Jeff Flake: Communist

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The Arizona congressman's Saturday op-ed—co-written* with Chuck Rangel!—deserves a little more attention.

The administration should begin by ending its insistence that it will respond only to Cuba's complete conversion to democracy and free markets. Cubans surely would welcome incremental reforms that improve living standards, not to mention economic and political freedom. The administration's all-or-nothing posture is divorced from the reality on which our approaches to North Korea, China, Vietnam and other communist countries are based. It is a formula for irrelevance.

We should unite around a principle that Democrats and Republicans have long embraced, a principle that aided the West's success in the Cold War: American openness is a source of strength, not a concession to dictatorships.

It is time to permit free travel to Cuba, as provided in legislation we have introduced. Open travel would create a "free flow of ideas" that "would promote democratization," as dissident Oscar Espinosa Chepe wrote shortly after his release from prison in 2004. It would also bring humanitarian benefits to Cubans as family visits increase and travelers boost Cuba's small but vital entrepreneurial sector.

Flake and Rangel think Raul Castro is, to paraphrase Thatcher, a man we can do business with—he's less competent and authoritarian than Fidel, and will want to leave a legacy of his own. Just a theory, but a more pleasant one than Mitt Romney's: that the Castro brothers can only be killed with silver bullets.

Glenn Garvin reviewed the life of Fidel's American propagandist in the February issue of Reason.

*Yes, I know how congresspeople "write" things. Big up to communication directors.

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  1. Cubans surely would welcome incremental reforms that improve living standards, not to mention economic and political freedom.

    Maybe, what if those incremental reforms are the bare minimum to extend indefinitely the tenure of the current thugocracy?

    And, anyway, since the Cubans aren’t allowed any say in these matters, nobody really knows what the Cubans would prefer, do they?

  2. I think Cuba ought to privatize everything effective immediately, like they did in Russia, instead of changing incrementally like they did in China. That worked out so well in Russia that the people there are enjoying the benefits of a thriving economy which is no longer controlled by the same powerful dictators of old. I mean, it’s not as though all of the means of production were sold off to low bidders from powerful families or anything, and the people adjusted very quickly. Good policy call US Government!

  3. Well, I’ll be damned. Charlie Rangel’s name attached to something that actually makes sense. Who would have thought? Not me, that’s for damn sure. Personally, I don’t thinnk the political climate in Cuba is any of our business. They’re not a military threat to the US, so leave ’em be.

  4. There’s no way in hell that any President will give in at this late date, now that Castro is finally in his death spiral. We’ve been reminded for over 40 years of how Castro has “outlasted” ten Presidents. The lucky one who happens to be in office when Fidel finally kicks it isn’t about to relinquish that prize.

  5. Maybe, what if those incremental reforms are the bare minimum to extend indefinitely the tenure of the current thugocracy?

    No reform is better than incremental reform!

    And, anyway, since the Cubans aren’t allowed any say in these matters, nobody really knows what the Cubans would prefer, do they?

    Indeed. Maybe they love the way things are now.

  6. No no, COLUMNIST. He’s a COLUMNIST.

    Damn left-wing media.

  7. “Maybe, what if those incremental reforms are the bare minimum to extend indefinitely the tenure of the current thugocracy?”

    I guess that depends on how strong you think the impact of American culture is. For such a ‘patriot’, you seem to have a low opinion of us….

  8. It’s been fifty years, John. I think they’ve got the bare minimum covered already.

  9. lifting the travel ban won’t make things perfect, but it surely can’t make things worse, can it?

  10. Lifting the ban would eliminate a convenient excuse for the Castro regime’s failures.

    And there would be lots of stories about cheap Cuban labor and sweatshops, and all such poverty would be blamed on capitalism.

  11. Maybe, what if those incremental reforms are the bare minimum to extend indefinitely the tenure of the current thugocracy?

    Absolutely. Moreover, embargoes have a long and glorious history of bringing down tyrants.

    *snicker*

    – Josh

  12. Since I am fully in favor of Canadian and Dutch development corporations, I believe that the embargo is the greatest thing since anti-trust. [/sarc]

  13. Maybe, what if those incremental reforms are the bare minimum to extend indefinitely the tenure of the current thugocracy?

    Like the way Gorbachev managed to keep the Soviet Union going indefinitely with his incremental reforms.

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