Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On Cuba: Do You Trust Obama?

As readers of this blog know, I have little to no regard for the current occupant of the White House. I see him as the most ignorant, uncultured in every sense of the word, and destructive President in the long history of our now much beleagured Republic. As far as I can tell, what thoughts he has are shaped by some superficial reading and understanding of Marxist-tinged tracts and slogans, the classic progressive disdain for America and its achievements, and a strong sense of entitlement, all glued together with a mighty dollop of Chicago-style race and class politics. He has little to no understanding of America or of the world.  His speeches are loosely linked bumper sticker slogans, progressive fantasies, and, frankly, just lies. He has no concept of leadership or management, having never had a real job in the real world. He relies on a political base made up of an elite of America-haters, and a mass of low-information dolts who also think in bumper sticker terms--many of these dolts products of our decrepit "higher" educational system. He, however, is what we've got as President: a sad, sad day for America and those around the world who believe in and struggle for freedom.

I wrote before some preliminary thoughts on Obama's announcement on relations with Cuba. I noted then that his speech showed the typical ignorance of what passes for elite thought in America these days: the speech-writers are either woefully ignorant of the history of Cuba, Castro, and our foreign policy of the past sixty years, or just decided to lie and rewrite it. Either or both are possible in this misadministration.

Let's review some basics. Fidel Castro was an enemy of the US and of freedom well before the Bay of Pigs. A Communist whose firing squads killed thousands of opponents at home, he tried to export his brand of violence throughout the Americas well BEFORE the Bay of Pigs took place, much less the establishment of the so-called "embargo." In other words, his hostility to the USA and freedom did not result from our actions against his regime--this despite Obama's attempt at establishing some sort of "equivalency." His brother, Raul, now President of Cuba, likely was a KGB asset since at least the mid-1950's. Raul, by the way, was the hit man for the brothers, having personally killed several people. He, however, was willing to live in the shadow of his narcissistic, charismatic, flamboyant, and articulate sibling; whether Raul believed or believes in anything in particular other than power is an unknown. It seems unlikely, for example, that he has a mastery of Karl Marx's obtuse mumbo-jumbo, or that he takes seriously his brother's pretensions of being a great intellectual. Raul was Frank Nitti to Fidel's Al Capone, with apologies to Nitti and Capone. That Raul is now stepping out from his brother's shadow has to mean that Fidel is no longer a major player in decision-making.

For nearly six decades it has been the foreign policy of the United States to oppose the Castro regime, with varying degrees of success which one can debate for hours on end. The one constant throughout the years was our insistence that for a "normalization" of relations, the Castro regime had to give up support for terrorism, stop "exporting" the revolution, and respect basic human rights at home, including allowing the development of a democratic process. Has that happened? You decide, but I vote "no."

Let us not forget that we had a major "breakthrough" in US-Cuban relations previously. Obama, of course, did not bother to acknowledge Carter in this respect and that whole effort seems to have been wished away into the cornfield. We established an interest section in Cuba in 1977, and Cuba one in the USA. Did things get appreciably better between the US and Cuba, or for the Cuban people? Ask the murdered Brothers to the Rescue for their view on that . . . In other words, despite all the prattling on about how great it is to establish diplomatic relations, there is no guarantee--as we saw in the case of recognizing Soviet Moscow back in the 1930s--that with setting up formal embassies bilateral relations will get any better than now, or that, somehow, our values will creep in and turn Communists into capitalists and Jeffersonian democrats. What I can assure you is that Cuba will have a much better espionage base than it now does. Guaranteed.

Ah, but China, you say, what about the China model? Nixon's rapprochement with China came at a particularly bad time for the US at home and abroad. It seemed that the Soviets were on the winning side of history. The Nixon-Kissinger move towards Beijing was a brilliant--albeit cynical--move to outflank the USSR, our main enemy and the only enemy we have faced in modern times who could have destroyed our homeland. It let the Soviets know that we no longer believed--at last!--in the unity of the Communist bloc. In retrospect it was the beginning of the end for the Soviet empire, something most did not fully recognize at the time. We, of course, can debate whether in the long-run our relations with China have proven a net plus, but that we can do another day.

What do we get from "normalizing" relations with Cuba? Not clear. Why did Obama put us in the position of being the ones asking and willing to give things up? Who needs "normalization" more, the Castros or us? I understand what Raul thinks he will get, e.g., access to credit, easier trade terms, less reliance on Venezuela and its preposterous Chavista revolutionary preening, entry into the OAS and international financial organizations and programs, and an easier flow of remittances and tourist dollars at a very rough moment for the regime. We and the Cuba people get . . . what? What was the rush? Why could not the President have waited for the new Congress, laid out his arguments and created a bipartisan approach if he thought a normalization with Cuba was due. No. That would require leadership and a genuine concern for American interests. Both of those traits are sorely lacking in the current White House. Instead, as with immigration, he creates a complicated mess, at home and abroad, which requires the Oracle of Delphi to decipher. He turns the issue into a bipartisan conflict. It seems unlikely that the GOP-controlled Congress will accede to the demand for a complete lifting of the embargo in exchange for nothing. I suspect that at least some Democrats, already gun-shy from the pounding they received in the last midterms, will be reluctant to be in the front rank of Obama's latest version of Pickett's Charge.

Bottom line: I don't trust this President (see opening paragraph).

If we had a George Bush, a Mitt Romney, a Richard Nixon, a Harry Truman, oh hell, just about anybody else short of Henry Wallace in the White House, I might be willing to go along with a "normalization" in the understanding that we had a plan of action to pursue after "normalization." Does anybody genuinely believe that the Obama/Kerry/Jarrett/Rice misadministration has a plan to further US interests and to do something concrete about the deplorable state of human rights in Cuba? The Congress better grab hold of this fast and have a reasonable discussion of pros, cons, and in-betweens.

More in the days ahead.


  1. In one of Robert Heinlein's Future History stories, back in the late 1950s, he had the Russian Communists breaking with the Chinese Communists so ending the Cold War and setting the stage for a prosperous future...until "The Time of Troubles" arrived.

    I always wondered how he would have created a the later scenario. I think other authors did that for him.

  2. "What was the rush?"

    You'll note he waited until after the cr-omnibus passed?


  3. "His brother, Raul, now President of Cuba, likely was a KGB asset since at least the mid-1950's."


  4. In case this disappears too ...

    Thursday, April 25, 2013
    Unsealed Indictment Charges Former U.S. Federal Employee with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage for Cuba

    A one-count indictment was unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Marta Rita Velazquez, 55, with conspiracy to commit espionage, announced John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

    The charges against Velazquez stem from, among other things, her alleged role in introducing Ana Belen Montes, now 55, to the Cuban Intelligence Service (CuIS) in 1984; in facilitating Montes’s recruitment by the CuIS; and in helping Montes later gain employment at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Montes served as an intelligence analyst at DIA from September 1985 until she was arrested for espionage by FBI agents on Sept. 21, 2001. On March 19, 2002, Montes pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of Cuba. Montes is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

    The indictment against Velazquez, who is also known as “Marta Rita Kviele” and as “Barbara,” was originally returned by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on Feb. 5, 2004. It has remained under court seal until today. Velazquez has continuously remained outside the United States since 2002. She is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. If convicted of the charges against her, Velazquez faces a potential sentence of up to life in prison.

    According to the indictment, Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1957. She graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies. Velazquez later obtained a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1982 and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., in 1984.

    Velazquez later served as an attorney advisor at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and, in 1989, she joined the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as a legal officer with responsibilities encompassing Central America. During her tenure at USAID, Velazquez held a Top Secret security clearance and was posted to the U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

    My final comment on this thread. Apologies for the length Sir, some stuff seems to have er, "been misfiled."


  5. In the meantime, the left is already setting itself to rewriting history, discussing every awful thing the Batista regime and Cuban exiles ever did while vigorously whitewashing Castro's bloody walls.
    This will probably turn out to be the right decision made for all the wrong reasons, which will mean that the price will be much, much higher than it had to be.

  6. I'm concerned that this move might not be so much to make Cuba more like the USA, but rather the USA more like Cuba.
    As with most things Obama seems to do, I constantly get the feeling that he does these things a) because he can, and b) because previous administrations (generally of both stripes) didn't.
    I suspect that's how he thinks 'legacies' are made... by doing the unexpected, simply because it's irrational and unexpected. Unfortunately I don't believe such things make legacies, but rather the unexpected things that actually make sense and were pursued more than for simply having been unexpected.
    My suspicion is that proposals to Obama come with a default of "why not?", and those proposals are coming from wannabe marxists.

    Dip, I really appreciate your characterization that China really was the start of the fall of the soviet empire. I've heard again and again from communist apologists that communism hasn't failed, it simply hasn't been 'properly attempted'. Sadly, the 'properly attempted' means 'the entire world embracing communism'. From that perspective, the very first significant nation to 'fall out of step with the revolution', aka, China, signified the failure of the 'communist experiment'.

    This comparison just kinda hit me.
    Conservatives are people who want each every individual amongst us to be all he or she can be. Liberals are people who want *society* to 'be all it can be'.
    Conservatives accept human nature (ie, the magic of the unprovable capitalism), while liberals want to build a 'provably' better society (ie, with communism or another command economy, a whole lot can actually be more-or-less 'proved' to perform up to a certain level, but that level falls way behind the curve of a system based upon the acceptance of human nature and promotion of the individual)

    I's say I don't very well understand religious liberals or atheist conservatives.

    well... just a bunch of scribbles I really didn't intend and nobody will likely care for. :)

    - reader #1482

    1. Interesting points. Seems like Obama is orchestrating a "roll the tape backward" foreign policy that will some how make the mentally unstable Left feel better after losing the Cold War and seeing Marxism collapse under its own immorality around the world. Sorta like "The West Wing" tv series was so popular for Liberals when they didn't hold the real thing.

  7. Good morning Dip

    As an admirer of your blog and your insights and wisdom regarding US foreign policy in this wonderful Obama era, I must say I feel your arguments are weakened somewhat when you seem to imply that George Bush was anything other than a disastrous president. He may well have been less bad than Obama, but that really is damning with faint praise.

    He whacked up government spending by miles, and whilst his firm and prompt action against Afghanistan was I think the right response, he should never have turned a short sharp shock into a lasting occupation. Iraq - personally I am conviced that there was no evidence that there was any clear and present danger to the West from the Hussein regime, therefore the invasion was justified by lies.

    I believe that had Bush and the whole coterie surrounding him not stood to benefit financially from that war then it would not have taken place.

    Sometimes it seems to me your comments about Bush are informed by a touch of tribalism, and it is a shame because it lets down much of the rest.

    Great blog though and I come every day.

    1. The 14 UN resolutions and breaking the agreement that ended the first Gulf War be damned. Other than that, here have some "Red" Kool-Aide.


    2. I cannot, with good conscience, allow this to go unanswered properly.

      "As an admirer of your blog and your insights and wisdom regarding US foreign policy in this wonderful Obama era, I must say I feel [As opposed to think] your arguments are weakened somewhat when you seem to imply that George Bush was anything other than a disastrous president. He may well have been less bad than Obama, but that really is damning with faint praise."

      This is a first: a leftist that thinks Obama is worse than Bush.

      "He whacked up government spending by miles, and whilst his firm and prompt action against Afghanistan was I think the right response, he should never have turned a short sharp shock into a lasting occupation. Iraq - personally I am conviced that there was no evidence that there was any clear and present danger to the West from the Hussein regime, therefore the invasion was justified by lies."

      Please Note: when the Bloke agrees with Bush he thinks, but when he disagrees he feels.

      No evidence includes the 14 U.N. resolutions, the firing at our planes protecting the No-fly zones, the breaking of the agreement to end the first Gulf War, and the payments to Palestinian suicide bombers to the tune of $25,000 a copy.

      "I believe that had Bush and the whole coterie surrounding him not stood to benefit financially from that war then it would not have taken place."

      This is what really burns me up: Leftist Projection. there is not a dram of proof to this allegation and it can only be conjured by a leftist because that is what a leftist would do. Only Communists kill like that, Bloke. And remember: "A Communist is just a Socialist who really means it!"

      "Sometimes it seems to me your comments about Bush are informed by a touch of tribalism, and it is a shame because it lets down much of the rest."

      I think your comments are informed by a touch of Teh Stoopid™, but hey, we all have an opinion.

      "Great blog though and I come every day."

      See you tomorrow! And have a wonderfully Merry Christmas, Comrade!


    3. I said I wouldn't but ...

      Bloke in Italy? Don't know how lengthy a time you've spent ready here but even a brief trip through our host's archives will disabuse you of any notion that Bush 43 hasn't come in for some serious flak.

      Why just a few posts ago I recall - can't remember just which - Dip closed his thoughts with, paraphrasing, "Shut down DHS!" ... many many more such examples I can confidently assure.

      Oh. A "Gimme" might be entering the acronym TARP into Search. Maybe, The Chinese Credit Card, but I think the latter might've been simply included in the body of a paragraph.

      FOX might not really deserve the accolade "balanced" but I can also with high confidence, assure you Republican Administrations have not enjoyed a larger "free-fire zone" than on this site.

      It's just that this MisAdministration provides it seems, A *Laugh* Every Day.


    4. Anon

      Thanks for the thoughful put down /sarc.

      Say what you like about me but call me a leftist and you are seriously out of order.

      I loathe and despise leftists. But I thought the Bush presidency was a serious abberration. Reagan would have handled that whole situation a lot better, without dismantling cherished American freedoms in the process.

    5. As for the financial crocodile death roll, 'starve the beast' means lower taxes and saddle the government with such 'useful' debt that your liberal successors can't get financing for the grandiose entitlement promises with which they duped their voters.
      A hundred F-35s may cost us a *ridiculous* amount of money for a plane that's going to be blasted out of the sky by tiny drones, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to a new entitlement promised out to eternity.

      - reader #1482

    6. OK, Rupert/Bloke, I am going to give you a sporting chance to redeem yourself.

      Let's take this statement:

      "Iraq - personally I am conviced that there was no evidence that there was any clear and present danger to the West from the Hussein regime, therefore the invasion was justified by lies."

      No evidence equals lies.

      Now this statement:

      "Say what you like about me but call me a leftist and you are seriously out of order."

      There is no evidence that you are not a leftist, therefore you must be lying.

      See how that works?


  8. Now Importing:
    Cuban doctors to fix our health care system!

  9. Diplomad, have you read "Operation Solo: the FBI's man in the Kremlin", especially the section on the information Morris Childs' brought back about the rift between Moscow and Peking?? The book sheds a lot of light on why Nixon went to China when he did...

    1. wow... that's a must read.... gotta pick it up

      - reader #1482

  10. At a guess I would say it is something to do with gitmo closing. Maybe if obione goes down there he can fly all the detainees home on air force one

  11. I don't really share the views of my fellow right wing sisterhood on the Cuba issue. I do agree that there is little likelihood that Obama will manage this matter to the benefit of the United States.
    However for 50 some years we've cow-towed to the demands of a small but vocal Cuban exile group in Florida, with no real development of a "policy" toward Cuba. And nothing has changed. The Castro thuggery is unchanged. Now those two old geezers have one foot each in the pine box, (and Fidel for that matter may already be in one!). We have to have some sort of presence there if we hope to have any influence on who will follow Raul in power.
    Once allowed to see at least a bit of the outside world, the Cuban people will demand some improvement in their lot, and we need to be ready to provide it. Otherwise, the Bolivarian bunch will be quick to jump in.

    I think normalizing relations with Cuba will be to our mutual benefit. I doubt Obama can mess it up that much in the short time he has left.


    1. Graham? As to your concluding sentence ...

      I'm not always so gracious in applying what would normally be taken as an immense compliment but

      If there's one thing you have to give O&Co. it's Efficiency!


    2. Given the reporting that the Cuban regime plans to confiscate the salaries paid to Cubans leaving them only with their current "maximum wage," what makes yo think they will be "allowed to see at least a bit of the outside world?"

    3. Cuba already has open trade relations with the UK, Canada, and other countries. I had a UK co-worker who went to Cuba for her honeymoon.

      They've seen "a bit of the outside world", and it's changed nothing.

    4. Cuba will use it like china. Except much shittier.

  12. IIRC, Henry Wallace during the Korean War repudiated the organization he founded (which fell into the hands of a crank lawyer from San Francisco named Vincent Hallinan) and much of what he had advocated in the realm of foreign policy over the period running from 1941 to 1950.

  13. And now State carries sperm so convicted enemies can spawn
    "US officials later acknowledged that Hernandez’s sperm was collected at prison and then flown to Havana, where his wife was artificially inseminated.
    The plan was hatched with the help of US Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), his office confirmed, to help ensure the release of ailing US aid worker Alan Gross."

  14. i agree with everything that diplomad has stated here on cuba. my own small footnote comes from my two years in treasury as a foreign assets control officer, before i joined state. i recall that, since the embargo kept u.s. banks from loaning money to deadbeat cuba, we were happily for once just watching from the sidelines during cuba's perennial debt restructuring talks with the euros, canada and japan. i guess obama just bought us a seat at that sorry and stupid table.

  15. Even if I think it will ultimately be good for normalization to proceed, I have the following observations:

    For several years, we've been treated to the Hollywood types telling us what wonderful health care Cuba has (and why did Fleabag have a Spanish specialist flown in to treat his diverticulitis? Why do so few of the Cuban doctors who have sought asylum manage to pass our medical licensing tests?), how much care the Castro bros. have for the education of their subjects, blah blah blah. They were softening us up for this normalization.

    As for the Nixon-Kissinger opening to Beijing, what we've seen since shows Henry Kissinger as one of the most overrated people ever to pass through Washington (which has had its share of overrated people). He is still positively fawning in his adulation of Mao, which is an utterly shameful position to take for someone who came to America as a refugee from someone psychologically very close to Mao, and about as destructive. Under the Clintons, I dutifully reported what I saw of human rights abuses, corvee, and child labor when Vice Consul in Guangzhou, yet we gave Beijing permanent MFN status. Now, we see Russia and Mainland China as anti-American allies again. We got nothing, and we undercut one ally (Taiwan), while driving another (South Korea) into a position of wishful thinking that Beijing is actually friendly and won't save Pyongyang's bacon when push comes to shove.

    However, while China is undergoing an interesting cultural ferment due to the opening, there is no telling what will happen when enough contact between Cuba and the States has gone one for a while. I would bet the farm that we'll quickly see the end of Cuba as a destination for the Pilgrim Left as the bad news about its supposed health care advantages come out. Further, there will probably be a re-appreciation for what pre-Castro Cuba had.

    1. First of all, the NY Times will have to dispatch their current "Walter Duranty" to Cuba to tell us what we heard all these years was never true.

    2. Just to repeat: I'm no fan of Cuba's horrible dictatorship, but I still think in the long run it's time we changed our policy, which just has not worked.

      You might appreciate this tidbit: Some years back I was working with a medical mission group in Central America. American churches wanted to pay for a local lad to get his medical education. However, everyone knew that if he ever came to the US to train and be qualified, he would be unlikely to return to his own country to practice. Who would blame him?

      The solution was both elegant and less expensive. They paid his way through Cuban med school. Knowing that his degree and training would never be recognized here. I met him briefly just as he got going. Nice fellow, will be of great benefit to his country, but no, his training was not that of a North American medical school. Nothing current, and modest basic knowledge.
      Cuba's health care system is not something for us to emulate. Sorry, Hollywood.


    3. Interesting observation about Cuban medical training, Graham.

      When I was in China back in the early 90's, I got into a conversation with a migrant worker. One thing I asked about was "Barefoot doctors"--peasants with some rudimentary training who, back in the Sillier 'Seventies, were seen as a serious model for the "Tiers Monde" to emulate. The migrant laughed, said that all they did was inject people with sugar water with one unsterilized syringe for the whole village, and if you were really lucky, they'd lay a copy of the Little Red Book on your chest and chant revolutionary slogans. Hence, when I read of whole villages in Henan province infected with AIDS, I was not surprised, even though I felt very bad for the people involved.

      I also knew a few colleagues in China who, as college students, were all excited about "the Communist experiment" in China; but once they got on the ground, they became very disillusioned. For one, it was getting to know some Uyghurs while on a train trip; for another, it was being accosted by prostitutes (when Mao was supposed to have done away with them). Of course, the Tiananmen matter pretty much killed it for everyone.

      Among people who never had illusions about the Chinese Communists, one of my Taiwanese in-law relatives told me "We're all Taiwan Independence now (现在,我们都是台独分子)" after 06/04/89--and these were from a hairy extended clan whose senior generation in Japanese-ruled Taiwan were made to learn [accented] Mandarin after school, thought things were put right with retrocession in 1949, and whose only members who ever talked about their military service were some uncles who came of age in 1949--just in time to hold the Communists off Quemoy (Jinmen).

      BTW, after a few years of living as a college lecturer in Taiwan, I developed a number of odd perspectives on that problem which didn't exactly mesh with what I'd been told in Modern Chinese History 101-102. I guess paradoxically, I developed a perspective on Chinese culture that was simultaneously both more critical AND more appreciative.

      As for the young Central American you mentioned, I have to admit I have a lot of mixed feelings about the immigration mess. I currently teach ESOL, and know a number of families who are undocumented. The law's the law, but for at least some, I'd be willing to slap the wrist, make them pay a hefty fine, and then give some kind of temporary status in a number of cases. On the other hand, no country can afford to simply abolish its own borders. And as for people who immigrated according to the rules, I have no gripe at all.

      Then again, will the people in your young medical friend's country be getting decent medical care, or, will they tell the same story the migrant worker in China told me?

    4. Oops. Retrocession of Taiwan to China in 1945.

  16. Totally off topic.

    It is 20:30 hours Australian Eastern Summer Time here on the 24th December and I'd like to wish you all a Happy Hannukah or Merry Christmas depending on your beliefs.

    Kol tuv

    David from Oz

    1. Yes, thanks, David--and the same to you!

      and to our host, Chag Shimeach! Mi Yemalel....?

  17. Merry Christmas, Diplomad....
    From our Texas ranch to you.....

    East Texas Rancher....

  18. On Cuba: Do you trust Obama?

    Dip, you could've skipped the first two words. And I'm assuming this question is purely rhetorical.