Saturday, May 02, 2009

Embargo op-ed

Lou Pérez, a history professor at UNC Chapel Hill, has probably written more on Cuba than anyone outside of Cuba. He published an op-ed today about ending the embargo.

The disavowal of an untenable policy, however, does not necessarily mean the renunciation of the unrealized purpose, which has always been about toppling the Cuban government, or in Lugar's words – the more common euphemism – about “bringing democracy to the Cuban people.”

Policy approaches often change, to be sure, but assumptions rarely do, and with Cuba they never do.

Obama's “new beginning” possesses a wearisome familiarity: the United States as self-appointed arbiter professing to act on behalf of the well-being of the Cuban people, to bestow upon the Cubans the liberty they are apparently unable to achieve for themselves.

"Wearisome familiarity" is a great phrase.


Gabriel 11:22 PM  

What does "liberty they are apparently unable to achieve for themselves" mean?

Is he implying the Cubans CAN achieve that liberty by themselves, or that they already have it?

Justin Delacour 1:48 AM  
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Justin Delacour 1:50 AM  

Is he implying the Cubans CAN achieve that liberty by themselves, or that they already have it?...

It's pretty self-explanatory, Gabriel. He doesn't really imply anything about the Cuban system itself. The point is that Cuba's political system is a matter for Cubans --not Americans-- to settle. The "pathology" of America is to think that we can somehow impose "liberty" on others, but the very idea that one culture can impose liberty on another is plainly oxymoronic.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that Greg has really taken the lesson to heart yet.

Gabriel 1:13 PM  

Not self explanatory, that's why I asked. It can be interpreted in several ways.

Since Cuba is a dictatorship, one of the longest lasting in the world, just how exactly do Cubans 'settle' this matter? Can North Koreans 'settle' their political system as well?

I'm not sure if a culture can impose liberty on another, whatever that means. But I would much have preferred to be 'liberated' by the US than by the USSR as a German still alive in 1946.

Justin Delacour 5:15 PM  

The pathology that you suffer from, Gabriel, is to think that you somehow have the political answer for a society from which you are completely removed and have no real stakes. This is the imperialist pathology.

Gabriel,  6:48 PM  


Did I miss something? I thought you were a Poli Sci student. Are you going for psychology degree as well?

Your psychology skills are not that great but surely after so many years of taking courses you should at least know what dictatorship is, no?

Justin Delacour 7:57 PM  
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Justin Delacour 8:01 PM  

No matter how much you seek to moralize about the nature of Cuba's political regime, Gabriel, you still won't be able to get away from the fact that you have nothing to offer a society in which you have no real stakes and from which you are completely removed. The same goes for the rest of the Washington establishment.

Unfortunately, the imperialist pathology is a sickness that the indoctrinated are usually not even able to detect within themselves, much less cure.

Gabriel,  8:06 PM  

I don't seek to moralize. People should live as they wish.

Unfortunately, since Cuba is a dictatorship, Cubans don't have that luxury. Things you and I take for granted, Cubans can only dream of.

Have you ever been to Cuba? Did anyone ever stop and ask you for your used toothpaste?

Justin Delacour 8:24 PM  

You missed this part from Perez, Gabriel:

"A policy of enlightened self-interest would seek to eliminate the perception of the United States as a threat to Cuban sovereignty, thereby denying to those in Cuba who would use U.S. hostility as pretext to limit public debate and restrict political dissent."

Perhaps if people like you weren't so busy moralizing about Cuba and pushing for U.S. intervention in the country's politics, the conditions for a political opening would be more auspicious.

Food for thought, big fella.

Gabriel,  8:35 PM  

I can agree the US has handled relations with Cuba terribly. No argument from me on that front.

But it doesn't change the fact that Cuba is a dictatorship. There's no such thing as "the country's politics". That applies to Venezuela where people get to vote. In Cuba there's only "Fidel Castro's politics", which is not the same thing.

In any case I think the US would be better served if it simply normalized relations with Cuba, just like it has with so many other third-world dictatorships. Castro is only a threat to his own people and, I agree with you, that should not be the US's problem.

Justin Delacour 9:04 PM  
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Justin Delacour 9:06 PM  

There's no such thing as "the country's politics"....

That's not really true. There are local electoral processes in Cuba that are not meaningless and that do shape policy, albeit within certain bounds. There is also a considerable degree of debate in Cuba. Cuba is not North Korea.

Some years ago, I read, for example, a book by three Cuban economists that called for the development of small-to-medium-sized private enterprise. All of this was published in Cuba and vigorously debated. Both these economists have pushed to complement the revolution's social achievements with a significant degree of market opening.

It's just not true that there isn't debate in Cuba.

sharon 4:01 AM  

thanks for the link...

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