Trump doesn’t have the guts to criticize Israel, so he’s all over Cuba like a cheap suit
By Richard Edmondson
“The deep state demands that I be a hypocrite, and so a hypocrite I will be.” — This appears to be the credo that Donald Trump, who promised to drain the swamp but never did, now lives by. The latest example? Cuba.
Last Friday, Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Cuba. It was to a large extent a reversal of Obama’s former policy of rolling back some of the sanctions against the island nation, whose only crime has been that it has charted a course independent of the US.
Trump announced the new policy during a public appearance in the “Little Havana” neighborhood of Miami, offering up disparaging remarks regarding Cuba and its leaders, including wild claims about “forced labor” and “human trafficking,” before what appeared to be a carefully selected audience of cheering Cuban exiles.
“With God’s help a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” he told them. So God is opposed to countries that have free health care and free education all the way up to university level? It’s an interesting concept of God, although I would suspect the audience members who turned out for the event weren’t particularly preoccupied with religion at the moment.
“With God’s help, we will soon achieve regime change in Cuba,” — you could sort of apply that interpretation to Trump’s words, and I’m sure a lot of them did.
Interestingly, a good portion of the audience was seated in that peculiar seating arrangement we began noticing a lot of back during the 2016 campaign–at both Clinton and Trump rallies–that is to say with a sizeable number of particularly photogenic people seated behind the podium, as opposed to in front of it, clapping away enthusiastically at just about every other word out of the speaker’s mouth.
In Hypocrite Nations like the US has become, appearance is more important than substance, and TV camera shots are everything.
In his remarks, Trump referred to Obama’s “terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime”–a “regime,” he insisted, that “spreads violence and instability in the region.” Of course, the United States has never spread “violence and instability” in any region of the planet. It has never invaded and occupied any other country or enlisted armed terrorists or thugs to carry out acts of violence against democratically elected governments. Only countries with rulers the United States disapproves of and wants to see overthrown ever do things like this.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Cuba is a model democracy. But looking at statistics, in the years since the Cuban revolution, Cuba has racked up some pretty impressive achievements. For instance, Cuba’s infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world–lower, even, that that of the United States. The infant mortality rate in Cuba, as of 2015, was 4.63 per 1,000 live births. Compare that to the US for the same year–5.87 per 1,000 live births.
Now compare Cuba’s infant mortality rate to its nearest neighbors in the Caribbean:
Haiti (which used to have an independent government until the US overthrew it in 2004)–47.98
“We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer,” Trump declared to his audience in Little Havana.
If we compare literacy rates, as compiled by UNESCO, we find perhaps even starker results. As of the year 2015, Cuba’s literacy rate (“literacy rate” being defined as people over aged 15 who can read and write) was 99.7%. Compare that to its Caribbean neighbors:
For some reason–I’m not sure why–UNESCO does not compile literacy rates for the US. However, according to 2016 figures from the US Department of Education, 32 million Americans, or 14% of the population, are unable to read. This includes 19% of all high school graduates.
Or to put it another way–assuming the UNESCO figures and the US Department of Education’s are both reliable– Cuba’s literacy rate is 13.7 percentage points higher than America’s. Our literacy rate in the US is slightly lower than that in Jamaica.
When you stop and consider that Cuba has accomplished all this despite years and years of sanctions that have been imposed by the US, the achievements are all the more remarkable. Stunning really. Does anyone seriously believe this could ever have been attained under the leadership of Cuban puppets backed by the US?
“It is best for America to have freedom in our hemisphere–whether in Cuba or Venezuela–and to have a future where the people of each country can live out their own dreams,” said Trump to his cheering fans.
Trump’s claim that the people of Cuba are suffering under “communist oppression” is actually a misnomer. “Socialism” might be a more apt description of the system of government there, though even that is questionable. Cubans are allowed to operate private businesses, and some one million people, or about 20% of the workforce, are employed in the private sector. So no, this article (if you’ve patiently read this far) should not be construed as an endorsement of communism (or socialism, or capitalism, or any other “ism” or form of government for that matter.) If you want to construe this article as an endorsement of anything it would perhaps be of leaders who, regardless of their political ideology, have the best interests of their people at heart.
Communism under corrupt leaders would be just as bad, if not worse than, capitalism under corrupt leaders. Sincere leaders who love their countries and who are devoted to their peoples’ best interests–this trumps political ideology every time. This is what they have in Cuba, Russia, and a few other places. This is what we do not have in the US–or for that matter in just about any other Western country.
Trump, during his campaign, may have been sincere about wanting to “make America great again,” but if he was, he has not been able to deliver. What we have gotten is more of the same. And that includes hypocrisy–lots of it. Trump is not the first hypocrite in the White House. Not by a long shot. Obama was a hypocrite before him; George W. Bush a hypocrite before Obama; Bill Clinton a hypocrite before W, and so on. If you are going to serve the Deep State as the titular, figurehead leader of America, you must be willing to be a hypocrite. Others need not apply.
Trump also told the crowd in Miami, “Today Cuba is ruled by the same people who…once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores.”
NATO bases are now situated roughly similar distances from Russia’s borders. In fact one base, near the Estonian capital of Tallinn, lies just 225 miles from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city (see my 2014 article, Estonia: NATO’s Gambit Against Russia), and there now are plans for even more bases, including some which, when completed, are actually expected to be within artillery range of St. Petersburg.
“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free,” Trump promised.
Political prisoners? I guess Trump never heard of Leonard Peltier or Mumia Abu Jamal. Champions of the rights of the poor who find themselves incarcerated for long periods in American prisons are not, I suppose, the subject of daily conversations in Trump Tower. Ah! But the president has heard of JoAnne Chesimard, AKA Assata Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army (an offshoot of the Black Panthers) who escaped from prison in 1979 and was granted asylum in Cuba!
Trump called upon Cuban President Raul Castro to “return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard.”
In 1973, a shootout took place on the New Jersey Turnpike which resulted in the deaths of one BLA member and one New Jersey state trooper. Chesimard/Shakur was seriously injured in the exchange of gunfire, but she survived–and went on to be convicted of murder and sent to prison (where she would probably still be today had things turned out differently). By contrast, Abu Jamal, a member of the MOVE organization, and Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement, have been imprisoned for the past 35 years and 41 years respectively. Procedural questions and legal challenges have been raised in both cases, but none of that matters. In Trump’s view, America doesn’t have political prisoners (making it, if it were truly the case, alone among nations perhaps), it only has criminals who are justly convicted of their crimes.
“We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this long reign of suffering to an end. And I do believe that end is in the very near future.”
Those also were Trump’s words at the event. By “a new generation of leaders,” he presumably means new leaders the US plans to install in Cuba. And of course it goes without saying–no suffering exists in America or any of its allies. We don’t have long reigns of anything but happiness and prosperity here.
Perhaps most hypocritical of all (of all the many hypocritical aspects to Trump’s new Cuba policy) is that the president’s remarks were delivered just after Nikki Haley, his UN ambassador pick, had returned from a trip to Israel. An outspoken Zionist, Haley toured Israel accompanied by her UN colleague, Ambassador Danny Dannon, who has opposed statehood for Palestinians, and while there they met with the distinguished Benjamin Netanyahu–who during the meeting referred to the UN as “a bully to Israel” and called upon Haley to work to dismantle the UNRWA, the UN agency which provides relief to Palestinian refugees.
I guess in Trump’s view, the term “long reign of suffering” doesn’t in any way apply to Israel or its treatment of the Palestinians.
By the way, Haley, on her trip to Israel, also made a stop in Geneva where she issued an imperial decree to the UN Human Rights Council, demanding that council members cease their “pathological campaign” against the Zionist state’s occupation of land that doesn’t belong to it.
Trump doesn’t have the guts to criticize Israel, but he’s all over Cuba like a cheap suit. School yard bullies and American presidents–they both seem to share similar characteristics, don’t they? One of those characteristics, of course, being hypocrisy.