December 17th, 2014

Obama on Cuba

In retrospect, Obama’s push to normalize relations with Cuba shouldn’t have been any sort of surprise. As a leftist and a statist he is ideologically simpatico, and such a move would also appear to be supported by a majority of Americans, at least according to this poll from last February.

It’s the details that have that special Obama flair. The fact that this was done in secret, representing the fruit of 18 months of labor that we knew nothing about, is unsettling but again, not surprising (wonder what else is going on in secret? I sure do, and I bet it involves Iran). The fact that it involved a prisoner swap of three guilty Cubans we held for one innocent American (and which the administration has taken pains to insist is not a swap) is another. Another is the little phone chat Obama had with Castro yesterday, the first such contact between a president and Castro since the latter took office in the late 50s.

One surprise is that, at least for now, Obama is acknowledging that he does not have the right to completely lift the embargo by executive order, because that was an act of Congress. He’s definitely relaxing it, though. But I have little doubt that he’s only deferring to Congress on this issue because it’s not all that important to him; I firmly believe he would declare the embargo null and void under some sort of prosecutorial discretion argument if he really cared to have another big hassle about it.

Some members of Congress are up in arms, but I predict they will be powerless to stop it, as they have been powerless so far against this administration (and not all of those opposing this are Republicans, either). Note the screaming hypocrisy/irony of Obama’s statement [emphasis mine] in the second paragraph following:

Some Republicans and Democrats vowed to oppose Obama’s new policy, which will also include making it easier for Americans to travel to the Socialist-run island 90 miles from Florida beaches and return with consumer goods – including Cuba’s fabled rum and iconic cigars.

“To those who oppose the steps I’m announcing today, let me say that I respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy,” Obama said.


36 Responses to “Obama on Cuba”

  1. MzEllen Says:

    It’s difficult for me to say we shouldn’t lift the embargo on Cuba when we do such big business with China.

    We’ve had this embargo in place for half of a century and it hasn’t brought down communism there yet. Whit might?

    Unfettered capitalism. Bring it on.

  2. Nolanimrod Says:

    I’m glad that Obama shares the Cubans’ commitment to liberty and democracy.

    But my favorite part was a little fillip which distinguishes your posts from most others:

    It’s the details that have that special Obama flair.

  3. Wes Dorman Says:

    So, a socialist tyrant discussed Cuba’s embargo with the President of Cuba yesterday?

  4. parker Says:

    I think you are on target about Iran. Dear leader is more than ready to enable the ayatollahs to develop nuke tipped icbms. He has shown his true color: red.

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “To those who oppose the steps I’m announcing today, let me say, that I respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy go f**k yourselves, I do what I want and there’s nothing, any of you can do about it…”

    What Obama would have said, had he even an iota of honesty. Calling the man despicable would be giving him far too much credit.


    China’s intense military build-up and recent actions in the South China Sea are a strong indication that the day is not far off when we shall greatly regret the consequences of the business we do with China. Our embargo hasn’t brought down Cuba’s communism because of the Russian’s long aid and more recently, the free oil from Venezuela that have subsidized it. But our embargo was arguably always less about combating Cuba’s communism and more a refusal to reward it by following a business as usual policy.

  6. david7134 Says:

    I am old enough to know what the US and Cuba were like in 1960. What I have observed is that we have moved to be more of a government like Cuba than otherwise. So, what is the issue? We are a country well on the way to a communistic utopia (joke), so we might as well get rid of the pretext that Cuba is any different.

  7. Stark Says:

    In the long run, whether in politics, business, or love, if you aid your rivals you often end up a loser.

  8. NeoConScum Says:

    Dear Infantile Majesty Obama:

    Have you read Armando Valladares’s breathtaking memoir of 22-years in Fidel’s gulag. You know,Sir, fairness and equality in Hell?

    Okay…Okaaaay…I asked a whatcha’call Rhetorical Question,’Yo. Reading that memoir would expose you to the unaccustomed terror of critical thought.

    Marco Rubio nailed you nicely today. And way too politely.

  9. n.n Says:

    The Castro regime is not the Taliban. If we can negotiate with the latter, then we can certainly negotiate with the former.

    However, neither was the Gaddafi regime in Libya, nor the Mubarak regime in Egypt, nor the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine. I wonder why Obama doesn’t support assassination of the Castro family. He seems to have a preference for Marxist regimes to replace other left-wing regimes.

    Neither is the Putin regime in Russia, yet we seem intent to provoke a war with Russia, or perhaps an extrajudicial murder of Putin a la Gaddafi or even bin Laden.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The Castro regime is not the Taliban. If we can negotiate with the latter, then we can certainly negotiate with the former.”

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Arguably, Obama’s friendliest gestures have been to Marxist and authoritarian Muslim regimes, purely coincidental of course.

    In fairness, it is not Obama who is offering provocation but Putin. Obama has done everything but offer Putin a personal b*****b. Putin however wants public deference. If only Obama would bow to Putin, the tension would dissipate but I evidently the color of Putin’s skin is too high a barrier for Obama.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Opps, should be;

    If only Obama would publicly bow to Putin, the tension would dissipate but evidently the color of Putin’s skin is too high a barrier for Obama.

  12. Cornflour Says:

    I’ll admit to mixed feelings about the embargo, but not about the Castro regime. On the other hand, Obama has always been a strong Castro supporter, and he’s now come to their rescue.

    The oil price crash will either bankrupt or severely damage the Venezuelan economy. Without Venezuelan assistance, the already fragile Cuban economy will collapse, and the Castros won’t be able to pay for their police state. Thankfully, Comrade Obama has stepped in. He can’t let the last great Communist heroes go down.

    Well, we elected him twice, so we get what we deserve. I shudder to think that there’s more of this to come.

  13. Steve Says:

    Why do you think we have an embargo? What I heard is that Castro was pleading with Kruschev to launch nuclear missiles against the US during the Cuban missile crisis. I think that is a pretty good reason to have an embargo.

  14. n.n Says:

    not Obama who is offering provocation but Putin

    This started with the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s government, which was supported by Europeans and America too. Actually, this started with threatening a war in Syria, and targeting Russia for their support. Again, Europeans and Americans too. The problem is not Putin, it is Obama, along with overlapping and convergent interests here and abroad. Supporting the overthrow of Egypt’s government, and violent deposition of the Libyan government did not improve our standing.

  15. junior Says:

    Anyone who hasn’t read Michael Totten’s piece on Cuba from earlier this year should do so. It’s eye-opening and does a great job revealing just how bad things are in that country.

    It also makes it pretty clear that this will not improve conditions in Cuba one bit.

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    In order for Obama to have provoked Putin, he would have to take them seriously, which he does not. This is how seriously Putin takes Obama.

    Putin finds it useful to give the West the impression that he is a ‘crazy Ivan’ too dangerous to provoke…

  17. Oldflyer Says:

    I just don’t know.
    As a young Naval Aviator, we used to go to Guantanamo (Gitmo in Navy speak) every winter for intensive weapons training. At the time Castro was back in the hills, and the Cuban workers on the base were “hopeful”– we were sympathetic.

    They are charming people. They deserve a better hand than they have been dealt.

    It has been a long time. I don’t know what Obama’s insights and goals are in this. Needless to say, I do not trust him. Still, if this action somehow opens Cuba, if it means a better life for the Cuban people; I cannot object.

  18. Oldflyer Says:

    Addendum. Since posting, I have heard excerpts from Obama’s announcement of the policy change. He cited our “colonial past”. Really? Indeed!

    Sen Rubio summed up our “colonial” history with Cuba. After helping Cuba attain its independence from Spain in 1898, we turned the country over to the Cuban people in 1904.

    Obama is simply despicable.

    Now, whether he has stumbled into a meaningful foreign policy decision is still open for question. On the other hand, after hearing that characterization, I am not optimistic.

  19. J.J. Says:

    Cornflour: “The oil price crash will either bankrupt or severely damage the Venezuelan economy. Without Venezuelan assistance, the already fragile Cuban economy will collapse, and the Castros won’t be able to pay for their police state.”

    That is exactly why Obama should not have done this. Finally, the economic jig was up and now he’s trying to bail them out.

    There will be lots of Americans going there for cheap vacations, but anyone who has read Michael Totten’s piece on Cuba knows that the tourism will not make things better for the people. They’ve been getting quite a few Canadian and European tourists for years now. It only props up the dictatorship.

    Here’s the scoop. Cuba has no oil or gas. You can’t have a modern economy without oil and gas. So, they have to pay to import it. Where do they get the money to pay for the imports? Until 1989 it was Russia, then Venezuela. Neither one of them can send significant aid now. What can Cuba sell to the world to get the money for energy imports? Rum and cigars? Don’t make me laugh. You can buy better rum on many Caribbean Islands. How many people smoke cigars anymore? They can barely feed their people. The tourism and aid from Venezuela have been their main sources of outside income. We just gave them a boost. The regime is not our friend. They may go bust anyway, but it’s a travesty that we are helping them.

  20. KLSmith Says:

    763 days.

  21. parker Says:

    To believe our opening of trade and diplomatic relations with the thugs in havana will result in the betterment of the lives 99.99% of cubans is to believe in ocean front property in Iowa.

  22. Molly Brown Says:

    I always thought the Castro’s were somehow involved in JFK’s assassination, that our intelligence agencies knew this and this was the reason why the embargo would never be lifted in the Castro brother’s lifetimes. Guess I was wrong.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left regenerates whenever it takes damage. If you attack hydra head A, heads B,C,Z,X,F,E,G,H,J,Y,J and so on will heal A.

    So they’re healing each other. If you attempt to damage them piecemeal, it will fail.

  24. Illuminati Says:

    Most posters operate under the assumption that Obama is red. My assumption is that he is green the color of Islam. Obama gives the watermelon a new flavor. European watermelons are green (environmentalists) on the outside and red (communists) on he inside. Obama is green (Islamist) on the outside and red (communist) on the inside. Obama’s watermelon is just as hostile to the Jewish/Christian religions as are traditional Marxists but they aren’t atheists. Rather they want to replace G-d with their Allah.

  25. Fausta Says:

    Comparisons with China policy fall short on a vital aspect:
    I have friends who have operated businesses in China in the past 20 years. Their corporations paid their Chinese employees directly. However, anyone employing Cuban citizens does not pay the employee; they pay the Cuban government a stipulated (by the government) amount per person. The communist regime then pays the employee an amount no higher than the maximum salary (yes, Cuba has maximum salary laws), which is approximately 10% of the amount the communist regime received from the business.

    That is the case with any of the hundreds of multinationals that have done business with Cuba in the country, and with the thousands of “doctors” Cuba sends to places like Venezuela and Brazil.

    Additionally, foreign businessmen who have tried to collect monies due by Cuba have been thrown in jail, most recently Alejandro Abood, Cy Tokmakjian, Krikor Bayassalian, Nessin Abadi, Sarkis Yacoubian, and Stephen Purvis.

    N-O-T-H-I-N-G, not a thing the USA does is going to change that.

  26. T Says:

    A question:

    Is this all a smokescreen to close Gitmo as Obama has always intended?

    1)Throw any policy against the wall to see if it sticks in a desperate attempt to manufacture a legacy (Obama, the president who normalized relations with Cuba);

    2) Normalize relations with Cuba;

    3) Return Gitmo to Cuba as sovereign Cuban territory which we occupied for 50 plus years.

  27. Harold Says:

    Our Bolshevik Dear Leader does not disappoint. And this is only the start of his last two years (maybe) in office.

    These business relationships with totalitarian states should not exist. We should not be doing any large trading with China, Vietnam and now Cuba. It does nothing for the people of those countries. In China the money goes to strengthen the PLA, the same for Vietnam and Cuba.

    I am also curious why we have never overthrown the Castro government. I assume that as part of the Cuban Missile Crisis resolution we made a secret deal with the Soviet Union to never, ever overthrow Castro.

    Not having overthrown Castro during the last fifty years (something incredibly easy to do) makes all the conservative objections to what Dear Leader has done less believable.

  28. J.J. Says:

    Here’s some insight on Cuba today:
    “A photographer’s inside look at the secret lives of Havana’s super-rich, just down the street from its many poor, are a reminder that this supposed communist paradise is anything but equal.
    My first time in Cuba, I was not that type of person, and neither were the Cubans I met. I arrived in Havana on an old Russian Yakovlev, a plane with springs sticking through the seats and duct-tape holding up the paneling, and stayed at first in a concrete, barracks-like building with a family whose 14 year-old son had vacated the room so his parents could collect rent on it. The father, who holds an engineering graduate degree from Russia, makes $20 dollars a month and is saving up in hopes of one day sending his son away.

    Later that week, in January of 2010, I hailed a 1954 Chevrolet taxi, literally held together in places with wire and twine, and set off across the city looking for farms. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the loss of its sugar subsidies brought the Cuban economy to its knees. On the island, the early 1990s are now referred to as the “Special Period,” a bleak time when the average Cuban lost 10 pounds. The country’s cats suffered far worse, and a native species of anaconda was eaten into extinction. Urban farms, often considered a liberal idea, were introduced on the island not out of ideology but out of grim necessity.

    Read it all:

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    Neo: I firmly believe he would declare the embargo null and void under some sort of prosecutorial discretion argument if he really cared to have another big hassle about it.

    not really… he is trying to avoid revealing the other two or three methods of doing the same as an executive order. those other methods are almost equivalent, with the point being that they do not need to be “legal” the way an executive order has to be. see memorandums, and other forms the court found equivalent

    the way things are going there will be a big war (a la victor david hanson and nyquist, and others predictions), and potentially a civil war as well (or at the same time).

    when the people are divided, as in germany, a big man dictator can do his thing…

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    J.J. Says: Cuba has no oil or gas.

    this is wrong… they DO have such.

    Cuban officials are preparing to resume offshore oil drilling in deep waters as close as 50 miles from the Florida coast, posing a threat to the state’s beaches and marine life, former Gov. Bob Graham said Monday after a trip to Havana.

    The Cubans, he said, are negotiating with energy companies from Angola and Brazil to drill exploratory wells along the maritime border where U.S. and Cuban waters meet, starting next year.

    Estimates of total oil reserves in Cuba are varied, and depend mainly on estimations of undiscovered offshore deposits in the North Cuba Basin. Proved crude oil reserves were 124 million barrels as of 2013

  31. Artfldgr Says:

    The New Stupid Party
    Democrats call Republicans the stupid party. But now, there’s dumb, and dumber.

    A constant of political life has been that there is only one “stupid party” in America—the Republican Party. Then one day you get out of bed, look out the window and what do you see? Democrats. The Democrats are turning themselves into the new stupid party of american politics…

  32. J.J. Says:

    Artfldgr: “Estimates of total oil reserves in Cuba are varied, and depend mainly on estimations of undiscovered offshore deposits in the North Cuba Basin. Proved crude oil reserves were 124 million barrels as of 2013.”

    Yep, they’ve got potential oil there. Possible production in 3-5 years. And if realized, that much oil would be a boon to their economy. They are negotiating with foreign oil companies to drill the wells. Can the Castro brothers bring themselves to share 40-51% interest in the oil produced? They are accustomed to taking 90% off the top. Methinks they will have to do some uncomfortable free market negotiating to get at that oil. Maybe they will do it, but the opening to American tourism is much more valuable to them, if they can keep a lid on the peons and continue to take their 90% cut.

    That’s why this move by Obama is a big life preserver for their regime.

  33. Daniel in Brookline Says:


    I would disagree with you that Democrats call Republicans “the stupid party”. Rather, that’s what many Republicans call the Republican party. Democrats, in my experience, think of Republicans as evil… or worse.

  34. Ann Says:

    Very hard-hitting Washington Post editorial on this. The ending is perfect:

    “Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.”

  35. Cornhead Says:

    My high school Spanish teacher might now get his property back or at least paid.

    Creighton University Law School, my alma mater, wrote the plan for the State Department.

  36. Artfldgr Says:

    Daniel in Brookline – write to the article author, not me… I think both are quite vaccuous, self serving, rulers instead of representatives, and all in all, not the best kind of people to have near your children or family…

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