Like Castro, North Korea's Kim Also Purports to Have "Miracle Drugs"

Saturday, June 20, 2015
Thanks to the "health care advances" of North Korea, its scientists have discovered treatment for some of the world's deadliest diseases.

No, really.

But why the skepticism regarding Kim's treatment for these deadly diseases?

After all, Cuba's regime has yet to offer proof for any of its purported "miracle drugs" -- but the media and its lobbyists in DC claim it's still an important reason to embrace Castro's brutal regime.

In the last few months, we've heard endless propaganda about Cuba's purported lung cancer "miracle drug" -- yet somehow cancer remains the main cause of death in Cuba, with lung cancer being the prevailing type.

Not sure how that adds up.

But facts aside -- shouldn't these lobbyists instead be calling to unconditionally embrace Kim's regime?

After all, anything less, would risk denying the American people of these "miracle drugs."

Or so they say.

From AP:

North Korea claims 'cure' for Mers, Aids and Ebola

State media say scientists have developed a vaccine for ‘malicious infections’, including the respiratory disease currently sweeping through Asia

North Korea says it has succeeded where the greatest minds in science have failed.

The authoritarian, impoverished nation announced it has a drug that can prevent and cure Mers, Ebola, Sars and Aids.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said scientists developed Kumdang-2 from ginseng grown from fertiliser mixed with rare-earth elements and “micro-quantities of gold and platinum”, according to its website kumdang2.com.

“Malicious virus infections like Sars, Ebola and Mers are diseases related to immune systems, so they can be easily treated by Kumdang-2 drug, which is a strong immune reviver,” KCNA said.

Still a Long Way From Religious Freedom in Cuba

A Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post:

Still a long way from religious freedom in Cuba

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an organization that has been researching and advocating on concerns related to freedom of religion or belief in Cuba for years, welcomed the June 2 World article “Religion reawakens under Cuba’s thumb,” especially the attention given to the diversity of religious groups in Cuba and the restrictions they face.

While the religious panorama there is more complex than in other parts of Latin America, it is important to point out that the presence of Protestant denominations, or “evangelicals” as they are referred to in the article, is not new. The island is home to a strong, diverse and historic Protestant population. Many of these government-recognized denominations, including the Methodists mentioned, continue to report heavy government interference, not just regarding house churches, which proliferated largely because of government refusals to allow the construction of all but a handful of church buildings over the past 50 years, but also in regard to historic properties.

The Yaguajay Baptist Church, affiliated with the Western Baptist Convention, was informed in 2012 by the government of the retroactive “nationalization” of its property, supposedly in 1980. Just last month the Maranatha First Baptist Church in Holguin, affiliated with the Eastern Baptist Convention, was informed by Communist Party officials that the property on which the church has been sitting since 1947 now belongs to the government and that it will be obligated to pay rent and submit activities for approval. Also last month, a case was filed on behalf of the Rev. Yiorvis Bravo Denis with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the 2013 arbitrary expropriation by the government of his home, which also serves as a church affiliated with the Apostolic Movement network, which the government has refused to register.

On the other hand, while it is true that the Catholic Church has received some benefits not extended to other groups and linked to the rapprochement between Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the government, these benefits have not necessarily trickled down to the rank and file. Each week scores of women across the country, and some men, are violently arrested and detained to prevent them from attending Mass, and local priests and bishops are often forced to directly confront state security agents in an effort to preserve their churches as institutions that are open to all. The trends over the past few years seem to indicate that as religious groups flourish, a government that above all else seeks to exert social control over its population will continue to crack down behind the scenes even as it seeks to convince the outside world that it respects freedom of religion or belief.

Kiri Kankhwende, London
The writer is press officer of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The Flagrant Trafficking of Stolen Property in Cuba

Friday, June 19, 2015
During a hearing yesterday in the House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled, "The Future of Property Rights in Cuba," we learned:

-- How the State Department is paying the Castro regime for the use of property that was stolen from a certified U.S. claimant.

-- How foreign companies doing business in the U.S. are trafficking in properties stolen from Americans in Cuba.

-- How the Castro regime commercializes stolen U.S. property to American travelers.

This is reprehensible on some many levels.

Excerpt from Dr. Javier Garcia Bengochea's (a certified U.S. claimant) Congressional testimony:

"Americans assume when they invest in Cuba clear title and basic protections will be in place.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Contract sanctity, an independent judiciary and transparent regulatory and enforcement agencies do not exist there.

Every American enterprise in Cuba, including tourism, will necessarily traffic in stolen properties, including brands and trademarks, maybe those of an American.

That has certainly been my experience. The State Department, for example, has occupied a penthouse apartment since 1977 in a building I own without my permission, much less payment.

At least two groups, Smith College and The Met, have received licenses to traffic in my port property.

Countless licensed travelers have paid admission to Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts to view paintings stolen off the walls of our home.

Foreign entities Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and China Harbor Engineering Company do business in the U.S. while using my stolen port.

How is that right or even legal?"

Roberta Jacobson Shows Bad Judgment (Again)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, is surely a good person -- with good intentions -- but she continues showing bad judgment time and again.

Jacobson, who is the Obama Administration's key negotiator with the Castro regime, has recently been nominated to become U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

We're all familiar with her past deceptive statements regarding the Venezuelan opposition and the families of Americans murdered by the Castro regime.

Moreover, her negotiations with the Castro regime will play a central role in her Senate confirmation process, particularly if she accepts restrictions -- unprecedented in the Western Hemisphere -- on U.S. diplomats or on the operations of a potential U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Thus, someone in such a high-profile position should exercise extra caution, particularly as she'll soon face the scrutiny of an already controversial confirmation process.

Instead, yesterday, The New York Times reported that Jacobson attended the launch of a new lobbying group, which was created for the express purpose of lobbying on behalf of pending legislation before the U.S. Congress.

The same lobbying group later sent out pictures of Jacobson at the event (below), as part of its publicity campaign.

The head of Castro's Interests Section is Washington, Jose Ramon Cabañas, was also in attendance -- but that's just plain distasteful.

The Congressional sponsors of the pending legislation the group lobbies for, were also present -- namely U.S. Senators Jeff Flake, Patrick Leahy and Amy Klobuchar.

Of course, Jacobson is free to lobby Flake, Leahy, Klobuchar and any other Member of Congress personally at their office -- whenever she sees fit.

But her attendance at this lobbying event raises potential legal questions -- though mainly judgment ones.

The Anti-Lobbying Act ("Act") is a federal statute that prohibits the use of appropriated funds for activities that directly or indirectly are "intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, to favor or oppose... any legislation or appropriation by Congress..."

The General Accounting Office (GAO), which is tasked with enforcing the Act, has interpreted it to prohibit Executive Branch employees from engaging in lobbying campaigns or participating in events designed to support or oppose pending legislation.

Of course, the context of what is said and the context of the activity are important in determining whether any violation has taken place. Plus, throughout the years, a handful of exemptions to the prohibitions have been created.

So surely, Jacobson got clearance to participate in this event from the State Department's Legal Counsel -- or so we hope.

It would certainly be a fair question for the Senate to ask -- and to review -- during her confirmation for Ambassador to Mexico.

As a question of judgment.

Odebrecht's CEO Arrested in Corruption Probe

As we all know (by now), the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht has recently become the Castro regime's most prized foreign business partner.

Not surprisingly, Odebrecht has been under investigation by Brazilian prosecutors for corruption, slave labor, inhumane conditions, international human trafficking, curtailment of freedom, retention of documents and other violations.

This morning, its CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, was arrested.

We've long been critical of this company's immoral practices and out-sized role in taxpayer projects in Miami-Dade County.

Its business with Castro's dictatorship is so treasured (and obviously greased) that it chose to go to court, rather than abide by a Florida law -- overwhelming passed by the state legislature and supported by Miami-Dade County voters -- which would have required it to end its dealing with Cuba prior to receiving any further taxpayer money.

Many have sought to whitewash Odebrecht's behavior -- but ultimately, the truth always prevails.

From Reuters:

Brazil arrests powerful Odebrecht CEO in Petrobras probe 

Brazilian police on Friday arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America's largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA, local media said, pulling the most high-profile executive into the corruption investigation at state-run oil firm Petrobras.

House Committee Passes Fourth Bill Tightening Cuba Sanctions

Thursday, June 18, 2015
This morning, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

This bill funds the operations of the Treasury Department, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC").

The bill contains three Cuban-related prohibitions, which opponents were (once again) unsuccessful in trying to remove:

"A prohibition on travel to Cuba for educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program, a prohibition on the importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government, and a prohibition on financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service."

In other words, it effectively terminates "people-to-people" trips, which have been a guise for illegal tourism transactions; prohibits all transactions with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military and security services; and prohibits the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.

This is the fourth bill to pass the House Appropriations Committee, which altogether contain nearly a dozen provisions challenging President Obama's Cuba policy.

Two of these bill have already passed the whole U.S. House of Representatives, which tighten sanctions towards Cuba:

The Commerce, Justice Appropriations bill contains a provision (supported by a vote of 273-153) ensuring that none of the exports authorized under the Obama Administration's new "Support for the Cuban People" category (under Commerce Department regulations) can be funneled through entities owned or controlled by the Castro regime's military or security services.

And the Transportation Appropriations bill contains language (supported by a vote of 247-176) prohibiting the use of confiscated property for new travel -- by airplane or vessels -- to Cuba.

Still awaiting floor consideration, the State Department, Foreign Operations bill contains key provisions that prohibit funds for an embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba, beyond what was in existence prior to the President’s December announcement proposing changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy. It also restricts funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the U.S., increases democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba, and provides direction to the Secretary of State on denying the issuance of visas to members of the Cuban military and the Communist party.

Featured Q&A: On Status of U.S.-Cuba Relations

From The Inter-American Dialogue's Latin American Advisor:

Q. The U.S. government on May 29 removed Cuba from its state sponsors of terrorism list, a key step in the Obama administration’s push to normalize relations with the Caribbean island nation. The previous week, negotiators from the two countries ended a round of talks without an agreement on opening embassies in each other’s capitals. Does Cuba’s removal from the terror list mean that embassies and full diplomatic relations are just around the corner? What are the main obstacles standing in the way of closer ties between the two countries? To what extent will political opposition in the U.S. Congress prevent normalized relations?

A. Otto Reich, president of Otto Reich Associates and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs:

“The Obama administration is so desperate to deflect attention from an unbroken series of drubbings on Cuba in Congress (and seven years without a single achievement in foreign affairs) that it is likely to declare victory on Cuba and move on to other matters with a higher likelihood of success. Administration spokespeople no longer even refer to the Cuba initiative as ‘normalization,’ but rather simply as ‘resumption of diplomatic relations.’ The reason, according to diplomats wishing to remain anonymous, is the recognition that ‘normal’ relations with a regime presided over by the Castro brothers and their appointees are not possible. The congressional defeats could have been foreseen: a majority in Congress knows President Obama’s initiative is the polar opposite of how successful foreign negotiations should be conducted, especially with a lawless regime. Had Ronald Reagan approached the USSR in the way that Obama has courted Cuba, we would still be in the Cold War, or worse. Consequently, the president has lost all Congressional votes on Cuba so far this year, some by margins as high as 120 votes. Contrary to how Reagan negotiated with the Soviets (leveraging our position of strength and with a pro-U.S. strategy), Mr. Obama has made no demand for irreversible reforms by the Cubans, has unilaterally granted the bankrupt Castro government access to dollar-bearing U.S. tourists and has asked Congress to open the largest market in the world to Cuba’s military-controlled economy, an economy where workers are so disenfranchised that even if they work at foreign-run enterprises they can be paid only by the state and receive 5 percent of what the foreign ‘investor’ gives the Castros for the use of the worker. Thus, the Cuban system has been described as ‘virtual slavery’ by international labor watchdogs. The Obama administration’s policy toward Cuba has been so obsequious that observers joke the U.S. flag in front of our Embassy in Havana will bear white stars and white stripes on a white background."

Quote of the Day: On Confiscated Properties in Cuba

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
I continue to strongly oppose the Obama Administration’s decision to normalize relations with the oppressive Communist Castro regime.  The President’s determination to continue to negotiate from a position of weakness and not to be more forceful in insisting upon basic freedoms and human rights for the Cuban people is a profound disservice to those brave individuals on the island who continue to be bold enough to stand up to the regime.  Earlier this year, this Subcommittee examined the U.S. national security implications of the President’s new Cuba policy shift. This hearing will examine the Cuban government’s complete disregard for property rights, which has impacted thousands of American and Cuban citizens alike.  When Fidel Castro brutally seized power in 1959, he confiscated property from both U.S. and Cuban titleholders – some at gunpoint – without providing any compensation in return. Yet, the Obama Administration has proceeded with talks toward normalization of relations with Cuba without prioritizing justice for U.S. claimants whose property and assets were stolen from them. In total, these property claims represent the loss of billions of dollars and a blatant disregard for the importance of property rights and the rule of law. I look forward to examining this issue in greater detail.
-- U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, on today's hearing on confiscated properties in Cuba, 6/18/15

Castro, Obama and a 'Thing Called Congress'

By Amb. Everett Ellis Briggs in The Republican-American:

Castro, Obama and a 'thing called Congress'

President Obama's chief negotiator for "normalizing" relations with Cuba, Roberta Jacobson, at her final news-media briefing last month, expressed strong optimism that the two countries eventually would restore full diplomatic ties. But said she is a "realist" about how long it might take, after 54 years of what she referred to as misunderstandings between the two countries.

Obama has nominated Jacobson to be his ambassador to Mexico, freeing her from what looks increasingly like a hopeless task, given Cuba's recalcitrance and Congress' determination not to let Obama simply give in to Raul Castro's demands, as seems to be his inclination.

Meanwhile, there has been no give in the Castro regime's insistence on flouting international diplomatic convention by inspecting diplomatic pouches, restricting in-country travel by American officials, preventing outreach to political dissidents (who in Cuba are considered traitors), and interfering with access by the Cuban public to the U.S. mission's reading room or Internet cafe.

Cuba refuses to surrender convicted American terrorists and fugitives from justice whom it has given asylum for decades.

Cuba not only won't pay compensation for the billions of dollars of U.S. property it confiscated, it insists the United States pay reparations for the supposed economic hardship U.S. sanctions have caused the island.

And Raul Castro has announced the return of Guantánamo to Cuba is a non-negotiable condition for re-establishing relations.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to what has been going on inside and outside Cuba after last year's announcement that the countries had decided to bury the hatchet. The regime has clamped down harder than ever on Cuban dissidents. There have been more than 3,000 political arrests, including all 53 prisoners who were released as part of the Dec. 17 deal; and an increase in attacks by Castro goon squads against the Ladies in White (a group of peaceful demonstrators who meet weekly at a Havana church). The long arm of state brutality even was extended abroad, as when Castro agents beat up Cuban dissidents — some of them U.S. citizens — in Panama during the recent Summit of the Americas.

Despite all of this, plus Jacobson's inability to cite a single indicator of progress in the negotiations, Obama keeps looking for ways to induce Castro to soften his rigid anti-American stance, if not the regime's iron grip on its citizenry. After his "historic" encounter with Castro in Panama, Obama approved removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and opening up Cuba's access to U.S. banking, despite evidence that Cuba still is in the business of fomenting trouble abroad (and harbors American terrorists).

The lifting of restrictions on certain Cuban imports and plans to resume commercial travel between the United States and Cuba have been touted as signaling the success of a new policy of engagement, to replace the failure of confrontation.

Time for a reality check. Enter Congress.

Several things happened on Capitol Hill last week, starting with a letter from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in which he notified the secretary he will not allow anyone nominated by the administration to be ambassador to Cuba to be confirmed until there is real political reform in Cuba and a restoration of basic human rights; American terrorists and fugitives are repatriated; Americans are compensated for their stolen property; and all restrictions on diplomats are lifted.

The House Appropriations Committee, in considering the State Department budget, voted overwhelmingly to bar any additional expenditures to convert the U.S. Interests Section in Havana into an embassy, or to facilitate a parallel change for the Cubans in Washington. It also approved an increase in funding for Radio and TV Martí, and provided direction to the secretary of State on denying visas for Cuban military and Communist Party members. These provisions survived efforts by Castro apologists at the leftmost fringes of the Democratic Party to delete them during markup, by wide bipartisan margins.

On June 4, as part of the Commerce and Justice department appropriations bill, the House approved by a vote of 273-153 — with substantial Democratic support — tightening sanctions against the Castro regime. No exports under Obama's "Support for the Cuban People" initiative may be made through any entities owned or controlled by officers of Cuba's military or security services, or their relatives. Since the military and security services run the Cuban economy, that pretty much bars any exports supposedly intended to ease the plight of the Cubans. Their poor standard of living, after all, is entirely because of the regime's misguided policies, not U.S. trade restrictions.

In a similar vein, Sens. Rubio, Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the "Cuban Military Transparency Act," which would prohibit financial transactions with the regime's military and security services.

And on April 5, the House, by a vote of 247-176 — again, with significant Democratic support — approved a provision in this year's Transportation Appropriations bill barring any new flights or vessels offering travel to Cuba from being facilitated by, or benefiting from, confiscated property.

Congress has continued to tighten the noose, as much on Obama and those eager Americans who can't wait to enjoy the supposed benefits of normalization, as on Castro, it would seem.

The House Appropriations Committee has just released its 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill — the one that will keep the Treasury running. It bars travel to Cuba "for educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program." In other words, no more disguised tourism. It bars "financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service." So much for investing in Cuba, since the military and intelligence service run the economy.

And most cruelly, it bars the "importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government." We'll just have to suck in our gut and wait for another day to savor the world's best rum and cigars.

Richard Sealy, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, recognized the current state of affairs last week when he was quoted as saying: "... (A) little dose of reality needs to be realized here. Barack Obama did all he could do as far as restoring relations, but there is still this thing called Congress."

This thing called Congress also should consider tying up other loose ends Obama's approach has caused to unravel, starting with passing legislation reaffirming U.S. authority over Guantánamo, a subject that should not be open for negotiation with anything but a friendly, democratic country.

Everett Ellis Briggs of Norfolk is a former ambassador to Panama, Honduras and Portugal.

Jeff Flake Admits He's Wrong About Cuba Policy

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
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.

He writes:

"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.

Tweet of the Day: Cuba Wants to Strengthen Military Cooperation With China

Remarks by Cuban Democracy Leader Guillermo Fariñas

Remarks by Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas at the annual Victims of Communism Commemoration, where he received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom:

"We Continue to Fight"

Thank you very much, on behalf of the Cuban people, on behalf of the dominated and repressed Cuban people; because they are the ones that have really earned this medal.

In these moments during which the Cuban cause is passing through a very difficult situation, when we have been excluded from the negotiating table, when we have given and continue to give our lives for the cause of freedom, I would like to dedicate this medal to my fellow Cubans.

Since [the announcement of opening relations between the United States and Cuba], we have lived with the terrible news that the Cuban people, and especially the ones who have fought to establish a democracy in Cuba, were not going to be taken into account [in the ongoing negotiations]. Many of us were discouraged.

However, because we are committed to a democratic Cuba, we decided to continue. And we took our inspiration from the Cuban people that have either died or been exiled—from the Cuban political prisoners. They are living in diaspora; they are yearning for a free country. They refuse to go back to Cuba, and to reach any kind of agreement with the current government.

These are the people who have suffered so much more, who have been betrayed so much more, than I have. And despite it they continue to fight for a free Cuba.

It is imperative that it should be known that during the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s, from the last century, no one heard. The prisoners were repressed and murdered with impunity. They had no internet, there were no newspapers that reported what was going on. Their family couldn’t visit, but nevertheless, they continued fighting for two decades.

That is why, after December 17th [2014], when we analyzed the situation of our country, we noticed that we couldn’t afford to give up. On the contrary, we had to continue fighting. And we had to continue fighting harder than ever to achieve democracy in Cuba.

This is the group of the Cuban people to which, from the bottom of my heart, I dedicate this medal—to the Cuban political prisoners of the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The other group of the Cuban people to which I dedicate this medal to is to those who, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, traveled around the world fighting against communism.

Communism was not able to consolidate in Latin America, in Africa, and even in Europe because of these Cubans, these patriot Cubans, who left their families and their friends with the goal of not letting communism ensnare the world.

I believe that these two groups of the Cuban people, out of the whole Cuba, are the ones that inspired me to be who I am; the ones that made me the anti-communist that I am, and that I will be until the end of my days.

However, sometimes we speak only of the past. And it is important that we speak of the present. Today the world—especially America—is in danger because communism is resurging, and there are statesmen and rulers that do not want to realize this.

It is important that during this time figures emerge at the head of democratic countries with the characteristics of the two men for whom this medal is named after—Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Two tireless fighters against communism who never surrendered.

This is the third time that a Cuban receives this recognition. A recognition that is symbolic, iconic, and emblematic. But more than receiving these recognitions, we need to free Cuba and achieve democracy in my country. I believe that I would truly earn this medal only when Cuba becomes free and democratic.

Thank you very much. And we invite you to join us in our continuous fight for the freedom of Cuba. And if we fall along the way, we ask that you keep supporting our brothers and sisters. Because the dictatorship will not soften, even after the American policy shift last December. Indeed, it has gotten tougher. Thank you, and may God bless Cuba, the United States, and may God bless a world without communism.

U.S. Engagement With Castro Has Been Deadly for Human Rights Activists

By John Suarez in The Daily Signal:

Why US ‘Engagement’ With Cuba Has Been Deadly for Human Rights Activists

President Obama’s engagement policy with the Castro regime, announced in 2009, has led to a massive increase in arbitrary detentions, violence against activists and the deaths of high-profile opposition leaders under circumstances that point to extrajudicial executions carried out by Cuban state security.

The White House not only began to loosen sanctions on the Castro regime in April 2009, but also refused to meet in June 2009 with the winners of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Award, who happened to be five Cuban dissidents that year.

It was the first time in five years the U.S. president did not meet with award laureates. In December 2009, the Castro regime responded to the outreach when it took Alan Gross hostage and the Obama administration responded with initial silence. It took American diplomats 25 days to visit with the arbitrarily detained American.

These signals would have deadly consequences for the Cuban democratic opposition. Rising levels of violence against nonviolent activists and the suspicious deaths of human rights defenders, such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo (2010), Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia (2011), Laura Inés Pollán Toledo (2011), Wilman Villar Mendoza (2012), Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (2012) and Harold Cepero Escalante (2012), followed promptly.

The administration responded to the taking of Gross (2009) and the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo on Feb. 23, 2010, by further loosening sanctions on Cuba in January 2011. The number of high-profile activists who died under suspicious circumstances after the second round of loosening of sanctions should give engagement advocates pause in their optimism with the new policy.

Machete attacks by regime officials against activists began in June 2013, the same month as secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Castro regime started.

On Feb. 3, 2015, Rosa María Payá, in testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued an indictment on the indifference of the US government and the international community:

"On 22 July 2012, Cuban State Security detained the car in which my father, Oswaldo Payá, and my friend Harold Cepero, along with two young European politicians, were traveling. All of them survived, but my father disappeared for hours only to reappear dead, in the hospital in which Harold would die without medical attention. The Cuban government wouldn’t have dared to carry out its death threats against my father if the U.S. government and the democratic world had been showing solidarity. If you turn your face, impunity rages. While you slept, the regime was conceiving their cleansing of the pro-democracy leaders to come. While you sleep, a second generation of dictators is planning with impunity their next crimes."

Two months later Rosa María Payá, and other activists were harassed first at the airport by Panamanian officials and later at the VII Summit of the Americas for protesting that the United States, along with the democracies of the region, invited Raul Castro to the summit. Castro arrived with a huge entourage of state security agents, then proceeded to interrupt and shut down official civil society gatherings at the summit to silence dissent. Cuban pro-democracy activists were physically assaulted in a public park when they tried to lay a wreath before a bust of Jose Marti suffering broken bones and black eyes.

Meanwhile, President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro and declared the goal of regime change in Cuba was no longer U.S. policy. Now, violence in Cuba escalates each Sunday as men and women of the democratic resistance suffering brutal beatings and detentions.

Quote of the Day: We Don't Need Glorified Tourists in Havana

Ninety miles to our south, there is talk of a state visit by our outgoing president. But we don’t need a glorified tourist to go to Havana in support of a failed Cuba. We need an American president to go to Havana in solidarity with a free Cuban people, and I am ready to be that president.
-- Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and 2016 presidential candidate, in his campaign launch remarks, 6/15/15

"Self-Employment" in Cuba is Not Private Business

By Cuban lawyer Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand in The PanAm Post:

Self-Employed in Cuba? Good Luck with That

Economic "Liberalization" Only Heaps More Indignities on Cuban People

When one lives under a totalitarian, dictatorial society — just like the Cuban system — you can’t expect anything good from your rulers, nor from the laws or decisions adopted by them. For no matter how benevolent and well intentioned they may seem, they always implicitly bear the perverse objective of satiating their uncontrollable hunger for power and riches, to the detriment of freedom and the well-being of their citizens.

Private property has always been one of the fiercest enemies of the Cuban dictatorship. Thus, from an early age, they instil in our consciences the idea that private ownership has been the biggest cause of all humanity’s woes — ironic, given that for the great dictator and his cronies, Cuba and all that lies within it (even her people’s private thoughts) are treated like a personal fiefdom.

However, from 2010, the idea of incentivizing and widening the practice of self-employed work occurred to these monopolists. On the one hand, according to them, the aim was to create another employment alternative which would increase the supply of goods and services, all to benefit the Cuban people — how nice of them, right?

Another perspective is that it was designed to make Cubans and the world believe their intentions of bringing about a revolutionary economic and social opening.

Thus they could kill two birds with one stone: firstly, to revive the people’s hopes and forestall for a few years more the inevitable social uprising, the consequence of the miserable existence that we Cubans live. Secondly, they could achieve a rapprochement in their economic relationship with the West, thus filling their coffers and keeping themselves in power.

Misery Business

But time is the enemy of lies. Now, almost five years after the announcement of this perfidious strategy, the Cuban people continue to be mired in misery, and the implantation of self-employment, far from encouraging their well-being, has only managed to increase corruption, exploitation, and want.

Increasing numbers of self-employed workers have had to hand over their licenses and give up. Below I’ll lay out some of the ordeals that these self-employed Cubans have had to go through in their own words, omitting only their names to protect them from further shame and mistreatment at the hands of the state.

The business isn’t private at all, for the state controls everything. It’s the only provider of raw materials and goods, upon which it imposes abusive prices, forcing us to sell our products on at an expensive price to the population. As you’d expect, this affects our sales and prevents us from changing the prices of our own products, to say nothing of the poor quality of raw materials, which also affects the quality of our stock.

Meanwhile, the almost permanent lack of basic products like eggs, flour, cheese, etc., means that when they appear, well-organized black market traders take everything, only to sell them on later at even more irrational prices.”

“I was declared redundant from the employment center where I’d worked for 10 years, and I saw in self-employed work an attractive proposal, but I was wrong.

Now I have to work 11 hours a day to obtain a miserable salary. Although it’s a little better than the salary I had as a state worker, it’s not enough to definitively escape misery. So you have an idea, I’ll explain the rough outlines to you:

The state rents me my shop for CUC$50 (US$50) daily, from Monday to Saturday. I pay my helper CUC$50 daily, as well as the night watchman another CUC$50.

Now to explain the daily earnings that I make in an average year of work. From daily profits of CUC$319 I deduct the CUC$150 mentioned above, leaving CUC$169, which across a month equals CUC$4,056.

From these gross earnings I have to subtract license fees of CUC$500, CUC$175 social-security payment, and taxes of 10 percent on my profits, representing approximately CUC$405, meaning a total of CUC$1,080. Taken from my monthly earnings, I’m left with a gross total of CUC$2,976.

But it doesn’t end here. It’s almost impossible for self-employed business owners to avoid becoming the victim of an inspection by corrupt state officials during a month of work, who always look for a justification to punish them with fines that can reach up to CUC$1500. As a result, business owners always have between 300 and 500 pesos ready to bribe them and thus avoid the fine.

Taking away a bribe of at least CUC$400, I’m left with gross monthly earnings of around CUC$2,576.

Then from these earnings, we deduct the elevated investment costs in raw materials, meaning that net earnings only reach a pittance, barely enough to live on. In reality, I’ve already thought very seriously of handing in my license and starting to sell on the black market, where at least I wouldn’t have to pay the taxes and would only have to bribe the inspectors. The majority of business in Cuba function in this way, although the statistics never say it.”

This is how things stand: don’t let them fool you. Self-employment in Cuba has nothing to do with private property nor with the well-being of the people, and plenty to do with exploitation, corruption, and misery. Why with misery?

Because the scarce resources that the state offers the population through its degrading “markets,” are mostly hoarded by intermediaries to later sell them on, and by legitimate buyers to use them in their own quasi-businesses. As a consequence, the vast majority of the people don’t have access to them, and thus they have to turn to underground markets and truly abusive prices.

All of this, from the inability and disinterest of the state in satisfying the basic needs of the Cuban people.

Dropping Embargo Won’t Help Cuban People

A Letter to the Editor of Florida Today:

Dropping embargo won’t help Cuban people

A comment on the article, “Trip to Cuba is educational eye-opening

The tourist industry is made in a way that allows tourists to enjoy their vacation without ever leaving their isolated areas. As a result tourists often have no idea of the internal structure of society and conclude that Cubans are poor but generally happy.

When they ask the personnel of their hotel for good local places to eat or drink they are directed to state-owned venues and are driven in state-owned taxis. Through a series of physical restrictions imposed on Cubans, the government is able to maintain what is known as ‘tourism apartheid’.”

Opponents of U.S. policy toward Cuba continue to claim that, if the embargo and travel ban were lifted, the Cuban people would benefit economically, the communist system would start crumbling and transition to democracy would accelerate. Do they really believe that American tourists and businesses would succeed where Canadians, Latin Americans and Europeans have failed?

For decades, tourists from these countries have visited the island, and their investments and trade have been welcomed by the Castro regime. Yet the end result has been little prosperity and more repression for the Cuban people.

There is no evidence to support the notion that engagement with a totalitarian state will bring about its demise. Only academic ideologues and some members of Congress who cater to the economic needs of their state cling to this notion. Their calls for ending the embargo have little to do with democracy in Cuba or the welfare of the Cuban people.

The assumption that Fidel Castro and the Cuban leadership would allow U.S. tourists or businesses to subvert the revolution and influence internal developments is at best naive.

Fernando Dominicis
Melbourne

10th Straight Sunday: Over 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested, Silence From Obama

Monday, June 15, 2015
For the 10th straight Sunday, the Castro regime has unleashed another wave of repression against peaceful dissidents.

Just in Havana, 68 members of The Ladies in White and 20 other democracy activists were arrested outside Gandhi Park (talk about a sad irony).

Dozens of other activists have been arrested near their homes, including Claudio Fuentes, Agustín López, Liban Santiago, Saqueo Báez, Serafín Morán and Hugo Damián Prieto.

Meanwhile, no word from the Obama Administration. But that's already expected.

Also no word from the visiting delegation of U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Senator Flake and company have been busy wining and dining with Castro regime officials, but not a word of support for these imprisoned dissidents.

Not that we expected anything different from Senator Flake.

But does Senator Collins feel good about peaceful Cuban women being violently beaten and arrested, while she's embracing their oppressors?

Why doesn't Senator Collins take some time to meet with the leader of The Ladies in White, Berta Soler, while in Cuba -- if she hasn't been imprisoned yet?

Sure, the Senator's Castro regime hosts will probably not like it -- but doing the right thing is never easy.

Obama Negotiates U.S.-Venezuela Relations With Drug Kingpin

There are clearly no limits to the Obama Administration's desire to "normalize" relations with the world's rogue regimes.

In the last seven months, we've seen the Obama Administration give concession-after-concession to Cuba's Castro regime -- including turning a blind-eye to illegal weapons shipments for terrorist groups -- in order to establish diplomatic relations with the region's only totalitarian dictatorship.

In the next few weeks, watch how it also accepts limitations on American diplomats and their activities in a future U.S. Embassy in Cuba -- unlike in any other nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Of course, at this rate, it won't be an anomaly for long -- as the region's other wanna-be authoritarians are taking note how the Obama Administration has re-opened the door (Pandora's Box) to dictatorships in the Americas.

As if such short-sighted irresponsibility wasn't enough, a senior State Department official went to Haiti this weekend to negotiate the "normalization" of U.S.-Venezuela relations with a drug kingpin under investigation by U.S. prosecutors and the DEA for running a major cocaine trafficking and money laundering empire.

According to news reports, State Department counselor, Amb. Tom Shannon, was dispatched to meet with Maduro's No. 2, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, in order to discuss a rapprochement between the U.S. and Venezuela.

Just a few weeks earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported how Cabello and other senior Venezuelan officials were at the center of a probe by U.S. prosecutors on suspicion they have turned the country into a global hub for cocaine trafficking and money laundering.

And that's who we're negotiating with? Seriously?

Has the Obama Administration lost all scruples?

Does it not realize the message of impunity it's sending across the region?

Or will the Obama Administration try to suppress an indictment of Cabello, in the same manner as the Clinton Administration squashed a cocaine trafficking indictment of General Raul Castro in 1993, in order not to "rock the boat"? 

Let's hope Congress sheds some light on these issues during the upcoming confirmation hearing for the current Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, who has now been nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

Obama's Cuba Policy Solidifies Military Control

Sunday, June 14, 2015
By Dr. Jose Azel in The Wall Street Journal:

Cuba After the Castros: The Likely Scenario

The armed forces control 70% of the economy now. It’s not likely they’ll give that up for a free market.

The 2008 succession from Fidel to Raúl Castro was efficient and effective. But the popular hallucination outside the island—in which Gen. Castro intervenes forcefully to end the communist era and inaugurates a democratic, market-oriented Cuba—is not going to be how the story ends.

Given Raúl’s age—84—there will be another succession in the near future. The critical question is not what economic reforms Raúl may introduce, but what follows him.

José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party, is also 84 years old and Cuba watchers do not see him as the next leader. If Miguel Díaz-Canel, 55, the first vice president of Cuba, ascends to the presidency, he will most likely be a “civilian” figurehead for the generals to present to the international community.

Raúl was head of the armed forces for nearly 50 years and now, as head of the country, he has appointed his military officers and military family members to positions in government and industry. One possible scenario after he is gone would be a reversion to a military dictatorship such as Cuba under Batista, Brazil from 1964-85, or Egypt today. Yet another outcome, equally disquieting, is possible.

By some estimates, including the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces controls over 70% of the economy. Enterprise Management Group (GAESA), the commercial holding company for the Cuban Defense Ministry, is involved in all key sectors of the economy. Through government-owned subsidies, the company is heavily involved in tourism, retail sales, mining, farming and energy, and joint ventures with foreign investors.

Raúl, as a matter of survival not ideology, has introduced some tentative economic reforms, while continuing to expand the metamorphosis of his officers into businessmen. Some might present this as a positive development, where warriors exchange their weapons for calculators. But what does it mean for the future of Cuba when the Raúl era comes to an end and military officers are in political and economic control?

In a system where enterprises are state-owned and managed, the military officers-turned-business executives will enjoy the privileges of an elite ruling class. Yet it will not take long for the military elite to realize that managing government-owned enterprises offers only limited benefits—owning the enterprises is a far more lucrative option.

Once the Castro brothers are no longer in the picture, the military oligarchy might decide to champion a far-reaching but phony reform—that is, a manipulated privatization of the industries under their managerial control. Not unlike the rigged privatizations in Russia in the 1990s, an illegitimate and corrupt privatization process would give birth to a new class of government-created oligarchs—instant capitalist millionaires, the new Cuban “captains of industry.”

The Cuban population might not view these ownership changes as particularly undesirable or nefarious, mistakenly viewing them as a positive transition toward free markets and prosperity. The international community would likely also acclaim the mutated generals as agents of change bringing market reforms to Cuba. In the United States, of course, the change in U.S.-Cuba policy introduced by President Obama would be declared a success.

Cuban Communism, to be sure, would come to an end, leaving in its wake generals, new captains of industry and assorted other nouveau riche in charge of country devoid of democratic culture. And like Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s economy would be riddled with monopolies and oligopolies whose owners would have the power to stifle any pro-competitive policies or international investors that might threaten their position.

It is often argued that the introduction of economic reforms, even without political reforms, will lead sequentially and inexorably to democracy. As in the case of China after Mao, this is not necessarily, or even probably, the case.

Without profound political reforms, putative economic changes conducted by Cuba’s military will only transfer wealth from the state to a ruling military and party elite. It will not lead to democracy or prosperity.

Must-Read: Our Failed China Policy

U.S. policy towards Cuba has resulted in a politically and economically bankrupt Castro dictatorship.

Meanwhile, U.S. policy towards China has created an increasingly oppressive "Frankenstein," which threatens all of our interests.

Yet, some -- including President Obama -- argue that we should now adopt this same failed policy towards Cuba.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Can China Be Contained?

As tensions with China rise, U.S. foreign policy thinkers are dusting off ideas from the Cold War—and questioning the long-standing consensus for engagement with Beijing

Writing in 1967, at the height of the Cold War, Richard Nixon proclaimed a new American ambition: to “persuade China that it must change.”

“Taking the long view,” he wrote, “we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors.” Four years later, having ascended to the White House, Nixon engineered an “opening to China” that promised to turn the communist giant into a diplomatic partner, one that would adopt America’s values and maybe even its system of democracy.

For many Americans today, watching the administration of President Xi Jinping crack down hard on internal dissent while challenging the U.S. for leadership in Asia, that promise seems more remote than ever before. In his recently published book “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” Michael Pillsbury—an Asia specialist and Pentagon official under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—writes that China “has failed to meet nearly all of our rosy expectations.”

U.S. foreign policy has reached a turning point, as analysts from across the political spectrum have started to dust off Cold War-era arguments and to speak of the need for a policy of containment against China. The once solid Washington consensus behind the benefits of “constructive engagement” with Beijing has fallen apart.

The conviction that engagement is the only realistic way to encourage liberalization in China has persisted across eight U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. Jimmy Carter bequeathed Nixon’s policy to Ronald Reagan; George W. Bush to Barack Obama.

The turmoil in U.S. policy has been especially evident in recent months. An unprecedented stream of advisory reports from leading academic centers and think tanks has proposed everything from military pushback against China to sweeping concessions. The prescriptions vary, but their starting point is the same: pessimism about the present course of U.S.-Chinese relations.

The mood shift in Washington may end up being every bit as consequential as the one that came over the U.S. immediately after World War II, when it dawned on America that the Soviet Union wasn’t going to continue to be an ally. That is when the legendary U.S. diplomat and policy thinker George F. Kennan formulated his plan for containment.

In a 1947 article in Foreign Affairs, he wrote that the U.S. “has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.” Kennan’s strategy—to bleed the Soviet Union through nonprovocative resistance—offered comfort to Europeans who feared that they faced a stark choice between war and capitulation.

A similar anxiety about China’s actions and intentions has now taken hold among many Asians. U.S. friends and allies in the region are flocking to America’s side to seek protection as Mr. Xi’s China builds up its navy, pushes its fleets farther into the blue ocean and presses its territorial claims. In what is just the latest assertive move to alarm the region, China is now dredging tiny coral reefs in the South China Sea to create runways, apparently for military jets.

The U.S. is resisting. President Obama’s signature “pivot” to Asia—designed both to calm anxious U.S. friends and to recognize the region’s vast strategic importance in the 21st century—is bringing advanced American combat ships to Singapore, Marines to Australia and military advisers to the Philippines. Japan, America’s key ally in Asia, is rearming and has adjusted its pacifist postwar constitution to allow its forces to play a wider role in the region. The purpose of much of this activity is to preserve the independence of smaller Asian nations who fear they might otherwise have no choice but to fall into China’s orbit and yield to its territorial ambitions—in other words, to capitulate.

For its part, China is utterly convinced that the U.S. is pursuing a policy of containment. Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister (and himself a China expert), summarized Beijing’s perception of U.S. goals in five bullet points in a recent Harvard study: to isolate China, contain it, diminish it, internally divide it and sabotage its political leadership.

To be sure, the new tension in U.S.-China relations is not anything like the Cold War stare-down that preoccupied Europe for decades, when NATO and Warsaw Pact tanks faced each other across lines that neither side dared to cross. But in one important respect, history is repeating itself: Both China and the U.S. have started to view each other not as partners, competitors or rivals but as adversaries.

China’s missile and naval buildup, as well as its development of new cyber- and space-warfare capabilities, are aimed squarely at deterring the U.S. military from intervening in any conflict in Asia. Meanwhile, many of the Pentagon’s pet projects—Star Wars technologies such as lasers and advanced weapons systems such as a long-range bomber—are being developed with China in mind.

So what, specifically, should America do? In one of the most hawkish of the recent think-tank reports, Robert D. Blackwill, a former U.S. deputy national security adviser and ambassador to India under President George W. Bush, and Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who also served on the National Security Council staff under President Bush, write that engagement with China has served to strengthen a competitor.

It is time, they declare, for a new grand strategy: less engagement and more “balancing” to ensure the “central objective” of continued U.S. global primacy. Among other things, America should beef up its military in Asia, choke off China’s access to military technology, accelerate missile-defense deployments and increase U.S. offensive cyber capabilities.

For Michael D. Swaine, also of the Carnegie Endowment, this is a certain recipe for another Cold War, or worse. He outlines a sweeping settlement under which America would concede its primacy in East Asia, turning much of the region into a buffer zone policed by a balance of forces, including those from a strengthened Japan. All foreign forces would withdraw from Korea. And China would offer assurances that it wouldn’t launch hostilities against Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province.

Such arrangements, even if possible, would take decades to sort out. Meanwhile, warns David M. Lampton, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, U.S.-China ties have reached a tipping point. “Our respective fears are nearer to outweighing our hopes than at any time since normalization,” he said in a recent speech.

The West has been in this position before. Optimism about the prospects of transforming an ancient civilization through engagement, followed by deep disillusion, has been the pattern ever since early Jesuit missionaries sought to convert the Chinese to Christianity. Those envoys adopted the gowns of the Mandarin class, grew long beards and even couched their gospel message in Confucian terms to make it more palatable. The 17th-century German priest Adam Schall got as far as becoming the chief astronomer of the Qing dynasty. But he fell from favor, and the Jesuits were later expelled.

The disappointment in the U.S. today is heightened by the fact that engagement with China has promised so much and progressed so far. Trade and technology have transformed China beyond anything that Nixon could have imaged, and the two countries are each other’s second-largest trading partners. China is America’s biggest creditor. More than a quarter million Chinese students study at U.S. universities.

But the ideological gap hasn’t narrowed at all—and now Mr. Xi has taken a sharp anti-Western turn. Mao Zedong made the bold decision to cut a deal with Nixon, confident enough to embrace American capitalists even while pressing the radical agenda of his Cultural Revolution. Later, Deng Xiaoping struck a pragmatic balance between the opportunities of economic engagement with the West and the dangers posed by an influx of Western ideas. “When you open the window, flies and mosquitoes come in,” he shrugged.

Today, Mr. Xi is furiously zapping the bugs. A newly proposed law would put the entire foreign nonprofit sector under police administration, effectively treating such groups as potential enemies of the state. State newspapers rail against “hostile foreign forces” and their local sympathizers. The Chinese Communist Party’s “Document No. 9” prohibits discussion of Western democracy on college campuses. And as Mr. Xi champions traditional Chinese culture, authorities in Wenzhou, a heavily Christian coastal city dubbed China’s “New Jerusalem,” tear down crosses atop churches as unwanted symbols of Western influence.

The backlash against the West extends well beyond China’s borders. For decades, China accepted America’s role as a regional policeman to maintain the peace and keep sea lanes open. But in Shanghai last year, Mr. Xi declared that “it is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia.”

Washington feels a certain sense of betrayal. America’s open markets, after all, smoothed China’s export-led rise to become the world’s second-largest economy, and the two economies are now thoroughly enmeshed.

Still, it would be a mistake to assume that mutual dependence will necessarily prevent conflict. Pre-World War I Europe was also closely entwined through trade and investment.

Even the U.S. business community, once Beijing’s staunchest advocate in Washington, has lost some of its enthusiasm for engagement. James McGregor, a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and now the China chairman of APCO Worldwide, a business consultancy, recalls helping to persuade U.S. trade associations to lobby for China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, which happened in 2001.

That unity of purpose, he says “has been splintering ever since.” Today, “they all believe that China is out to screw them.”

China’s fears notwithstanding, the Obama administration remains very much in favor of engagement. Last year’s high-profile deal on climate change showed that cooperation is still possible. Ahead of a planned summit in the U.S. in September, the two countries are hammering out an ambitious bilateral trade agreement. And it is often pointed out that not a single problem in the world, from piracy to pollution, can be solved without their joint efforts.

In an increasingly awkward dance, however, the Obama administration is trying to sustain this policy of engagement while also ramping up its military options in Asia. China is playing a similar game. And it is not clear how long both sides will be able to continue before there is a clash, by accident or design.

Mr. Obama himself sometimes strikes adversarial postures on China. In trying to push a massive Asia-Pacific free-trade zone through a resistant Congress, he has been invoking a China threat. “If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region,” he told The Wall Street Journal in April.

He also has pursued a campaign—ultimately futile—to prevent allies such as Britain and Australia from signing on to a Chinese regional development bank. Although the bank will help deliver much-needed infrastructure, the White House interpreted it as part of a bid to undermine America’s leadership in global finance.

For its part, China believes that the U.S. will never accept the legitimacy of a communist government.

Mr. Xi has proposed a “new model of great-power relations,” designed to break a pattern of wars through the ages that occur when a rising power challenges the incumbent one. But America has turned him down, unwilling to accept a formula that not only assumes that the two countries are peers but seems to place them on the same moral plane.

Appropriately, perhaps, tensions are coming to a head in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago of reefs and sandbars in the South China Sea so hazardous that old British Admiralty sailing charts marked the entire area as “Dangerous Ground.”

In this mariners’ graveyard, China has massively expanded several reefs through dredging; one boasts a runway long enough to land China’s largest military planes. China’s neighbors regard them as outposts for an eventual Chinese takeover of the whole South China Sea. The Pentagon presents them as a threat to the U.S. Navy’s unchallenged right to sail the oceans.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is considering a show of force—and is under political pressure to do so. Last month, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, complained that the U.S. response to the island-building has been too passive. “I see no price whatsoever that China is paying for their activities in the South and East China Seas,” Mr. Corker said. “None. In fact, I see us paying a price.”

Neither side wants a war. Mr. Xi is not anti-West in the manner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and so far, he has not acted rashly, as Mr. Putin has by grabbing territory in Ukraine. China still needs U.S. markets and know-how to rise. A war against America would be an economic catastrophe for China.

The U.S.-China relationship has weathered storms before. Recall the days following the Chinese army’s 1989 assault on pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square, when cooperation between the countries went into a deep freeze. But President George H.W. Bush calculated that the U.S.-China relationship was too important to sacrifice, and he quickly sent emissaries to Beijing to ensure that it remained intact.

Today, surely, that calculation carries no less weight. Moreover, trying to contain China would be immensely costly: Neither country can succeed economically without the other. Kennan’s containment strategy worked against the Soviet Union because it was economically weak, with almost no commercial ties to America. But today’s China is an economic powerhouse, and its double-digit military budgets are supported by a deep and diversified industrial base.

Set against these realities, however, is the fact that the U.S.-China relationship has lost its strategic raison d’être: the Soviet Union, the common threat that brought the two countries together.

Opposition to Moscow was the logic that drove Nixon’s opening to China. But even Nixon, a tough-minded realist who was focused on the balance of power, wasn’t sure how his opening to China would ultimately play out. As he told the late New York Times columnist William Safire not long before Nixon’s death in 1994, “We may have created a Frankenstein.”

Quotes of the Week: Dissidents Lose Hope in Obama

When we heard [Cuban dissidents] weren’t taken into account, we lost a little hope. The dictatorship has become stronger over these past two years.
-- Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, renowned Cuban independent journalist and former political prisoner, upon receiving the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, The Daily Signal, 6/12/15

In dictatorships, the war is going on. It's not that visible from the outside, but it has casualties, has victims. A handshake between democracies and dictatorships demonstrates that great democracies value mutual understandings with dictatorships more than freedom and basic human rights.
-- Alexander Podrabinek, renowned Russian independent journalist and former political prisoner, upon receiving the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, The Washington Examiner, 6/12/15