Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jimmy Carter's Cuba Mission

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 5, 2011

Jimmy Carter recently went to Cuba to fawn over the Castro regime, with the hope that fawning might help bring about the release of Alan Gross, an American held prisoner by the Castro regime. José Cárdenas sums up the results of Carter’s trip: For the record, here is a short accounting of what President Carter did in Cuba: He denounced the U.S. embargo of Cuba and called for unilateral changes in U.S. policy, including immediate repeal of the Helms-Burton law. Called for the unconditional removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Called for the unconditional release of five Cuban spies jailed in U.S. and criticized the U.S. judicial system under which they were convicted. Denounced Cuban American members of Congress, such as the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), as “radicals” determined to keep Cuba and the United States “apart.” Blamed the U.S. government for the infamous 1996 incident in which Cuban MiGs shot down two small civilian aircraft in international airspace. Referred to dictator Fidel Castro as his “personal friend.” Criticized the U.S. for not doing enough to combat “the problem of Global Warming” and praised Fidel Castro’s “activism and wisdom” on the issue. Apparently to balance out these activities, lest no one suspect where his sympathies may actually lie, President Carter also met with Cuban dissidents and religious leaders and did otherwise recognize Cuban human rights by saying that he hoped that “in the future” all Cubans have the freedom to speak, assemble, and travel. But this was all merely backdrop to what was widely considered the objective of Carter’s trip: securing the release of the unjustly imprisoned American aid worker Alan Gross, with whom Carter also met. In this light, Carter’s obsequious behavior toward the Castro regime could otherwise be dismissed as the “price” that had to be paid for Gross’s freedom. (Even as Carter tried to dampen prospects for Gross’s release — “I am not here to take him out of the country” — given the nature of Cuban totalitarianism, such Orwellian doublespeak is meant to pave the way for such a release, since it would allow the Castro regime to “surprise” and reward their pliant guest with a magnanimous gesture before leaving the country.) But President Carter left Cuba empty-handed and Alan Gross remains imprisoned for the “crime” of bringing internet equipment to Cuban Jewish groups. I am sure that the Cuban government must be overjoyed with this trip, as it helped advance Cuban interests. As for American interests, well, they ended up suffering; a typical outcome whenever Jimmy Carter ends up inserting himself in diplomatic endeavors. A more meddlesome, ham-handed, ineffective approach to diplomacy can hardly be imagined, though I am sure that Carter will try to top himself the next time he decides to act like America’s unofficial Secretary of State. I should note that I actually think we ought to end the Cuba embargo; it has achieved nothing. But no representative of the United States–and make no mistake, Carter made himself just that (if unofficially) by traveling to Cuba–lays that proposal on the table without a significant concession in return from the Cuban government. How very like Jimmy Carter to try to give up something for nothing.

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