Obama Saves Cuba's Relic of a Regime
Cuba's removal from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism was only the beginning. On July 20, the offices of reciprocal representation now based in Washington and Havana are expected to raise the hierarchy of their diplomatic relations.
This is not as straightforward as it seems. Mauricio Claver-Carone, editor of a blog, much consulted by U.S. legislators, called CapitolHillCubans.com, contends that the Liberty Act (the Helms-Burton Law), which regulates the United States' relations with Cuba, establishes two very clear conditions for resuming relations.
First, the U.S. president must determine that a democratically elected government rules the island; second, that pending claims for U.S. properties confiscated by the Cuban government in the 1960s have been settled. Neither condition has been satisfied.
However, the White House seems set to roundly ignore both aspects of this law, which will certainly end up in the courts. President Barack Obama has decided that part of his foreign policy legacy will be the restoration of relations with Cuba - interrupted in January 1960 during the Eisenhower administration - and he will not hesitate to make any concessions he deems necessary to achieve his purpose.
If Richard Nixon eventually gained the approval of U.S. society for his rapprochement with China, why not turn a page on the tiny Cuban dictatorship without demanding anything in exchange? After all, neither Nixon nor his adviser Kissinger asked Mao to give up his bloody Stalinism for even a second.
It is very likely that Obama is under the influence of politologist Charles Kupchan, an important functionary in the National Security Council and a professor at Georgetown University. A few years ago, Kupchan published a book on foreign policy that is almost a parody of Dale Carnegie's famous work. Kupchan's book is titled How Enemies Become Friends; the Sources of Stable Peace.
Kupchan's idea, disputed by numerous strategists, is alarmingly simple: Give the enemy everything he requests without demanding anything in exchange. The United States, with a population of 320 million, a huge territory overlooking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a gross national product of $17 trillion, and a military budget of $600 billion a year, has nothing to fear from an impoverished Caribbean island that is legendarily clumsy in its handling of the economy and extremely cruel in the way it mistreats the opposition democrats.
The opening of the embassies is only one step, obviously. The next step will be to return the Guantanamo base to the administration of the Cuban government. So far, the White House has ordered the closing of the prison and has asked a major law firm for an opinion on the president's authority to surrender to the Cuban regime the military base the United States acquired in 1903.
Simultaneously, he has requested the U.S. Navy's opinion on that facility's usefulness and cost-effectiveness, more than 100 years after it was leased from Cuba. Presumably, the Navy will report that, at this point in history, it is perfectly useless. If Roosevelt Roads, the world's largest naval base, was shut down in nearby Puerto Rico, there is no doubt that Guantanamo barely serves as a detention center.
But President Obama won't stop there. He said in Panama, during the Summit of the Americas, that his country had renounced a "regime change" on the island. That means that eventually he will dismantle Radio and TV Martí by privatizing them and will deny any kind of federal financial aid to the programs for the strengthening of democracy that still remain active.
After all, those activities are directed at provoking a change in how the Castro brothers govern the island. His decision, which runs contrary to more than 60 years of contention of Communism, is to coexist peacefully with the Cuban dictatorship.
How will all this end? This change in policy will have a first culmination -- there will be others -- with a visit by Obama to Cuba in 2016, shortly before leaving the White House. This will take place perhaps after the November elections, when his trip will do no harm to the Democratic Party candidate. He will bathe in the adulation of the crowds.
And when he awakens from his sleep, the Cuban dictatorship, like the dinosaur in Monterroso's fable, will still sit by his bed, unperturbed and ferocious, very satisfied at having won the game against its secular foe.