Politics & Policy

Statecraft in The Workers’ Paradise

Um, people, this is not the Cuban missile crisis.

Time magazine calls it a “one-of-a-kind international showdown.” Virtually every newscaster reads from his cue card that “tensions” between the United States and Cuba are rising. Commentators call it a high-stakes clash between the U.S. and Cuba.

Um, people, this is not the Cuban missile crisis. The reality is that — in terms of national interest — the stakes are incredibly low. This is a cute kid and we all want what’s best for him, but the future of the Republic does not hang on the fate of one six year-old boy.

Okay, worst case scenario: We refuse to return Elian Gonzalez, thus infuriating the Cuban government. What then? Cuba does…what? Cuba declares that it will…what? We have no trade with these people, so sanctions are impossible. They can’t declare a war, unless they want to discover exactly how few American troops its takes to wallop the whole Cuban military-industrial complex. (“A squadron of Stealth Bombers wiped out a division of donkey-propelled Gatling guns, during the second hour of fighting in Cuba today. It looks like the Cuban-American War will be wrapped up by Miller time.”)

The Cubans can, however, boycott international academic symposia in places like Caracas and Cambridge. That’s right: American feminist literary scholars will be denied enlightenment on the Cuban perspective on imperialism, patriarchy, and gender equity. Also, celebrities like Danny Glover won’t be able to talk about the wonders of Cuban health care and education anymore.

Such is the price of statecraft.

In all honesty, I guess one thing they can do is unload a bunch of Cuban criminals on our shores again, but then again, we could do that to them too — and much, much better (I’d like to see what they’d do with the gen. pop. of Riker’s, air-dropped with backpacks full of shivs, sporks, and candy bars, into downtown Havana). Or more realistically, we could open a fresh can of whup-ass, as the cookie-pushers at the State department never say.

Anyway, the Gonzalez story is turning into a nice trip down memory lane for how the media gave Communists a free pass throughout the Cold War. Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Tim Russert interviewed Ricardo Alarcon, President of the Cuban National Assembly, to discuss “growing tensions between Havana and Washington.”

For much of the interview, Russert treated this Lenin-in-a-poncho as if he were a legitimate democratic politician. When asked if the Cuban government would allow Elian’s father to fly to America to pick up his son, Alarcon said, “Yes, I have said that time and again. He is a free person. He can travel there or elsewhere as he wishes, and I will repeat that again. He or any member of his family can do that. They have said that they will do that; that they are ready to do that, to pick up, to bring his son back to his family.”

You know, that’s funny. I could swear that the boy’s mother and stepfather drowned at sea precisely because Elian’s family could not “travel there or elsewhere” as they wished. But hey, Mr. Alarcon has said it “time and again,” so it must be true.

When asked to respond to the idea that Elian might be granted U.S. citizenship by Congress, Mr. Alarcon was firing on all pistons: “I don’t think that … it would have any constitutional validity, the imposition of a citizenship without the consent of the so-called citizen, without the ability of that small boy to even request that.”

Man, these bozos can really talk the talk can’t they? But seriously, when was the last time Castro’s buddies heard the word “constitutional validity” without bursting into laughter?

And as far as the various “spontaneous” protests in Cuba we keep hearing about: Spare me. If you announced to that crowd, “the first 100 people who want a free ticket to the United States, should jump off that pier,” it would look like lemmings on the march. As John McCain said yesterday, it’s funny how these guys can’t make a toilet that can flush but they sure can pull off a spontaneous demonstration awfully quick. There is no right to assembly in Cuba. The government has the power of prior restraint on all meetings larger than two dudes chasing a chicken — and the chicken is probably wearing a wire.

This is not to say I know what to do. But it’s not clear that anyone else does either. I do think the Cuban community has played way too many political games with this poor kid. Dan Burton is behaving like a boob. The White House, as usual, is nowhere to be found, and they stacked the deck from the beginning. It seems to me the best solution is to say, if the whole Gonzalez family wants to pick up this kid and bring him back to Cuba, they should. If they get here and “suddenly realize” that they’d rather have 24-hour electricity and food that wasn’t left over from some adventure in Angola, then they should stay. In the meantime, spare me the talk of “high stakes” and the suggestions of moral equivalence.


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