Kudos to President Obama

Bill Neinast


Find a sturdy chair.  Sit down and grab the seat firmly.  The next few sentences might shake you off your feet.

Ready?  Here goes.  A tip of the hat, a pat on the back, and kudos to President Barack Obama.

After three years of tapping pop up flys to the pitcher and lobbing weak fouls down the third base line of foreign relations, he finally slammed one over the center field fence.

His opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba has reversed a half century of stupidity by both Republican and Democrat administrations. Now if Congress will approve establishing and staffing an embassy on that small island, this prolonged period of irrational behavior will be corrected.

Rational thought cannot support normal relations with the immense communist countries of the Soviet Union and China but broken ties with tiny Cuba just a few miles off our coast. Since July 11, 1995, we even have normal diplomatic relations with Vietnam, a country in which thousands of Americans died in the 60’s and 70’s “to prevent the spread of communism.” 

Compare that with the history of U.S. relations with Cuba.  Following the end of the Spanish-American war, the withdrawal of Spain from Cuba in 1898, and Cuban independence in 1902, Cuba and the U.S. developed very close relations.

Those relations continued until Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista Junta regime in 1959.  His strong Marxist-Leninist rhetoric and immediate close ties with Nikita Khrushchev in the Soviet Union so frightened the Eisenhower administration that diplomatic ties were broken between us and them.  The split was aggravated in 1961 when President Kennedy’s CIA backed invasion of Cuba failed miserably.

In the intervening half century, that small independent nation has been treated by the U.S. as an unloved stepchild.  With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and recreation of a capitalist Russia, Cuba had to look elsewhere for succor.  

That support was found in Venezuela,  the U.S.’s current thorn in the side.  

All of this has resulted in a large expatriate community of Cubans, primarily in Florida, agitating for restoration of democracy and capitalism in Cuba and no recognition of a socialist or communist regime.

Two influential Senators, Marcus Rubio and Ted Cruz, come from that expatriate community and are strong opponents of normalizing relations with any communist regime.

A troublesome question, however, is why.  Why can we have normal, productive relations with communist giants like China and our old communist enemy Vietnam, but not with our small next door neighbor that is struggling with communism? 

Opening the door to relations with that country could result in a normal free flow of visitors and commerce between the two countries.  That, in turn, could be the fastest route to a more democratic/capitalist government on the island.

Reopening relations with Cuba might have a double benefit.  In addition to restoring relations that never should have been broken, a review of long standing policy on granting, withholding, and breaking diplomatic relations based on the type of government involved might be triggered.

So long as there is no physical threat to the safety and normal operations of this country, why should it matter what type of government prevails in other countries?  Why should it matter, for example, if Turkey slides into communism but desires to keep its membership in NATO?  The formerly communist countries of Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland are now part of NATO with full recognition by the U.S.

So here’s the perspective.

The chaos that prevailed throughout the world during and after WWII created the need for a world policeman.  Ostensibly, the U.N. was created to fill that role.  Unfortunately, however, that organization failed miserably as a policeman.  

As the U.S. was the only country capable of filling that role, it stepped up to the plate.  Somewhere along the way, we began to think the role gave us the right to decide what type of government was suited for a particular country.

Performing as world policemen has cost a lot of American lives and cost trillions of American dollars. In some cases, like that of Cuba, it has caused more misery than might have occurred otherwise.

Maybe it is time to begin recognizing every country for what and how it is without expecting it to be a clone of us.  

Thanks to Obama for trying it with Cuba.  Let’s watch for the good that may flow.


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