Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rubio and Cruz Need a U.S.-Latin America Class

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have been saying that President Obama plans to give Guantánamo back to Cuba. This would be huge news if it were true. But it's not. What Obama is discussing, of course, is not using the facility anymore for housing prisoners. That simply means going back to the pre-9/11 norm, not all the way back to the Spanish-American War.

I hope this just means they don't understand the distinction, as opposed to simply making it up. But Cruz's comments are actually worse:

Four decades ago, Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal. We built it, we paid for it, and then a feckless left-wing president gave it away to undermine this country. Well, Mr. President, you don't have the authority to give away vital military assets!

It's very hard to find anyone who thinks the United States lost anything by giving away the Panama Canal. Indeed, Henry Kissinger supported negotiations to do so. As he correctly pointed out:

“If these [Canal] negotiations fail, we will be beaten to death in every international forum and there will be riots all over Latin America.”

So it was in fact a smart move in security terms. It certainly didn't undermine anything, except the belief that the U.S. ought to somehow be in control of everything.

Update: I didn't realize Donald Trump had also weighed in. As you might expect, he makes even less sense.

He continued: "Maybe in our deal with Cuba, we get them to take it over and reimburse us, because we're probably paying rent. We're going to keep it open, but we're going to get the cost down, because that's ridiculous." 
In fact, the United States does not pay Cuba anything to operate the Guantanamo Bay base. Cuba leased the location to the United States in 1903, but after Fidel Castro took power, the Communist government of Cuba accepted the annual $4,085 payment just once. Afterward, it began a multi-decade stalemate, cutting off water to the base and refusing to cash the rent checks, which are written out by rote every year.

Oh well.


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