Self Respect and Penance

Duly Noted by George Handlery           

Self Respect and Penance.

In a recent posting, “Duly Noted” had asserted, that Europe is ambivalent about protecting its interests. That being the case, she needs to rely on the USA –which is accused of doing the job wrongly. Europe is voluntarily in need of help but, at the same time, it resents that it must request it. Additionally, it protests if, some of the dust stirred up by the struggle in the ring, settles on its spotless white dress.

Proceeding from that context, the piece suggested that the USA’s national interest might be to conduct a search for a parallel, “alliance with the willing”. Who was meant? Not the NATO’s tired original members, but other countries. Ones that have lost -and then regained- their sovereignty, not due to their lacking will, but because of their size-related means and a neighboring great power. The discreet hint points to the defunct Third Reich -and mainly to its foe-ally-foe, and ultimate successor, the USSR.

Do not rest in case that the presentation of Europe’s malady – call it “eurosclerosis”-  passes critical examination. Western civilization and culture is not exclusively European. North America, especially the USA, is also part of that zone. Admittedly, America is less acutely infected by the ailment. That is the sickness that brings Europe’s ruling classes cheer, in the hope of leniency, those that plan its destruction. However, less applause for the enemy from America, does not amount to a clean bill of health. “Less bad” is still bad enough. Furthermore, it amounts only to a delay, but not to immunity, against a virus that devours its carrier.

America’s situation is not comforting . That is true, even if she can afford significant mistakes (just remember the road to Pearl Harbor) before acting to save herself. A symptom of mindless “not-caring” is demonstrated presently.  Candidates can contest elections from a platform that is anti-American because it negates the values and the policies that made the country into a successful society.

Acting to gain an advantage by the endorsement of foes can seem to be profitable. It can promise to soften future attacks, and “making peace”, enables the compromiser to appear in the role of the “Great Reconciliator”. He appears in a role that suggests that he may bring “peace for our time”. Overcoming enmity can appear to be a sign of statesmanship. Or of something else.

Having said that, Mr. Obama’s trip to Cuba comes to mind. He has been followed by the “Stones”, and one wonders whether, as a repayment for the concessions, the US should not have asked that the Fidelistas keep their visitors. Anyhow, seeing on stage the band’s gyrations, a nasty thought arose. Earlier, Castro forbade such shows, claiming that they are decadent. Duly Noted must admit that, at least in this case, the soon-to-be embalmed commander of the “Revolution” that dies on an authoritarian cross of its own making, has been right.

However, attaining agreement in a point involving taste is not the purpose of this piece. Even the political wisdom of staging a spectacular action to save a decaying system from its slide into self-made demise, can be discussed and justified –without becoming thereby fully convincing. All that gets us to the parameters of Obama’s visit to Castroland.

Let us shelve the argument, whether lifting an obviously effective blockade of a system thereby confined to the ‘60s, makes sense. To the USA, Cuba’s value as a self-perpetuating failure might be debatable. Regardless of its results, the blockade cost America little. Except, of course for the disapproval of the collectivists. Instinctively,  they sung and sing the praise of left-totalitarian systems from the USSR to that of Cuba.

Obama’s visit to the island unfolded between a matching beginning and end. That beginning is marked by the reception at the airport. Against custom, the “Top Cuban” did not attend. Once departed, a second kick in-the-you-know-where terminated the affair. That is why this writing is really about self respect and penance.

A president’s visit to Cuba should have demanded a compensation for the rapprochement. Instead, Obama went, and then posed with a dictator before a mural that depicted a somewhat deranged but, ultimately, ineffective murderer. Conferring some legitimacy upon an icon of the crowd that knows little, and that admires the violent exponents of “peace” more than it cares for reality, is a consequence. Che is a validating saint of the Cuban system. His violence against skeptics, critics and opponents, were given an endorsement. That is paired with Havana’s message that Cuba’s communist system remains what it has been. That fact stands confirmed by the penance-doing apologist to “Canossa” from Washington.

The intended message, “no concessions to the class enemy” has been confirmed by Fidel Castro. He has just snuck away from the crematorium to conclude the chapter on Obama. Obviously, since in such systems nothing is printed without careful central committee approval, Castro’s piece is more than an old activist’s grumble on his way to mummification. To set limits to Cuban hopes and to American self-satisfaction, the “Leader”, to summarize the headlines, has “told America off”. His Cuba will not change, America is guilty and therefore she should pay. Much, and, please, fast, because the coffers are empty. That is what “Fidel Castro Blasts Obama’s Trip” translates into.

Granted, every political move is calculated by an assumption about the other side’s probable response. Such guesses can go awry because the other party’s view of its interests had been misunderstood. Often it happens because the other side simply lacks the ability to assess its interests. For instance, in 1941, Stalin refused to believe the warnings about Hitler’s imminent attack. Doing such a thing was, so Stalin thought correctly, not the Nazi’s interest. That made the shrewd Georgian to conclude, that the signaled event will not materialize. Well, Stalin was right about Germany’s interests, but he did not comprehend Hitler’s mind-set. In our present case, Washington might have been thinking rationally when it faced an irrational foe. This can happen in the best families.

Now, the defiant message is in that “nothing will change”. A reaction is due. One wishes for an appropriate response. In vain. What the USA would need would be a President with the fortitude to respond in the received message’s terms. How about choosing a new President who is capable of saying: “You keep your professed failed principles. We, in turn, will keep our hard earned money. Be assured, that, as you put it, there will be no “gifts from the empire”. As we lift the drawbridge, we wish to thank you for having thought us a lesson.”


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