Thursday, January 24, 2008

Florida debate tonight

The Republican presidential candidates will debate in Florida tonight. They will probably sound a little friendlier to immigrants than they have in other locations, they will wrestle with the temptation to raid the U.S. Treasury to ease the burden of Florida insurance costs, and it is inevitable that they will discuss Cuba.

McCain, Guiliani, and Romney will surely reiterate their support for the current sanctions.

If they get into a detailed discussion, it will be interesting to see how they present that position. It is one thing to support the embargo as a statement of moral repugnance. It’s quite another to argue that it has practical impact.

At this website, the latest to assemble candidates’ positions on Cuba, Mitt Romney states a maximalist position, outlining “four major points of pressure that can change any regime and particularly the regime in Cuba.” They are:

“First is economic pressure. It’s important for us to maintain our sanctions… The second pillar is to exert diplomatic isolation to make sure that the Castros are recognized as tyrants … The third is to communicate more effectively to the people of Cuba and the world about the human rights abuses in Cuba. … The final pillar is military strength. America must always be ready in the event of any military incursion by Castro or Chavez against the people of America. We must always be prepared so that the leaders of those countries understand that America will never be intimidated.”

There are arguments for and against all those measures, but to argue that they will bring regime change is outlandish. Cuban Americans know it, too: American sanctions have not prevented Cuba from developing economic partnerships elsewhere, and Cuba is anything but isolated diplomatically.

I guess the details don’t matter, nor does it matter to match ends and means, or to discuss the Cuba issue in terms of real-world conditions. “I’m with you and I’ll never abandon you,” may be the real message, and for one candidate at least, the way to send that signal is to discuss the embargo as if it’s the Normandy invasion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

McCain did poorly. So did Romney. The Republicans are in trouble this year! big time!