Obama Made a Terrible Deal With Cuba, Too

The Washington Post editorial board documents the pathetic failure of the Obama administration’s Cuba policy under the bleak headline: “Failure In Cuba.” Whether it is a failure, of course, depends on what you think Obama was trying to achieve.

President Obama’s opening to Cuba seems to be failing to live up to its declared goals. When the end to a half-century of hostility was announced in December 2014, the proclaimed U.S. purpose was to “unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans,” to “engage and empower the Cuban people,” and to “empower the nascent Cuban private sector,” among other things. …

Yet there is scant evidence so far of a sea change in Cuba — perhaps because Mr. Obama continues to offer the Castro regime unilateral concessions requiring nothing in return.

So, it’s not just Iran. It is Obama’s foreign policy.

Since the United States has placed no human rights conditions on the opening, the Castro regime continues to systematically engage in arbitrary detention of dissidents and others who speak up for democracy. In fact, detentions have spiked in recent months. The state continues to monopolize radio, television and newspapers.

Which raises the question: does Barack Obama actually want Cuba to be free of socialist domination? If you think the answer to that question is Yes, can you offer any evidence?

The administration has defined one of its goals as opening Cuba to the Internet, but the nation still suffers from some of the lowest connectivity rates in the world. The regime established a few dozen Wifi spots but charges people $2 an hour to use them; the average salary is $20 a month. The state retains a chokehold on the economy, including tourism; the benefits of a 50 percent increase in U.S. visitors are being garnered by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law, the industry’s boss.

Cuba is effectively a monarchy. Maybe Obama likes that.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s purchases of U.S. goods have fallen by a double-digit percentage.

So you can’t blame the Chamber of Commerce for this one.

The hoped-for explosion in individual enterprise has not materialized either. On the contrary: The number of licensed self-employed workers has been dropping. If there are commercial deals as a result of the latest U.S. measures, it is Cuban state organizations that will benefit; only they are allowed to engage in foreign trade.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. The purpose of Obama’s deal with the Castros was to prop them up and keep them in power. American leftists like Obama have always been fans of the Castros because they love violent, authoritarian leftism. Or warlordism, as the case may be. Fidel Castro may have stolen more of his country’s wealth than any warlord in world history, but that is A-OK with American liberals. Why? Because, like them, he hates America. That is what they really care about.

What’s most evident over the past year is that the Castro brothers are effectively preventing real change and reform even as they reap the rewards of Mr. Obama’s opening. The president’s only response has been more unilateral concessions, along with talk of a visit to the island before he leaves office. Autocrats everywhere must be watching with envy the Castros’ good fortune.

I suspect that autocrats everywhere are even more focused on the Iranian mullahs’ good fortune. After all, Obama didn’t arrange for the Castros to get checks totaling more than $100 billion. Still, wherever you look, the message is the same: Obama’s foreign policy strengthens our enemies and weakens America. Maybe that is an accident. You be the judge.

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