Thursday, December 18, 2014

Congress, then Cuba


In a rare display of unintended bipartisanship, Cuban-American US Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) vocally criticized President Obama's announcement to normalize relations with the Communist Castro regime in Cuba.

“I think it stinks,” declared Menendez. “Obama is the worst negotiator”, Rubio retorted.

Both Senators should not fault the President for discussing comprehensive changes to the five-decade Cuban embargo, which Congress has peeled back piecemeal over the last few years.

Normalization of trade and diplomatic relations always benefits free countries. Furthermore, open trade undermines tyrannical regimes. For example, the world witnessed this powerful transition when USSR’s last premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, reached out to the United States and Western Europe. Because Gorbachev desperately needed to revive his country’s flagging economy, President Reagan understood that the Soviet Union was crumbling from within. He knew fully well what United Kingdom’s conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had asserted: “The problem with socialism is that governments run out of other people’s money.”

Without diminishing their nation’s defenses, Reagan, Thatcher (and indirectly Pope John Paul II) shared freedom of trade, press, and religion with the Soviet people, who then brought down the Communist Soviet regime. Similar outreach will help the Cuban people to end Castro’s dictatorship, too.

However, Senators Rubio and Menendez should fault President Obama for his unilateral, even dictatorial pretensions. Having ignored and attempted to rewrite federal law on health care and immigration, Obama must submit to Congressional approval. Before easing tensions with Cuba, the President should normalize relations with Congress.

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