Guest Post by Patrick Doherty: The McCaffrey Plan


Patrick Doherty directs the New America Foundation/U.S.-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative.
“Strangulation is no solution.” That’s General Barry McCaffrey’s assessment of the U.S. policy towards Cuba. He’s right.
More importantly, writing in the Miami Herald, McCaffrey, a decorated Vietnam veteran, hero of Desert Storm and, more relevant to this discussion, former commander, U.S. Southern Command, finally gets to the endgame on Cuba policy.
His prescription is straightforward: U.S. policy has failed, Cuba is changing, and we need to clear out the Cold War-era policies and position ourselves to become “a constructive guiding agent in this process of change.”
His list of particulars is refreshingly decisive:
* Remove Cuba from the State Department list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
* Repeal enforcement of the ”Helms-Burton” legislation.
* End the economic embargo on Cuba.
* End U.S. restrictions on travel by American citizens to Cuba.
* Close the detention facility at Guantanamo and return the base to Cuban sovereignty.
* End the ”Wet Foot/Dry Foot immigration policy” and treat illegal immigrants from Cuba as we do those from Mexico or any other country.
* Formalize coordination on anti-drug trafficking matters with Cuba’s law enforcement and security forces.
* Provide significantly increased funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development so that we can support economic development as democratic political transition inevitably occurs in Cuba.
* End U.S. opposition to Cuban participation in the Western Hemisphere multilateral fora…
General McCaffrey’s position on Cuba would, if implemented, transform U.S. relations with the nations of Latin America and create the conditions for the people of Cuba to judge their government’s performance without interference from Washington.
Unfortunately, the politics of Washington are slow to recognize the imperatives of diplomacy. The more leaders like Gen. McCaffrey stand up to be counted, however, the sooner the politics in this town will change.
— Patrick Doherty


19 comments on “Guest Post by Patrick Doherty: The McCaffrey Plan

  1. David says:

    It matters because he did not speak without White House approval on this matter. He might have his failings (and I agree he does), but he is sufficiently high profile and sufficiently representative of the Obama administration that this quite aggressive assertion of the need for these changes matters. It is one more piece in a needed critical mass.


  2. dirk says:

    All hail to your reminiscing about the rolling metal in Cuba aside . . .
    Why should McCaffrey’s opinion matter at this point?
    He is a failed [sanctimonious prick of a] ex-drug czar. And as head of the US Southern Command in the mid-90s, was in a position to perhaps influence some sane policy toward Cuba.
    Now he’s just another talking head with an opinion, who occasionally gets something “right.”


  3. mikael says:

    All hail the great warrior. I hope decision makers on the Capitol Hill take note of the general`s opinions.


  4. David says:

    Damn, POA, you are an artisan (and a damned good photographer). I must admit to being mostly a reminiscer. I’m a retired community college instructor (comp, Am lit, theater), but I have completely rewired a two-story house as two independent apartments, including new breaker panels, for an old friend. I did do a total top end on my ’68 Beetle. But my brother was/is the auto artisan. He is also the 1989 125cc gearbox kart national champion. Hasn’t raced in a long time, but might get back to it.
    Frankly, I’d like to see the folk responsible for the use of du indicted, the higher up the greater the jail time. It’s a crime for the eons, as is the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems and the increase in atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentration. F everyone who is obstructing efforts to reverse these crimes against humanity.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Remember the pocupine head Chevy big block?”
    “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up 409. Nothing can catch her, nothing can touch my 409, 409….”
    I put one in a ’67 one ton dually I built about a decade back. Now there was a project. I also put a ’59 Impala dash in that truck, as well as late model disks front and rear. Changing the width on the dash, while still maintaining its perfect styling, was a real challenge, but man, it was gorgeous when I finally pulled it off. That dashboard really epitomized the styling of the 50’s detroit “fin era”, and to this day, I don’t think there has ever been a prettier dash roll out of detroit.
    Interesting, that project. Believe or not, I actually made money building a custom. Are you familiar with the vintage Chevy truck mail order house known as “Brothers”? Well, I decided I wanted to shave the wind wings on the ’67, and the only kit offered was by one of their competitors. Trouble was, the replacement steel corner insert was damned near as big as the shaved wind wing, ugly. So, I designed my own method of shaving them, using trial and error on a spare door I picked up at a wrecking yard. I ended up with a smooth operating main window, with a very small billet aluminum triangle corner insert. “Brothers” offered a decent power window kit, and in the process of ordering one by phone, I mentioned the successful and easy method I had designed to shave the wings. Well, they bought the plans and the sample door from me for more than the entire truck project cost me. They still sell the kit.


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I support every genuine effort to undo what we inflicted on Iraq……….”
    Well, considering the duration of DU’s toxicity, that will take a few hundred thousand years, although I imagine the wind will aid in reducing the amounts in the Iraqi environment.
    Uh, of course, that doesn’t exactly add up to good news for the rest of the planet.


  7. David says:

    No argument about the Offy-equipped Ford flathead.
    My brother had a ’40 Ford coupe with a modified Merc flathead (a 59ab, I think was the designation, as opposed to the smaller Ford 8ba, but memory is a bit rusty on that). What was that original Ford flathead V-8, the one that got it all started, a 60 horse?
    Remember the pocupine head Chevy big block?
    Looking forward to the link. Helps to balance my visceral outrage over “depleted” uranium and the fact that the invasion of Iraq was, as Stephen Hawking bluntly stated, a war crime. I support every genuine effort to undo what we inflicted on Iraq – I just doubt that we can, or that enlightened foreign policy can carry the day against ve$ted intere$t$. God do I hope I’m wrong on that score.


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “For me, populist that I am, that is the iconic American engine”
    Well, maybe, butcha gotta love how an Offy equipped Ford flathead looks.
    And is there anything that exemplifies the automotive insanity of the supercar era like the appearance of those plug wires sticking out of the valve covers of a 426 hemi?
    David, Nina has on CD some photographs of a garage the contractor I work for built a few months back, and I was lucky enough to do the finish work on. Keep an eye on this thread, and I will post a link to a couple of the shots, as soon as Nina can get them online for me. I think it will blow your mind. Suffice to say there is easily a few million bucks worth of American iron in it.


  9. David says:

    I was fun, arthurdecco. Brought back some memories that had been in hibernation. Glad you got a kick out of it.


  10. arthurdecco says:

    Thanks to the lot of you for your reminiscences.
    Been there. Done that.


  11. David says:

    At one point I owned a ’49 Willys Overland with a ’65 Chevy passenger car six – got it from a friend who made the conversion and used the Willys to wander the swamps of Louisiana in search of Chinese earthworms. His doctoral dissertation (LSU early 60s, don’t know why I don’t know the year) was on the migration of said earthworm eastward from Texas. He was from Detroit, but that experience turned him into a coon ass (he could use the term because he’d been adopted into the Cajun nation).
    With 522 differential gears, in low range second gear, it would walk along like your truck in granny gear, with the bonus of doing it through sand, mud, shallow Ocala Forest lakes, and up out of clay pits.
    We used to have celery harvesters – Oviedo was the celery capital of the south – which were big open harvester/crater rigs (the biggest thing I’d ever seen being driven down the road). Dead center was the power plant: you guessed it, a stovebolt six. Top speed was about 3 mph, I think, but that was as fast as it was possible to harvest celery.
    For me, populist that I am, that is the iconic American engine.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The stovebolt six was the best.”
    I had a 235 in a one ton flatbed ’59 with a four speed granny, and I used to stand on the bed and throw flakes of hay to the livestock while it meandered the pasture, driverless, iddling in granny gear. Yes, both the 235 and the 265 were fantastic motors. And, you could stand in one spot, on a milk crate, and do the entire tune-up without changing position.
    But alas, we “improved” the technology.


  13. David says:

    ’53 Chevy sedans raining from the sky on Florida? Man would I be out dodging and salvaging. The stovebolt six was the best. Ours (we had a ’39 Chevrolet Master Deluxe 2-door in sea mist green when I was a lad) could be tuned to run like a Singer sewing machine. And sweet to drive. Also, Chevrolet was easiest and most affordable to maintain.
    Now, if I can just convince Castro to: 1)equip them with parachutes to minimize damage; and 2) not launch any Buick Roadmasters – the craters would be huge if the parachutes failed to open, and casualties would be unavoidable.
    But what a great idea with ’53 Chevy sedans. I like the way you think, POA.


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I thought upthread to address an argument made by a supporter of unilateral concessions to a hostile government……..”
    You hit the nail on the head there, Zathras ‘ol buddy.
    All my life I’ve lived in mortal fear that Castro was gonna bomb us with a deadly barrage of 1953 Chevy sedans.


  15. Don Bacon says:

    Zathras: “. .unilateral concessions to a hostile government . .”
    Oh my dear, that nasty Castro — he’s hostile. Might it have something to do with . . .assassination plots?
    In 1975, a Senate Committee headed by Frank Church documented what had been rumored for several years, that the CIA had pursued assassination as an instrument of foreign policy. The Church Committee issued the first of 14 reports, entitled “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders.”
    Prime among the intended victims was Cuba’s leader, Fidel Castro. Although there is some evidence for plots beginning as soon as 1959, the Church Committee’s first documented plots began in the late summer of 1960. That is when the CIA contacted Johnny Roselli, and through him other organized crime leaders eager to return to the “good old days” in Cuba.
    Some of the plots and ideas were of the James Bond variety – poisoned pills, an exploding seashell, and a planned gift of a diving suit contaminated with toxins. This, plus the failure to actually kill Castro, has sometimes allowed journalist and historians to view these as almost harmless Keystone Kops affairs. But there was deadly seriousness at work – other assassination attempts involved high-powered rifles outfitted with telescopic sights.
    Or might the hostility come from the US embargo, the Cuban Democracy Act (the “Torricelli Law”)?
    Or maybe trade & travel restrictions, the Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act (known as the Helms-Burton Act)?
    Or Radio Martí and TV Martí, two stations aimed at undermining the Cuban government?
    It could have been the farcical attempted US invasion of Cuba in 1961 (Bay of Pigs or Playa Girón).
    Fifty years of the greatest world power stepping all over a neighbor, and that neighbor is hostile. Zathras can’t understand it.
    Another thing Zathras doesn’t understand is that US hostility toward a government simply strengthens that government. In August 1961, during an economic conference of the Organization of American States in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Che Guevara sent a note to Kennedy through Richard N. Goodwin, a young secretary of the White House. It said: “Thanks for Playa Girón. Before the invasion, the revolution was weak. Now it’s stronger than ever.”


  16. David says:

    god love the general. Intelligent proposals one and all. This is the one that leapt off the page at me: “and return the base to Cuban sovereignty.” We need to purge ourselves of all connection with Gitmo, and Cuba needs to be freed of a US military presence on its soil. There is no reason on the face of the earth that the US and Cuba cannot have peaceful, constructive relations, nation to nation. The past four decades of US policy toward Cuba are a tale of utter failure and ongoing absurdities.


  17. Zathras says:

    I thought upthread to address an argument made by a supporter of unilateral concessions to a hostile government in a situation requiring sustained negotiations about many subjects. I did not intend to address actual partisans of the Castro regime, and will not do so now. Should a duly accredited representative of the Havana government see fit to start posting comments on this blog, I will reevaluate that position.


  18. Don Bacon says:

    Zathras doesn’t disappoint on Cuba, he always displays a deep concern for the “people’s needs in economic or other ways” without any supporting evidence that the Cuban people are worse off then, say, the residents of Mumbai or even Kansas City.
    Let’s look at some evidence.
    World Happiness Rankings (
    From The New Economics Foundation, based on life expectancy and the life satisfaction rankings, which are based on international surveys
    USA 19, Cuba 52
    127 countries are lower than Cuba, including: Czech Republic, Portugal, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Russia etc. What should the US ask of these countries for the glory of its recognition of them?
    Cuba’s health system isn’t bad, either.
    The World Health Organization’s ranking
    of the world’s health systems.
    USA 37, Cuba 39
    What say you, Zathras? What makes you so cognizant of the especially unique needs of Cubans, compared to Czechs and Chinese, for two examples?


  19. Zathras says:

    Gen. McCaffrey is also refreshingly decisive in deciding not to mention a single thing we might ask the Cuban government to do. He acknowledges the “regimented dullness of the Marxist state” and observes the Cuban state’s failure to meet its people’s needs in economic or other ways. He also prescribes a number of US government policy changes that would be an economic boon to Cuba. What does he ask of Castro’s government in return?
    Nothing, because we’re not making concessions. We’re being transformative and recognizing the imperatives of diplomacy. Because we just are, that’s why.
    Incidentally, and just to interject a note of reality to discussion of this subject, the Cuban people do not have the ability to judge their government’s performance now. Interference from Washington is not the reason. A future Cuban government that had more normal relations with the United States would also be much more heavily influenced by the United States — call that interference if you want to, but Cuba is a small island states mere miles away from a wealthy country of 300 million people. The alternative to isolation is accomodation to the neighborhood. This will be a much bigger adjustment for the Cuban government and people than it will be for us, all the more reason to proceed along the path of liberalization deliberately and with clarity about the things Cuba needs to do. The alternative presented here is just charging ahead with unilateral concessions, getting the emotional catharsis that some critics of our Cuba policy seem to be after, and then looking around and trying to figure out what to do.


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