Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Do not issue empty threats

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 — President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.

As described by an official in a background briefing to reporters on Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush’s remarks will amount to the most detailed response — mainly an unbending one — to the political changes that began in Cuba more than a year ago, when Fidel Castro fell ill and handed power to his brother Raúl.

The speech, scheduled to be given at the State Department before invited Cuban dissidents, will introduce the relatives of four Cuban prisoners being held for political crimes. A senior administration official said the president wanted to “put a human face,” on Cuba’s “assault on freedom.”

In effect, the speech will be a call for Cubans to continue to resist, a particularly strong line coming from an American president. He is expected to say to the Cuban military and police, “There is a place for you in a new Cuba.”

The official said Mr. Bush would make the case that for dissidents and others pursuing democracy in Cuba, little has changed at all, and that the country has suffered economically as well as in other ways as a result of the Castro rule.

He will say that while much of the rest of Latin America has moved from dictatorship to democracy, Cuba continues to use repression and terror to control its people. And, the administration official said, Mr. Bush will direct another part of his speech to the Cuban people, telling them they “have the power to shape their destiny and bring about change.”

The administration official said Mr. Bush was expected to tell Cuban viewers that “soon they will have to make a choice between freedom and the force used by a dying regime.”

Some of the sharpest parts of the speech, however, will be aimed directly at Raúl Castro. Mr. Bush is expected to make clear that the United States will oppose an old system controlled by new faces. The senior administration official said that nothing in Raúl Castro’s past gives Washington reason to expect democratic reforms soon. And he said the United States would uphold its tough economic policies against the island.

The last thing that you want to do is to issue a threat that you lack either the ability or the will to back up. By this time everyone in the Cuban government knows that the economic situation in Cuba will not improve as long as Cuba is a communist country. They also know that if Cuba stops being a communist country they will lose their power - and they also just might get stood up against the wall and shot for past crimes. Given the choice of whether to serve the people or serve themselves they do what ruling classes everywhere do and serve themselves.

Threatening to keep the embargo on Cuba will not move Raúl one inch. He is counting on the embargo continuing. The embargo is the only thing which has been propping up the communist regime. It is the all-purpose excuse for why anything has gone wrong in Cuba. If the Cubans have to drive around in cars (those who have cars) that were manufactured in the 1950s or before it is because of the embargo. Never mind that Japan, Germany, England, France and several other nations manufacture autos and that any of them would be happy to sell in Cuba it's the US embargo.

Do the Cubans live in poverty? It is because of the embargo. Never mind that the entire rest of the globe will trade with Cuba.

No, the Cuban tyrants want the embargo in place so that they won't have to explain to the Cuban people why they have to live in misery and want for even the basic necessities of life.