Sunday, January 11, 2004

well said 

Today in The Corner Andrew Stuttaford quotes Houston Texans Quarterback David Carr's reaction to Fidel Castro's latest suppression of freedom, a ban on the internet:
"So there we have it. A country that has (allegedly) 100% rates of literacy but you are not allowed to actually read anything."
For a particular display of numb-headed thinking be sure to scroll through David's comments section where reader Nina D. points out that:
This is a non-news story.

Basically, Cuba is making explicit the rules that globalized capitalist countries have created: only the elite are allowed internet access.
I'm not sure I understand Nina's point at all. When did it become the noble purpose of the great revolution to recreate the capitalist cesspool of the West inside of Cuba?

While I greatly agree with Nina's later statement that most people in the West are privileged because we were lucky enough to be born here, it's a shame that Nina serves as just another example of a Leftist/Liberal (don't get Michael Totten mad at me!) who can't accept that there's something really wrong going on in the Third World without indicting the Western world as the aggressor.

Point of curiosity: Cuba tops the (extremely brief) list of Third World countries I'd like to visit someday. I watch a lot of PBS late at night and I've seen Global Trekker's exploration of Cuba enough times to really capture my imagination. I believe Brit's and other Europeans can travel to and from Cuba freely (this is the impression my British host left me), and I had a friend travel to Cuba via Canada in a quasi-legal manner, but I can't quite picture myself visiting Cuba until our relations with that country improve dramatically... which brings me to my point of curiosity: Regime Change.

We all know that Castro is a very old man, but we all have to go sometime. Does the United States government currently have a developed plan for transitioning Cuba to a democratic society once Fidel is gone? Should we be developing a plan based upon the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan? What might this plan look like? Would the successors to power in Cuba accept our aide, or should we invade the country shortly after Castro is gone to help with the transition? Would it be morally acceptable to occupy Cuba to bring its transition to democracy?

Cuba poses a special problem because of the precedent set in Iraq. I don't doubt that Castro is a brute, but my brief review of NGO reports on Cuba (here and here) seems to suggest Castro's crimes have less in common Saddam Hussein's and more in common with dozens of other regimes in the world, including several US allies, based upon body count alone. These reports could be wrong, or I could be under-informed, but otherwise it seems that if there is a case to be made for US democratic aid to Cuba in wake of Castro's death we must explain why we aren't preparing similar aid for other nations.
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