Some say the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expect different results. So with that being said, some are applauding President Obama’s unilateral change in policy towards Cuba — by way of opening up diplomatic relations.
Now, we can debate the pros and cons, but the underlying problem I have with all of this is why was this not discussed openly?
Why was it that once again we surrendered three Cuban spies with blood on their hands? Yes, we’re all happy Alan Gross is home. But we’re seeing a repeat of the SGT Bowe Bergdahl swap for five senior Taliban leaders. We seem to be operating from a position of appeasement, acquiescence, and weakness — not of strength. And what message does this send? Shall we now fear that Americans will be regularly kidnapped in order to be used as negotiating chips for the release of nefarious criminals being held here in America?
And one thing I need to say up front. Folks keeps saying Pope Francis approved of the policy change. Well, U.S. foreign relations and national security are not subservient to the whims and desires of the Vatican and the Pontiff. I appreciate his perspective, but his input shouldn’t be considered a seal of approval or provide cover for the Obama administration. Anyway, where are those folks who always complain about the separation of church and state??
In case you missed it, here’s a quick summation of what happened, according to the Washington Post:
“President Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba Wednesday, stating that while the decades-old policy toward Cuba was “rooted in the best of intentions,” it has had little effect. In what Obama called the “most significant changes” in Cuba policy in more than 50 years, the president announced that the United States plans to reopen its embassy in Cuba and ease travel and trade restrictions. The changes end an “outdated approach,” Obama said. “Neither the American nor the Cuban people are served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” Obama said. While the policy was “rooted in the best of intentions,” Obama said, “…it has had little effect.” Uh, I have to ask a simple question of President Obama. If we’re going to open up an embassy in Cuba, what keeps America from moving the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? You know, just asking, since Cuba is hardly one of our best allies and such. Oh, and is the Obama administration really pondering sanctions against Israel? You know, we are after all, easing travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.
At what point did the Castro regime in Cuba evidence any move towards normalizing its relations with America? What did President Obama see in Cuba today that would make him believe there is a “smidgen” of hope for liberty and democracy to thrive? If those indicators don’t exist (and they don’t, at least from my vantage point) then Obama is doing nothing more than wishing — and that’s not an admirable quality in a leader.
Now, I understand the desire to do something different with Cuba, but a unilateral — and secretive — decision is just not how it’s supposed to work in our Constitutional Republic, particularly on such a major policy change.
The Obama modus operandi since the November 2014 midterm elections shows a defiant president who seems intent on showing our country just who’s the boss. Of course the devil is in the details, and I hope we’ll learn more during Senate and House hearings on the matter next year.
I would have preferred to develop a phased incremental plan which tied advancing relations to the attainment of certain quantifiable conditions — not a blanket “get out of jail free card.” Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has been seeking a state sponsor. Recently, they’ve found a willing partner in the country of Venezuela — but with the collapse of oil prices, the adverse effect on Venezuela’s economy is causing collateral damage in Cuba.
So just who will be the individuals or corporations allowed into Cuba? And the major question has to be, how will this increased flow of cash revenues assist in improving the standard of living and quality of life for the average Cuban? Or will these increased revenues only serve to enable and prop up the Castro regime and set the conditions for subsequent communist dictators?
Some say, look at China — yep, a country that learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union how to adopt free market economic principles in order to sustain a communist machine — and a military expansion.
The president also said he looks forward to an “honest and serious debate” with Congress about lifting the embargo on Cuba. “To the Cuban people, America extends a hand of friendship,” Obama said. Obama also acknowledged criticism of the policy shift. “To those who oppose the steps I’m announcing today, let me say that I respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy,” he said. “The question is how we uphold that commitment. I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”
No, I don’t believe there will be an honest or serious debate on this matter — if that were the case, President Obama would have announced one of his foreign policy initiatives for 2015 was to engage Congress on shifting American-Cuban relations. That’s not what was announced yesterday. Obama has made his decision, but if there’s one thing Congress can do it’s limit the amount of funding for this venture.
“Change is hard,” Obama said, “but today America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past.”
No Mr. President, only your change is hard because you chose to cut loose the shackles of spies — not the American people, and certainly not average Cubans.