One of President Obama’s last major foreign policy changes was the lifting of several restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba. It’s no secret that the embargo has failed and only resulted in poverty for the Cuban people while the communists in power live large. President Trump doesn’t accept that. He restored the previous policy and the White House cited human rights and security as justification. There was one Republican Congressman in particular who didn’t buy that line. Justin Amash completely destroyed the faulty reasoning behind President Trump’s Cuba policy reversal in a single tweet.
The hope behind removing these restrictions was that trade and travel would lift up the people and weaken the regime. Once the Cuban people got a taste of a better life, which has been kept out of their reach because of the embargo, they would demand action from the government. All the embargo accomplished was to give the Castro dictatorship a scapegoat for all of the nation’s problems. Without it, the people would no longer be able to blame the United States for their squalor and would be forced to divert their attention to the government instead.
Most Republicans have never understood that, and have stubbornly stuck to supporting the embargo… because they always have. Justin Amash isn’t most Republicans, and he understands the reasoning behind easing the embargo. That’s why he was one of only a handful to support the policy when it was originally enacted by President Obama. That support hasn’t wavered over the past year and he’s clearly ready to defend the policy as is evident in this tweet:
.@POTUS‘s Cuba policy is not about human rights or security. If it were, then why is he dancing with the Saudis and selling them weapons?
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) June 16, 2017
The reasoning that was used to justify this policy reversal is completely hollow. The human rights record of Cuba is no worse than that of Saudi Arabia. While tens of thousands may have died in the original communist revolution, there are no state mandated beheadings for apostates, atheists, and homosexuals as there are in Saudi Arabia. Women may be starving in Cuba, but they aren’t legally disenfranchised third class citizens. For the White House to cite human rights when refusing to deal with Cuba, but ignore them entirely when praising a deal with Saudi Arabia, is hypocrisy at its worst.
The citation of security concerns is just as laughable. Again, we need only use Saudi Arabia as the prime example. Congress recently overrode President Obama’s veto of legislation that allows victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for helping orchestrate those attacks. There are repeatedly accusations that the government, or individuals known to it, are funding terrorism around the Middle East. There’s even the destabilizing Yemeni civil war that rages in large part due to Saudi Arabian intervention on behalf of the deposed government. Meanwhile, Cuba lies idly by in the Caribbean taking no part in any of those legitimate national security threats.
Justin Amash’s tweet certainly did not go into that much detail, but the facts remain. President Trump’s Cuban policy reversal is a major step backwards in relations and the justification for it has no basis in reality. Furthermore, the reasoning is entirely hypocritical considering the relations we maintain with other equally bad, if not worse, dictatorships around the world. The policy change is a major misstep, and deserves to be revisited by someone not driven by partisan contrarianism.