The Castros finally hit the jackpot

Rich Lowry in Politico:

The Castros Finally Hit the Jackpot

Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

http://images.politico.com/global/2014/12/17/1974_fidel_castro_ap_629.jpg

Candidate Barack Obama said that, as president, he would talk to anti-American dictators without precondition. He didn’t mention that he would also give them historic policy concessions without precondition.

His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.

The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).

The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.

Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies.

Who helped negotiate the one with Cuba? Harry Truman had Dean Acheson. Richard Nixon had Henry Kissinger. Bush I had James Baker. Barack Obama has Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser who is his Castlereagh and has what it takes to collapse U.S. policy toward Cuba and get nothing in return.

There is no doubt that economic sanctions are a blunt and dubious instrument, and reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of levying them in a given instance (I’ve gone back and forth about the Cuban embargo over the years). But dictatorial regimes hate them for a reason. All things considered, these regimes want more economic wherewithal rather than less.

Obama’s olive branch to the Castros couldn’t be better-timed from the perspective of the family that has made a handsome business out of crushing its fellow Cubans. The regime is heavily dependent on the largesse of its ideological partner Venezuela, whose irrational, left-wing policies have helped send its economy spiraling toward default. Just as the Castro dictatorship faces the dire prospect of the collapse of Venezuela’s support, here comes El Yanqui to cushion the blow.

The Castro regime will take a cut of the increased trade, remittances and tourism that will spring from Obama’s concessions. Cuba obviously doesn’t have a free, or mostly free, or even remotely free, economy. Its economy is run by and for the government.

Continue reading HERE.