…Our country’s posture and policy toward Cuba has been a miserable failure for the past half-century that has done nothing to loosen the grip of an autocratic despotic regime over its own people. And it has accomplished nothing good for Americans, either, even those who were forced to seek refuge on our shores. America’s Cuba policy is the very definition of government failure, something you’d think conservatives, who are always quick to talk about how government screws everything up, would recognize.
…American policy toward Cuba for the past 50-plus years was a victory for oppression, so complete that it allowed the odious Raul Castro to succeed his godawful brother as a maximum leader. Get it: American policy was so rotten it allowed for a hereditary transfer of power in the autocratic country under sanction. The only other places that have managed that trick are other targets of U.S. diplomatic isolation Syria and North Korea. As John McCain, who pushed to open up relations with communist Vietnam years ago but denounced Obama’s actions toward Cuba, could tell you, America has no problem dealing with all sorts of morally despicable governments.
There’s no question that Cuba is poor and miserable and unfree because of the Castros and the despotic regime they oversee. Cuba is free to trade with every country in the world except for the United States. The country’s failure to flourish is because of the ruling junta, period. Anyone who suggests otherwise is denying basic reality.
…Yet it’s equally true that people who insist that America’s Cuba policy is defensible or in any way successful are equally deluded and should be called out on such patent b.s. When I was in college back in the 1980s, “disinvestment” from South Africa was a big deal. Right-thinking people of the time—by which I mean left-leaning people—said it was morally unconscionable to do business with the apartheid regime even as they called for a lifting of the trade embargo with Cuba. Regular Cubans were suffering from our actions they said. If we allowed trade and travel, the humanitarian lefties would explain, we might spread wealth and democratic values by our presence and contact. Right-wingers defended staying in South Africa as a way of spreading American influence there while also defending the Cuban embargo as a way of punishing autocrats.
To put it bluntly, each side in that debate was full of crap. For a variety of political affiliations and exigencies, they were willing to consign the oppressed and the voiceless to deprivation and persecution in the name of selective moral outrage. Economic and diplomatic sanctions by the U.S. didn’t help end apartheid and the same sort of policies haven’t made Cuba become an open society.