By:Thomas Fleming | December 18, 2014

It is a good thing Cuba is so insignificant a place, because if it had any importance—apart from its faded  glories in the cigar industry—it would be an even more royal screw-up, for American foreign policy, than our disasters in Iran, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Egypt, and the Balkans.

Here is my short history of Cuba since World War II. Once there was a stable (all things considered) and corrupt dictatorship that worked hand in glove with US criminal corporate interests. When a Soviet-backed Communist insurgency threatened to overthrow America’s ally,  the Eisenhower administration failed to act, and when Castro started acting according to his Leninist playbook, the CIA-backed anti-Castro rebels were betrayed by one of the weakest sisters ever to sit in the White House, John F. Kennedy, who went on to sell out the Cubans again during the Cuban missile crisis. I know, I know. We scored a big victory by challenging the Russians near their own border, though in the end we dismantled our missiles in Turkey and Italy. What good was that when JFK refused to kick out an enemy with a fortress less than 100 miles from US soil?

Rather than do what had to be done, we played propaganda games and imposed an embargo whose sole effect was to win votes from Cuban exiles by punishing  poor Cubans who did not leave their country. Finally, when Obama—in a piece of pure political theater—is going to do the right thing, unassimilated Cuban-“Americans” like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are screaming their heads off to prove their loyalty, not to the country that took in their families, but to the country they left, a country that no longer exists. It is as if they want to prove that while their bodies may be here in the USofA, their heart are still in Havana. We have spent six years with an unassimilated member of whining minority as Democratic President. What we really need is the Republican version to finish the job! 

Let me be the first to say it: Cruz and Rubio for President in 2016!



Charles Byrd
12/19/2014 01:32 AM

  If increased commerce to Communist countries lead to reforms, then why aren't there free elections on Mainland China?

Harry Heller
San Francisco
12/19/2014 02:39 AM

  Ethnicity has always played an outsized role in politics in the USA. That may not be admirable, though it does reflect perhaps THE fundamental flaw in the Framer's design, which was not to define narrowly who could be eligible to become an American citizen. The more or less "ethnonationalist" views of the Founders are by now well-known. But they failed to codify them Constitutionally, which opened the door to mass immigration, and, human nature, about which Dr. Fleming has written so perceptively over the decades, being what it is, to the ethnic politics which has needlessly roiled our country for the past century and a half. Thus, it is hardly unusual that Cruz and Rubio should take a disproportionate interest in their "home country", and for personal and political reasons (esp in Rubio's case). Nor, in this particular case, is it especially blameworthy, as Cuba is an enemy of US interests (or was for a long time). As a patriot, I am infinitely more bothered by Mexican politicians attempting to influence American politics than by American politicians being overly concerned with events in their ethnic homelands and the US Govt responses to them. ///// That said, I agree with Dr. Fleming (and Rand Paul, for once) that these embargoes are immoral, as basic economic theory (not to mention conservative commonsense) suggests that it is the powerless who will disproportionately suffer from them, not the corrupt elites. The idea seems to be that intensifying the people's suffering will cause them to "throw out the bastards", a ludicrous idea when set against the usual accompanying denunciations of the affected regimes as totalitarian or genocidal or merely oppressive. Why would such presumptively downtrodden people rise up, and how might they be expected to go about it? Sanctions as a way to force regime change, except insofar as the regime in question is already basically civilized and free (eg, apartheid South Africa), and thus amenable to pressure, is immoral.

David Smith
Montgomery County, Tennessee
12/19/2014 02:47 PM

  What happens on "reality" TV will have more of an actual effect on the average American, I suspect, than this deal will! Intended or not, this whole thing functions as a distraction to a great deal more that's of actual importance. So I say, "Smoke'em if you got'em (i.e. Cuban cigars)!" and enjoy the political theatre!

12/19/2014 03:29 PM

  I agree entirely with Mr. Heller's point, that ethnic loyalties are inevitable and that they have played a major part in American politics for over 100 years. However, I should add that members of Congress whose loyalties to their parents' country take precedence over their loyalty to their country of adoption are only ethnic ward-heelers as much as Sharpton and Holder, who cannot be condemned often enough, and, in the case of Cruz and Rubio, when they parade around as patriotic conservatives, deserve a censure almost as sharp as what is owed to the dumb WASP Republicans who vote for them. Years ago, by the way, I read a published doctoral dissertation analyzing the political arguments preceding US entry into WWI: It was WASPS against Germans and Irish, East European Jews against German Jews, and the balance may have been tipped by the anti-German Polish vote. All I can say is, What a country! St. Thomas quotes with approval Aristotle's observation that some Greek city-states required more than one generation for an immigrant family that wished to acquire citizenship rights. In our country, I'd suggest four, at least. I have Irish-American relatives I liked very much when I was growing up, but as soon as Micks start whining about the potato famine or "Men wanted, no Irish need apply," or the Poles start screaming for the millionth time about the Russians--and let us not even mention an ethnic group that does not even pretend to put America first--they prove that they have never been assimilated. Why worry about Mexicans when even European ethnic groups have refused to assimilate? Perhaps we could have a contest to see which groups we think have assimilated best. My money is on the Scots and the Germans, though the Greeks I know seem content to mind their own business.

Harry Colin
East Palestine
12/19/2014 04:22 PM

  The question of assimilation is an interesting one, but I suggest that by the time the vast majority of immigrants swept in from Southern and Eastern Europe to fill the mills and mines the perception of a zero sum game of identity politics was already well-established. Thanks to the sainted, benevolent, inspiring (continue here on your own) Mr. Lincoln, big government had taken over and reduced the states to subservience or even irrelevance so why assimilate when securing a spot in an aggrieved group paid more dividends when dividing the spoils. The segmentation practiced by the big employers - I can show any interested visitors the streets and sections in Homestead or Aliquippa where each ethnic group was kept isolated from the others - only exacerbated this mindset. Just look at all the groups that have formed in the past decades dedicated to sexual identities and we can see that this phenomenon seems likely to intensify.


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