Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rational? Who's Rational?

The other day I was trying to explain to an obnoxiously persistent reader that the problem with removing sanctions against Cuba is that we'd be giving over the prize to Castro without getting him to give up anything (namely freedom for the political prisoners, a space for independent journalists, the guarantees of free speech and freedom to assemble, legalization of political parties and independent trade unions, among other things). This person seemed to think, against all evidence to the contrary, that somehow Cubans would be closer to all of these things if we just up and cancelled what's left of the embargo tomorrow.

I tried to explain to him that while the sanctions haven't worked as a stick, their removal might serve as a good carrot once Castro's demise is confirmed. I tried to explain that in 47 years the only obstacle towards normal Cuba-U.S. relations has been Castro himself, that he has sabotaged every attempt to change the status quo despite the fact that Cuba could have benefitted from the changes. That's because Fidel Castro is not rational. We can not ascribe our logical thinking to him. That simple error in logic is what has caused U.S. decision makers to make all the wrong decisions concerning Cuba over the years. I mentioned Castro's similarity to Saddam Hussein in this respect.

The frustratingly brilliant Christopher Hitchens has this to say about Hussein:

It's wearisome at this late date to read again the bland assertion that Saddam Hussein did not do things because it would have been unwise or irrational for him to do so. On that very basis, our intelligence establishment concluded that he would not invade Kuwait, would not set fire to the oil fields, and would not perform any number of other insane actions. His megalomania and volatility were consistently underestimated, with real consequences in the real world. No policy based on the assumption of his rational conduct ever worked. Now, the passage of time has allowed some glib people to represent him as the victim of a frame-up. What an offense to the historical record that is.
You could change the name and a couple of the events in the paragraph above and the statement would be just as true about Castro.

And speaking of Castro, where the hell is he? Luis M. Garcia posted in his blog about how it's been a month since we've seen pictures or video of the supposedly recuperating dictator. One would think that if he were doing as well as the official Cuban statements claim that they could have filmed (or edited together) 10 seconds of coherent Castro footage. I'm beginning to think that maybe he had some sort of complication that affected his brain in addition to the internal bleeding and/or cancer.

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