Monday, May 25, 2015

Week of 05/25/2015

Cuba Needs Its Glasnost
I suppose that sooner or later I’d have to talk about Cuba.
Little island 90 miles south of the Florida Keys, yet it’s the source of so much pain, so much misery, and so much orchestrated drama!
The big news, in case you were hiding under a rock, is that President Barack Obama wants to “normalize” relations with the Cuban government.  That means bringing back the embassy, ending the economic and travel boycotts, and basically letting people go to and from there.
On the face of it, that sounds fair.  I mean, we’re supposedly the only ones boycotting Cuba right now.  And it’s not like we have anything to genuinely fear from them in the 21st century.  We have more to fear from Cobra... oops, I mean al Qaeda... than we do from Cuba right about now. 
What, are they going to flood the market with Cuban cigars?  Send tobacco to a hypocritically hypersensitive nation that treats smokers like lepers?  Right!  What else?  Empty out all of the asylums and give us the loonies?  Oh, wait, that leaky raft already sailed.  Send us the drug trade?  Oh, wait, the other Latin American countries already do that.
I mean, come on guys, the only reason why Cuba was such a threat to us was because of the fear that they’d get nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union isn’t around anymore, and Russia can’t even control its neighbors, much less try to export anything to Cuba that could start us down the “Dr. Strangelove” route.  In fact, the only thing Cuba’s been bringing in of late is our suspected terrorists so they can be held in the Yankee Gulag once known as Guantanamo Bay.
Now, understand that my father served in the Navy and was actually involved in the two major incidents concerning Cuba.  He was there during the Bay of Pigs fiasco – the one where some of the history books still claim we weren’t involved in – and he was on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD-850) during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And I think that my father’s recollection of those events have helped me get a better understanding about what do to with Cuba than, say, the average cable news viewer that only gets what the political consultants tell them to think.
When I think of Cuba, I can’t help but think about its former sponsor, the USSR, and what happened to it.  And I think that what the Soviet Union went through, Cuba now needs.
So what brought down the almighty Soviet Union?  Well, obviously they couldn’t keep up with the Cold War.  It was a game of attrition that they ultimately lost.
But before that, there was Glasnost.
Glasnost was the policy started by Soviet Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev.  “Glasnost” is Russian for “publicity”, and Gorbachev used it to bring in a period of transparency for the government in the hopes that it would end rampant corruption and abuses of power.  In the terms of saving the government, it failed miserably.  But what it did do right was it helped open the eyes of the Soviet people to what was out there.  It allowed people to look at this supposed “ultimate evolutionary phase of society” and saw that it did not live up to the rhetoric.
Think about it.  If not for Glasnost, there would’ve been no Boris Yeltsin.  No Yeltsin, no uprising that would ultimately collapse the Soviet Union.
And let’s get brutally honest here... that is precisely what Cuba needs right now.  Cuba needs its own Glasnost for it to move forward.
Now I know the critics – and there are plenty of them – are looking at this idea and are saying “Yes, but what about the Castros?  They’re still in power.  And they have a horrendous human rights problem!  When will they be brought to justice for what they’ve done over the decades?”
And you’re right.  They’re still in power.  And they’ve done some really bad things in the past.
But you know what else?  That’s really on us.
We screwed up on so many levels with Cuba that it’s not funny.  We created the conditions for Fidel Castro to take over.  We put in the government that Castro overthrew.  We screwed up in trying to get rid of him when we could, and then we agreed after the Cuban Missile Crisis that we would supposedly stop trying to do that.  We took in all of the people that would otherwise overthrow Castro, and didn’t really give them an incentive to go back there and fix things.
Think about it.  All of the people that could’ve been a threat to the Castro Brothers were either in prison, dead, or sent to the United States.  And there’s been no effort on the part of the refugees to go back there.
So... what, are we going to wait until the Castro Brothers die off?  They’re tough old farts.  You know this.  And even if they did manage to shuffle off this mortal coil, what’s to say that some family member or some underling wouldn’t just keep the status quo going?  Remember, pretty much everyone that would have wanted change is over here, in America.  What you have over there are the people who tolerate the Castro Borthers and aren’t seen as a threat.
You want that to change?  Open the doors.  Let the Cuban people see what they’ve been missing all these years.  Let them trade in their beat-up 1950’s vehicles with 21st Century ones.  Bring in McDonald’s and Wal-Mart and Master Card.  And then ask them if they still want to maintain a 19th century German fantasy that was pushed by 20th century idealists and try to compete when the rest of the world – including “Mother Russia” – is a whole century ahead of them.
And if you think about it... what better justice would there be than to see the principals of the Cuban Revolution see with their own dying eyes that what they struggled for all these years would be rejected?  That won’t happen if we just wait for the Castros to die off.
Change is not easy.  And it doesn’t really happen overnight, despite what you may think.  But it has to start somewhere.  It just doesn’t come out of nowhere.  You may not like that it’s coming from Obama, but you need to accept that someone has to do it, and since we helped to create the problem all those years ago, it’s fitting that we are the ones to get the ball rolling.

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