Monday, August 07, 2006

Regarding COHA’s August 7 Press Release “Salvaging Washington’s Cuban Train Wreck”

With Fidel Castro temporarily transferring his authority to his brother Raúl a number of days ago, the instability that could accompany any significant shift in the Castro regime is now under close review in Washington. The best that President Bush and Secretary Rice are able to do is exhort the leaders to turn to democracy. But such exhortations are small change compared to what is at stake in the game that is being played out in the Caribbean. Cuba, after years of malign neglect by one U.S. president after another, once again has landed on U.S. radar, but maybe too late. The relatively subdued nature of the words uttered from Crawford by President Bush and Secretary of State Rice were welcomed. Of course the explanation for this was that U.S.-Cuban policy, dating back to the Eisenhower administration, through Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton to this day, was spawned by the Cold War and Washington’s inability to make the transition to a time when old hatreds should exist no more, because they were no longer needed.

Full article...

~Mr. Birns:
You are correct that there is a train wreck in Cuba. Remarkably, you do not seem to know who has been driving the train. In your most recent Bush-bashing tirade, you have once again baffled me with your Birnsian Logic. Let me give you some examples. Your effort to demean the US attitude toward Cuba as being the vestige of “old hatreds” from the Cold War makes no sense. Actually, in recent history America has demonstrated itself to be a most forgiving nation. America does not disdain Cuba for its past any more than we hold grudges against Japan, Germany, or Italy. We are even trying to get along with Vietnam. But we do hate Castro and his minions. We do not abhor them for what they did forty years ago. We abhor them for what they are today. (In that regard, I hope you had the chance to read the article in today’s The Wall Street Journal about Cuba’s Dr. Molina.)

Castro has created one of the world’s saddest, poorest countries, and in the face of his abject, extraordinary failure, not to mention the economic failure of virtually all modern totalitarian regimes that have no oil, he insists on maintaining his island-prison and communist dictatorship. Contrary to your assertions, it occurs to me that the main cause of Cuban poverty could be Castro, not the US embargo. After all, Cuba is free to sell everything they produce to Europe and Canada, combined markets bigger than the USA. The real trouble is that their economic system does not produce. The Castro economic model is so frail and unproductive that there is little or nothing of value to sell, either to themselves or to anyone else. Castro presides over such a dismal dump of a country that he cannot even compete with his Caribbean neighbors for European tourists, except, of course, for the Sex Tourism trade, where Castro continues to operate a world-class destination.

I especially find your logic regarding the Cuban embargo hard to grasp in light of economic observations expressed in your previous articles. Typically, Birns, Chavez and Castro berate the USA for abusing Latin America with its economic interests. Now you are telling us that the USA is abusing Cuba by not exercising its economic interests. I am confused. Oh wait…I think I get it…Birnsian Logic is simple once you accept the postulate that everything the USA does is bad.
And now we have Castro’s disastrous leadership being propped up by Chavez. I ask you, Larry, who is the villain? Is it the USA, who refuses to support Castro, or is it Chavez, who is funding this tyrant and artificially prolonging his cruel system of government? By the way, the Chavez largess is laughably reminiscent of the former Russian strategy of paying to support the failed economies of its communist satellites. Both you and Castro know how that turned out. Despite today’s oil prices, Chavez himself presides over one of the world’s poorest economies, as judged by per capita GNP. How can you admire his payoffs to Castro, to Kirchner, to Morales, now to his new friends in Africa, much less justify $4 billion in weapons purchases, when his own people are in such dire need?

You try to convince us that the different USA investment policies towards China and Cuba are driven by merchantilism, not morality. Here again, your argument seems to be missing an important piece. The USA is certainly wary of China. Very different from Castro, however, China’s communists have been making significant strides toward a free market economy. Economic freedom has often led to greater political freedom. China is moving in a direction that is more and more consistent with Western principles, and we are correct in cooperating with them as long as they are on that track. We are trying to trade with Vietnam based on their similar changes in attitude. We are dealing with Libya only after Khadafi made a 180 degree change in his terrorist philosophy. We do not trade with Iran or North Korea. You and Madeline may not have noticed, but in the past forty-seven years, Castro has not taken one step towards granting any shred of freedom, economic or otherwise. There is, in fact, a very big difference between the economic conduct today of China and that of Castro, and $200 billion in USA trade is a by-product of China’s growing embrace of free enterprise and competition. Castro could take a lesson from the Chinese. However, there is no evidence to indicate that he will ever consider economic reforms, and certainly no evidence or logic to support your belief that USA diplomacy, investment, or charity will alter Fidel’s hubristic commitment to his ruinous autocracy.

Henry McDonald ~

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