IBD Editorial: Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn't Erase Castro's Legacy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
From Investor's Business Daily's Editorial Board:

Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn't Erase Castro's Legacy

The sight of President Obama glad-handing Cuban dictator Raul Castro showed just how far American diplomacy has sunk. Far from being a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, this was a craven capitulation.

There's a reason 10 presidents of both parties kept Cuba's Castros on America's bad-guys' list for more than 50 years. Each leader understood a basic truth: Totalitarian Cuba is a sworn enemy of the U.S., a violent threat to the Western Hemisphere's peace and prosperity and an ally of our worst enemies — including the former USSR.

Hearing an American president now apologize — as Obama did over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas — for past U.S. efforts to protect our homeland and our militarily weak neighbors from Cuba's aggression is bizarre and disgraceful.

No move to repair ties with the Castro regime should have been made until that country agreed to real, major reforms — including the release of all political prisoners, restoration of basic human rights to Cubans and the dismantling of Cuba's totalitarian communist state.

Instead, Obama got nothing. And he used cringe-inducing, obsequious language to apologize to Raul Castro and others for past U.S. behavior, speaking of the "dark chapters" in our history and ruefully noting "we have not always observed the principles and ideals upon which the country was founded."

Relying on a supine media and public ignorance about Cuba, Obama claims Americans favor resuming ties with Cuba. Indeed, a recent poll by InterAmerican Security Watch seems to back normalization 51% to 38%.

But as Mark Thiessen noted in The Washington Post, "when Americans are told that Cuba is hosting Russian ships in its harbors, opposition to normalization jumps to 58% while support sinks to 30%. When Americans are told of Cuba's attempts to smuggle 240 tons of weaponry to North Korea, opposition jumps to 63% and support drops to 26%." Similar results come when Americans are told that Cuba still harbors terrorists, including convicted U.S. cop killer Joanne Chesimard.

"When Americans hear basic facts about Castro's hostility and human rights violations, they know that the president's unilateral concessions only emboldened a dangerous, despotic regime," said American Enterprise Institute fellow Roger Noriega, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state, who commissioned the Cuba poll.

According to R.J. Rummel, the late professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, Fidel and Raul Castro killed as many as 141,000 people from 1959 to 1987 — not counting those who drowned or were eaten by sharks trying to escape the island prison. Even today, thousands of political prisoners rot behind bars.

Yet Obama says "the U.S. will not be imprisoned by the past," referring to the Cold War.

Fact is, Cuba's regime remains a repeat violator of human rights, a destroyer of its own once-vibrant economy and a supporter of terrorism worldwide.

To give Cuba diplomatic recognition and erase 56 years of efforts by previous presidents for nothing in return goes beyond foolish — it looks like a policy that's intended to make the U.S. look pathetic and weak, and to damage its long-term interests. Is that what this is?