Bill Collier- The meeting with Cuba’s dictator will no doubt leave a bad taste in the mouth of President Obama’s critics and many Cubans, for whom the Castros are synonymous with Hitler or Stalin. The image of the President proudly smiling with glee and talking about how nations should only use pursuasion and nothing more in their dealings with one another is in stark contrast to the scowls and bitter bromides his domestic political opponents feel they endure. It was well beyond “persuasion”, his critics lament, for the IRS (allegedly) to turned loose on the President’s political opponents.
Of course the President’s supporters seem happy with the move, indeed the left in this country idolize the likes of Che Guevara, an Argentinian communist who played a key role in Cuba’s revolution. For them, opening trade, diplomacy, and travel to Cuba seems a bit like a dream come true. Michael Moore, a leftist documentary film maker, even came to Cuba to extol the virtues of its health care system.
The President has been seen with many foreign leaders who seem unsavory, including the Chinese communist leaders who notoriously order to aborting of all children beyond a couple’s first child unless that couple can pay steep penalties for “permission” to have other children. But so too have other Presidents been seen with such characters, and the President pointed out that having dialogue and diplomacy does not constitute agreement as such. For him, merely having diplomacy and dialogue is an improvement that might just mitigate future conflict. This is exactly what is being done with Iran, and normalization of relations is the end goal.
But Cuba is 90 miles off the coast of Florida, so the fact we have a communisty tyranny so close and that, with economic trade, it could afford (again) to export its revolution by force (as it once did) is deeply troubling. That the current American President proclaims policies that to his critics sound too much like the rhetoric coming from Cuba on “economic justice” only makes the optics of a Castro-Obama relationship seem all the more objectionable. A communist dictatorship across the ocean is one thing, but many Americans feel, instinictively, a particular revulsion for a communist dictatorship 90 miles from Florida!
Make no mistake, the Castro regime is a massive human right violator. Even during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, anti-Castro protestors were brutally beaten by Cuban security who were on scene while the Panammian police stood by and did nothing.
For a President who is accused of being in bed with communism and who is accused of over-stepping his bounds of authority, the optics of being more friendly and congenial to Raul Castro than he has been toward his domestic opponents, the optics were particularly unfavorable: at least in the eyes of his domestic political critics. But President Obama believes an opening with Cuba might soften the regime and do for Cuba what Nixon felt US relations with Communist China would do: export the values of freedom. Some would argue that Nixon’s China policy has failed and that, instead of exporting freedom, America imported shades of socialism.
Despite his smiles and clear satisfaction in meeting with a man many see as an enemy of American values, despite the fact a majority of Americans appear to approve of this opening of relations with the communist dictatorship, one should not expect such efforts at open and cordial dialogue and a commitment to not go beyond persuasion with the President’s domestic political opponents.