“I was, I think, the first in this House to suggest, in November 1949, recognition of the Chinese Communists….I thought that it would be a good thing to have diplomatic representation. But if you recognise anyone it does not necessarily mean that you like him. We all, for instance, recognise the Rt Hon Gentleman, the Member for Ebbw Vale.”* —Winston S. Churchill, 1 July 1952.
On President Obama’s December 17th announcement restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, a colleague writes: “Finally we’ll have access to truly great healthcare.”
Funny. Actually top tier Cuban healthcare is mainly for party members. There is a tiered system. “Some animals are more equal than others.”
Perhaps we can learn something from The Bahamas (where I spend winters). Nassau has a careful relationship with Havana. We send them beer and rum, they send us cigars, rum and sugar. Bahamians can access part of their healthcare system, which is sometimes but not always better than in The Bahamas. Interestingly, the Bahamas Defence Force has not had to chase off Cuban fishermen in our waters—unlike the Dominicans. Everyone here who goes there says that once the Castros are gone the Cubans will be lining up for gmail accounts like everybody else. Let a hundred Adam Smiths blossom.
Mr. Obama has restored diplomatic relations, but not even he can lift the embargo. That’s up to Congress. This could be done by degrees, depending on whatever liberalization is observed. The oil glut has kicked out Cuba’s traditional crutches, Russia and Venezuela. Some reports suggest the Castros wanted this more than Obama. Charles Krauthammer says we get nothing for it. Well, we get an embassy for it, and certain liberalities that are useful and overdue: more normal movement of peoples, perhaps. Mr. Krauthammer should like the idea of getting more Cuban ballplayers. There is already small-business capitalism, encouraged by the government: a mini example, perhaps of what the Chinese call “market socialism.” I’ve never been sure what that is, but you can look it up.
None of which will prevent cynics from reflecting that the President seems never to meet a tyrant he doesn’t want to shashay up to–so maybe this action is more a product of mindset than a piece of canny diplomacy. In any case it’s a good move.