What is John Kerry Planning on Cuba???

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cuba-conf-web.jpg
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry is going to give a major speech on Cuba on Friday, the 6th of November, at Boston University.
Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA) — who has been doing much of the heavy lifting on the Freedom to Travel (to Cuba) bill is also going to be at this important conference.
What has been interesting to watch in Senator Kerry’s speeches this past year is a tendency to define challenges more clearly than the White House — to articulate the costs of inaction or poor focus — and to assimilate different policy alternatives with a candid discussion of opportunities and costs.
Kerry did this the other day at the Council on Foreign Relations with a respectful critique of the administration’s Afghanistan policy. He has done the same on US-China policy and on climate change among other issues.
But why is Senator John Kerry about to give a major speech about Cuba??
Inquiring minds want to know — and I’m going to call Senate Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Frederick Jones and ask for some direction here.
John Kerry.jpgIf John Kerry is planning to simply validate the White House’s still too timid openings to Cuba and reinforce the pleas that President Obama and his national security council staff have been making to Raul Castro to engage in domestic reforms before the US can do more — then that would be out of character for the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman.
My hunch is that Kerry is emerging as a key constructive, respectful truth-teller to the administration, and I hope this holds in US-Cuba relations too.
Conditionality as a requirement of relaxing the embargo has failed for five decades — and Obama’s national security team should know that. NSC Latin America Director Dan Restrepo should know that — so too Denis McDonough, Ambassador Susan Rice, Tom Donilon and General Jim Jones.
Obama-style people to people engagement would lay the most opportune foundation for the kind of potential reforms the administration hopes to achieve. But continuing to push conditionality is a very good way for the Obama administration to make sure that the lowest hanging fruit in foreign policy opportunities remains hanging on the tree when the Obama team leaves the White House.
I hope that John Kerry encourages great “strategic depth” and thinking in the White House on Latin America in general — and that he calls for an end to restrictions on the “human right” of Americans to travel.
I still can’t believe that a Democratic President — the first African-American president of the United States — is content with removing all restrictions on travel for Cuban-American families while discriminating against all other classes of Americans.
That is just one benchmark of the domestic legal perversities that American society acquiesced to because of the Cold War.
The Cold War is over — and the American government should stop doing what Communist governments do in trying to restrict the travel of its citizens. Americans can go to North Korea, Iran, Vietnam, China, Russia, and just about everywhere else in the world if they can get the visas — but they may not go to Cuba.
I really don’t know what John Kerry is going to say on November 6th — but I’m counting on something significant.
I am hoping C-Span will cover the speech and that readers in Boston attend the Boston University conference.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “What is John Kerry Planning on Cuba???

  1. pauline says:

    JohnH wrote,
    “Kerry is a model of the politician who sold his soul.”
    A botoxed gigolo who’s all lofty talk, no action, IMO.

    Reply

  2. Alfonso Garrido says:

    This United States-Cuba bilateral embargo is a waste of time for all pragmatic effects. As It was planned to assist in overthrowing the Castro’s regime, it has been an absolute failure as means of persuasion as in foreign policy. The main political effect, in the elapse of almost 50 years, had been to create a favorable environment to enrich the anti American speeches of the cubans governmental leaders, accusing the United States for their own economic crisis and its consequence in more than 11 million innocent people. To have a simple notion of how it negative affects their lives, Cuba can not buy any medical equipment needed to save lives if it has 10% or more of U.S. A. components. Also it has been in detriment of the U. S. agricultural traders, among others U. S. economic sectors, not to sell millions of pounds of rice and beans to the largest consumer of all countries in the Americas of these two daily basis Cuban’s diet grains in a short distance of only 90 nautical miles of Key West, Florida.(Sales are allow only in C.O.D., not normal credit.)
    This embargo is very immoral, because it was imposed to a country that do not represent any threat to the national security of the United States and neighbor’s countries, beyond the cold war era. A country that always has been solidary when disasters occurs in any part of the world, sending doctors, medical personnel and equipment wherever it is needed, including in the tragic events of 9/11 terrorist attacks it was one of the first countries to condemn and offers assist by shutting down all his own air operations (airports & airspace) to cede to U S. Airliners in case they need it. Also in Katrina’s disaster Cuba offered medical help and Bush’s administration rejected it. In contrast, the United States has an economic trade $10 billion/year with communist Vietnam with full diplomatic relations. A country that killed more than 58,000 American soldiers including 153,000 wounded and disables for life. Also comunist China is the biggest U.S.A. trade partner.
    Even worse it penalizes the U.S. citizens by depriving us the right to travel wherever we want, restricting us basic freedom rights of free movement. We can not conceive and support this situation in a nation that it is claimed to be of greater freedoms of all nations in the XXI century. A great Nation that have a new visionary President that promised us change.
    We have to let clearly remarked that this embargo has been the biggest one any powerful country of the world had imposed to an island (by its duration & economic repercussions for both countries) in our history. An embargo than had been democratically rejected by the rest of the world in the United Nations, 18 consecutive times, including the last one in a 187-3 vote, this week.
    We are extremly confident that the President will make good his word and will make the appropriate changes so this long, ineffective and absurd foreign policy no longer undermine the best Nationals Interests, no matter what powerful interest of group and their lobbyist do. God Bless America!!!

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    ot but for the record and folks like nadine and questions… the w&m israel lobby material is bang on..
    At J Street two days ago, two former Congressmen who were important Obama supporters in the Jewish community last year– Bob Wexler and Mel Levine– said that Obama’s decision earlier this year to reverse George Bush on the anti-ballistic-missile system planned for Poland and the Czech Republic had an Israel component.
    Florida biggie Wexler told J Street that Obama has “engaged internationally” to put Israel in a “stronger position.” He offered as evidence the fact that the U.S. had removed the anti-missile plan. We did so, Wexler said, so as to have the Russians on board in isolating Iran over nukes.
    Mel Levine said the same thing at a later panel: that Obama’s decision “gives us at least the promise of Russian cooperation” in the Middle East.
    I’m glad Obama cashiered the ABM idea. The issue here is why? Notice that both Congressmen, who were longtime AIPAC figures, spoke of the decision in the context of American support for Israel, and meantime in the coverage of the Obama decision in the media, the Israel angle was not mentioned. When Walt and Mearsheimer published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, I wondered if their title wasn’t overbroad. Didn’t they mean the lobby and U.S. policy in the Middle East? The comments by the two hawkish Israel-loving former congressmen at J Street suggest that the authors were right.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2009/10/now-you-know-israel-lobby-and-abm-decision.html

    Reply

  4. DonS says:

    “My hunch is that Kerry is emerging as a key constructive, respectful truth-teller to the administration”, Steve says in the post.
    One question I have is whether Kerry [may] represent truth teller “to the administration”, or “for the administration”, that is, simply a precursor, or trial balloon of emerging policy.
    I re-read Kerry’s recent speech on Af/Pak to the Council on Foreign Relations with this in mind. And rather than seeing a “respectful critique”, as I did the first time, it seemed to be more of the policy precursor variety, and laden with contradictions and inconsistency.
    For instance, Kerry said:
    “The bottom line is that deploying additional troops won’t result in sustainable gains if the Afghan security, civilian and governance capacity isn’t there — and right now, as our generals will tell you, in many places, it isn’t.”
    He outlines an imperative prior to committing more troops, says its not there now, and that it is long term. He reemphasizes this, to wit:
    “But let me be clear: absent an urgent strategic imperative, we need a valid assessment by the President and other appropriate civilian authorities – not just the military — that those three conditions will be met before we consider sending more soldiers and Marines to clear new areas.
    He said that the 3 conditions (to successful counterinsurgency) be in place BEFORE considering more troops . . .
    But the Kerry hints that maybe more troops will get the green light anyway:
    “And it is important to remember that, even if President Obama gives the green light for more troops, as of now the military can only deploy one brigade roughly every three months. According to our senior military leadership, by the end of 2010 we will have a good idea whether our strategy is working.”
    And Kerry is ok with this. So a question is, is the titrated commitment of more military force supposed to vitiate all the prior warning about having Afghan governance and capacity in place before actually making the decision to commit troops? Are we supposed to overlook the policy weasel words because actual deployment will take until THE END OF 2010? Is this supposed to give us confidence either in the policy or the fact that it is potentially reversible when there is almost a guarantee that we wont have metrics until the end of 2010 (and who ever saw a troop deployment decision halted in midstream anyway)?
    I can’t believe Kerry is being a freelance “truth teller”. Or, if he is, he hasn’t decided what the truth is he wants to tell, Why is it that when politicians supposedly tell the truth it comes wrapped in a bunch of verbiage that is less than straightforward, if not downright inconsistent? Why do we have to pick through and analyze words only to note they obfuscate more than enlighten discussion?
    Maybe his performance on the Cuba question will give us more certainty although, somehow, I doubt it.

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    “My hunch is that Kerry is emerging as a key constructive, respectful truth-teller to the administration”, Steve says in the post.
    One question I have is whether Kerry [may] represent truth teller “to the administration”, or “for the administration”, that is, simply a precursor, or trial balloon of emerging policy.
    I re-read Kerry’s recent speech on Af/Pak to the Council on Foreign Relations with this in mind. And rather than seeing a “respectful critique”, as I did the first time, it seemed to be more of the policy precursor variety, and laden with contradictions and inconsistency.
    For instance, Kerry said:
    “The bottom line is that deploying additional troops won’t result in sustainable gains if the Afghan security, civilian and governance capacity isn’t there — and right now, as our generals will tell you, in many places, it isn’t.”
    He outlines an imperative prior to committing more troops, says its not there now, and that it is long term. He reemphasizes this, to wit:
    “But let me be clear: absent an urgent strategic imperative, we need a valid assessment by the President and other appropriate civilian authorities – not just the military — that those three conditions will be met before we consider sending more soldiers and Marines to clear new areas.
    He said that the 3 conditions (to successful counterinsurgency) be in place BEFORE considering more troops . . .
    But the Kerry hints that maybe more troops will get the green light anyway:
    “And it is important to remember that, even if President Obama gives the green light for more troops, as of now the military can only deploy one brigade roughly every three months. According to our senior military leadership, by the end of 2010 we will have a good idea whether our strategy is working.”
    And Kerry is ok with this. So a question is, is the titrated commitment of more military force supposed to vitiate all the prior warning about having Afghan governance and capacity in place before making the decision to commit troops? Are we supposed to overlook the policy weasel words because actual deployment will take until THE END OF 2010? Is this supposed to give us confidence either in the policy or the fact that it is potentially reversible when there is almost a guarantee that we wont have metrics until the end of 2010 (and who ever saw a troop deployment decision halted in midstream anyway)?
    I can’t believe Kerry is being a freelance “truth teller”. Or, if he is, he hasn’t decided what the truth is he wants to tell, Why is it that when politicians supposedly tell the truth it comes wrapped in a bunch of verbiage that is less than straightforward, if not downright inconsistent? Why do we have to pick through and analyze words only to note they obfuscate more than enlighten discussion?
    Maybe his performance on the Cuba question will give us more certainty although, somehow, I doubt it.

    Reply

  6. JohnH says:

    After John Kerry sacrificed all the lessons he learned in Vietnam on the altar political expediency, who would ever trust him to propose a constructive policy? Kerry is a model of the politician who sold his soul.
    As in the Iraqi Occupation, he does not question–or even acknowledge–US ambitions in Afghanistan or provide any strategic rationale for being there. He only contribution is to propose prosecuting the “War on Terror” in a “smarter” way, which simply buys time to prolong the quagmire.

    Reply

  7. Gadget Sleuth says:

    Not any sort of attack, but would you want to go to Cuba? Little i’ve seen of it is flattering (similar to most parts of Mexico): poor, struggling, dilapidated, and food/water you have regard with caution in some parts. I’ll pass; let politicians be ambassadors on their time, they get paid for it.

    Reply

  8. Hans Suter says:

    the “respectul critique” link doesn’t work.

    Reply

  9. ... says:

    on the other hand, you have to admit the usa knows how to make an ass of itself quite well, this being another perfect example…

    Reply

  10. ... says:

    politicians seem to be rubber stamping status quo types… obama for all is sweet talk and diplomacy seems much the same… it is difficult for me to imagine kerry saying something independent of this, but then perhaps he has reflected on all that he hasn’t done and would like to try to change that… we’ll see, but i wouldn’t set my hope on a politician….

    Reply

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