Freedom for Cuba; Why Not Iraq?

Vaclav Havel, Arpad Goncz and Lech Walesa have an op-ed on Cuba in this morning’s Washington Post. They encourage support for Cuba’s dissidents, especially by Europe:
“It is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, regardless of how long the Cuban Stalinists cling to power. The Cuban opposition must have the same international support as did the representatives of political dissent in Europe when it stood divided. Statements of condemnation for the government’s repression, combined with specific diplomatic steps coming from Europe, Latin America and the United States, would be suitable means of exerting pressure on the regime in Cuba.
“It cannot be claimed that the U.S. embargo on Cuba has brought about the results desired. Neither can this be said of the European policy, which has been considerably more forthcoming toward the Cuban regime. It is time to put aside transatlantic disputes about the embargo on Cuba and to concentrate on direct support for Cuban dissidents, prisoners of conscience and their families. Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator, and that for democratic countries a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it begins a process of political liberalization.
“At the same time, European countries should establish a ‘Cuban Democracy Fund’ to support the emergence of a civil society in Cuba. Such a fund would be ready for instant use in case of political changes on the island.
“The recent European experience with peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy, be it earlier in Spain or later in the countries of Central Europe, has been an inspiration for the Cuban opposition. Europe in particular should not hesitate. It is obliged to act by its own history.”
The authors don’t mention Iraq, but it seems obvious that what they say applies equally to that country. It is noteworthy that the same liberals, both in Europe and in the U.S., who have waited patiently for more than 40 years for the Cuban “revolution” to bear fruit, couldn’t wait 90 days before declaring Iraq’s first steps toward freedom a “failure” and a “quagmire.” The support for democracy and freedom worldwide by Eastern European leaders has been one of the heartening features of the current scene; the absence of such support from most Western European countries one of the most depressing.


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