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Cuba e-news #126 - Hoover Institution: Lift the Embargo on Cuba

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    Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 Cuba e-news #126 - Hoover Institution: Lift the Embargo on Cuba Saludos to a rapidly growing Cuba e-news readership, I have been
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5 11:56 AM
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      Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000
      Cuba e-news #126 - Hoover Institution: Lift the Embargo on Cuba

      Saludos to a rapidly growing Cuba e-news readership,

      I have been pleasantly surprised at the heightened interest in US-Cuba
      relations since Elián was permitted to go home. To me, this is an
      affirmation of real commitment to the larger issue of creating a just and
      equitable future. I appreciate the many responses that I get from people on
      the distribution list, many of whom live outside of the US, and I attempt
      to share as much of your input as I can.

      After my students and I returned from Cuba in February, I was contacted by
      one of the parents who accompanied us on the trip. He said that, upon his
      return, he wanted to cross-check the consensus that our group seemed to
      reach on key issues regarding Cuba. So he contacted an organization at
      Stanford University, the Hoover Institution, that he thought would surely
      have a different point of view on US Policy toward Cuba. He was surprised
      at what he found. He shared his findings with me, as well as a copy of
      "Essays on Public Policy, No.100" that the Institution had just published.
      Today's newsletter will take a look inside the Hoover document.

      Those of you familiar with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and
      Peace at Stanford University may know that it was founded by Herbert Hoover
      in 1919 as a center for advanced study in domestic and international
      affairs. It houses one of the largest private archives and most complete
      libraries in the world on politics, economics, and social change in the
      world. It is better known as a conservative think-tank that has attracted
      Fellows from around the world interested in advancing the conservative
      agenda by researching foreign policy issues and supplying documents to US
      policy makers. Hoover Fellows provide conservative legislators with the
      rationale for public policy debates and the drafting of new policy and

      So what are they publishing and disseminating about Cuba at the beginning
      of this new millennium? The title of their new publication provides the
      first clue, "A Strategic Flip-Flop in the Caribbean: Lift the Embargo on

      The conservative position to lift the embargo is not new. This approach
      usually is buffeted by the notion that engagement with Castro's Cuba will
      expose the Cuban people to the obvious advantages of capitalistic life and
      subvert the revolution. William Ratliff and Roger Fontaine, the authors of
      the essay, may agree with this notion, but the thrust of their argument in
      the essay takes a more self-serving and pragmatic approach.

      Ratliff and Fontaine assert that, although the US embargo of Cuba was a
      necessary part of the US Cold War strategy, it should have been lifted at
      the end of the Cold War, because Castro ceased to be a threat to the US and
      its neighbors and adopted standard rules of international behavior. The
      authors assert that the Cuban American lobby and "misguided politicians"
      set new demands on Cuba--democracy, improved human rights, and economic
      reform. They see this as resulting in a failed US policy toward Cuba,
      because the US has never committed the resources to overthrow Castro and
      the pressures that have been applied to the Cuban government have not
      advanced the stated demands of the US policy.

      They further assert that "in the post-cold war world the policy and the
      political outlook that sustain it have become a strategic liability." Their
      concern is that it supports conflict within Cuba that might draw in the US
      military, that it allows pressure groups within the US to stand in the way
      of foreign policy, and that it alienates allies worldwide as well as
      poisoning US-Cuba relations for decades. They note that the US
      inflexibility simply bolsters Castro's global image and reduces the
      effectiveness of the US in the conduct of its foreign policy.

      Their essay goes on to ridicule the Cuban American National Foundation
      (CANF) and their congressional cohorts for blocking the bipartisan efforts
      in Congress to review the US policy toward Cuba. They point out that the
      will of the American people, according to a recent Gallup Poll, is to lift
      the embargo (51% to 42%). They say that too many embargo supporters "seem to
      have studied strategy and tactics with Don Quixote," simply brandishing old
      "cliches to tilt windmills guarded by straw men."

      I am not saying that Ratliff and Fontaine have finally seen the light, they
      fall into some pretty tired and worn rhetoric whenever they talk of Castro.
      Furthermore, they assert that Castro had the Miami Cessnas (i.e. "Brothers
      to the Rescue" planes) shot down because he wanted the Helms-Burton Act to
      pass--a pretty far-fetch and diabolical assertion, in my view.

      In their seventy-six page analysis, they are very critical of the
      Helms-Burton Act, calling it "largely a vendetta against Castro," and
      detail its obvious failings. They chronicle the US Defense Intelligence
      Agency report that concludes that Cuba is not a threat to the US, and
      describe how the Florida lobby went "berserk" when the report was delivered
      to Congress. They quoted Miami Republican Ilena Ros-Lehtinen as "shouting"
      that it is clear that "these Pentagon types are very politicized. They get
      their directions directly from the White House." Ratliff and Fontaine
      conclude that the Elián case "clearly demonstrates the negative impact of a
      foreign policy that promotes confrontation without any realistic hope of
      accomplishing its objectives."

      Their real concern though, in my estimation, is that, given the current
      official US government animosity toward Cuba and the government's tacit [and
      financial] support of the militant exile community, the US is in danger of
      getting embroiled in a war with Cuba. They are concerned that a small
      incident has the potential of escalating into a full-fledged battle. They
      give the example of the recent "bombing" of leaflets over Havana by a
      US-Vietnamese immigrant, in which two Cuban MiGs and one US F-16 went up,
      but did not engage. They pose the question: what would have happened if the
      pilot in the Cessna had actually done something destructive? They point out
      that, in a recent Miami Herald poll, 66% of Cuban Americans want the US
      military to overthrow Castro, and 71% favor military action against Castro
      by Cubans in exile. This data is alarming when juxtaposed with the 42% of US
      citizens favoring the embargo and virtually no one, outside of the Cuban
      exile community, wanting to send Americans to die in a war with Cuba.

      Ratliff and Fontaine assert that the conditions that enable this kind of
      potential disaster is deleterious to the larger interests of US Foreign
      Policy and needs to be eliminated. Their solution is to end the embargo and
      engage Cuba unilaterally.

      Gary Bacon, Ph.D.
      For further information:
      If you wish to obtain a copy of the Hoover Institution's "Essays in Public
      Policy No.100" by William Ratliff and Roger Fontaine, contact:
      The Hoover Institution Press
      Stanford University
      Stanford, CA 94305-6010
      (650) 723-3373
      or visit their web site at:
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