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No, No, No!

Brad DeLong warns Tyler Cowen against getting too outraged by George W. Bush absurd Cuba policy:

I should, however, point out that there is fine print: this kind of absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid policy toward Cuba is not the exclusive province of this particular administration or this particular congress, but is the reflection of the structural strength of the anti-Castro lobby. Don't hope for things to become less stupid for a while, no matter who wins elections.
Six months ago that would have been right, but after a brief feint toward trying to out-absurd Bush on Cuba policy, John Kerry has seen the light. Listening to pollsters who tell him that younger generations of Cuban-Americans (see, e.g., me) do not favor absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid policy toward Cuba, Kerry has come out against these latest moves, thus making his Cuba policy marginally less absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid. From a short-term perspective, the Cuba policy implications of this election are probably not enormous, but there's a big "but" here. This is to say that if Kerry's strategy works, and he managed to become the first candidate since 1960 to win the state of Florida by advocating a less bad Cuba policy than his opponent, then the political power of the hideous CANF may be broken and the prospects for a rational policy will rise significantly.

July 2, 2004 | Permalink

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» Brad DeLong Is in Error from Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004)
Matthew Yglesias catches me in an error, and kindly and gently admonishes me: matthew: No, No, No!: Brad DeLong warns Tyler Cowen against getting too outraged by George W. Bush absurd Cuba policy: I should, however, point out that there is fine print: ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 2, 2004 10:49:58 AM

» One for Yglesias from Half the Sins of Mankind
Matthew Yglesias, among others, said that Bush's attempt to curry favor with Cuban-Americans -- and hence gain points for Florida -- would probably do him more harm than good [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 4, 2004 4:26:39 PM

Comments

"hideous CANF"

That's an absurd comment on its face.

As to the policy of restricting travel and the flow of cash, where do you think that cash ends up? In dollar stores controlled by the government. Those dollars prop up the regime. Period. --s

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 9:20:09 AM

j.scott -
So if we were to start a program of restricting cash and travel to Cuba, how long would it take for the regime to collapse?

Posted by: theCoach | Jul 2, 2004 9:27:45 AM

We have had an embargo with Cuba since 1961. I doubt that Castro is going to resign in the face of Bush's new stricter policies. Nor, I gather, will he suddenly decide to liberalize the economic and political climate of the island in the hopes of gaining a few American tourist dollars.

Unlike during the crisis, American warships are not currently blockading the island preventing trade. Since Cuba's ecnomy is *obviously* not dependent on America, it would be in our best interest to open up to Cuba in an attempt to introduct social change, as has been done with China.

Posted by: Martey | Jul 2, 2004 9:34:35 AM

The Coach:

Probably about 200 years.

Scott,

Consider what The Economist just wrote about the Bush policy (http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=2878066):

"Mr. Castro has been searching since the “battle of Elián” for another issue on which to rally Cubans and deflect international criticism away from his own refusal to allow dissent against his government or a free election. He clearly reckons he has found it. “Pitiless” and “brutal”, he exclaimed about the new American measures at a rally of thousands of Cubans—Elián and his family among them—last week outside the United States' diplomatic mission in Havana. A few weeks earlier, the dictator had led 1m people past the building."

Consider what Oswaldo Payá said:

"Oswaldo Payá, the leader of the Project Varela movement, told me from a relative's house in Havana that the new U.S. measures will ''complicate'' the internal opposition's struggle. The movement has gathered more than 30,000 signatures on the island demanding a referendum within the island's communist constitution on whether Cubans should be allowed to have basic freedoms. Payá did not want to get into details of the new U.S. measures, which also include $18 million for Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to the island and some financial aid for dissidents' families. But he said that ``this new package of [U.S.] measures once again shifts the center of attention toward a confrontation between the Cuban government and the United States. Now there will be an avalanche of news in the government media about this new confrontation stemming from the latest U.S. measures. It's Cuba versus the United States, all over again."

"'My position is that the only thing we expect from the United States and the rest of the world is political and moral support,'' said Payá. "Those who led this [Cuba Commission report] looked into their own needs, rather than those of Cuba and the peaceful opposition movement." (http://www.beautifulhorizons.net/weblog/2004/05/bushs_new_cuba_.html)

Even Colin Powell's Chief of Staff says it's the "dumbest policy on the face of the Earth" and "crazy" (http://www.beautifulhorizons.net/weblog/2004/05/bushs_new_cuba_.html)

I'm thinking of a quote from Emerson here:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."

Matt, please enable html in comments. Pretty please.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Jul 2, 2004 9:35:07 AM

"So if we were to start a program of restricting cash and travel to Cuba, how long would it take for the regime to collapse?"

Heh heh.

Posted by: JP | Jul 2, 2004 9:52:11 AM

Europeans are already flooding the country with tons of money. Tons of lovely resorts are springing up for them. What this does is prevents people from helping out their families. Or seeing them.

Posted by: Atrios | Jul 2, 2004 9:54:41 AM

I should have said dollars "help" to prop up the regime.

I prefer real teeth in an embargo or a complete opening. What I don't care for is all the lip service and pandering and half-ass measures. So it should be strengthened to see if it would have a real effect, or be lifted all together.

Seems hardly the time to be rewarding the regime so recently after the 75 human rights activists were thrown in jail to rot.--s

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 9:57:37 AM

I know, lets ring Cuba with warships. That will stop trade and other transactions from occurring.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 2, 2004 10:13:01 AM

Then stay home, JS. The US is a free country, and I can decide for myself where I spend my tourist dollars.

For someone who purports to love freedom, you sure like to prescribe restrictions on mine.

Posted by: wcw | Jul 2, 2004 10:13:15 AM

Mark,

That would be considered an act of war.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Jul 2, 2004 10:19:21 AM

wow says "Then stay home, JS. The US is a free country, and I can decide for myself where I spend my tourist dollars.

For someone who purports to love freedom, you sure like to prescribe restrictions on mine."

You're arrogant and selfish if you want to go to a hotel that Cubans themselves are not allowed to go to. You're ignorant of the situation if you think that while you're wallowing in opulence on the coast, that somehow you'll be helping anybody but yourself. It's an apartheid system in Cuba today, between the resorts and the rest of the communities. If you want to support it, go through a third country. Don't worry, Cuba won't stamp your passport.

I bet you had fun in Sun City, South Africa, too, no? By all means, don't let me stop you. --s

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 10:27:39 AM

Out of curiosity, does anyone know the history on the opening of relations with China, and the extent to which this was opposed by a Chinese/ Taiwanese expatriate lobby? If you want to talk about the treatment of dissidents, I don't think Castro is doing much worse than China, and I don't think Cuba ever had forced abortions/ sterilizations (the ghost of which brough on UNFPA's defunding), so the U.S. is using different moral standards for each Commie regime.

Posted by: PG | Jul 2, 2004 10:31:16 AM

I agree with scott on this. In order for the embargo to work, it has to have teeth. There have to be repercussions for those that violate it. Every critic of the embargo views it from the point of view of a free society, but unfortunately, we are on the outside looking in. When it comes to Cuba, there are no rules, no standards.

Perhaps the embargo is a "absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid policy." But can anyone really state, had it been given the teeth it should have had that it would not have worked already?

I also keep hearing the "Its been over 40 years" thing over and over again. Fact of the matter is that for the first 30 or so years, Castro didnt really care about the embargo. He had his subsidies from the Soviets. When the Soviet system collapsed is when the trouble really started for him, "el periodo especial", and then, in fact, the embrago did open things up in Cuba. Agri-business was allowed, paladares were allowed, and other types of self-employment were allowed. Why is that? Because the only way to keep the economy afloat was though tourism.

Its incredibly naive to think that the US lifting the embargo will actually bring about change in Cuba. A country that has always traded and had economic ties with every other country in the world and the people remain indentured servants. It's not only naive to think the US lifting its restrictions will bring change, but arrogant as well.

Sure, allow more dollars into Cuba and help the next generation of communisn to line their bank accounts and prop up their regime.

It's curious you bring up Kerry and also quote Paya. According to Mr. Kerry, the Varela Project, a lauded grass-roots and constitutional effort for democracy in Cuba, is counter-productive.

I dont know your Cuban history Matt, but, would you go to Cuba while Castro is still in power?

Posted by: Val Prieto | Jul 2, 2004 10:32:00 AM

Abortions are not overtly forced in Cuba...but there's alot of them...thanks to the sex tourism...and they're paid to have them, so that the fetus can be used in medical research.

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 10:32:30 AM

j. scott -
I think you are missing the point. Does the US government know better than its individual citizens how to spend their time and money?
Perhaps you could help the government put together a more precise list of where we should be allowed to spend our money or spend our time.

Posted by: theCoach | Jul 2, 2004 10:35:04 AM

Legitimate question alert. What is the US policy towards returning property rights to those that lost them in the revolution? How clear and how muscularly is it perceived that we will enforce that policy? Seems like a real can of worms to me.

Posted by: theCoach | Jul 2, 2004 10:40:46 AM

Coach,

It's a question of morality. If you choose to travel to Cuba under the present conditions, and you are able to live with yourself for being a part of system of apartheid, then more power to you. By all means be the Omnipotent Tourist.

But keep in mind that you travel there, and frolic under the sun at the cost of the dignity of another human being.

Posted by: Val Prieto | Jul 2, 2004 10:44:06 AM

theCoach: So the government shouldn't forbid you from donating to Al Queda? Is there no limit to your letting individuals set foreign policy for themselves? You truly are a libertarian. Bully for you. In the meantime, I'd prefer that limits be put on some cash and technology transfer, depending on whether it contributes to a security threat or maintains an oppressive regime's hold on power. --s

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 10:45:03 AM

Hey, could any of the fans of the embargo and restrictions tell me whether I'm a bad person for having gone to Hong Kong a couple of years ago, thus supporting an increasingly "oppressive regime's hold on power"? Or is it only when a government restricts *economic* freedoms that we should worry?

As for the attempt to blur the distinction between a government that has a one-child policy and literally forces reproductive restriction on women, and a government that makes abortion freely available in the context of a poor country where people think they can't afford more children -- pathetic. It's like comparing India during the Emergency to India today.

Posted by: PG | Jul 2, 2004 11:07:30 AM

Randy Paul: Sorry for any confusion. My warship comment was meant ironically.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 2, 2004 11:13:25 AM

Val Prieto writes:

"It's a question of morality. If you choose to travel to Cuba under the present conditions, and you are able to live with yourself for being a part of system of apartheid, then more power to you. By all means be the Omnipotent Tourist.

"But keep in mind that you travel there, and frolic under the sun at the cost of the dignity of another human being."

And how is this essentially different from the tourist-local relationship in other poverty-stricken countries? To travel through the Third World is to see the stark contrasts between our wealth and the majority's abject state of being. I'll never forget the Masai encampment I stopped at outside a game park; these proud warriors and herdsmen were reduced to grovelling.

If this troubles you so much that you believe we should seal off Cuba, then why stop there? Ban travel to the entire Third World! Declare a War on Tourism!

Posted by: jlw | Jul 2, 2004 11:13:26 AM

PG,

Are you implying that the Castro regime only restricts economic freedoms? Because nothing could be further from the truth. In Cuba, there are now freedoms whatsoever. None. Nada. Nil.

I also suggest you do some research on abortion in Cuba before you criticize. Neither China's policy nor Cuba's is right.

Posted by: Val Prieto | Jul 2, 2004 11:14:46 AM

Val Prieto,

You've missed the point of my comments, which is that the only area in which Chinese people could be considered more free than Cubans is in economic freedoms. China permits much more free enterprise than Cuba does. Otherwise, I don't see where China is morally superior and why it's cool to have permanent Most Favored Nation trade status with China and an embargo on China.

I'm not saying that either China or Cuba has it right on abortion (though if it comes to that, neither does the Bush Administration http://bertrandrussell.blogspot.com/2004/07/suggestion-for-democratic-party-this.html), but I AM trying to figure out why there's so much moral outrage at the thought of someone's visiting Cuba, while there's a shortage of outrage at my having visited China.

Posted by: PG | Jul 2, 2004 11:18:55 AM

"I'll never forget the Masai encampment I stopped at outside a game park; these proud warriors and herdsmen were reduced to grovelling."

I bet if you chose to invite the Masai into the park, perhaps you'd have to pay for them, they'd be allowed entry. In Cuba, locals are FORBIDDEN. There is NO mixing allowed in resort areas other than the approved staff.

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jul 2, 2004 11:19:45 AM

I should add that the increase in freedom for the Chinese people mostly post-dates Nixon's opening of relations. A good friend's grandfather came from China back in the '50s to study in the U.S., and the Chinese government wouldn't let him come back for fear that he had picked up too many bad American ideas, and wouldn't let his family leave to join him in the U.S. That wouldn't happen now, but I suspect part of the reason that it wouldn't is the increase of openness and freedom for the Chinese people after China re-established relations with the rest of the world; the U.S. no longer needs to be seen as a total enemy and as a ideological demon.

Posted by: PG | Jul 2, 2004 11:21:52 AM

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