Rand Paul Gets Cuba Right

President Obama’s decision to move toward normalized relations with Cuba has caused an array of responses, most of them pretty predictable. As a conservative non-interventionist, I support Obama’s decision. I support normal relations with Cuba and have since I moved to the position of non-interventionism many years ago. Our embargo of Cuba, ostensibly to promote “regime change” and democratization in Cuba, has been an utter failure in this regard and has deprived Americans of good cigars and a nice vacation destination to boot.  Our Cuba policy has long been a relic of our Cold War past, and it makes no sense to continue it.

While I believe our standard Cold War history could use some revisionism, I won’t go there in this essay. If you accept the Cold War narrative at face value, it makes sense that the US did not want a hostile pawn of the Soviet Union 90 miles from our mainland. In lieu of an invasion, an embargo aimed at toppling our enemy’s puppet regime arguably made sense in that context. But it certainly ceased to make sense once the Soviet Union dissolved and Cuba became just another country whose form of government we don’t like. We don’t like Saudi Arabia’s form of government, but we aren’t embargoing them. Our Cuba policy remained in place clearly because of inertia and a lack of political will to upset the powerful Cuban voting block and the knee-jerk hawk crowd.

Predictably, as I stated above, the hawkish interventionist chorus has responded with outrage, particularly our two Republican Senators of Cuban descent, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. (As an aside, this should put to rest any lingering doubts conservative and libertarian non-interventionists might have had that Cruz is somehow different on foreign policy because he is a supposedly anti-establishment Tea Party favorite.) The move was decried by the fear-ridden hawkish bed-wetters for all the clichéd reasons. It gives the Castros “international legitimacy.” It “undermines America’s credibility.” It leaves a “rogue” “totalitarian” regime in place. Blah, blah, blah…

Louisiana Governor Jindal whined that the “President has no strategy for leading on an international stage.” Perhaps Governor Jindal can show me in the job description of the US President that we call the US Constitution where it says it is the responsibility of our Chief Executive to “lead” on the “world stage.” Such unabashedly globalist rhetoric is fit only for the one world crowd that thinks a New World Order is fine and dandy. Any self-respecting authentic conservative would be ashamed to have such a blatant call for globalism escape from his lips. The only stage on which an American President should concern himself with leading, within Constitutional bounds, is the 50 states that make up the United States of America.

The non-interventionist position on Cuba is simple. Is Cuba the 51st state? No. Then what form of government they have is outside our realm. While we would, of course, prefer that Cuba adopt a freer form of government, and we are free to work toward that end in a normal diplomatic manner, it is not our place to use hostile means, and an embargo is hostile, to attempt to actively bring this about.

On the other end of the array of responses, the soft non-interventionist Sen. Rand Paul is to be commended for coming out in favor of lifting the embargo. While Rand Paul is not where his father is or where I would like him to be on foreign policy, this issue does demonstrate that Rand Paul is at least quantifiably different from the reflexive hawks in his party, despite his history of disappointing many of us non-interventionists. This statement was posted on Rand’s Facebook page:

Senator Marco Rubio believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies. After 50 years of conflict, why not try a new approach? The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. Why not Cuba? I am a proponent of peace through commerce, and I believe engaging Cuba can lead to positive change.

I concur. File this under giving-credit-where-credit-is-due, and allow it to serve as evidence that I’m not implacably hostile to the younger Paul, as I am sometimes accused. I just want him to be more like his dad.

 

This column was also posted at TraditionalRight.com.

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