Commentary Magazine


Topic: telecommunications equipment

Cuban Democracy on Hold

It’s getting hard to remember the days when liberals like the late Rep. Tom Lantos took human rights and democracy promotion seriously. This report tells us that Sen. John Kerry — the often unofficial secretary of state — “has put a temporary hold on U.S. Cuba democracy assistance programs, aides confirm, while the State Department conducts a review of the programs and the committee investigates their effectiveness.” The ostensible trigger for all of this and the cessation of our democracy efforts was the Cubans’ snatching of Alan Gross, detained and held in Cuba for distributing “telecommunications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community.” It remains unclear why this has prompted a soul-searching about whether democracy promotion, conducted by administrations of both parties, should come to a halt. But the Leftist antipathy to such efforts is revealed by a blind quote from a “former official” (who sounds rather like Wayne S. Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, who now has a cottage industry in hawking for full normalization without any democratizing by the Castro regime):

“These are counterproductive programs,” said one former senior State Department official who managed Cuba policy. “The best way for the U.S. government to help the Castro government is to be seen both within Cuba and internationally as trying to subvert it.”

Such programs “are completely ineffective coming from the U.S.,” the former official said. They are done in a “ham-handed” way that is ineffectual and causes a backlash against the civil society activists they intend to support.

Yes, heavens forbid we should seek to undermine a loathsome Communist dictatorship. One wonders if democracy advocates rotting in Cuban prisons share this former official’s disdain for subverting the thugocracy. We’ll see what the review turns up, but given the Obami’s general distaste for rocking the boat of any dictatorship, don’t be surprised if these programs vanish for good — or until a new administration less disdainful of our role in democracy and human-rights promotion and less enamored of engaging the world’s bullies takes office.

It’s getting hard to remember the days when liberals like the late Rep. Tom Lantos took human rights and democracy promotion seriously. This report tells us that Sen. John Kerry — the often unofficial secretary of state — “has put a temporary hold on U.S. Cuba democracy assistance programs, aides confirm, while the State Department conducts a review of the programs and the committee investigates their effectiveness.” The ostensible trigger for all of this and the cessation of our democracy efforts was the Cubans’ snatching of Alan Gross, detained and held in Cuba for distributing “telecommunications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community.” It remains unclear why this has prompted a soul-searching about whether democracy promotion, conducted by administrations of both parties, should come to a halt. But the Leftist antipathy to such efforts is revealed by a blind quote from a “former official” (who sounds rather like Wayne S. Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, who now has a cottage industry in hawking for full normalization without any democratizing by the Castro regime):

“These are counterproductive programs,” said one former senior State Department official who managed Cuba policy. “The best way for the U.S. government to help the Castro government is to be seen both within Cuba and internationally as trying to subvert it.”

Such programs “are completely ineffective coming from the U.S.,” the former official said. They are done in a “ham-handed” way that is ineffectual and causes a backlash against the civil society activists they intend to support.

Yes, heavens forbid we should seek to undermine a loathsome Communist dictatorship. One wonders if democracy advocates rotting in Cuban prisons share this former official’s disdain for subverting the thugocracy. We’ll see what the review turns up, but given the Obami’s general distaste for rocking the boat of any dictatorship, don’t be surprised if these programs vanish for good — or until a new administration less disdainful of our role in democracy and human-rights promotion and less enamored of engaging the world’s bullies takes office.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.