I’ve gone back and forth on the Cuba embargo. When the regime there represented a violation of the Monroe Doctrine as the outpost of a hostile overseas power, it was imperative. With the end of the Cold War, the embargo no longer seemed justifiable. But now, with Fidel at 84 years old, it would seem to make sense to wait til he dies to lift it, both so he can’t claim a victory before his death and to show the Cuban people that he was the reason for the embargo.
But I’m rethinking even that. Al Kamen had an item in the Post on Friday outlining an article from, of all places, Soldier of Fortune by some embargo opponents. Kamen’s summary includes this:
The Castro regime is already crumbling, the authors say, so “logic indicates that the U.S. should be dealing openly with Cuba, moving into a position which might enable it to influence events, helping it get back on the road to democracy.” Not to mention keeping the island from becoming an 800-mile landing strip for the drug cartels.
I have little tolerance for the “road to democracy” stuff, but the drug thing I hadn’t thought of. Cuba is a country with no civil institutions (other than the debilitated Catholic Church) and when Communism is finally extinguished there you’re likely to see the same problems that persist in the other former Soviet colonies — a state with little legitimacy, weak and rootless institutions, public amorality and distrust and disconnectedness, rampant corruption, etc.
Enter Los Zetas and La Familia and the other Mexican cartels now engaged in war with each other and with the state. But why fight Mexico’s government, which is reasonably strong and coherent and buttressed by public legitimacy and strong civil institutions, when you can take over Cuba by buying the army, the only force left standing, at fire-sale prices?
Yes, I know Castro and his minions have been involved in drug trafficking, but this would be a totally different, and much more threatening, development. It would go beyond Hyman Roth’s dream of a “partnership with a friendly government” — there’s a very real possibility they’d own the government. I recoil at saying this, but continuity in Cuba’s government, along the lines of Vietnam or China, is probably the least-bad outcome for the United States.