U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) likes to joke (or not) that the way to "get tough" on the Castro regime is by embracing its leaders and allowing American spring breakers to party at the Cuban military's all-inclusive, isolated beach resorts.
"Tough" is not exactly what Flake exudes by the smirk on his face every time he meets with Castro's henchmen in Havana. (Image below is from this past weekend.)
Needless to say, the laughs can be heard all the way down the halls of Cuba's Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces ("MINFAR"), where General Raul Castro keeps his office.
Prior to embarking on his umpteenth trip to Cuba this past weekend, Senator Flake penned an op-ed in The Arizona Republic, in defense of President Obama's unprincipled Cuba policy.
And, lo and behold, Flake contradicts himself.
"A major decline in subsidies and investments from socialist patrons has hit Cuba's economy hard. As a result, the Castro regime has been forced to take steps to create openings for private businesses."
First of all, labeling Castro's "self-employment" structure -- a perverted model of state franchises, whereby the Cuban people have no property or contractual rights, let alone own anything -- as "private business" is misleading. This is particularly shameful for a libertarian, who should hold property rights to be sacrosanct.
But Flake is right that even this "self-employment" structure is an economic opening (albeit a small one) and more importantly -- that it was forced.
The fact remains that the Castro regime has never made any changes out of good-will, but only when forced out of necessity.
So why stop forcing it to make -- more substantive -- openings?
Just like Cuba's Soviet subsidies were replaced with Canadian and European tourists and investments in Castro's monopolies, Obama-Flake now seek to replace Venezuelan subsidies with American tourists and investments in those same monopolies.
Of course, as a libertarian, monopolies are not an issue for Flake. But if his goal is to achieve more openings for the Cuban people -- why stop forcing the regime by handing it the tourism and investment it so desperately needs?
Case and point: Just last week, speaking about another forced small economic opening ("non-agricultural cooperatives"), General Castro emphasized, “the cooperatives are of an experimental character and although their implementation is advancing, we have no reason to speed up the pace."
That's right. There's no longer reason or incentive to speed up the pace -- thanks to Obama-Flake.
Flake has an answer for this though. He writes:
"Some will contend that Cuba has not reformed enough to warrant these policy changes. But similar concerns have not prevented the U.S. from engaging with counties like China and Vietnam. We have worked for years to engage these countries in an attempt to hasten democratic reforms. I applaud that engagement, and believe we should do the same with Cuba."
And yet, such engagement has not hastened any democratic reforms in either China or Vietnam -- so why adopt this failed model with Cuba?
U.S. policy towards Cuba has resulted in a politically and economically bankrupt Castro dictatorship. Meanwhile, U.S. policy towards China and Vietnam has resulted in economically rich and powerful, neo-fascist dictatorships (the new PC term is "state capitalism").
In the last week alone, despite throngs of American tourism, investment and educational exchanges, China has hacked our national secrets, intensified its intimidation of foreign journalists, and begun a new crackdown against civil society and human rights groups.
(Naturally, no word on any of this from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council, or any other business group.)
And Flake has the audacity to consider the first a failure and the latter some sort of success worth emulating?
No wonder he's smirking -- for he can't possibly be serious.
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