As I have said ad nauseam here over the past decade, no dictator in the history of the world has ever been toppled by drowning them in cash or loving them to death. Dictators only respond to pain, either physical or economic. And unless we are willing to bring on the pain, we will never be rid of them.
Why Trump’s tough talk on Cuba will work
The late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro loved baseball, so using a baseball term to describe what his death has provided President-elect Donald Trump: A meatball right over the plate. And not only is the opportunity to start talking tough and actually getting tough on the Cuban regime a home run opportunity for Trump, it’s probably a good window to what we can expect from him when it comes to foreign policy for the next four years. The easy-access to the bully pulpit provided to Trump by social media is just too enticing for him to resist.
That became apparent early Monday when Trump followed up his celebratory weekend tweet about Castro’s death with another tweet about how his administration will deal with Cuba going forward:
If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016
The big question is: Will this tough talk and decidedly undiplomatic behavior work? The easy or cop out answer is “time will tell.” But we do have some actual evidence to work with to provide a bit of a better answer than that. History tells us that more blunt talk in American diplomacy often works wonders.
It worked when Ronald Reagan made it clear that his administration was going to ditch the murky policy of Detente in favor of a “we win, they lose” strategy against Soviet expansion and influence. But it didn’t work as well when President George W. Bush spoke about how terrorist nations and nations that harbored terrorists were one in the same.
That was basically the message that led to the Iraq War, which didn’t achieve its promised goals despite the fact that most Americans were mobilized to support it at first. President Obama’s clearly stated “red line” on chemical weapons use in Syria has produced almost nothing but more confusion and international outrage.
So what we learn about provocative talk in foreign policy is that it’s only likely to work if the presidents or diplomats saying it actually walk the walk after talking that talk. It will be relatively easy for the Trump administration to back up President-elect Trump’s hard core challenge to Cuba. But if he starts making more specific challenges or threats against larger nations, or even groups like ISIS, Trump is going to have to back them up with real actions or risk being ignored before long.
Read it all HERE.