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Opening Arguments


The fight between Rand Paul and Marco Rubio over President Obama's "normalization with Cuba" move is a good place to start in understanding all the arguments invovled. They are both likely presidential candidates and represent almost completely different factions within the GOP, so this is an early glimpse into an evolving foreign policy debate.

The poster is mostly critical of Paul's "not well-founded" libertarian views on foreign policy, and his apparent misunderstanding of past U.S. efforts to normalize relations with Communist countries:

First, as The Federalist’s Sean Davis pointed out, the parallels between the extension of diplomatic relations to Cuba and similar overtures toward China and Vietnam are misguided. The American interest in “opening” China was primarily political; exacerbate Sino-Soviet tensions, bifurcate the communist world, and provide America with a freer hand to prosecute the Vietnam War.

[. . .]

As for Vietnam, a shift in policy in that country also preceded the normalization of relations with America. The most notable of these was Hanoi’s decision to withdraw its troops from Cambodia in 1989 following years of requests.

I appreciate that, and I also agree with Rubio and other critics that this is just one in a string of Obama appeasements in which he seeks to give totalitarian thugs everything they want without getting anything in return. Try a little leverage for once, sir.

But I've never been a big fan of economic sanctions. If you declare war against another country, you're at least sending professional soldiers to fight professional soldiers. You can't promise not to harm civilians, but you're not going to go out of your way to hurt thrm. With sanctions, the whole point is to harm ordinary people as much as you can. Not exactly the moral high ground, I'm thinking.

And let's face it, 50 years of sanctions have not worked. If anything, it's given the Castros a convenient scapegoat for all the misery they've caused. Cuba isn't exactly a big threat to us anymore, so why not try something else for a change? As someone who was in harm's way in Vietnam, I've learned to accept the need for normalizing relations with that country. So it's hard for me to work up much outrage over normalizing relations with Cuba.