Five decades of American failure remain living in its feeble state just off Florida. Fewer than 100 miles south, Cuba well illustrates our national irrationality and hypocrisy all too clearly.
We must wonder whether either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would have the leadership and courage to cut the crap and make the island nation into a democracy and ally. It will likely be an early test for the next President.
GOP and Dem administrations one after another failed the test of expanding democracy. Eisenhower chose to play golf rather than meet with new leader Fidel Castro, when we had the best chance to turn him our way. Kennedy played puerile mine-is-bigger-than-yours games. Clearly his wasn't.
Those and later Presidents aligned with or installed brutal anti-democracy right-wing dictators while leaving Cuba open for support from extreme lefties like the Soviet Union and now Venezuela. Our businesses, banks and organized criminals used to own pre-Castro Cuba. We could surely have owned it through our support, and earned likely a contentious but mutually beneficial relationship.
After WWII and the really never completed Korean War, we were gun-shy of anything that smacked of communism or even left-wing goals and verbiage. This became insurmountable for our Presidents in the face of the nationalization by Castro. I recall well a lunch over 30 years ago with the New York head of a gigantic German bank. He told me that the European headquarters of his and other banks understood that they lost all assets in Cuba, but he added that the American banks did not and never would accept that. They continued to demand full reparations...with interest...and lobbied Washington continually and particularly when any discussion of Cuba was likely to arise.
We have also failed practically and publicly. Kennedy started a trade embargo, which continues. While Cuba has gotten some funding from communist nations, it was small for a nation. Foreign trade in sugar, fruit and cigars has been key for base survival.
Yet despite repeated invasion attempts and tries to assassinate Castro, we have failed. We have not attempted democracy through peaceful means. Our financial and military brute-force efforts show us to be international incompetents and weaklings. We have been unable to best this tiny, poor nation.
The best we have done is shameful. We have starved Cuba's residents of food, medicine and other essentials. There likely can't be an accurate count of the resulting deaths. Moreover, our presence on the island, the Guantánamo naval base, is an international symbol of anti-democracy and cruelty. The matrix of Cuba, which is the brunt of constant calumnies from our shores, looks positively benign and gentle in contrast to Gitmo.
This is not a glorious contrast and legacy for G.W. Bush or the long line of gutless Presidents who came before him. Yet our pathetic current President has no sense of the gravity of the moment of Castro's retirement. Instead, as the Financial Times quotes him as saying this is the time to continue pushing for reform, not stability with the new leaders.
There will be some who say, "Let's promote stability." Of course, in the meantime, political prisoners will rot in prison and the human condition will remain pathetic in many cases. This transition ought to lead to free and fair elections - and I mean free and I mean fair, not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as being true democracy.
Yet, this is exactly the time to bolster Cuba and bring it under our influence. In fact, many large European countries, such as Spain, have been engaging Cuba and see this as the time for a real change. Punishing Cuba relentlessly not only is a WWII-generation construct, it is also a phenomenal failure.Another FT piece has a clearer view of the possible — "...Brazil’s leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been advising Raúl Castro against the temptation to follow the 'Chinese model' of opening up the economy without releasing the ruling party’s grip on political life.Such reports show Fidel Castro’s claim that Cuban socialism is “irrevocable” to be an Ozymandian boast. As Cuba modernises, its economic model will be the first thing to go."
You don't have to possess extremely keen vision to see that. Yet long-standing American myopia on Cuba may blind the next President as well. Again, will Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have the leadership and courage to cut the crap and make the island nation into a democracy and ally?
The chanted cliché of evil Cuber as Kennedy said taunts us in our personal failings not only to crush the island neighbor, but also while we are unable to feed and house Americans or to provide them all with jobs and medical care. The things we slam Cuba for all exist in our system, including the political prisoners and torture.
Tags: massmarrier, Cuba, Castro, Obama, Kennedy, Clinton, embargo, communism, democracy