The mighty Fidel Castro has finally stepped down as Premier, President, King, Ruler, and Secretary of Education of Cuba. As expected, President Bush has stated that there are no plans to lift any trade/economic sanctions from Cuba until they deside to go "Democratic". The strategy employed by the U.S. so many years ago was intended to punish the brutal dictator by not allowing his country to benefit from any American goods or money. How's that gone you ask?
Cuba is very poor. CHECK!
What else were the goals?
We have succeded in punishing the very people that we "tried" to help when these sanctions were put in place long ago. It's interesting how the U.S. government finds so many new and creative ways to help people under tyrannical regimes that simply don't work.
Cuba is exibit "A". The people are poor, while the bad guy is rich. Castro left power because he was old, not because of anything we did. His brother will likely take over, which I'm assuming is NOT what we had in mind. Well, you may say, at least we didn't go to war with Cuba (Bay of Pigs doesn't count of course because we armed THEM to attack Castro, not US). That observation leads us to . . .
Exibit "B" - Iraq It amazes me that the exact same country who didn't think it was wise to invade Cuba to "free the people", saw to do the exact same thing in Iraq. What's the difference? The Liberal answer is "oil". The conservative answer is "proximity". The psychologist's answer is "vendetta" for dad. Whatever it really was (probably a mix of all three), the reality is that in Iraq, we are freeing people from one radical threat only to subject them to another. In Cuba, we gave Castro a place to point the blame for his people's lack of economic freedom.
Why not create exibit "C" from now on? Let capitalism teach the Cuban's that their way doesn't work by allowing free trade to bless them. If they see it grow in front of them, and then taken away by a corrupt leader, they'll figure out what to do (ask the colonists). In Iraq, leave them alone, because nothing will slow the threat of Islamic Terrorism quite like your crazy uncle living down the street who likes to drink, get really loud, chase women, and has the fourth largest army in the world at his fingertips. Saddam is missed, whether we admit it or not.
What is this country here for anyway? Are we here to protect Americans? Iraqis? Everyone? Until this country answers that question and rallies it's people around the answer, foreign policy mistakes and misteps will continue. Mistakes are fine, until people die because of them. Welcome to American foreign policy!