September 15, 2011 New York Times article on what Governor Richardson and the Obama Administration were willing to offer the dictatorship in Cuba in order to obtain the release of American hostage Alan Gross, I had a sense of deja vu. The Administration dangled several offers to the Castro regime and made a unilateral concession:
- Take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
- Waive probation for one of five Cuban agents convicted of espionage in the United States that planned at least one terrorist attack in the United States and provided intelligence that led to the downing of two US civilian planes over international airspace on February 24, 1996 killing four.
- Cuba democracy programs would no longer be about promoting democracy but "building civil society."
- The White House and Senator John Kerry pushed to unilaterally cut money for the democracy programs and freeze their funding.
Now that these offers have failed, another is floated:
- Get the European Union to changes its common policy limiting relations with Cuba because of human rights concerns.
The approach has often failed when dealing with totalitarian regimes of the right and the left because they often refuse to maintain a clear eyed vision of who the adversary is. In the case of Nazi Germany this failure led to WWII, the Holocaust and over 40 million dead.
During my first press conference as President, in answer to a direct question, I pointed out that, as good Marxist-Leninists, the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution. I think I should point out I was only quoting Lenin, their guiding spirit, who said in 1920 that they repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas -- that's their name for religion -- or ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war. And everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old, exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.Well, I think the refusal of many influential people to accept this elementary fact of Soviet doctrine illustrates an historical reluctance to see totalitarian powers for what they are. We saw this phenomenon in the 1930's. We see it too often today.This doesn't mean we should isolate ourselves and refuse to seek an understanding with them.
Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness -- pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.
Its not only government policy but also at the level of civil society. For example when the Latino and American Students Organization at American University invite the Cuban ambassador to speak in a propaganda exercise to white wash the crimes of Cuban state security agents that planned terrorist acts on US soil that sends a message of weakness and encourages these types of regimes to continue their activities in the United States.
Historically, the fruits of appeasement when practiced with ideologically committed totalitarian regimes have been extremely bitter. De-linking human rights concerns from overall policy concerns has been a disaster for human rights in China and would also be a disaster for them in Cuba. Altering the designation of a state that sponsors terrorism in an effort to appease there conduct elsewhere is a dangerous policy that undermines a national commitment to hold as pariahs those regimes engaged in such practices. All too often throughout history appeasement has ended in armed conflicts that were more expensive, bloody and dangerous where a more principled and tough foreign policy would have avoided it.