Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Embargo Against Cuba Is Stupid

I agree with Matthew Cooper that the Cuban embargo is not only outdated but totally asinine; and time has come for it to go. He gives two good reasons why:

It's time to end the embargo—unilaterally and completely. The policy has been useless as a tool for cudgeling Castro, and it is hindering opportunities for American industries from travel to banking to agriculture, which is why there's no shortage of U.S. business groups lobbying to ease it. Far from hurting the deplorable Communist regime, the embargo has only given Castro an excuse to rail against Uncle Sam, both to his own people and to the world. Every year, Cuba asks the United Nations for a vote lifting the embargo. What happens? We usually end up with a couple of superpowers like Palau and the Marshall Islands standing with us. Last year, the vote was 183 to 4. The embargo makes us look like an arrogant bully.
Then there's the sheer intellectual dishonesty of the embargo. We trade with the tyrants of Beijing and Damascus, so why not Havana? This question has lingered at least since 1964, when then-secretary of state Dean Rusk was asked why we were selling to the Soviets and not to the Cubans: The Soviet Union was permanent, Rusk said, while Cuba was "temporary." Oops.
If the United States is willing to trade with human right reprobates like China and Syria, why not Cuba? The animus towards Cuba is purely personal, driven by a vocal Cuban minority in southern Florida with strong political connections. In turn, Cuba has turned the embargo into a political weapon, using it not only to bludgeon the United State in world arenas like the United Nations, who see the embargo as a Cold War anachronism, but to consolidate the power of Fidel Castro, the self-appointed messiah of the Cuban people.

The only befitting way to neuter Fidel Castros is to lift the embargo. Take way the only weapon he has; it will prove one thing: the emperor has no cloths. Fidel has always identified himself vis-à-vis the United States—the yanqui imperialists who wants to invade and conquer Cuba. How will Cuba villify the United States now?

Naturally, there are short-term trade-offs. Human rights will take a backseat, of course, but human rights always takes a backseat when trade is concerned. China jails dissidents all the time, but the United States continues to trade with him, hoping, wishfully, that trade will bring democracy, and democracy will bring human rights (the jury is still out on this line of thought). So why not with Cuba?

The embargo is what it is: a monumental failure and should done away it. Yes, Cuba will declare victory, of sorts, but I say let them, it will be short-lived. People will soon see that Cuba is far from being a worker’s paradise—no matter how good their education and healthcare systems may be—but in, in fact, an economic basketbase, reliant on hand-outs by the likes of Hugo Chavez. Finally, human rights will garner more media attention now that the bogeyman—the United States—has become a trading partner..