Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Conservative Take on Cuba

Rep. James Comer, a conservative Republican from Kentucky, just returned from Cuba, where he joined four other members of Congress on a trade mission. He then published an op-ed calling for the end of the embargo. He makes a good case, with essentially the same arguments I (and many others) have been making for years.

The foreign policy position of every American President from Eisenhower to Obama has essentially been to shut off Cuba’s economy through an embargo, thereby starving its people and hoping the people would rise up and overthrow the Castro Regime.  However, what would transpire over the years with the embargo is that the Castro Regime blamed the blunders of the Cuban economy on the American embargo. Thus, the regime remained in power despite horrible economic conditions and standards of living for Cuban citizens.  In other words, U.S. policy toward Cuba actually helped Castro remain in power and keep Cuba a socialist state.
 Lifting the US embargo against Cuba is an overall win-win.  It is a win for foreign policy because countries that the US trades with are countries with which we have good relations. Similarly, countries we ban trade with are the ones where conflict often arises.  Noting Cuba’s proximity to the US, the last thing we need is for China or Russia to establish its own Guantanamo Bay Military Base pointed right at us.  It is also a win for trade, especially agricultural trade.

I'm not concerned about China or Russia establishing a base, which won't happen, but overall I agree.

The big question of course is whether Donald Trump sees Cuba in economic terms or in Cold War terms for his Florida constituency. Comer tries to play to his "make a better deal for Americans" schtick. Bit by bit, Republicans over the years have moved away from support for the embargo, so are ready to accept liberalization.


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