Rich Lowry: ‘Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade’Posted: December 18, 2014
Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.
The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).
“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”
The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.
After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.
“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”
Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies.
Who helped negotiate the one with Cuba? Harry Truman had Dean Acheson. Richard Nixon had Henry Kissinger. Bush I had James Baker. Barack Obama has Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser who is his Castlereagh and has what it takes to collapse U.S. policy toward Cuba and get nothing in return.
There is no doubt that economic sanctions are a blunt and dubious instrument, and reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of levying them in a given instance (I’ve gone back and forth about the Cuban embargo over the years). But dictatorial regimes hate them for a reason. All things considered, these regimes want more economic wherewithal rather than less.
Obama’s olive branch to the Castros couldn’t be better-timed from the perspective of the family that has made a handsome business out of crushing its fellow Cubans….(read more)
Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.
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