Tag Archives: communism

Vietnam, yes; Cuba, no?

Those on the right and the far right who keep yammering against efforts to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba — citing Havana’s horrible human rights — ignore the conduct of another actual enemy with whom the United States actually fought a bloody war.

Vietnam’s human rights record is just as atrocious as Cuba’s. Yet we’ve had diplomatic relations with Vietnam for two decades. Moreover, the relationship has grown closer.


This is part of the argument against Cuba that doesn’t make any sense to me.

The Cubans once were part of the Soviet Union’s “evil empire.” So was Vietnam, for that matter.

Then the Soviet Union disappeared. Cuba continues to languish in poverty. Yes, it’s human rights record is abysmal. However, does Cuba pose a threat to the United States of America, the behemoth nation that sits less than 100 miles off the island’s coast? Uh, no.

Vietnam and the United States went to war in the 1960s. We sent millions of fighting men to that country to stop North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam. The communists killed more than 50,000 Americans; we killed far more of them in the process.

The shooting stopped on April 30, 1975 when the communists rolled into Saigon, renamed the city after Ho Chi Minh and began sending South Vietnamese who were loyal to the Americans to what they called “re-education camps.”

Did that get in the way of the two former enemies becoming friends, establishing full relations? No.

Nor should it stop the United States from doing the same with Cuba.

The embassies are about to open in Washington and Havana.

Let’s stop the whining about the so-called “threat” that Cuba poses to the world’s greatest military and economic power. If we can make nice with Vietnam, then surely our extending a hand to Cuba is the right thing to do.


The Wall came tumblin' down

Walls were meant to be broken, scaled, breached.

Thus, when the Berlin Wall came crashing down a quarter-century ago today, it signaled an inevitable result.

The communists who ruled East Germany at the time built the wall in 1961 to keep people in, not necessarily to keep people out. Their strategy never really worked. People fought to break through the wall to find freedom in West Berlin, which still was surrounded by the rest of the communist country. Still, the people fled, often dying in the effort.


The Wall is history now. It came down. Berlin would be united. Germany would unite as well.

The Soviet Union? It hung on for two more years before it, too, disintegrated into oblivion.

One element about all of that stands out for me as I look back at that tumultuous time.

The president of the United States at the time didn’t do a touchdown dance. He didn’t crow aloud about how great we are and how evil the communists were. George H.W. Bush wasn’t one to spike the ball, as it were, in a moment of supreme triumph.

His immediate predecessor, Ronald Reagan — whom Bush served as vice president for eight years — didn’t do any shouting from the rooftop either. Both men, to their credit, chose to let the events play out, to allow the people to celebrate their freedom and for the world to draw its own conclusions about what was occurring in a great European city.

It’s helpful, though, to recall the abject failure of the wall. It symbolized only the tyranny of those who erected it and served to remind those who sought freedom of their own desire to breach the wall.

They succeeded. Good for them. Good for the rest of the world as well.

Time to lift Cuba sanctions

highplainsblogger_wordpressTime has this way of changing public attitudes as the old ways give way to new ideas.

Witness what’s happening in the Cuban-American community — particularly in southern Florida — as it relates to this country’s non-relationship with Cuba.


Cuban expatriates, or their direct descendants, are softening their hardline view that the United States must continue to strangle Cuba. I keep asking: To what end?

Fidel Castro overthrew a dictator in 1959. He pledged to “reform” the country. By many accounts, he made it worse. He fomented revolution less than 100 miles from the Florida shoreline. By 1961, the United States closed its embassy in Havana and clamped strict economic sanctions on the island nation.

Then, in October 1962, came the missile crisis that nearly brought the United States to war with the Soviet Union because of those missiles being installed in Cuba.

The bad guys blinked. The missiles went away. So did the Soviet Union, eventually. Fidel Castro has left office, although his brother, Raul, isn’t any better.

But why do we keep seeking to punish a nation that poses no threat to us?

Some Cuban-Americans think the time has come to restore a relationship with Cuba.

According to NBCnews.com: “’Cuba is a completely different country than what we left in the fifties. Folks here have no clue. They continue to see Cuba from Miami or New York or wherever they are located. You have to spend time there and talk to the Cuban people. The hard line position is dying and it will disappear,’” says Zamora, who was once an active member of the Cuban American National Foundation, an organization that has been a leading voice of Cuban exiles against relations with Cuba.”

That feeling isn’t unanimous, obviously. Florida state Sen. Anitere Flores, who was born in Miami, says Cuba is a sponsor of terrorism. My response? So what? So are Yemen are Saudi Arabia. We have diplomatic missions there, as we do in the People’s Republic of China, Venezuela — and, oh yes, in Moscow, the capital of a country that is provoking the United States hourly with its aggression in neighboring Ukraine.

The Cuban trade embargo is a vestige of a Cold War that no longer exists. It’s time for it to go. If more and more Cuban-Americans who comprise a huge political powerhouse in south Florida have come to that conclusion, why can’t the White House follow their lead?