Skip to comments.Save us all from Jimmy Carter's next misstep
Posted on 04/03/2002 3:31:05 AM PST by rw4site
April 2, 2002, 6:09PM
Please, Mr. President, don't go to Cuba.
No, not George W. Bush. Former President Carter says he is tired of the U.S. embargo on Cuba and wants to visit Havana. He has asked the Bush administration for its approval.
Carter's request poses a dilemma for the White House. If it says no, that could spark a public relations uproar. But to let a former U.S. president stumble into Fidel Castro's warm embrace would undercut a key element of the administration's Latin American policy, which is to support democracy, justice and freedom throughout the hemisphere. None of these exist in Cuba, a country with which we do not have formal relations and which has long been classified a terrorist state.
The president's staff is trying to figure out what to do. One suggestion is that Carter be given some human rights mission in the hope that he might shake his finger at Castro (whose regime has been regularly condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Commission).
What is certain is that the idea of Carter's going to Cuba is as welcome at the White House as a call by him on Moammar Gadhafi or Saddam Hussein would be.
According to U.S. law, Americans wanting to visit Cuba have to establish to the U.S. Treasury's satisfaction that their purpose is other than tourism or business. Such activity is proscribed by an embargo designed to keep Americans from contributing in any way financially to the regime. Do-gooders, students and the news media are among those exempted from the embargo.
Carter's views of the embargo are contrary to longstanding tradition: Former presidents are expected to be respectful of the incumbent president's constitutional authority to run foreign affairs. They're supposed to scrupulously avoid kibbitzing from the sidelines.
Our former president has sought with success to refurbish an image tarnished by a series of dismal foreign-policy failures while in office. These went beyond the Iran hostage crisis and included Cuba.
After all, it was during the Carter years that a misguided attempt at detente with Castro encouraged the dictator to send troops to Africa, underwrite and direct communist revolutions in Grenada and Nicaragua, and back rebel groups in Central America and Colombia.
Today Carter is properly revered around the world for his work with Habitat for Humanity, promotion of human rights and leadership in monitoring foreign elections. For more than 20 years, he has been something of a model ex-president -- supportive of his successors, until now at least.
But tradition aside, Carter's proposed visit to Cuba is a rotten idea. His visit would be seized upon by Castro as proof that he is recognized as a legitimate world leader and used to further demoralize opposition at home.
Any visit to Cuba by anyone with an ounce of international prestige becomes Castro's play thing. This happened even to the pope. Visits by foreign dignitaries to Cuba only serve to harden this megalomaniac's deadly rule.
If opposition to the embargo is driving Carter's newfound interest in Cuba, the place to mount a campaign to change U.S. policy is here at home. More likely what is behind Carter's wish to visit Cuba is simple ego: the conceit of many "personalities" that they can make a difference by simply talking to tyrants like Castro. (Jesse Jackson comes to mind.)
The way to deal with the Castros of the world is to treat them like pariahs, not fall prey to what a former American diplomat called the "flies-on-horse-manure syndrome."
Whatever is motivating Carter, the timing of a visit couldn't be worse. There are persistent reports that Castro is sick and losing his grip; and among the signs and portents that encourage Cuba's democratic dissidents was what happened to Castro in Mexico last month.
At the international aid conference in Monterrey, Castro found himself eclipsed by the presence of real world leaders, including George W. Bush. Castro went home mad, complaining that the Mexican hosts had snubbed him.
This was all to the good. Anything that diminishes Castro's prestige diminishes his authority.
Just think of the photos that would circle the globe of a beaming Carter in an adhesive abrazo with the bearded tyrant. The long-suffering Cuban people don't need this. Nor does Carter.
More One more instance proving President Ronald Reagan was a great president. He appointed this ambassador and Bush #41 was smart enough to use him as an advisor.
Liberills think that their FEELINGS of what is right come before such measly considerations as patriotism, responsibility, or that annoying document written by dead white guys.
One idea of a strategy would be to have a public discussion with Jimmycawtuh about cuba. He could grab that crooked media line about "It's time to revisit Cuba and ask if our policy over the last 40 years has really worked," and simply use the opportunity for exactly that purpose. Think how excited the networks would be! Prime time! Dubya could look interested, conciliatory, firm, and ask annoying questions to Jimmy about such minor nuisances as Angola, or sponsorship of FARC in Colombia and how that looked pretty similar to what happenedin Nicaragua and El Salvador during Carter's horrid administration. Let Jimmy remind the public why they voted for Reagan. Dubya can reinforce that good decision by politely rejecting the idea of a visit and slamming the twerp in full view.
In my humble opinion, Mr. Carter has only one saving grace. He wielded a mean hammer building houses.
Since Gore shaved his beard, there should be no confusion. . .
So long as Cuba's dictator maintains his stranglehold on every aspect of Cuban life, ending the embargo would be counterproductive. It would do nothing to end the far more restrictive embargo that Castro imposes on the Cuban nation. It would give him the propaganda victory and the US dollars he craves, but it would do little to bring liberty or hope to ordinary Cuban citizens.
Every president since JFK has extended the Cuban embargo; to lift it in exchange for nothing - no free elections, no civil liberties - would be a betrayal of the very people we want to help. ''Tiende tu mano a Cuba,'' says Paya when I ask what he thinks of American policy, ''pero primero pide que le desaten las manos a los cubanos.'' Extend your hands to Cuba - but first unshackle ours.[End Excerpt]
Letters to the Editors: U.S. is right to keep pressure on Castro's Cuba - © St. Petersburg Times published April 3, 2002 -Re: A walk through Havana reveals the sadness, by Jeff Jacoby, March 17. [Full Text] What a refreshing thing to read an account of what life is like for the typical, non-Communist Cuban. This is one of the few accounts I have seen in the press that does not paint the misleading picture of the happiness of the Cuban people under the Castro regime. My observations are not just personal opinions but are the result of a 30-year study of countless sources of life in Cuba.
For those who would insist on lifting America's trade restrictions with Cuba and decry the strong support of the Cuban-Americans who fled the Communist takeover of their country . . . try walking in their shoes. If you lost your home, business, farm, profession and personal possessions to the Communist takeover of this country and fled to Great Britain, don't you think you would pressure the British government to do everything to bring down that Communist-American government?
Castro holds the key to unlocking the door to trade with the United States; he need only allow free elections, honor human rights and release the political prisoners. When that happens, the people of Cuba will benefit from the resurgence of their economy. They, too, will be able to go into grocery stores with shelves stocked with food. It will no longer be just the Communist Party and its power elite that pocket the dollars of tourism and foreign investment in Cuba.
The United States is doing the right thing to keep up the pressure. The people of Cuba, who want to change the system, cannot change it from within the way we can change our government. They have no non-Communist newspapers or TV. They cannot have rallies and protests without disappearing into the prisons. They cannot elect someone who will improve their lot. They cannot even meet in homes without Communist state spys knocking on their doors and reporting them to the party.
As recently as May 2001, Castro, while visiting fellow terrorist regimes in Iraq, Libya and Iran pledged, while in Tehran, "The people and governments of Cuba and Iran can bring the United States to its knees."
Do we really want to help this terrorist government on our doorstep or should we keep at least as watchful an eye as we are keeping on other terrorist regimes half-way around the world? -- William C. Gregg, Belleair [End]
The rule of thumb is that disgraced Democrat Presidents must spend the rest of their lives trying to restore their place in history.
At least LBJ had the common decency to die before he did any meddling.
Probably. That is no doubt what they would say. Their true opinion, of course, is withheld because they don't speak the truth.
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