Arizona Tribune Editorial | [url=http://www.aztrib.com]http://www.aztrib.com[/url]
If a policy hasn’t worked for 40 years, you would think the first solution that springs to mind is not more of the same. That’s what U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has been suggesting, and he’s been taking a lot of unjustified flak as a result.
Now a White House commission has recommended President Bush continue the same old failed policy. To give the White House some credit, it made only the barest pretense that this exercise was anything but a transparent ploy aimed at winning Cuban-American votes in Florida, a state vital to Bush’s re-election hopes and of which his brother is governor.
Did we mention that the co-chairman of the commission is Mel Martinez, who resigned as Bush’s Housing secretary to run, with White House blessing, for the Senate in Florida?
Cuban-Americans still will be allowed to send money to the island and travel there, just not as often. And American farmers, another key voting bloc, still will be allowed to sell crops to Cuba.
Everybody else, watch out. Much of the $59 million the Bush administration plans to spend during the next two years on increasing Cuban sanctions will pay informants, sting operations and gumshoes to target Americans who travel to Cuba illegally, especially that sinister group, retired school teachers who like to visit exotic locations.
Flake’s view, which we share, is that Americans have a right to travel where they please. Increasingly, that is Congress’ view. Both the House and Senate voted last year to lift travel restrictions to the island.
The $59 million will be taken from other foreign aid accounts ó surely we have more pressing foreign policy needs. And $18 million will be spent on military aircraft to broadcast into Cuba ó surely the military has more pressing needs. You would think if more propaganda is required it would be to repair the damage to our reputation in the Mideast.
Flake says if it’s important for the Cubans to hear American voices, let Americans go there and speak for themselves. He’s right.
As an example of distorted administration priorities, consider this: Of 120 employees in Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, 21 are assigned to enforcing financial sanctions on Cuba and four to tracking down the finances of al-Qaida.
Over 40 years, the sanctions on Cuba have come to be sustained only by domestic politics. Most Americans frankly don’t care about Cuba, but the relative few who do care passionately. The true policy of successive administrations, including this one, is to wait more or less patiently for Fidel Castro to croak. He is 77.