Lugar Calls for a “Return to Realism” on Cuba


lugar washington college.jpg
Cuba Committee Print.jpgSenate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar, a long time realist and serious strategic thinker about America’s national security challenges, has just popped the bubble of those who have used Cuba for decades in their ineffective ideological crusades.
Lugar’s team is releasing on Monday a new ‘committee print’ titled “CHANGING CUBA POLICY — IN THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTEREST.” (pdf here)
For US-Cuba policy junkies, the report is pretty breathtaking in its indictment of decades of American failure in trying to adjust Cuba’s national government’s behavior via sanctions and an embargo.
In his opening missive in the document, Senator Lugar states:

Economic sanctions are a legitimate tool of U.S. foreign policy, and they have sometimes achieved their aims, as in the case of apartheid South Africa.
After 47 years, however, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of “bringing democracy to the Cuban people,” while it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further sacrifices from Cuba’s impoverished population.
The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests.

This report is important because it builds on questions that Richard Lugar asked in writing of Hillary Clinton during her Senate confirmation hearings. I noted then that buried in the many questions submitted by Lugar was an implied message to the administration that he would not accept any more illusions that the status quo in the relationship was working.
bayh clemons lugar goodheart.jpgIn response, Hillary Clinton promised a full administration review of US-Cuba policy which Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Tom Shannon is leading now. What is also interesting is that someone close to Shannon and those potentially contributing to this policy review told me it would be important for the administration “to hear from Congress.”
Lugar has now provided much ammunition in his powerful commentary on the need for US-Cuba policy to change, using what was essentially a trip report by Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior staff member Carl Meacham as a vehicle to convey his views. Meacham traveled to Cuba as part of a staff delegation in January 2009, organized by the non-partisan Lexington Institute.
Key findings of the report include that the Cuban regime has become fully institutionalized; positive developments are occurring in Cuba but should not be mistaken as structural reform; that popular dissatisfaction with Cuba’s economic situation is the regime’s vulnerability; and the regime appears to be open to some bilateral dialogue and cooperation.
The report endorses the rather minimal steps already promised by Obama on relaxing restrictions on “Cuban-American” travel and financial remittances to family members — but then pushes forward on many other fronts with a sopisticated and methodical review of other steps the administration should consider, most of which are possible even within the confines of the Congressionally-imposed embargo.
This is a brilliant piece of policy and political craftsmanship.
I call it the “slippery slope strategy” in which Lugar is shining a big spotlight on the inadequacy and failure of US-Cuba policy that for too long has been held in place by domestic constituencies who were working at odds with the American national interest. Lugar is pushing buttons and nudging Obama’s team into put itself forward constructively — and with these steps, it becomes easier to see the broader embargo as a serious anachronism and a mistake that needs remedy.
US-Cuba policy is the only place in the world where the nearly extinct Cold War actually got colder — and it’s time this relationship thawed.
In her piece on this not yet released report today, Washington Post national security correspondent Karen DeYoung finishes with:

In his letter to senators, Lugar noted that Obama’s election and the replacement of President Fidel Castro with his brother Raúl have generated debate important to U.S. security interests, “broader U.S.-Latin-American relations, and global perceptions of U.S. foreign policy.”
“Despite uncertainty about Cuba’s mid-term political future,” Lugar wrote, “it is clear that the recent leadership changes have created an opportunity for the United States to reevaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion, and open hostility.”

Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel once told me at a cocktail party that we were working together to make “realism the new liberal ideology.”
It has been working, and Richard Lugar has just done his team on the Minority side — as well as his colleagues Committee Chairman John Kerry and Senator Christopher Dodd, who has long set the “gold standard” in US-Cuba policy legislation and proposals — a great favor by pushing this report into our national debate.
It’s time that we stopped letting other national leaders, like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, colonize the affections and interests of Cuban citizens who are actually interested — like the rest of the world — in whether Obama has the guts and vision to generate some meaningful strategic shifts for the United States.
Cuba is the lowest hanging ripe fruit on America’s tree of foreign policy options. Change is easy there — and overdue.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: Photo above on the right side is of former Senator Birch Bayh, Senator Richard Lugar, New America Foundation/American Strategy Program Director Steve Clemons, and Washington College C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience Director Adam Goodheart at a November 12, 2007 Senatorial Colloquy at Washington College. The top photo of Senator Lugar was also taken at the same Washington College Senate Colloquy.


31 comments on “Lugar Calls for a “Return to Realism” on Cuba

  1. Apollo says:

    Maybe you could tell me in a concise form whether Lugar and Clemons feel that Cuba is entitled to be a fully sovereign nation or whether Lugar and Clemons feel that they should be a “democracy” subject to American veto.


  2. Aline Quéant says:

    I now who’s Dick Lugar.
    I remember him very well on CNN in sept 2003. I was in NYC. He was chairman on Senate with Human Rigths Watch when he proposed news restrictions against Cuba by sending less money to the Cuban’s families…hey..hey..
    And now, here in France, the radios speak about a bigining of “opening new policy with Cuba” ! I’s a joke ! The US interests are the same ! And I now them very well.
    D. Lugar said he “failed” ! Because he release that restrictions where not the good way to release his dreams ; the same dreams he have today ! And today his hope with the new oportunity for one and half millions of cubano-amirican people – …he hope little by little, her and there …he dreams that this sort of “invasion” could be the good way to have a new deal with Cuba ! He is a devil. I ‘ll could never forget his face on CNN. He was like the old cuban-US generation who live just for fight” against”, nothing more.
    President Obama dont says nothing more than I read and ear for many and many years, making a difference between Cuba and cuban people.
    But the Cuba’s people is Cuba ! I now because I was gone and, also, I have a good friend of me who lives in Cuba since 20 years. And I have a lot of friend. It’s a faboulous people, very very intelligent. Cuba is a philosopher country. Ask Doug Morris who’s teaching at san Diedo University. I speak better than me.
    US and France a democracy ? What kind of ? American or french model ? Hum… hum… What country could give lesson to the world ? Hum…
    A good president is a president who say to his people : “I don’t want to protect our interests against the life and the health of all others human been. Nobody told you before, but now it’s time to open your eyes… with mine”.
    Human been or human bean ? That is the question.
    Happyness or money ?
    Aqui tambien en Francia tenemos que luchar porque la salud de las empresas vale mas que la salud del pueblo !
    Hasta pronto amigos.
    Aline (who don’t vote for this french president!)
    (sorry for my very very bad english !
    I’ve done my best !)


  3. Alfonso Garrido says:

    This United States-Cuba bilateral embargo is a waste of time for all pragmatic effects. If 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 these 47 years, has been to create a favorable environment to enrich the anti American speeches of Cuban’s government leaders, accusing the United States Administrations for their own economic crisis and its consequence in the lives of more than 11 million innocent people. Also it has been in detriment of the U. S. agricultural traders, among others U. S. economic, cultural and scientific sectors, not to sell hundred of tons of rice and beans to the largest consumer of all countries in the Americas.
    This embargo is immoral, because it has been maintained against a nation which, no longer after the cold war, represent any threat to the national security of the United States and or his neighbor’s countries. A country that always has been solidary when disasters occurs in any part of the world, sending doctors, medical personnel and equipment wherever is needed; including in the tragic events of 9/11 terrorist attacks, it was one of the first countries to assist by shutting down all his own air operations (airports & airspace) to cede to U S. Airliners in case they had need it. Also in the Katrina’s hurricane catastrophe aftermath they tried to send all type of medical asistant to the people of New Orleans and the U. S. A. goverment rejected it. In contrast, the United States mantains an economic trade of $10 billion/year with communist Vietnam and has full diplomatic relations with Ambassadors in Ho Chi Minh City and Washington D. C,. We have to remember that in Vietnam’s War were killed more than 58,000 American soldiers including the high figure of 153,000 wounded and disables for life.
    Even worse, this embargo, penalizes the U.S. citizens by depriving us the natural right to travel wherever we want; restricting us the basic freedom right of free movement and in its ultimate worse case U. S. citizens are not allowed to visit their Cuban families in the island.(only, once every three years/calendar).
    We can not conceive and support this situation in a nation that it claimed to be of greater freedoms of all nations in the XXI century.
    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 Organization for 17 consecutive times, including the last one in a 185-3 vote, on October 29, 2008.
    To read more detailed information about the economic consequences to USA done by this self-imposed embargo go to: (If it does not open, copy and paste in your internet address bar)


  4. JohnH says:

    Most likely Lugar’s sudden epiphany relates less to enlightened foreign policy than to pressure from exporters, such as Cargill, Caterpillar, and Arthur Savage & Sons, who finally see an opening from the ideology driven past.
    It’s highly unlikely that there is any real vision or strategy behind this, though elements of the foreign policy mob are happy to go along as a means for getting American interest groups established on the ground in Cuba. These groups would then start influencing the deformation of the Cuban government, making it give a higher priority to American corporate interests than to those of the Cuban people.


  5. rich says:

    This is great news and long overdue, Steve.
    It’s unclear to me, though, whether Richard Lugar is suddenly promoting reform in the American stance towards Cuba because he knows it’ll have traction under the Obama administration, or because he seeks to offload the political costs of normalization onto a Democratic President.
    Lugar deserves some recognition here: this is the right thing to do, in every sense of the word, and attempting the same under the Bush regime would’ve had political costs even for Lugar. Ordinarily a constructive tack would theoretically yield more fruitful results; probem is, Lugar gained nothing from Bush outside of what both men already supported.
    Elkhart, Indiana needed Richard Lugar’s support, and I was very disappointed Lugar didn’t travel with President Obama to get some firsthand experience on just how bad things really are. It doesn’t speak well of Lugar’s much-praised character. Anyone who’s been to Elkhart and/or who’s felt the compounded pain of disinvestment and the economic depression knows what I mean. Given Richard Lugar’s overt privileging of the global economic order at the expense of American economic vitality–a position perched untenably on the very discredited economic ideology that caused this deepening recession–it’s no surprise he didn’t have the ‘nads to show up in Elkhart. Or support his President.
    Facing one’s constituents can be such a hard thing.
    Seriously, though, the country can’t afford this kind of ossified partisanship. This is a matter of what works, full stop. As much as I want to say Lugar is a fine man full of moral fiber, as folks keep repeating, his actions don’t support the theory that integrity drive his MO or define Richard Lugar’s character. This isn’t a personal observation; just a pointed reminder that it is not possible to reconcile the reflexive veneration with Lugar’s actual conduct.
    Ultimately, I can’t agree Richard Lugar did the country any favors by acting the rigid partisan under Bush. Now, Lugar’s refusal to support his President as he fixes our gravest economic crisis in 80 years, merely on ideological grounds and because he supports globalized interests rather than Indiana’s interests, will just exacerbate the problem.
    And no on in Elkhart, Indiana can afford that.
    NOTE—if anyone finds this tough to read . . . it’s what’s commonly known as “Realism.”
    Try it out sometime.


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If you have the stomach for it, read, once more, the AIPAC version I posted above. Are these slimey lying sacks of shit for real? Do we really want that kind of misleading horseshit being spun to the detriment of our own best interests?
    Why aren’t these people registered as foreign agents, or better yet, tarred and feathered off of the continent? How long are we going to let these slimey murderous leeches dictate american foreign policy?


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, when considering those countries to the south, Chavez’s olfactory senses stand out as extremely acute. I suspect that a number of other world leaders share his ability to “name that odor”, but are afraid to speak out.


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres some more “reality” that we are being fed. I leave it to you to decide which entity, AIPAC, or the IAEA, you choose to accept as the purveyor of truth.
    From the AIPAC website….
    “U.N.: Iran Holds Enough Uranium for Nuclear Bomb”
    “Iran has enriched more uranium at Natanz than previously thought.
    Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, U.N. officials told the Financial Times that Iran had accumulated more than one ton of low enriched uranium hexafluoride at its facility in Natanz. If such a quantity were further enriched it could produce sufficient fissile material for a bomb. “It appears that Iran has walked right up to the threshold of having enough low enriched uranium to provide enough raw material for a single bomb,” said Peter Zimmerman, a former chief scientist of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Despite repeated calls by the international community to halt its illicit atomic work, Iran has made rapid advancements in its drive for a nuclear weapons capability”
    What the IAEA says…
    IAEA: Iran Not Capable of Making Nuclear Weapons
    Atomic Agency Continues to Confirm No Uranium Diverted For Other Purposes
    February 22, 2009
    Despite the attention being paid to claims that Iran has enough uranium to hypothetically build a nuclear weapon, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that Iran is “not there yet” as far as the capability of making weapons is concerned.
    Iran has enriched 1,010 kilograms of uranium hexaflouride to the low levels needed for the Bushehr nuclear power plant which is approaching operation. Some say this would be sufficient to make a weapon, however the IAEA has continued to verify that none of it has been diverted to any other use.
    The White House has presented the Iranian nuclear program as an “urgent problem that has to be addressed,” in spite of the fact that the IAEA has insisted that has been cooperating on recent issues.
    IAEA: Iran Did Not Underreport Enrichment
    Discrepancy Was “Inherent in the Early Commissioning Process”
    February 22, 2009
    Much hay was made late last week over the allegation that the Iranian government had underreported the amount of urnaium it had enriched through November. The White House accused Iran of reneging on its international obligations, and called the nation an “urgent problem that has to be addressed.”
    Not so, says the International Atomic Enegy Agency (IAEA), which said the discrepancy between the reported and actual figures were “inherent in the early commissioning phases of such a facility when it is not known in advance how it will perform in practice.”
    They added that nothing indicates that Iran made any deliberate attempts to conceal the amount of uranium it had enriched, that Iran had been cooperating on the matter to improve future estimates, and that no nuclear material could have been removed from the facility.


  9. JohnH says:

    Cuba’s next door neighbor Haiti is another example. The “democracy promoting” Bush administration sure was quick to get rid of the democratically elected President Aristide. Since the US meddling, has anything changed for the better in Haiti? Well, the sweatshops have returned, which is perhaps why Aristide had to go in the first place.
    Has US security improved? Doubtful.
    None of this is news to Cuba or to Latin America, which has been subject to this nonsense since the Monroe Doctrine.


  10. Cee says:

    To the point I made earlier
    Correa: US diplomat directed CIA in Ecuador
    QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa accused an expelled U.S. diplomat of directing CIA operations in the South American nation, but offered no proof.
    Mark Sullivan, the U.S. Embassy’s first secretary in the office of regional affairs, was declared a “persona non grata” on Wednesday and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours because of what the government called “unacceptable meddling” in Ecuadorean affairs.
    Ecuadorean officials claim he disputed the transfer of a senior police investigator amid a growing diplomatic spat over Washington’s aid to the South American nation.
    Last month, Ecuador ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attache Armando Astorga expelled for supposed interference, although Washington said Astorga had already left the country when his assignment ended.
    Correa revisited the Sullivan case on his weekly broadcast show Saturday, saying, “Let’s be clear: He is the director of the CIA in Ecuador.” The president did not offer any evidence.
    U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Marta Youth said it is Washington’s policy not to comment on intelligence matters.
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, both leftist allies of Correa, also have been critical of Washington and warned of alleged CIA operations in their countries.
    Morales accused the agency last week of infiltrating state energy company YPFB.
    “Regrettably there has been a CIA presence in Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos,” Morales said Friday.
    “Some of our companeros have been caught up in this external infiltration,” Morales said, referring to a scandal over the robbery and killing of a businessman. Investigators suspect the $450,000 in cash stolen was intended as a bribe for YPFB officials.
    Morales did not offer any proof either, but said the government will name alleged infiltrators “at any moment.”


  11. JohnH says:

    Lurker–I give up. Clemons argues repeatedly for ending the trade embargo and easing travel restrictions. These are policies, not strategies or strategic ambitions. They are small steps on the way toward a bigger goal, but I can’t discern what that is.
    Maybe you could tell me in a concise form whether Lugar and Clemons feel that Cuba is entitled to be a fully sovereign nation or whether Lugar and Clemons feel that they should be a “democracy” subject to American veto. If Cuba is not entitled to be fully independent, what national security considerations justify such a stance? Absent Cuba’s becoming a pawn to a major US rival, which is hihgly unlikely in today’s world, I can’t see any reason to care how they manage their own country. Yet I’ve never seen Lugar or Clemons address that issue (maybe you can provide a link to disprove this).
    For US-Cuban relations to genuinely improve, US intentions should be addressed up front. Otherwise, the Cuban leadership will just continue to assume that America plans to continue its meddling ways, changing only the style but not the substance.


  12. Lurker says:

    With all due respect JohnH, you are just off in your post above.
    Steve Clemons has written frequently about America’s interests
    with Cuba. Search the blog. And he has done video discussions on
    it. You are a regular here, but you seem to be losing your memory
    or trying to score silly points that aren’t worth the time of us here
    to read. I agree with Clemons that what Richard Lugar is doing is
    extraordinarily important as he is pushing Obama from the right to
    do what the left should want.


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    More “reality” that Lugar is ignoring. As I’m sure Obama will as well.
    Suspend military aid to Israel, Amnesty urges Obama after detailing US weapons used in Gaza
    White phosphorus shells traced back to America
    Activists call for arms embargoes on both sides
    Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
    The Guardian, Monday 23 February 2009
    Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel’s extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.
    In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel.
    The human rights group said that those arming both sides in the conflict “will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take responsibility for the violations perpetrated”.
    The US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel; under a current 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush administration the US will provide $30bn (£21bn) in military aid to Israel.
    “As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme director. “To a large extent, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers’ money.”


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres another little bit of “realism” these bastards aren’t exposing you to. They would much rather sell you the fantasy known as “The Success Of The Surge”. The real story would be far more aptly named “The Power of Money”. And when the money stops flowing, what happens to the “success of the surge”?
    Isn’t Lugar one of the mouthpieces for the fantasy of which I speak? You see, its far more politically expedient to fantacize a success in Iraq than it is to admit you have been complicit in an international crime of epic proportions, that has brought our nation to its knees economically, and destroyed our standing in the world community.
    Yep folks, Iraq isn’t the disaster reality tells us it is, its actually quite a success. Honest. Would Washington lie to you?


  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “it is immmoral and anti human to support that shitty little nation state that massacres palestinians and oppresses americas politicians”
    January 26, 2009 Issue
    Copyright © 2009 The American Conservative
    Another War, Another Defeat
    The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.
    By John J. Mearsheimer
    Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.
    The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
    But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.
    The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”
    What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.
    Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.”
    This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.”
    Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”
    Continues at….


  16. samuelburke says:

    yes stevie my boy…cuba is the low and hanging fruit, it is easy…now israel on the other hand would require a real american hero to make a stand against…and i dont see any on the horizon that will be listened to.
    and the damage that the shitty little nation of israel is causing the red white and blue is real and deep. it is immmoral and anti human to support that shitty little nation state that massacres palestinians and oppresses americas politicians.
    other than that what else can be true.
    ron paul…evolution.


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ah yes, realism.
    Wanna get real? Try to wrap your mind around misplacing 3.3 TRILLION dollars.
    And if that ain’t real enough for you, ponder being involved in “misplacing” that money, and subsequently landing a job in the Obama Administration.
    So whats next? When Lynn “misplaces” a coupla trillion more, will that be Obama’s turn to say “You’re doin’ a heck of a job” to one more lying thieving piece of crap Washington felon?
    Will Defense Run the “Real” Stimulus Package?
    Catherine and News & Commentary
    January 9, 2009 at 12:01 am
    In fiscal 1999, the Department of Defense was “missing” $2.3 trillion dollars. To put that amount of money in perspective, it is approximately 3X what President-elect Obama is proposing to spend to revitalize America.
    In fiscal 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” $1.1 trillion, about 1.5X what President-elect Obama wants to invest in America.
    So between October 1998 and September 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” $3.3 trillion. Because the amount of money disappearing is so enormous, years ago we started a archive of articles on the “missing money” to try to keep up with the trillions sliding out of the federal accounts.
    From 1997 to March 2001, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) who served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense was William J. Lynn III. In that position, he was the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense and was the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for all budgetary and fiscal matters. That means he was the person responsible to make sure no money went missing and that the Department of Defense published audited financial statements — which it failed to do in those years and every year since.
    When Mr. Lynn left Defense in 2001, he joined DFI International and then in 2005 became the chief lobbyist for Raytheon. He was replaced at Defense by Dov Zakheim.
    Today, President Elect Obama nominated William J. Lynn III as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The press release said, “Lynn brings decades of experience and expertise in reforming government spending and making the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely.”
    Obama also nominated Robert Hale to Lynn’s former position, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). From 1994 to 2001, Mr. Hale served as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller). That means that Hale, same as Lynn, was in charge of the money when all the money disappeared.
    I guess the guys who got the last $3.3 trillion were pretty happy with Mr. Lynn and Mr. Hale and decided to bring them back.
    Which brings me to the question I keep asking, “Where is the money and how do we get it back?“


  18. Patrick Mendis says:

    Steve, You did share my the Minnesota Daily article and my meeting with castro previously:
    It is great to learn that the Senator is exploring a similar path, which I described in my book (two chapters on cuba), human side of globalization at
    I hope you may find it interesting.
    Best regards…Patrick Mendis


  19. JohnH says:

    Gotta love Richard Perle. He ranks right up there with Bernie Madoff, Alan Stanford, George Bush and Dick Cheney in his ability to spew BS.
    I wish he find something constructive to do.


  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Realism??? You gotta be kidding me. If you’re a “realist” in Washington, you can expect to be treated like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. These pieces of shit like Lugar pick and choose self promoting snippets of reality as often as most people change their socks. Its only “real” if it serves them politically. More often than not, its the flight from reality that is politically expedient for them, and they are pros at presenting fantasies as fact.
    And while we are on the subject of “reality”, how is the following for being a shining example of living in the Twilight Zone?
    An excerpt…
    1. Perle is not a neoconservative.
    2. Neoconservatives do not exist.
    3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn’t be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.
    “There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy,” Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. “It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy.”
    So what about the 1996 report he co-authored that is widely seen as the cornerstone of neoconservative foreign policy? “My name was on it because I signed up for the study group,” Perle explained. “I didn’t approve it. I didn’t read it.”
    Mm-hmm. And the two letters to the president, signed by Perle, giving a “moral” basis to Middle East policy and demanding military means to remove Saddam Hussein? “I don’t have the letters in front of me,” Perle replied.
    Right. And the Bush administration National Security Strategy, enshrining the neoconservative themes of preemptive war and using American power to spread freedom? “I don’t know whether President Bush ever read any of those statements,” Perle maintained. “My guess is he didn’t.”


  21. Cee says:

    I just hope the US doesn’t think they’ll be able to use Cuban land and citizens to launch attacks against Chavez, Morales and others.
    Those tactics won’t work.


  22. Jean says:

    In answer to the first commenter’s question “and exactly where has mr. lugar been for the past 25 years?”– in the US Senate, on the Foreign Relations Committee, making a hefty contribution to those “decades of American failure” vis-a-vis US policy towards Cuba. Not to mention a host of other foreign policy fiascoes.
    Lugar is a political hack through and through, with a completely unwarranted reputation for integrity, seriousness, and intelligence, and with zero political courage. He never dissents from a given US policy at a time when it would be unpopular to do so, though there were many times when it could have made a huge difference to the outcome, if only someone of his “stature” and “influence”(however undeserved) had taken a critical and outspoken stand. He has had the opportunity to stop many a crime against humanity, but never considered it worthy of his attention and political capital. I had dealings with his office in 2002 and 2003 when I was living in his state, and tried valiantly along with many other citizen activists to educate him about the wrongness of a US invasion and occupation of Iraq. He blew us off completely. Needless to say, we were right, and he was, and is, a willing accomplice to war crimes.


  23. John McAuliff says:

    Steve makes an important passing comment:
    “someone close to Shannon and those potentially contributing to this policy review told me it would be important for the administration ‘to hear from Congress.'”
    Cosponsorship of legislation to end all travel restrictions is one way for Congress to make itself heard, but may set too high a threshold and will take too long to be relevant to the policy review that is coming close to conclusion.
    People who want policy change should ask their Representatives and Senators in the same e-mail, fax or call:
    1) Will you cosponsor HR 874 or S 428 to end all travel restrictions?
    2) Will you ask the White House to quickly authorize general licenses for Cuban Americans and other non-tourist travelers?
    For more Cuba analysis, go to the sister blog


  24. JohnH says:

    This post is typcial foreign policy blather. Lots of talk about change, but no vision.
    It would help if Lugar, or at least Clemons, would spell out America’s goals and interests in Cuba. But, nary a word!
    So does change mean using a silken glove approach to the standard American ambition of making Cuba entirely subservient to American corporate interests (as under Batista)? Or does it mean that Cuba is entitled to be an fully sovereign nation, even one that embraces the politics of Chavez, Morales and Correa?
    Since Lugar doesn’t clearly embrace full, independent sovereignty, which would make change attractive to present and future Cuban leaders, you have to assume that these folks are intentionally ambiguous about what they have in mind–plotting a darker future for the Cuban people.


  25. SW says:

    Bravo. This brought tears to my eyes.


  26. Philippe says:

    If it goes well, that would be a zero cost economic stimulus, much needed at the moment.


  27. Jason says:

    Another factor that will make a change to U.S.-
    Cuba policy easier is that Obama only got 33% of
    the Cuban-American vote in Florida. He doesn’t owe
    them anything. Also, the younger generation of
    Cuban-Americans are more open to the idea of
    thawing our relations with Cuba.
    Obama has a real opportunity here to make a
    change, one that’s easier to make now than perhaps
    anytime before. I hope he acts on it soon.


  28. William Jensen says:

    Lugar thinks we need a change in policy with respect to Cuba? Yeah, no kidding. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, nincompoop, and now Obama. and yet nothing has changed. They are still Communists and the world is 50 years older. What a waste of an opportunity. I’ll give Lugar credit for stating the obvious, but wasn’t it obvious a couple Presidents ago?


  29. Pacos_gal says:

    I think we’re actually behind on the game plan for Cuba. Since Raul took over, there have been many overtures made by other countries, such as Venezuela, China, Russia, etc, to sign new treaties, and establish firm relations with Cuba, while the U.S. Congress twiddles their thumbs and thinks about a policy review. Then how long till any real progress is made after a “review” is concluded?
    I think once again when it comes to foreign policy the U.S. is a step behind.
    Foreign policy is going to have to be given a real push. We need to establish what we want in what areas of the world and then set about doing what we have to, to make those goals happen.
    It seems to me that in this day and time, the U.S. is in a real race with Russia and China, when it comes to establishing treaties, and relationships that will benefit the U.S., it’s first come first serve, and the U.S. is not winning at this time.


  30. Michael Kahn says:

    What a relief, Steve. We can all exhale. Bless you and bless Senator
    Lugar. Let’s keep at it. No sense in punishing any of them for their
    past embarrassing blindness. Let’s support the move forward.


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