Friday, June 19, 2009

Welcome to the club, Barney

Orbitz CEO Barney Harford thinks Americans should be able to travel to Cuba without restriction, and he’s doing something about it. Orbitz started a website where you can sign a petition and send messages to the White House and your representatives in Congress.

Harford makes his argument in this article where he notes:

“In 1971 the U.S. State Department lifted the ban on travel to China. Later that year the U.S. ping-pong team made the first visit to China by a U.S. sports team since 1949. A year later President Nixon took a few momentous steps off an airplane in Beijing and talked about ‘the week that changed the world.’ These early moves laid the groundwork for turning a closed, hostile relationship into the most important economic and diplomatic relationship in the world today.”

One might add that the Nixon Administration’s moves were taken because they were seen to be in our national interest, and they weren’t conditioned on changes in communist China’s behavior. China’s economic reforms started toward the end of the 1970’s.

At any rate, Harford is taking some heat for his position, and because (God forbid) he would make money if increased travel to Cuba were to translate into more business for Orbitz.

The Heritage Foundtion took a shot at him here, which reminded me of a compilation of Cuban views of this issue that I put together last time Heritage joined this debate.

And National Review’s Jay Nordlinger weighed in too, pointing out with good reason that Cubans too deserve the right to travel as they wish. Even as he asks, “Why would anyone want to visit a state that no inhabitant is allowed to leave?,” Nordlinger recognizes that there’s another side to the argument. It was voiced at times the venerable founder of his magazine, William F. Buckley, who himself visited Cuba and opposed U.S. sanctions. Samples of his views are here and here.

Buckley wasn’t alone among conservatives. President Nixon, architect of the China policy, called for an end to the Cuba embargo in his last book, Beyond Peace. And as early as 1995 a Wall Street Journal editorial said it “somehow seems a failure of imagination” to keep the embargo in place.

Anyway, welcome to the club, Barney. If you want to sign his petition, go here.


Anonymous said...

Peters, pretty soon "conservatives" against U.S. policy are going to have to stop meeting in a phone booth...

Anonymous said...

One wonders what the reaction would be if this enlightened soul protested the travel ban to South Africa.

Anonymous said...

enough with the rot about cubans not being able to leave. they can, with restrictions and a lot of effort, but they can. if those morons in Washington would end the embargo and let us visit cuba then lets see what would happen. im tired of being dictated to by my govt. the cubans deserve the right to travel where they wish, and so do i.