Hellfire and Damnation: Obama’s Cuba Failures

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
By Amb. Roger Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute:

Hellfire and damnation: Obama’s Cuba failures

A Wall Street Journal article published last week contained the startling revelation that a US-owned Hellfire missile wound up in the hands of the Cuban government. The Journal described the incident as “a loss of sensitive military technology that ranks among the worst-known incidents of its kind.” This revelation comes as President Obama’s image-makers tout the possibility of a visit to Cuba as part of what might well be dubbed a capitulation tour in his final year in office.

The Hellfire is an air-to-ground missile with sophisticated sensors and targeting technology, and figures prominently in America’s anti-terrorism drone strikes. The missing missile, which was not armed with explosive material, was sent by Lockheed Martin to Europe in 2014 for use in a NATO training exercise. Instead of being returned to the United States, it was shuffled mysteriously around Europe before being shipped to Cuba.

The Journal also revealed that US authorities located the missile in June 2014, in the midst of the White House’s secret negotiations to normalize diplomatic relations with Castro. The stolen missile remains in Cuban control today, the Journal said, and Havana rebuffed repeated US requests for the return of this sensitive technology.

My guess is that the missile was somehow captured by the Cuban intelligence service. It is inconceivable that such a device made its way through Cuban customs without being managed by regime agents. Given the long-standing practice of the Cuban government of gathering intelligence on US targets and sharing it with other hostile regimes, it is highly probable that Cuban, Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and North Korean experts have been or will be given the opportunity to study and exploit the missile’s design. As the Journal points out, access to this sophisticated device gives US enemies the knowledge needed to enhance their own weapons systems and to develop countermeasures that compromise the missile’s effectiveness in US military operations.

The case of the purloined Hellfire can be added to the long list of failures of Obama’s hapless negotiations with the Castro regime. The old jest, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine,” is quite literally the Cuban strategy for dealing with the Obama White House.

Today, the Cuban government is reaping the economic benefits of increased US tourism and the promise of more US investment. President Obama and apologists for his bumbling policy hail trivial agreements on marine conservation and the availability of Netflix and Airbnb in Cuba as achievements of his strategy. Meanwhile, serious issues like this latest threat to US security, human rights abuses, dying political prisoners, and the return of US fugitives residing are swept under the rug. Worse yet, Obama continues to press Congress to gut human rights and democracy conditions for lifting the US embargo.

The Obama administration already has made clear that sacrificing the rights and welfare of 11 million Cubans is worth a presidential photo-op. We now know that a serious threat to US security is the price being paid for a snapshot of Obama with a sunny gulag in the background.