Now that president Obama has followed up his normalization of relations with Cuba with being the first president since 1958 to formally meet with Cuba (Saturday, at the Summit of the Americas), As the White House blog explains, he has decided as of Tuesday to remove Cuba from the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
In a statement, the White House said,
After a careful review of Cuba’s record, which was informed by the intelligence community, as well as assurances provided by the Cuban government, the Secretary of State concluded that Cuba met the conditions for rescinding its designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
The hapless Speaker of the House, John Boehner, had to see this coming. It was insisted on by Raul Castro, Obama had forecast his intentions, and the United States could hardly go forward befriending a country it considers a state sponsor of terror.
The White House blog relates:
President Obama and President Castro discussed our shared histories, and the significant change in policy and the relationship between our two countries. Both leaders agreed that the majorities of the American people and Cuban people had responded positively to the thaw in relations.
And this is true. Despite all the horrified reactions of Republican champions of the Cold War status quo, Obama received high approval ratings for his Cuba initiative. The blog goes on to state,
President Obama announced that both Cuba and America were working on the next step in normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and were working to open embassies in both Havana and Washington, D.C.
This is bad enough, but saying that Cuba is, in essence, no longer wearing a black hat, violates the GOP’s either/or paradigm.
John Boehner’s reaction to anybody actually DOING anything was predictable. It shakes the status quo and makes Congress look bad when the president does things, like try to keep the country running, and affects GOP INC’s bottom line when he works to reduce tensions in the world.
Obama saying, “I think what we have both concluded is that we can disagree with the spirit of respect and civility, and that over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship in our two countries,” is not what they want to hear.
Such talk silences the drums along the Potomac.
So Boehner released this ridiculous statement in response, which to be fair, is about as well-thought-out as anything else Boehner has said or done since 2009:
I am disappointed that the White House seems determined to reward the Castro regime, which has a clear record of repression at home and exporting violence throughout the region. Not even a week has passed since the brutal attacks on Cuban democracy protestors in Panama City during the Summit for the Americas. Those attacks – and the Castros’ long history of human rights violations — demonstrate the folly of revisiting diplomatic relations with this communist dictatorship and removing it from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror.
Cozying up to the oppressive regime in Cuba is a blow to all who long for liberty and dignity. And it’s just one more example of this administration focusing more on befriending our enemies than helping our allies. The United States has a responsibility to stand strong for all those who struggle for freedom, and the House of Representatives is committed to doing its part.
It is rather amusing to see Boehner accuse the Castro regime of repression when you consider our own history of repression, not only in the most well-known case of blacks during the Civil Rights era, but of anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War (Kent State anyone?), of the Occupy Movement, and most recently, Ferguson protestors and those championing the radical idea that Black Lives Matter – not to mention the routine gunning down of black men by police for no justifiable reason in the first place.
We might mention South Carolina Republicans telling the Supreme Court that it’s okay to discriminate not only against gays but against women.
Boehner attacks Cuba for human rights violations even as Guantanamo continues to function, even though Boehner’s own party endorsed – and continues to endorse – torture in violation of international law.
And he calls Cuba a repressive regime when some of our allies are at least as repressive, if not more so – like Saudi Arabia.
The White House said,
We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
And Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said on April 10,
Well, I think in terms of differences between our government, we have been very clear that we’re going to continue to speak up for human rights, and we’re going to continue to have differences as it relates to the nature of Cuba’s political system — just as I would fully anticipate the Cuban government to make clear its opposition to the United States’ ongoing presence at Guantanamo Bay, for instance.
Bernie Sanders agreed:
It's time for a new relationship with Cuba. pic.twitter.com/K33q6JSNop
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 14, 2015
And the Obama administration and Bernie Sanders are right. Cuba’s alleged sponsorship of terror has nothing to do with repressive domestic policies, despite Boehner’s attempt to tie them all together in a blanket condemnation.
Boehner’s refusal to take a good, hard, pragmatic look at the nature of our long history with Cuba is the problem, not Obama’s insistence that we take cognizance of the facts, both historic and current.
John Boehner talks of those who struggle for freedom even while fighting to deny his fellow citizens freedom. His words are, as always, empty, dishonest, and hypocritical.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.