Whenever any change in U.S. Policy is considered regarding Cuba, we as a nation must endure the same hypocritical moralizing from extremists. Castro is a terrible ruler. The Castros treat political prisoners badly. We can't appease a corrupt regime.
A round of such inanity was fired this week because President Obama was easing travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba. This is no bold move, mind you. There is still an embargo on Cuba. We still apply the bizarre wet foot-dry-foot policy for refugees. But now certain organized and authorized missionary and school groups, in licensed charter flights, can travel there, and non-family members can send $500 remittances to people there.
This has been labeled by Fox News as a slap in the face of political prisoners, by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as an undermining of foreign policy and security objectives and by Sen. Marco Rubio as an "unthinkable" enrichment of a totalitarian regime.
Now, let me make clear I do not think Cuba is better off for the fact Fidel Castro was ever born. The accusations against him, while typically relayed in a histrionic fashion, are true. The regime has historically been intolerant of dissent and has done more to disempower people living on the island than it has ever done to empower them.
So why do I find such objections regarding Obama's policies so offensive? Because so little regard is shown with similar despots around the world.
Ros-Lehtinen, now the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proudly boasted her her credential as a hawk to the St. Petersburg Times, and noted her relentless support of Israel, a nation hated everywhere but America for its ethnic segregation policies and unapologetic smothering of dissenting voices. She has also continued to support propping up a corrupt administration in Afghanistan.
Rubio, while far newer to the foreign policy debate in Washington, just returned from a trip to Afghanistan where he said supporting the regime there was a top priority so that denizens don't see the "bad guys" back in power. As if the drug-peddling, vote-rigging administration of Hamid Karzai is the pinnacle of good leadership. On the campaign trail last year, he suggested America wasn't propping Israel up enough.
It is amazing to me that fiscal conservatives would want America acting as policeman for every wicked regime in the world, but if that is the stand they want to take fine. That said, you cannot scream full-throated about the evils of the Castro regime while propping up governments who are far more corrupt and guilty of more heinous human right violations.
Rubio opposes using the American court process to bring those prisoners to justice and favors military tribunals conducted in a country where American civilians aren't allowed to travel. Ros-Lehtinen went further last year and said the administration it was a waste of taxpayer dollars to provide human treatment to Guantanamo prisoners. "It is time for the president to focus on the security and economic needs of the American people, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm," she said in a statement last February.
Every politician says the endgame of the Cuban embargo is to force Cuba to be a humane regime, yet they support policies which are inhumane on their face, both for our more questionable allies abroad and for our own military if the mood fits. Even though the Raul Castro regime has been far less onerous than Fidel, the rhetoric of American politicians hasn't changed at all.
If we truly want to end such practices in Cuba, we should start with our own actions there.