February 21, 2008

Son (de Castro)

In the wake of Castro's retirement, lots of Whither Cuba chatter.

Officially, the U.S. has a bone to pick with Cuba's Castro, and the next few months, the twilight of George Bush's presidency, should witness a ramping up of rhetoric on the importance of doing something to Cuba, given this administration track record. Doing what it will to Cuba has been bedrock U.S. government policy over the past hundred years at least, a policy so consistently expressed in vigorous episodic outbreaks of doing something to Cuba down the decades that it has become ingrained in the public consciousness as an existential feature of What America Stands For. Doing something to Cuba, well, how can you be against that, and call yourself an American?

What the relationship between Cuba and the United States seriously lacks is a trade agreement. China, communism's other famous redoubt, has been granted whatever dispensation is needed for its past and current cruel communist practices and encouraged to enter into a notoriously profitable relationship with the United States over the course of the last few decades. But this waiver of What America Stands For has never been extended to Cuba. Much the reverse.

Surely Castro's intransigent refusal to knuckle under to what the United States has long been willing to do to Cuba impoverished his whole nation. Although the Cuban people are entitled to the benefits of public health and education programs denied as a matter of course to the poor in America, the people of Cuba pay the price in lack of abundant goods and services for Castro's harsh and unflinching obduracy with respect to who is in charge of that country. Castro has stepped aside now, in a presidential election year in the U.S., ensuring that the enduring impulse to do something to Cuba will find its expression in the platform of every contestant for the office, and perhaps resound in public discourse with all the malignant force of the wave that swept that famous little boy on the dolphin onto our shores some years back.

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