Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hurry Up, Please. It's Time

From Carl Sandburg:


The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.


For we meet by one or the other.

With the announcement from Fidel Castro that he was stepping down from his position of leadership in Cuba, it now appears that the United States is facing several cross-roads when it comes to foreign policy. Cuba, a tiny country which has dominated the US policy in this hemisphere; Pakistan, which appears ready to choose between democracy and authoritanism of one sort or another; Iran, which could conceivably continue in the direction of increased religious conservatism, but which might be ready to temper its zeal in favor of rejoining the world; and North Korea, which has, according to many sources, already begun reaching out for recognition as a 21st Century nation: all have filled the news reports in the last several weeks.

The timing isn't ideal. The US is facing economic difficulties that have reached the public to the point that the main presidential candidates are scurrying to produce economic proposals to lighten the load. Still, the current economic difficulties are not separate from the foreign policies issue that face this nation, even if all three candidates haven't exactly stepped up to make the connections. Perhaps now, with the icon of evil that consumed the consciousness of those of my generation stepping down, we can finally look realistically at how our foreign policy affects each one of us, and not just economically.

I was cheered by two editorials which appeared in newspapers that aren't exactly amongst the coastal powerhouses. The sagacity of each struck the right tone.

First, from the Sacramento Bee:

In the first real change of power since 1959, ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, age 81, has announced he is stepping down. That gives the United States a historic opportunity.

Now is the time to reverse the centerpiece of U.S. policy toward Cuba since 1960 – a trade and travel embargo. That policy did nothing to dislodge Castro, who grew old in office. In fact, the embargo gave Castro and his repressive regime a scapegoat, allowing him to blame Cuba's problems on the embargo.

There is no need to stay on the same failed track as Fidel's brother, Raul Castro, takes the helm in Cuba. Raul Castro is 76 years old. His rule won't last long. If the United States wants to play a role in seeing that a long-term transfer of power is not simply a continuation of the Castro regime, we need to act now.

Start by lifting the failed embargo.
[Emphasis added]

Next, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Trade can be the United States' most potent weapon in subverting a dictatorship, because it builds person-to-person relationships that can bypass the controls of government. Likewise, enforcing a trade ban can help prop up a dictatorship by giving it a villain to blame for its shortcomings. It's past time the United States removed that prop, and Castro's retirement offers an opportunity to do so.

Once that barrier is removed, the United States and Cuba should proceed to the next logical, overdue step: diplomatic relations. If the United States can recognize Vietnam and China, there's no reason to snub little Cuba ...

It's time to engage Cuba (and Iran, North Korea, and all the other nations on earth) in ways other than with missiles and armies. The current administration has considered "talk" beneath them, but that administration's days are numbered (334). Now is the time to start moving towards real diplomacy, and that movement can be made by the three people who would be president.

We just need to make sure they know that.

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Blogger Arabella Trefoil said...

As always, I appreciate your wisdom. I remember the Bay of Pigs crisis, when Cuba was the source of an evil that would kill us.

Time passes. Things change. That's why I never give up hope. Minute by minute, you endure.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It's good to know there are reasonable opinions getting public ink, Diane.

If you want to be depressed, you know where to go.

Fred Hiatt.

The changes in Cuba will set off renewed debate over U.S. policy toward Cuba. While the discussion is appropriate, it's important to remember that, by the measure of the most fundamental goal of U.S. policy -- that Cuba become a democracy that respects human rights -- nothing has changed with Mr. Castro's retirement.

Is Fred really that stupid and tone deaf, or is he that cynical a hypocrite?

7:29 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Is Fred really that stupid and tone deaf, or is he that cynical a hypocrite?



3:26 AM  

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