January 31st 2015

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED Is time running out for Tony Abbott?

QUEENSLAND STATE ELECTION Choice facing Queensland voters on January 31

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Will Australia strengthen country-of-origin labelling laws?

GREAT THINKERS What Edmund Burke has to say to the modern world

SOCIETY Fatherlessness linked to increased risk of child abuse

LIFE ISSUES Assassinations should be 'safe, legal and rare'

LIFE ISSUES Shocking figures on Holland's euthanasia-fest

EDITORIAL Greek elections new threat to eurozone

Economic crisis polarises European politics

EUROPE Paris attack underscores a deeper malaise

UNITED STATES Dismay and outrage at Obama's Cuba policy

CHINA Flood of Chinese 'black money' distorts property market

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind Sri Lanka's vote for change

CULTURE What is the point of criticism?

BOOK REVIEW French sanctuary for endangered Jews

BOOK REVIEW Quaker forger who poisoned his mistress

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Dismay and outrage at Obama's Cuba policy

by Hal G.P. Colebatch

News Weekly, January 31, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement late last year of his intended lifting of the embargo on communist Cuba and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with it was an alarming farrago of lies and a display of apparent ignorance, if not outright defiance of, the U.S. Constitution. 


President Barack Obama, with

Vice-President Joe Biden (left)

and Nancy Pelosi

It also betrayed a readiness to cosy up to one of the most unsavoury and aggressively anti-American dictatorships on the planet, in contrast to Obama’s insulting and belittling of U.S. allies such as Israel, Britain and, recently, even Australia. 


It reinforces the suspicions arising from his earlier life and associations, and many of his presidential statements and initiatives, that Obama is a “Manchurian candidate” president with a not-so-covert attraction to communism.

There is a case that there is no point in continuing the embargo against Cuba — it has trade with other countries and its wretched standard of living is not due to the embargo but to communism — but what is significant here are the arguments used by Obama to justify ending it.

It was Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro, who, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, in a spasm of fanatical anti-American hatred, urged Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to start a nuclear holocaust that might have destroyed the world — behaviour which identifies Castro as one of the most evil men who have ever lived and an enemy of the whole human race. It was he who shipped both guerrillas and regular soldiers to Africa and Latin America to co-ordinate wars against Western-aligned states.

Two communist tyrants,

Fidel and Raul Castro

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, called it “another in a long line of mindless concessions” to a brutal dictatorship. “Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalised, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom — and not one second sooner,” Boehner said.

In his announcement of the policy change, Obama: 

• Made no mention of the Cuban missile crisis, apparently regarding his own birth as more significant. This is a sheer distortion of history: “I was born in 1961 just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba.… Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War and America’s steadfast opposition to communism.” Cuba’s role in helping the Soviet Union project a direct threat to the U.S. mainland — and the human race — is not mentioned.

• Suggested that a president can establish a U.S. embassy on his own. “Going forward, the United States will re-establish an embassy in Havana and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” An embassy needs to be funded by Congress, and needs an ambassador to be approved by the Senate. 

• Made no mention of Cuba’s role in violently repressing democracy abroad in the interests of communist ideology, first as a Soviet catspaw and then on its own account: “Cuba has sent hundreds of healthcare workers to Africa to fight Ebola.” Yes, and Cuba has also sent soldiers to Angola and Mozambique and experts in repression to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Cuban agents also allegedly beat and raped Venezuelan protestors earlier this year. For decades, Cuba assisted guerrilla armies abroad, fomenting bloody revolution in some countries and propping up communist regimes elsewhere. It continues to do so.

• Suggested that Cuba does not support terrorism. This is a direct lie by the U.S. President: “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.” Cuba was caught last year smuggling “missile equipment” to North Korea, and continues to offer other kinds of support to terrorists.

• Made false claim that the U.S. is to blame for lack of information in Cuba. “I believe in the free flow of information. Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.” American citizen Alan Gross was imprisoned for trying to help Cubans access technology. The reason Cubans lack news and communication is because the regime censors them brutally.

• Promised to consult Congress on Cuba, then broke that promise.

• Falsely claimed that Cuba agreed to release political prisoners as part of a deal with the U.S: “In addition to the return of Alan Gross and the release of our intelligence agent, we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.” As the even the leftist Washington Post noted, these political prisoners were already set to be released as the result of negotiations four years ago with the Vatican and Spain.

• Conflated the collapse of the Castro regime with the collapse of Cuba. “Moreover, it does not serve America’s interests or the Cuban people to try to push Cuba towards collapse.” By failing to differentiate between the regime and the country, Obama signalled his intention to allow the Castros (brothers Fidel and Raúl) and their heirs to entrench their power — abandoning the cause of freedom and reform, just as he did with the mullahs in Iran during the 2009 uprising.

• Falsely identified the U.S. as a colonial power. “Others have seen us as a form of coloniser intent on controlling your future.… Let us leave behind the legacy of both colonisation and communism, the tyranny of drug cartels, dictators and sham elections.” America actually liberated Cuba from Spanish colonialism, and, although the U.S. influenced the island heavily for decades afterward, Obama’s attempted moral equivalence between “colonisation” and communist tyranny is false, an example of the President’s antipathy towards his own country and/or historical ignorance.

The American Spectator published interviews with two prominent Cuban dissidents who are dismayed or at best unenthusiastic at Obama’s action. Blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo spoke of “a deep sadness and feelings of betrayal”. He said: “You Americans cannot do anything for the tragedy of the Cuban people. It seems you neither understand nor care.”

Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, founder and director of the independent news agency Hablemos Press, said: “My message is that this move will give very little benefit to the Cuban people.… [T]his has been a move by the regime to gain time. The regime does not respect human rights and continues to arrest protesters and others. For there to be real change in Cuba, there must be respect for freedom of expression and opinion, religion, movement … and there have been no such changes. Change also requires no more political prisoners, that every Cuban has decent housing, fair wages and a decent job. I wish Obama had considered the opinion of the Cuban people before making this change.”

Otto Reich, who advised President Ronald Reagan in Cold War-era battles between the U.S. and Cuba in Latin America, told American television’s MidPoint host Ed Berliner: “This is one of the most inexplicable initiatives by a United States administration in the history of foreign policy.” 

By re-establishing diplomatic relations, returning captured spies, and easing restrictions on travel and commerce, Obama “has thrown a lifeline to a sinking ship where the longest-lasting enemies of the U.S. are standing on the deck: the Castro brothers,” said Reich. “Nobody has been in power longer than they have who are still alive,” said Reich, referring to Fidel Castro and his brother and successor as communist Cuba’s ruler, Raúl Castro.

“Why did he do this?” Reich asked. “Why is he replacing American taxpayers’ dollars for the money that the Cubans used to get from the Soviet Union until they ceased to exist, and then [from] Venezuela? Nobody really knows.”

“The Castros cannot believe their luck,” he said. “Never in their wildest dreams did they think the president of the U.S. would come begging them for an agreement.” 

Reich continued: “Raúl Castro did this because he could not believe that he was getting American money, American investment, American trade and American tourists — all of those things — in exchange for simply a promise that he was going to be a good boy for the next 10 or 20 years. 

“I’m not against negotiation; but I am against us giving away our bargaining power to a bunch of people who have literally tried to destroy the U.S., as when Fidel Castro begged Nikita Khrushchev to fire the nuclear missiles that were in Cuba, already established, in 1962. 

“The left-wing Obama is coming out now that he’s been unshackled from any political requirements. He doesn’t have to run anymore, he’s lost control of the Congress, and he’s not going to get any legislation through the Congress. So he’s using his executive authority to reshape the world in the way that he wanted to do it, but couldn’t do it before. 

“This president looked around and looked at the list of the six years of this administration and saw that he has zero foreign policy successes. He figured, where can he give away the store and look to the leftist side of the world [like] a hero? And that’s what he did.… He doesn’t care what it does to American prestige or our posture in the world.”

Hal G.P. Colebatch, PhD, is a Perth author and lawyer. He was recently joint winner of the Prime Minister’s $80,000 history prize for his book, Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II (Sydney: Quadrant Books, 2013), which is available from News Weekly Books.

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