Saturday, December 23, 2017

Trump Sums Up Cuba Policy

Straight from Donald Trump, here is U.S. policy toward Cuba:

“Hopefully everything will normalize with Cuba, but right now, they are not doing the right thing. And when they don’t do the right thing, we’re not going to do the right thing," Trump said. "That’s all there is to it. We have to be strong with Cuba. The Cuban people are incredible people. They support me very strongly. But we’ll get Cuba straightened out.”
Set the Freudian slip aside for a moment. This statement is a combination of colonial-era paternalism and narcissism.

By colonial-era, I don't mean paternalism wasn't part of U.S. policy toward Cuba after U.S. occupation but that it was so evocative of that era. As U.S.-imposed military governor Leonard Wood wrote in 1900, "We are going ahead as fast as we can, but we are dealing with a race that has steadily been going down for a hundred years into which we have got to infuse new life, new principles, and new methods of doing things."* That sentiment quickly led to the Platt Amendment. The United States knew all and would reward the good little Cubans only when they did the right thing. According to us. We'll straighten out those good little people who can't seem to get it done on their own.

The narcissism is a whole new ballgame, however. Theodore Roosevelt had a particularly high opinion of himself and a decidedly low opinion of Cubans, but he didn't assume they loved him. Very likely he did not care. Trump's narcissism is almost unbearable to watch and it cannot have a positive impact on policy decisions.

*Lars Schoultz, That Infernal Little Cuban Republic, p. 23.


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