cubans (sandwiches and people)

A few days ago Lisa brought home a couple of pressed Cubans (sandwiches, not refugees). They were the first I have ever eaten. I loved them and want more. More, I say! More!

(Disclaimer: I have never voted for a Republican presidential candidate.)

Moving on. President Obama is interested in improving our relations with the Cuban government, presumably regarding neither sandwiches nor cigars in any specific fashion.

His detractors very likely disapprove strongly with this concept. While I have neither read nor heard any specific condemnations as of this writing, it is highly probable that objections have been aired. I do not watch Fox's cable news network because of their strong conservative bent (despite their laughable claim to be "fair and balanced"), where those objections would most likely be expressed most forcefully.

My opinion - while not particularly influential among Republican and Conservative circles - is shaped by research and is as follows:

I concede that Cuba's government is of course Communist in both name and nature; but let us review historical events and accords reached with other Communist governments that both Republican and Democratic presidents have achieved, notably with Mainland China and the former Soviet Union.

Republican president Richard M. Nixon famously visited communist China's erstwhile leader, Mao Tse-Tung, with the goal of improving our mutual relationship. Nixon also sought - and was ultimately able to achieve - the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I, containing both the Anti‐Ballistic Missile [ABM] Treaty and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, freezing the total number of strategic offensive missile launchers) in 1972 with then-Soviet leader (and noted possessor of enormous eyebrows) Leonid Brezhnev.

Nixon's successor and fellow Republican Gerald R. Ford negotiated the Vladivostok accord, capping the numbers of Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads and strategic nuclear delivery vehicles with Brezhnev in November 1974, although this was not a formal agreement.

Democratic president Jimmy Carter followed up with SALT II, also with Brezhnev, signed at Vienna in June 1979. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 resulted in a failure to ratify this treaty. Nevertheless both sides did abide by SALT II's provisions.

Republican president Ronald Wilson Reagan made things difficult by conceiving his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI - called "Star Wars" by its detractors - which is still not effectively implemented over twenty-five years later, despite incredible technological advances in nearly every other field, and it remains a bone of contention in international negotiations) and by an attempt by Reagan to allow greater testing of space-based systems via an overly broad interpretation of SALT II. To his credit, though, he did work toward a positive relationship with the Soviets - despite his (often valid) rhetoric criticizing their treatment of dissenters.

Republican president George Herbert Walker Bush ("Bush I") successfully negotiated the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on July 31, 1991, prior to the dissolution of the USSR. Bush and newly minted Russian president Boris Yeltsin followed up with START II less than two weeks before the end of President Bush's term in office. This treaty was finally ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma in 1996, during Democratic president William Jefferson Clinton's first term.

President Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, returned the child Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. This caused a great uproar here, especially among the Cuban expatriate community, but let us face the facts: Elian's mother had died and his father was still in Cuba. The boy belonged with his surviving parent. I agreed with Reno's decision to send him back, although the militaristic method of retrieving him from his relatives in Florida was extreme at best and certainly terrifying for Elian and his relatives.

Republican president George Walker Bush ("Bush II") and Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the Treaty of Moscow on May 26, 2002. This treaty called for both nations to reduce their nuclear arsenals within ten years. However, less than six months prior to the signing of the Treaty of Moscow, Bush II formally withdrew the United States from the 1972 ABM treaty despite widespread concern that this could antagonize both Russia and Communist China.

Cuba, on the other hand, has no nuclear weapons. It is no threat to the United States - we even maintain a military base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay - but we have continued to impose an embargo on trade with Cuba for fifty years, under both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congressional majorities from both parties.

We have prohibited trade within a non-threatening Communist nation while engaging in massive amounts of trade with nuclear-armed Communist nations. I find this not only irrational and illogical but also immoral. The citizens of the tiny nation of Cuba suffer while huge and potentially threatening Communist nations have profited from our beneficence.

As you may have guessed by now, I support (and have supported for my entire adult life) lifting the Cuban embargo and the establishment of reasonable relations with the Cuban government and people and the rescinding of any laws prohibiting trade and travel.

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