If You Oppose Diplomatic Relations with Cuba, What About…

[save to drafts]A loud, but relatively small, group of Americans disagree with President Barack Obama’s moves toward so-called normalized relations with Cuba.  I have to believe that in large part — especially among people fifty years old or younger — their complaints fall into a broader anti-Obama rant more generally than anything they understand specifically about Cuba.  A good number of these people don’t know the history of U.S.-Cuba relations and some probably cannot find Cuba on the map.  But they complain nonetheless.

The others should know better.

For decades now Cuba has been open to all of the world but the United States.  Things are not perfect in Cuba, of course, but things are not perfect anywhere in the world — including here! — and life is much worse in many other countries compared with Cuba.

American anti-Cuba policy, in fact, likely gave Cuba the foil it needed to retain the very power and control that Americans claim to despise.  You know…that brutal dictatorship that appropriated land and industry and turned the country into communist state over 50 years ago.  Our solution?  Well, at first we tried military overthrow, assassination, and who knows what else, but for the most part ours has been a strategy of neglect.  Close the door and let Cuba fall into chaos and decline.  That didn’t happen and the regime of Fidel Castro continues on.

We’re mad at Iran still, too, and probably for better reasons still at odds with North Korea.  Syria is on that list, too, but we’ve got other things to worry about in that neck of the woods today.  I don’t know, that about covers it, right?  The bad players?

What about Israel?  Whoops, sorry.  That’s an ally.  But for comparison, take a look.

About 65 years ago Israel was created in Palestine by taking possession of Palestinian land and industry.  This was much more of an invasion than a revolution, but in essence brought for similar results.  Wronged Cubans are in Miami, wronged Palestinians are in Gaza.  Moreover, for decades prior to Israel’s invasion, Jewish settlers had violent run ins with Palestinians as they tried to claim what they believe was — by faith — their homeland in Palestine.  After World War II, the newly established United Nations was in the process of establishing Jewish state when Israel went ahead and claimed their nation.  It is all treated as heroics here.  (Not so much so in the Middle East.)

Cuban-Americans in the United States complain about losing their homes and businesses to Castro and we take them seriously, politically at least.  At the founding of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes and many thousands died — and many thousands more have died since — and the survivors are forced to live in what are essentially giant ghettos on the fringe of Israel’s apartheid state.

Rather than condemn this atrocity, the United States finances it, supporting the Israeli state through direct financial aid and military aid.  The United States also gives Israel absolute political cover, standing in the way of any resolution condemning Israel for its crimes and bad behavior.

Other than the fact that Israel is 10,000 miles away and Cuba is 90 miles away, what’s the difference?  Communism?

We seem be getting along rather nicely with most other “communist” and formerly-communist states.  For an example, it might be true that China has embraced a form of capitalism — and capitalism is more sacred than any religion in this country — China is far from a shining example of a democratic society.  True, China doesn’t incarcerate its citizens at the same rate we do in the United States, but they have human rights flaws that should make even us blush.

Let’s get back closer to home.  The United States is directly responsible for much of the chaos and corruption that plagued Cuba’s peers in Central America and South America over the decades.  As a matter of fact, things have gotten far worse in countries from Mexico to Chili than anything troubling Cuba today.  How many have died in coups, wars, and poverty in that part of the world?  It is hard to count…and often no one is counting.

And finally, let us not forget the pre-Cuban Revolution years under Cuban President Batista, an American ally.  Cuba was far from free in those years.  Rather it was a veritable reign of terror during which as many as 20,000 Cubans lost their lives and the economy increasingly fell under the control of organized crime.  Even the United States warned that Batista was planting the seeds of revolution.

But some of us cannot get over the whole Fidel Castro thing.  It is a Cold War hangover that should have been kicked years ago.  We act like the marooned Japanese sailor who has lived alone for years and does not know the war has ended.  It is embarrassing.

Maybe it is Fidel’s beard.  Whatever it is, any outrage over opening political and economic relations with Cuba is akin to childish behavior.  It is impractical stubbornness.  It is irrational.

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