Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Contradiction and Cognitive Dissonance as Cuba Policy

"If you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Fidel Castro and Raul Castro shake hands on December 10, 2013
Conventional political opinion of the political elite in the United States on Cuba suffers from cognitive dissonance. This manifests itself in a US Cuba policy with contradictory attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that are also in conflict with reality. Since 1977, with the Carter administration's drive to normalize relations with the Castro regime, one finds a series of mental gymnastics among policy makers, and some activists, to reconcile the repeated failure of detente and the desire to double down and continue with regime engagement. 

This is due to several factors:

First, the failure to identify the nature of the regime that exists in Cuba mislabeling it as authoritarian leads to self-deception. The fact is that the Castro dictatorship is a communist totalitarian regime with an ongoing revolutionary tradition which means that it has a mission to transform non-communist countries to communism. Over the past 20 months first with North Korea then with the Peoples Republic of China the Castro regime was twice exposed attempting to smuggle arms and munitions.

Secondly, myopic policy makers in Washington, DC see the behaviors of the Castro regime through the prism of reacting to the United States. This leads to the absurd claim made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  back in 2010:
"It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the U.S., because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn't happened in Cuba in the last 50 years." 
Clinton is not alone in making this claim, but it is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance. The Castro regime's international campaign against the embargo, they argue is not to get rid of sanctions but to explain their failures. This also necessitates ignoring:  Castro regime's recruiting of state officials, members of congress, and corporations to lobby to end the embargo in the United States; that every Castro agent uncovered by the United States over the years infiltrated in government and academia has been working for the lifting of the Cuban embargo.

Third, the attempt to normalize relations with an abnormal regime while at the same time maintaining policies in place to prevent the brutal and lawless nature of the regime showing itself and undermining engagement leads to incredible contradictions.  For example, on February 25, 2015 the Obama administration announced the "Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Cuba" which states:

The Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba.
On the same day the State Department announced that on Friday, February 27, the Department of State would host the second round of talks to re-establish diplomatic relations a Senior State Department official responded to press questions on Cuba's status as a terror sponsor stating:
Well, let me start off with the state sponsor of terrorism list. It’s important to know that those – these two processes are really separate. The process of review of the state sponsor of terrorism list is a separate process from that of restoration of diplomatic relations, and we don’t link the two. Obviously we’re moving forward on the review of Cuba on that list as quickly as we can, and we hope that we will have that completed very soon.
Let that sink in for a moment. While the State Department is defensively explaining why it can't go any faster in taking the Castro regime off the list of state sponsors of terrorism the Obama White House is saying that it believes that the Castro regime is still willing to destroy unarmed, civilian aircraft or vessels in international airspace or waters if they "engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest." 

Current Cuba policy does not: 1) recognize the nature of the regime; 2) identify regime objectives; and 3) offer a coherent voice on the threat poised by the regime to American lives and property. Conclusion: This will end in tears.

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