Diplomatic Relations With Cuba Restored -- At A Great Cost To The U.S.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
By Mike Gonzalez in Forbes:

Diplomatic Relations With Cuba Formally Restored--At A Great Cost To The U.S.

Perhaps we should leave it to Gerardo Hernandez to write the definitive epigraph of U.S. foreign policy for the next two years. Hernandez is one of the convicted Cuban spies that President Barack Obama sprung from prison last year to curry enough favor with Cuba’s dictator Raul Castro to see today’s raising of the Cuban flag in Washington. He taunted Obama recently:

“We are going to have diplomatic relations with the United States without having ceded one iota.”

As today’s exchange of embassies in Havana and Washington attests, the KGB-trained spy was right on the money.

Of course, these kinds of boasts do not seem to bother the President. When informed that Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad and the mullahs in Tehran were also jeering at the U.S.—this time for giving away the store to Tehran—Obama famously mused:

“It does not give me pause that Mr. Assad or others in Tehran may be trying to spin the deal in a way that they think is favorable to what their constituencies want to hear. That’s what politicians do.”

The scorn and ridicule being heaped on our leader by the world’s worst actors may, however, start to disturb Americans at some point. After all, Obama will leave office in 18 months’ time, but the country will reap the bitter fruit of his foreign policy for years to come.

It’s troubling that President Obama is under the illusion that men like Assad, Castro and Iran’s Ali Khamenei are “politicians” who have “constituencies” they are concerned about. It betrays a na├»ve, even warped sense of the world. Assad, for one, has massacred 320,000 of his “constituents,” while Castro routinely arrests thousands of his each year for speaking their minds.

Of course, U.S. presidents must first take a cold-eyed look at U.S. national interests, not the depredations practiced by tyrants against those poor souls who have to scratch out lives under them. But from the perspective of U.S. national security, the Cuba deal may in time rival the one with Iran, or the failure to stick by the red line with Syria, as one of the most dangerous to the security of Americans. Ponder Hernandez’s words again.

This spy was duly convicted by a U.S. court in 2001 for conspiracy to commit murder on U.S. soil—though Obama refers to him and the other two spies whose sentences he commuted simply as “Cuban agents.” The President released the three as part of the deal which culminated in today’s embassy swap.

Waive the fact that President Obama did not use the same logic with the Cuban spies that he used with the four Americans detained in Iran. Last week, the President dressed down journalist Major Garrett for asking why he was “content” to leave them in Iran when he struck the deal with Tehran. Obama tartly responded:

“Think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly, Iran realizes, you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.”

Obama got nothing from the Cubans, as we know from Hernandez. He didn’t even get gratitude. This is what Hernandez told al-Jazeera this month: “I’ll do it again if I have to.”

And that is the problem with caving in to bad people who think nothing of repressing their own populations. They will think nothing of harming ours, too. Castro has now gained a coterie of spies who, under diplomatic immunity, will have the run of the U.S. They can even lobby Congress.

In exchange for what, Americans may well ask. The president will get another notch on what he considers his legacy, as will Secretary of State John Kerry. The message running across the Twitter feed this morning perfectly captured the mindset, as well as the seriousness, of the Obama Administration’s approach to Cuba: “First on CNN: Kerry to make historic trip to Cuba on Aug. 14.”

So Mr. Obama gets a “legacy.” Mr. Kerry gets a junket. But what will 11 million still-repressed Cubans and 330 million Americans get?