President Obama’s ‘open door’ overture to Cuba is long overdue

Conservative were outraged when President Richard Nixon announced that he would normalize relations with Communist China after 18 months of secret negotiations pursuing a policy of opening China. Nixon made an official state visit to Communist China and smiled broadly while greeting Chairman Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China — and a dictator who oversaw systematic human rights abuses, and whose rule is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 40–70 million people through starvation, forced labour and executions, ranking his tenure as the top incidence of democide in human history.

Nixon-Mao

Neocon cold warriors condemned President Nixon in a statement issued by John McCain and Lindsey Graham:

“We agree with President [Nixon] that he is writing new chapters in American foreign policy. Unfortunately, today’s chapter, like the others before it, is one of America and the values we stand for in retreat and decline. It is about the appeasement of autocratic dictators, thugs, and adversaries, diminishing America’s influence in the world. Is it any wonder that under President [Nixon]’s watch our enemies are emboldened and our friends demoralized?”

Wait, that never happened. Nixon’s “open door” policy towards Communist China was hailed as a major foreign policy achievement by Conservatives and Republicans. McCain and Graham were not yet in the Senate (the good old days).

So what are Arizona’s angry old man, Neocon war monger John McCain, and his little puppet boy Lindsey Graham upset about now? That President Obama has decided to normalize relations with Cuba after 54 years of a failed policy of isolation and economic embargo of the island nation. These cold warriors are pissed that President Obama’s “open door” policy towards Cuba will end one of the last relics of the Cold War.

So the difference between Richard Nixon and Barack Obama’s “open door” policy is IOKIYAR.

The Washington Post reports, U.S., Cuba make historic move to ease Cold War stance:

The United States and Cuba ended more than a half-century of enmity Wednesday, announcing that they would reestablish diplomatic relations and begin dismantling the last pillar of the Cold War.

The historic move, following 18 months of secret negotiations and finally made possible by Cuba’s release of detained U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, fulfilled one of President Obama’s key second-term goals.

The decision is likely to reverberate across many political frontiers where the standoff between Washington and Havana has played a role — including across much of Latin America, where U.S. policy on Cuba has long been a source of friction.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said in a televised, midday address. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Saying that he was “under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans,” Obama said he was convinced that “through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves.”

In simultaneous remarks in Havana, Cuban President Raúl Castro affirmed his government’s willingness for dialogue on “profound differences” between the countries, “particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy.”

Castro said that “Obama’s decision . . . deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people.”

Obama and Castro — who spoke by phone Tuesday, the first such exchange between leaders of the two countries since the 1959 Cuban revolution — thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican, which they said were instrumental in promoting their dialogue, and the government of Canada, where secret talks that began in June 2013 were held.

In addition to reopening an embassy in Havana, the administration plans to significantly ease trade and financial restrictions, as well as limits on travel by Americans to Cuba, by using its regulatory and enforcement powers to evade limits imposed by a congressionally mandated embargo.

Americans will be permitted to send more money to Cuban nationals, use their debit and credit cards in Cuba, and bring $100 worth of Cuban cigars into this country. U.S. exports to Cuba will be made easier, and additional items will be authorized. U.S. banks will be allowed to open correspondent relations with banks in Cuba.

The administration also said it would launch a review of Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation it feels Havana may not deserve alongside Sudan, Syria and Iran, and would work with Congress to ultimately lift the trade embargo and other sanctions.

Obama said the Cubans had also agreed to expand Internet access and other freedoms, and to release 53 political detainees[.]

* * *

Obama’s decision to go far beyond a deal to bring Gross home and declare an end to the estrangement between the countries was rooted in the long-term strategic goal of eliminating what he called an outdated policy that “has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people.”

“Today,” Obama said, “Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago.”

The White House also said that the U.S. stance against Cuba alienated Washington from “regional and international partners.” That alienation has been particularly apparent in Latin America, which long ago rejected U.S. insistence that it continue isolating Cuba. One senior administration official described U.S. policy on Cuba as “an albatross around the neck of the United States in the hemisphere and around the world.”

Neocon war monger John McCain’s statement stands in stark relief to Arizona’s other Senator, Jeff Flake, who travelled to Cuba with Judy Gross, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to bring Alan Gross back to the United States.

Flake

In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Flake at release of jailed American in Cuba:

For the libertarian-leaning Flake, relaxing the travel ban has always been an issue of freedom. The United States’ 50 year-old economic embargo against Cuba has helped keep Fidel and Raul Castro in power by giving them an enemy to demonize, he said.

Flake said he was pleased with the steps Obama was taking, even though the president by himself can’t reverse the embargo. The travel ban won’t be completely lifted — U.S. tourism would still not be allowed — but more Americans will have more opportunities to go to Cuba without government permission, he said. After his and Udall’s recent trip to Cuba, Flake delivered Obama a letter with some ideas for reform.

“We gave him a letter outlining what we thought some of the areas where he could go, and he did all of those and then some,” Flake told The Republic. “So, I’m quite happy. (But) I’m not going to claim credit for anything.”

Flake also has long supported removing Cuba from the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

“It’s important to have that list, but I believe that Cuba has been on that list for political reasons, not security reasons, for a long time,” he said.

Ooh! A shot to the solar plexus of cold warrior John McCain! “Down goes Frazier!” Fidel Castro is 88 and in failing health. His brother Raul is 83 and plans to step down by 2018, if his health holds that long. John McCain is 79. These are old men trapped in the past reliving old battles long since over for them. They will soon disappear from the stage of history, and the world will be a better place with their passing.

From the New York Post:

Screenshot from 2014-12-18 13:56:09

4 responses to “President Obama’s ‘open door’ overture to Cuba is long overdue

  1. I am happy to see this thawing of relations with Cuba start to happen. I have thought for years that the embargo wasn’t working and was pointless. My personal opinion is that the US has maintained it for all these years because of hurt feelings over the Bay of Pigs and the refusal of Fidel Castro to show humility toward us.

    Anyway, I think Obama is doing the right thing in this instance.

  2. Obama once again makes a very smart, strategic move, with immediate payoffs for our relations with all of Latin America, especially Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

  3. captain*arizona

    Cuba si` republicans NO!

  4. Frances Perkins

    Darn. The thrill of smuggling Cubans in from the Philippines or Canada will be over.