Thursday, February 18, 2016

Barack Obama will visit the communist country of Cuba. Reuters.

Barack Obama at the ASEAN Summit. Reuters.

Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Communist country of Cuba next month. Reuters. The visit would be the first by a sitting US president since 1928 when Calvin Coolidge visited, and only the second time a present has visited the country ever. President Obama considers the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba one of his major foreign policy accomplishments. The timing of the visit coincides with an expected peace deal between Columbia and the FARC guerrillas which was partially organized by Cuba. It is unclear how the visit would happen diplomatically because in the past Obama has demanded that any visit would have to include a meeting with Cuban dissidents while Cuba has refused. Republicans have condemned the restoration of diplomatic relations. Two presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of Cuban dissent, have been especially harsh on the planed visit. Republicans in congress have blocked the ending of the trade embargo.

My Comment:
I think the only reason for a sitting US president to visit Cuba is if he is there to put a bullet right between the eyes of Raul and Fidel Castro. As long as Cuba remains a communist country we should have no official dealings with them. This action by Obama is obscene and there is no reason it should happen. But alas, nothing I say will change anything. Why am I not opposed to dealing with other communist countries then? For one thing, I am opposed to it, just not anywhere near as strongly because of the countries that still have communism, China, Laos and Vietnam have had some meaningful reforms. Indeed, China is largely thought of as communist in name only. North Korea is communist too, but I consider them to be essentially a hereditary monarchy, but I would be just as upset if Obama was visiting them as well. 

I do think that this visit is a deliberate attempt to salvage something from Barack Obama's terrible foreign policy record. Obama has failed so spectacularly in the Middle East and North Africa that in comparison his actions in Cuba almost look good. At least among his more liberal supporters, normalizing relations with Cuba is something he can hang his hat on, and will perhaps be remembered in the future as an accomplishment. I don't think I agree with that. Obviously I think the opening of relations with Cuba is a bad thing, but even if I am wrong and everything works out and Cuba enacts meaningful reforms, the fact remains that Obama has been a horrible president when it comes to foreign policy. Better relations with Cuba does not outweigh the rise of ISIS, the destruction of Libya and the roll Obama played in the Syrian Civil War.

Of course, his "accomplishment" is largely meaningless. When the next president is elected, chances are everything Obama has accomplished in Cuba will be undone. If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders get elected then it will probably stay, at least through their terms, but chances are after that the normalization will be undone by the next Republican elected president. If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz are elected, you better believe that it will be reversed, and I think that is true for almost all the other Republicans in the race as well. And if it doesn't happen after the 2016 election, then expect it to happen in 2020 or 2024, unless something radically changes in either Cuba or the United States.

There is one glaring exception in the Republican Party though. For those of you that think that I agree with Donald J. Trump on every single issue, here's a major disagreement I have with the Republican front-runner. Trump is in support of normalizing ties with Cuba, and has said that 50 years of sanctions is enough. Though he condemned Obama for "making a bad deal", he does think that we should normalize ties with Cuba. This is a huge policy difference between me and Mr. Trump, and I'd like people to keep that in mind the next time someone tells me that I'm all in for him. There's a few other major differences I have with Trump, most notably his stance on the NSA, but that's a subject better visited in another post. I still will probably end up voting for him since I think he will win the candidacy, but he is by no means a perfect candidate in my view. His opinion on Cuba is wrong, and I do not support it. 

As for Cuba itself, I see little reason to support their government. We work with bad countries all the time but that's usually because they are strategically valuable or have resources we want. As far as I am aware, that is not the case at all with Cuba. Realpolitik makes strange bedfellows, but what on earth do we gain by normalizing relations with Cuba? A tiny bit of trade? Not worth it in my opinion. And the Cold War is over, so there is little threat of the Russians deploying nukes in Cuba yet again, so the country has next to no strategic value for the United States. In short, I think we are betraying our principles without even getting anything in return. 

Then again, I have a much more negative view of communism then the average American. It seems that these days leftist ideas are gaining popularity, and aren't being condemned nearly as strongly as they used to be. For example, a self-declared socialist is running for president, and has a decent chance of winning. I think people have forgotten how dangerous communism is, and have grown complacent. I am hoping this doesn't end up burning us in the end.

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