Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, April 18, 2009

United States Reaches Out to Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba…

America’s foreign policy is finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s about F#$%!# time.

Obama urged cooperation at the Summit of the Americas today in Trinidad. He said: “I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively.” He also asked the other leaders not to blame all of their past problems on the U.S.

He exchanged greetings with Venezuela’s notorious commie, Hugo Chavez. Later Chavez said: “I think it was a good moment. I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president.”

Chavez also said: “I'm not going to speak for Cuba. It's not up to me...but all of us here are friends of Cuba, and we hope the United States will be, too.”

Obama also spoke with Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. As you probably remember, Ronald Reagan used his presidency to stage terrorist attacks against Ortega’s government. (Forget it, rightwads, they weren’t “Freedom Fighters.” They were Terrorists.) It didn’t work. Ortega got voted out in 1990, and then got voted back in in 2006.

Ortega still holds some resentment. (Who wouldn’t?) Since he couldn’t very well say anything to Dead Ronnie, he took it out on Obama. He gave a 50-minute speech blasting everything the U.S. has done, going all the way back to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. But he did point out that Obama wasn’t responsible for that.

Obama responded with: “I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was also less than enthusiastic about Obama: “Obama said three things: There are neither senior or junior partners. He said relations should be of mutual respect, and he spoke of change. In Bolivia ... one doesn't feel any change. The policy of conspiracy continues.”

OK, so the entire meeting wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. But it’s a start. There have been decades (centuries, for that matter) of mutual resentment throughout the Americas. Personally I think it’s better to talk about these resentments at a meeting instead of having mutual threats and trade embargos.

And speaking of Cuba — I read this anecdote on a website several years ago. I have no idea whether it’s true or not:

Sometime during Fidel Castro’s adolescence, he got in a fight with a school bully, and got his ass kicked. The next day Castro challenged this same bully to another fight. The bully whupped him again, even worse than the day before. The next day — same thing. Fidel Castro repeated this same procedure every day for the rest of the year — challenge the school bully to a fight, get his ass kicked. Castro never won any of those fights, but by the end of the school year, the bully was terrified of him.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger People in the Sun said...

Look at what he's doing while the GOP is busy drinking tea. Incredible.

April 18, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

PITS: LOL. Nice contrast.

April 18, 2009 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

It is about damned time we get over this whole Cuba is the devil crap.

April 18, 2009 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: Damn right. This 47-year embargo has gone on long enough.

April 18, 2009 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Sheesh, only 47 years and we're throwing in the towel? You mean we're not going to stay the course until the second ice age in hell? Nixon and Reagan must be spinning in their graves.

Seriously, it would be good for the country and the hemisphere, once the right-wing noise machine has had some time to drum up faux hysteria about these developments, for Obama to address the matter on national TV.

First, Obama could point out that 50 years of embargo have done more to isolate the U.S. from other countries than it has to isolate Cuba. Even countries that aren't that fond of Cuba see the U.S. as a big, rich, powerful country bullying a small, poor, Third-World Country.

Second, Obama could take a little trip down memory lane, pointing out how Cuba was supposed to be a communist menace out to turn every Latin American country into a socialist workers paradise. Then, the anticommunist scaremongers posed Nicaragua as an even more insidious threat.

So, what happened?

Today, the Western Hemisphere is predominantly democratic, whether its countries have a center-left government or right-wing government. Only Cuba has an actual communist regime, and that one is a far cry from the USSR and early Red China models.

So, since the red baiters' predictions and policies turned out to be so much unnecessary and unworkable nonsense, it's time to gain a fresh understanding of our neighbors and try new approaches, even toward ones previously considered beyond the pale.

Yes, the tinfoil-hat crowd would be climbing the walls and screaming. But I figure they're going to do that no matter what Obama does.

April 19, 2009 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

This is a breath of fresh air... a U.S. president who actually seems to want to view Latin American nations not as unruly kids who need to be punished, but rather as nations, populated by human beings.

I have been reading "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. I am gaining an understanding of why people in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay might hate us. It should be obvious why people in Cuba and Nicaragua would hate us... That book is a good read.

April 19, 2009 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

It does seem odd that we have trade with China and even Vietnam but Cuba is the exception.
I also wonder if Russia is still planning to put missles in Cuba after we were going to put them in Poland? That looks like a real waste of money for all involved.

April 19, 2009 at 1:15 AM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

Excellent point, Demeur. I believe Defense Secretary Bob Gates, in his recent budget recommendation for reconfiguring the military, made a point of omitting funding for the missile deployment in Poland. I know Obama signaled sometime back that he thought putting missiles there would be a mistake.

April 19, 2009 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Yeah, why aren't we staying the course? I knew Obama was a quitter and a pussy, as well as being a Muslim :)

The rightwing echo chamber is definitely going ballistic over this. "Obama is letting these ruthless commie dictators walk all over America," etc. I agree Obama should give a national TV address on this issue.

But don't forget, the rightwing spin is that Reagan gets all the credit for democracies in the Western Hemisphere. He stood up to those tinpot commie dictators and they all withered and cowered, and Presto! Thanks to Saint Ronald, most of those countries are democracies now.

The above paragraph makes no sense at all, but try telling that to a wingnut.

Snave: "View Latin American nations not as unruly kids who need to be punished, but rather as nations, populated by human beings." You're right, that's a pretty radical departure. A breath of fresh air.

I've heard of Naomi Klein but I haven't read any of her books. I think she's also the author of Disaster Capitalism (which I also haven't read, but I've seen excerpts from it).

Demeur: We have to be nice to China since they could kick our asses, militarily and economically. Ditto for Vietnam, since they already did that 35 years ago.

April 19, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd still like to know what Cuba did that was so bad we still punish them today? We are on better terms with countries who's done worse to us then Cuba. I mean they can't be that dangerous if Gitmo is there.

As for Central, South America and the Caribbean they have a good reason to hate us. Teddy Roosevelt used to send troops to any Latin American country that pissed him off, the policy has continued and they will always resent us for it.

As for the GOP reaction I don't get it. The Florida Cubans are staunch republicans (like Senator Mel Martinez) and we say we keep this embargo for their sake. Meantime ignoring the fact that they repeatedly violate the law by visiting Cuba and send tens of millions of dollars to relatives to keep the Castro regime alive.

One of reforms that neither the GOP nor the Florida Cubans ever mention is I would like to be civil rights for Afro-Cubans, as Castro definitely has a two class system.

If we get relationships with Cuba, we wil take a lot of air out of Chavez's.

And Rush Limbaugh can now get his favorite Cuban cigars legally instead of having to smuggle them all these years.


April 20, 2009 at 12:25 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

so, chop my head off. it seems to me in an effort to feel hopeful for America, and to put down the previous presidents and their administrations over the past 50 years or so, some folks are going overboard to agree with everything Obama does. I also happen to agree that what he is attempting to do with Cuba and SA and CA countries, however I understand the world was a far different place 50 years ago.

I, for one am not ready to simply follow along and accept everything Obama is doing just because he is bringing definate changes to this administration and just because Bush made such a mess of everything. Sometimes change is a good thing and sometimes change may not be in the best interest of Americans.

I will continue to do my research, but also continue to be cautiously hopeful. I think it is good to remember that politicians, in general, look out for themselves first and foremost.

April 20, 2009 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: What did Cuba do that was so terrible? Castro overthrew a rightwing dictator (Batista) who was friendly with the U.S. government. Cuba was a vacation paradise for American VIPs. Cuban citizens were perfectly happy to be walked on and treated like peons in their own country.

As far as I know, most of those anti-Castro Cubans in Florida are the robber barons (and their descendants) who fled from Cuba after their personal bodyguard (Batista) was overthrown.

Kate: I don't think anyone's going to chop your head off, unless you go to Saudi Arabia :)

I'm all in favor of being "cautiously hopeful" about Obama's changes. I don't doubt that the Obama administration is milking the anti-Bush backlash for all it's worth. But that's because GW Bush has left him with plenty of ammunition.

April 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Wow Fidel was into pain. LOL! I just got into a fight with my conservative friends (or is it fiends?) about this meeting. They said Chavez was an exporter of terrorists. They're all flipping out but not a peep from them when W went to visit his buds in Saudi Arabia. And they only export oil, right?

April 20, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Maybe Castro originated that line that Stallone kept saying in the last Rocky movie: "It's not how much you can dish out, it's how much you can take." The U.S. sure dished it out to Castro for 50 years. Since we couldn't destroy him, we made him stronger.

April 20, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

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