For a lot of reasons many of you already brought up, there’s no downside to normalizing relations with Cuba. The old policy certainly did nothing to weaken Castro or set the people of Cuba free. Business interests in the U.S. welcome the change; Gulf Coast states especially could benefit. And, of course, this should provide an economic boost for the people of Cuba. Pope Francis himself helped broker the deal.
“My understanding is that the influence that His Holiness had was on the release of Mr. [Alan] Gross, which I’ve not criticized. As I said, I’m happy that he’s with the Cuban people [sic]. I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people â€” for a people to truly be free,” Rubio, a Catholic whose parents immigrated from Cuba to flee an oppressive regime, told reporters.
“I think the people of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from; as the people of Italy have, where he now lives. Obviously the Vatican’s its own state, but very nearby,” the senator and rumored 2016 presidential hopeful continued. “My point is I hope that people with that sort of prestige on the world stage will take up the cause of freedom and democracy. The Cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere that have not been able to elect a leader in more than 55 or 60 years. That’s outrageous.”
And the damnfool embargo has been in place for 54 years, and it wasn’t doing a damn thing to help the people of Cuba get voting rights. I’ve long thought that if we really wanted to help the people of Cuba enjoy the blessings of capitalism, allowing Cubans to do business with the U.S. would accomplish that a lot faster than not. As usual, the Right is oblivious to the real-world effect of doctrine and cares only about symbolism.
John Cole says most everything else I want to say, including this:
In the defense of Republicans, there used to be a train of thought that the way to liberate the world was through trade and travel, but that notion on the right is as dead as Dick Cheneyâ€™s dark heart after 70 years of eating cheesy Freedom Fries. So when you watch all these guys freak out, and seriously, they are freaking the fuck out, just realize that they are exhibiting all they know, which is the cold war mindset. Think back to not so long ago, when Putin was the man of their dreams and the ho yay was in full bloom- he was a real leader, riding shirtless on a bear as he annexed everything to the east of the Rhine while our waffler in chief just stood by. Weâ€™re all Georgians and Ukrainians and Romney was Right or whatever the cry du jour was from Johnny Get Your Guns McCain, another Cold War relic that needs to be put down, all while Lindsey Graham wearily lifted himself from the fainting couch long enough to emit a plaintive wail on Hardball. New Cold War! He wants to create a new greater Russian empire! We have to meet force with force! Thatâ€™s all Putin understands!
Meanwhile, our Kenyan appeaser in chief had different plans, and worked with the international community to put in place a sustained series of sanctions aimed at punishing Putin for his aggression, and where are we now? Without a shot fired, without one casket wept over in Arlington, Russiaâ€™s economy is near collapse if it hasnâ€™t already. The ruble is as worthless as Sarah Palinâ€™s diploma, there is an astounding brain drain as the educated emigrate at astounding levels, Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels have agreed to resume peace talks, and just the other day, Obama supported another round of sanctions. Our President knows when and how to stick the shiv in, and itâ€™s much more effective than the wingnut plan of launching a thousand tanks and ten thousand men eastward through the Fulda Gap.
For all the right-wing posturing, though, I rather doubt most Americans are going to get worked up into a snit about Cuba, other than to wonder when they can get the cigars. Republicans may find themselves whistling in the wind on this one, no matter how hard Fox News tries to gin up outrage.
Update: See also “On Cuba, Republicans Trapped by Old Think.“