But when reading a long, analytical statement that Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry has in Tuesday’s Congressional Record, I came away thinking that there’s a conservative quality to his approach to
His statement was an explanation of his decision to add his name to the bill that repeals
What’s conservative, then?
Senator Kerry credits the embargo with curbing Cuban/Soviet adventurism during the Cold War.
He is clear that
He has no misty hopes about “transition.” “I don’t personally hold high hopes,” he says, “that the transfer of power from Fidel to Raul Castro and to the next generation of hand-picked loyalists portends rapid change.”
He announces that he is taking a hard look at old, fat government programs to see if they actually work, or could work better. Imagine that!
Exhibit A: Radio/TV Marti, to determine “whether the TV service should be closed entirely and radio should be integrated into the high-quality VOA [Voice of America] services. We ought to be especially concerned that human rights activists in
Exhibit B: The USAID civil society programs: “It is also fair to ask whether these programs even work. Bush’s refocus on regime change made it difficult for Cubans outside declared antiregime groups to accept the informational materials or assistance offered – even if they had a burning desire for it.”
Senator Kerry points out that for the Bush Administration, these programs were effectively substitutes for a policy of unrestricted citizen travel. The argument was that we send stuff to the right people through AID, we broadcast the right things on Radio/TV Marti, and we give licenses to Americans with “legitimate” purposes in Cuba – so that’s enough, we don’t need Americans in general mucking around down there.
By contrast, Senator Kerry is asking whether free actions by free Americans might accomplish more than the old, fat government programs.
He’s on to something.
Finally, he gently points out an absurdity of the Obama policy that extols the special “ambassadors for freedom” qualities of Cuban Americans, who now enjoy the right of unrestricted travel to
Call it conservative, call it mainstream, call it what you like – it shows much greater confidence in the power of public diplomacy, and in American citizens as agents of public diplomacy, than anything we have seen from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.