Since a bunch castro apologist wankers are going to enage in a
coffee klatch circle jerk about lowering the embargo later today I thought I’d post some excerpts from this excellent essay by Mark Falcoff who is a resident scholar emeritus of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy research. It was written 7 years ago but most of the points are as true today as they were then. The big differences are the emergence of Venzuela as Cuba’s benefactor and the legalization of US agrucultural sales to Cuba.
People tend to forget that economic sanctions are an invention of liberal statesmanship, a kind of peaceful alternative to the massive death and destruction caused by armed conflict. If trade embargoes are inhumane, the practice of bombing cities is infinitely more so.
Nonetheless, if embargoes are to be regarded as morally reprehensible, then it is difficult to see what instruments of persuasion are left in Western foreign policy except to deal with undemocratic and sometimes genocidal regimes on their own terms and hope to influence them through positive economic incentives. This is now the argument of those in the U.S. business community who wish to resume operations in Cuba. So far, however, economic engagement by other countries there–notably Spain, Canada, and Mexico–has yielded up no such influence.
…in the circumstances of today, it is highly unlikely that the United States would impose a trade embargo on Cuba. But since it is already in place, the United States needs an excuse to lift it, namely, that the political situation on the island has taken cognizance of the post cold war order. This means a release of all political prisoners; freedom of the press; an end to the harassment of dissidents, labor leaders, and professionals; freedom of assembly, and some movement toward normal and open political life. Until and unless some Cuban authority can provide that excuse, no U.S. administration will be willing to expend the political capital necessary to change current policy.
…the embargo is perhaps the only instrument left to the United States to influence events in Cuba in a positive direction. Concretely, to the extent that Castro cannot replace the Soviet subsidy, he is forced to devolve economic power to individual Cubans. This has already happened to some degree, starting with the legalization of the holding of dollars and continuing through the creation of several hundred categories of self-employment. Unfortunately, because as yet no Cuban can employ another Cuban except in family-run home restaurants (paladares), the infant private sector is severely limited in its extent and impact, both in economic and sociological terms. Were Castro to take this next, crucial step, he would, in effect, be willing the rebirth of Cuban civil society and, with it, the germs of a pluralistic political order.
Note here that in fact castro was able to replace the Soviet subsidy with a Venezuelan subsidy. As a result almost all of the minimal economic freedoms that were permitted during Cuba’s “special period” were repealed.
Because Castro and his associates, good Marxists all, understand this point well, they have been reluctant to authorize further steps toward economic reform. For them, power, rather than the prosperity or well-being of the ordinary Cuban, is the ultimate objective. Reports persist that a fierce battle is being waged within Castro’s entourage between “reformers” and “hard-liners,” with the latter conceding ground to the former only under extreme duress. Those same reports affirm that the recent infusion of dollars from foreign tourism and investment has weakened the hand of advocates of further reform.
Mr. Falcoff was prescient here. Far from spurring further reforms the cash infusion from tourism and Venezuelan petrodollars has given the regime less incentive to change.
Thus, in Cuba at least, “constructive engagement,” far from persuading the regime to liberalize, has given it a new lease on life. A lifting of the U.S. embargo could well consolidate the victory of hard-liners. It would also create a new business lobby in the United States, such as already exists in Canada, Spain, and Mexico, whose purpose would be to deny (or defend) the Castro regime’s violations of human and labor rights.
Cuban business lobby in the U.S.: Check! Since cash sales of food and medicine were made legal several years ago (after this particular article was written) castro has done deals with as many different U.S. states as possible, often buying the same types of products from different states to create agents of influence in those states. Thus the cast of characters that never lets an opportunity to trash the embargo pass. And you don’t have to go too far to find those who would deny or defend the castro regime’s abuses. They troll the comments section of this blog constantly.
…thanks to existing programs that subsidize the export of American agricultural products, any country, regardless of its creditworthiness or lack of it, can run up an enormous debt at the expense of the American taxpayer. The best way to deal with this problem is to lift the embargo on food sales but render Cuba ineligible for such export credits until it satisfies certain minimal conditions of political liberalization.
Here’s the real story as I’ve been reporting for years. When this article was written the US was not selling agricultural products to Cuba. That restriction was lifted for humanitarian purposes but only on the condition that transactions would be conducted on a cash-up-front basis. This was done for the very reason the Falcoff suggests, namely to prevent US taxpayers from getting soaked in another ridiculous farm subsidy that instead of helping the Cuban people, actually helps the castro regime. It bears repeating that castro’s Cuba is one of the worst debtors in the world, often not even recognizing its debts. You don’t have to be genius to see what happens if normal trade relations are established with the regime. Falcoff’s predictions come true and you and I end up financing fidel castro.