Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Vietnam with the aim of establishing closer relations with that country’s regime. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. officials say they are eager to build practical cooperation based on trade and adhering to agreed upon international rules of the road.”
Actually, however, all that the U.S. needs to do — and should do — is unilaterally lift all restrictions of the freedom of the American people to trade with others. No “cooperation” between government officials in the U.S. and Vietnam is necessary.
In any event, the question naturally arises: Given that U.S. officials are playing nice with Vietnam, why do U.S. officials persist in maintaining their brutal economic embargo against Cuba.
Yes, I know, Cuba is ruled by a communist regime, but then so is Vietnam. In fact, unlike Cuba, Vietnam’s regime killed more than 58,000 American soldiers.
Since 1960, the aim of the U.S. embargo against Cuba has been regime change — replacing Cuba’s communist regime with a pro-U.S. rightwing dictatorship, one that would do the bidding of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department, similar to the regime of Fulgencia Batista, the corrupt and brutal rightwing dictator that U.S. officials loved.
How’s that regime-change mission working out? It seems to me not very well. The embargo has been in place for more than 60 years and regime change has still not occurred. But I suppose that for U.S. officials and other proponents of the embargo, hope springs eternal. And if Cuba ever does change its system or its regime, I can already hear proponents of the embargo exclaiming, “See, our 100-year-old embargo did work after all.”
We should keep something very important in mind: The Cuba embargo has contributed to the destruction of economic liberty and the rights of freedom of travel and freedom of association of the American people. If an American citizen travels to Cuba and spends money there without official permission from U.S. officials, upon his return to the U.S., he will be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, and fined … by the U.S. government!
In other words, while U.S. officials rail against Cuba for its socialist system, they have adopted the same types of socialist economic controls over U.S. citizens in their effort to oppose the Cuban regime.
Would’t it be better to combat socialism and communism with freedom and free markets rather than with socialism and communism?
It might also be worth mentioning that the U.S. government has adopted many of the socialist programs that form the core of Cuba’s socialist system, including Social Security, Medicare, paper money and a central bank, a government-managed economy, progressive income taxation, and public (i.e., government) schooling.
There is something else to consider: The embargo targets innocent people — that is, the Cuban people — with death and impoverishment as a way to achieve a political goal. That’s also what terrorism does.
It’s also important to recognize what U.S. officials have done on their side of Cuba. They’ve used their imperialist base at Guantanamo Bay to establish a torture and indefinite-detention center, one whose “judicial” system mirrors the one the Cuban communists maintain on their side of the island. That’s another moral abomination.
Here’s what we need to do to help get our nation back on the right track:
1. Immediately dismantle all restrictions on the freedom of the American people to travel wherever they want and trade and associate with whomever they want, including the economic embargo against Cuba. This would enable the American people to flood into Cuba and interact with the Cuban people as well as contribute to their economic well-being through trade.
For those who say that such economic prosperity would mean more tax revenue for the communist regime in Cuba, I say: Get over it. That’s the way taxes work everywhere, including Vietnam and here in the United States. The fact that governments everywhere rely on taxation to fund their operations does not morally justify destroying people in that country or destroying the rights and liberties of people here at home.
2. Abandon Guantanamo Bay (and all other military bases in foreign lands). Gitmo belongs to Cuba, not the United States. It is nothing more than a remnant of the Spanish American War, when the quest for empire induced U.S. officials to coerce Cuban officials into permitting the U.S. to control Cuba and to acquire Guantanamo Bay.
Let us Americans lead the world to freedom, not accelerate the plunge into the darkness of statism. A great place to start would be to lift the Cuba embargo.
Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.