Obama's Trip to Cuba was Self-Serving and Wrong

Saturday, April 2, 2016
By Professor R. Bruce Anderson in The Ledger:

Obama's trip to Cuba was self-serving and wrong

There’s a great song from the 1930s celebrating Cuba and the fact that, in their wisdom, the happy people of this fated island did not embrace the silly affectation of prohibiting alcohol, then so very popular on the mainland.

One verse goes like this: “So let us leave our cares and troubles behind, And tell 'em our new address; Is where they stay up late and drink till they're blind? Blind, but nevertheless… They're glad to see you in C.U.B.A.”

Nowhere was President Obama’s trip to Cuba more problematic than here in Florida. The legacy of the Castros weighs heavily on our land, with citizens of Cuban extraction – now the proudest of Americans – unlikely to forgive and forget the almost six decades of misery inflicted on their point of heritage by the communists.

Almost alone in the world, Cuban has remained under the hammer and sickle — the other main third-world exception being that novelty nation, North Korea. But North Korea has a brand-new, malignant chairman, drawn from the questionable gene pool of her hereditary rulers. Cuba seems to have no true heir-apparent.

The Castros have grown old in their debauchery; in their arrogant betrayal of the human spirit. They have grown elderly, fragile. Death is near, and there does not seem to be more of them on the horizon.

There is little that can alter the course of change in Cuba. The awful system – like a terminal disease – has run its course, nearly consuming the island and its people in its 57-year run. There’s so little left. The ancient old cars still steam about, running on Chinese engines and under a ransom of taxes. There are still sugar mills and cigars – but these are what came with the place five decades ago.

The major export of Cuba seems to be people. No argument for the “progressive” nature of the society is stronger than the thousands of people who risk their lives trying to escape it every year.

So, why now? In a few years, at most, both Raul and Fidel will be dead. Evidence of their frailty was manifest during the visit. Fidel can no longer hold himself upright and Raul seems to be completely confused. As with most “personality-centered” regimes, the collapse will not be far behind.

Why go? All must be considered under the terms of the miserable foreign-policy failures of this presidency. The only possible reason to go, to cut a deal (any deal) is to be able to return and claim at least a shred of success.

But the cost is high. It was high before the bombs went off in Brussels; the fact that the trip took place under the cloud of death wafting over from Belgium was an added problem, but not the real problem itself. The real problem is that this trip had all the underpinnings of the half-thought-out, half-considered, reactionist foreign policy that has dogged this administration for nearly eight years.

In a few years, we’ll be ready, and more importantly, Cuba will be ready. With the Castros dead, and the island in flux, a new president can plan and carry through with a long-term notion of how best to help.

Forging a new place for Cuba in the world will not be possible without the help of the United States, but it’s the job of a president two years from now – or three — who can best assure that it happens in an orderly, decent way. As it stands, this current deal has the smell of the last-minute political scheme meant to forge someone’s political “legacy” — not to help solve the tangled, complex, and impossibly deep problems inflicted by 50 plus years of the Castros. It would be sad, if it weren’t so baldy self-serving.

Obama should not be allowed to create an alternate history, short-lived and cruel, for the sake of his own glory. They were glad to see Obama in Cuba all the same – like the song, he’d left his cares and troubles behind and come to a place where even a scent of hope is welcome.

But it's false dawn. Until the regime is gone, the hope he advertises is deceitful, twisted and wrong.