

Brando said...

"The Cubans can trade with any country they wish, excepting us. Are you arguing that we are the only thing between their misery and their prosperity, that we are so all powerful that our tourism trumps the Germans, that our credit cards will dwarf the Canadians'?

I am seeing that many who do not think much of our country believe it all powerful. That our own racism and evil ways would be somehow good for Cuba."

Speaking for myself, I think highly of our country but don't believe it is all-powerful. And Cuba has far more racism than we do today.

Considering the trade that Cuba has with other countries, your point also goes against continuing the embargo--if our trade can do so little to influence Cuba, then why would our lack of trade do so much to influence them as well?

I do think though we would have far more influence on Cuba than its other trading partners, due to our proximity, the size and nature of our economy, and the large Cuban expat community. It wouldn't be an overnight case of "hey we have smart phones and American movies now, let's toss out the Castros!" but rather the gradual influence of our products and information would be made much easier. It'd be a lot harder for the Castros to maintain a firm hold on their people if we have a stronger presence there.

I just don't understand why continuing our admittedly ineffectual embargo and isolation of that regime is more likely to hurt the Castros than engaging with them would. Regimes like that thrive in isolation, especially when they can use their opposition to us to stir their people's nationalism and use us as an excuse for their own failings.

Brando said...

"The change has to come from the people themselves. Whether a violent revolution or a mass peaceful resistance, only then will Cub change.
Right now the Castro family are rubbing their hands together anticipating some of that sweet US foreign aid money."

That may well be--assuming of course that Castro's successor is like-minded and not of the Gorbachev "reform to save communism" type but rather like the Kims of North Korea. But in that case--if it's going to be the Cuban people who revolt--why do you think continuing our policies since 1961 will be more likely to cause this than opening Cuba up to trade and U.S. influence? To take two examples, the Russians and Eastern Europeans had a fair amount of trade and exposure with the West by the 1980s, and the "corrupting" influence of free societies made the younger generations more hostile than ever before to their regimes. North Korea, on the other hand, has been almost perfectly isolated by its regime's choice, and their people have been impoverished and beaten down. They've long outlasted other Commie regimes, and the likelihood of their people revolting is slim.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael:

It has not brought about a change in regime or an improvement in human rights in Cuba. By that measure, I would say the isolation and embargo have completely failed. Again, the fact that ending these foolish policies will not turn Cuba into a tropical paradise overnight is not an argument against it. It is simply a statement of what the likely outcome will be.

I am puzzled why so many of the commenters here are not apoplectic about billions of US dollars going to China--a single-party state without rule of law. Why no crying "dictatorship" in regards to the US backing the al Saud, Qatari, and Bahraini royal families? The Bahraini security forces killed about a hundred demonstrators when it crushed its nascent protest movement. If naval basing rights are a worthy cause for cozying up to Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, what is the argument for isolating the Castro regime?

jr565 said...

The fact is, since the state controls business, if we trade with Cuba we strengthen the state. They then don't have to reform.
We all want the embargo lifted ultimately. But we should get something out of it. And it shouldn't involve propping up communism.

Michael said...

Brando:

The Cubans have no money. None. They have nothing to sell us outside of cigars and rum that we could possibly want. Nothing.

My point is that trade is not going to change their regime and is not going to enrich any of their people. They are broke. They have no money to buy any of the goods we could sell them and they make nothing we want. If you examine their trade with the rest of the world you will understand why the idea of "opening trade" with them is a fantasy.

Michael said...

J Farmer

When trapped change the topic to China.

OK. China makes and sells things that we want to buy. Cuba does not.

China has the capital to invest in our economy. Cuba does not.

The Cuban regime is not "isolated." They can trade with any country on the face of the earth. They have a tourism industry catering to Europeans and Canadians and Latins. They sell cigars to every country in the world but ours. They are not isolated in the least.

Unless you consider isolation the idea that a citizen cannot travel freely in his own country or across the world. Unless you consider isolation the idea that a citizen cannot communicate via telephone or internet or even passively by television.

Why haven't relations with Canada provided "human rights" to the Cubans? Why haven't relations with the UK provided them? Or Germany?

Brando said...

"The Cubans have no money. None. They have nothing to sell us outside of cigars and rum that we could possibly want. Nothing."

If they truly had nothing to trade with us, then this would all be a moot point--lifting the embargo would change nothing.

The country's in an economic mess, but I don't think they have "nothing" to trade with us--even a poor country like Cuba has natural resources, whether it's growing sugar, producing rum and cigars, or even using the tourist dollars to buy our goods. If it's not in the interest of U.S. exporters to deal with them, then they won't. Same principal with trading with any other country--there's only a deal if each party has something to get from it.

Granted, I haven't touched on the more direct benefit to America of opening trade--the same benefits we get from free trade in general. But in terms of whether this will help Cuba become a more free country, I think trade and engagement are much stronger tools than isolation. Hell, if nothing else, the influx of American businessmen and tourists make it easier for the CIA to get spies in there if that's something we wanted to do.

Brando said...

"Why haven't relations with Canada provided "human rights" to the Cubans? Why haven't relations with the UK provided them? Or Germany?"

First, I'd say this is a gradual process--I wouldn't expect even the lifting of the U.S. embargo to change Cuba overnight. But trade and influence have a tendency to undermine dictatorships. It's hard to have new products and wealth come into the country--even if the regime tries to control it--without it having the effect of emboldening the people and giving them a taste of the world outside. Second, U.S. trade would most likely be far greater than that of other western countries--we're much nearer to Cuba, have a much bigger and more dynamic economy, and large numbers of Americans have familial ties there.

Anyway, in assessing the effectiveness of opening trade and diplomacy with Cuba, we're not looking at that choice in isolation--we're comparing it to the status quo (which I presume you prefer?). And the status quo has, if anything, kept the Castros firmly in power for a quarter century after the USSR fell. Why would it suddenly start to work now?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Bitchtits is claiming to be an IT guy now huh?

I'm sure he went really far in that field with his middle school education.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael:

Simple question. What is the point of diplomatic isolation and a trade embargo? What do we get out of it? You have said at least three times already that engaging with Cuba diplomatically and trading with them will not improve their regime or the life of the average Cuban. Fine. Quote where I said it would. I don't know why you want to keep pushing on this open door with me. We engage and trade with a whole host of regimes with authoritarian governments and awful human rights abuses.

My question is very simple. What is the argument for maintaining diplomatic isolation and a trade embargo? What would you hope to accomplish with such a policy?

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