- - Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The Obama administration has been holding high-level talks with the Venezuelan dictatorship, this time in Haiti of all places, and that makes prudent men and women nervous. Washington’s moral compass — or whatever they’re using for one at the White House — has been spinning as if out of control, and pointing in odd directions.

The Obama administration, like all those before it and like all those that will follow, will make compromises and reluctant agreements with regimes that good men and true won’t like or even understand well. China, for example. Washington has just completed the seventh annual attempt to fashion some sort of working relationship with the Middle Kingdom to avoid a collision with “a rising China.” The sessions hardly produced anything to resolve trouble in increasingly dangerous areas of conflict, particularly in the seas of Southeast Asia. But resolute men and women have to keep trying, while looking to defenses against what is an obvious Beijing strategy to force the United States to give up its strategy of preserving the freedom of the seas.

A bright spot emerges in Egypt. The United States has been forced back to an intimate relationship with Cairo. The Obama administration’s unabated enthusiasm for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the current el-Sissi regime overthrew, is not shared by anyone who has looked carefully at the Muslim Brotherhood. That regime was duly elected, but it tightened the screws on the prospects for a permanent one-man, one-vote election. The regime was building a Muslim Brotherhood base for Islamic radicalism from which most of the current terrorist organizations in the Middle East have sprung. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is fighting Islamic terrorism at home and maintaining peace if not cooperation with Israel. A little more courtship of Cairo might smooth some wrinkles in the diplomatic romance.

But reaching out to the bloody hand of the Castro brothers when the observant thought they heard the first faint sounds of a death rattle for the Havana regime, never made much sense. When Raul Castro threw more political prisoners into jail as the new “opening” was announced, it confirmed the fears of the wary. Hope over experience encourages certain American exporters, especially when they get taxpayers’ subsidies to dump their products, but there’s little rational hope for an economy destroyed by half a century of Soviet controls, and doomed to get more of the same. Freedom and prosperity will come to Cuba only when the Castros have gone to the graveyard.

Oil that is practically donated by Venezuela to the Castro regime — curtailed now for obvious reasons — is all that keeps the Castros and their dictatorship afloat. That is precisely part of what is bringing Venezuela to the precipice of bankruptcy. Pope Francis says the souls of the Cuban people hang in the balance. Perhaps. But saving the tattered and dying dictatorships in Havana and Caracas recalls the Vatican’s long and troubled flirtation with Spain’s Francisco Franco.

American aid and comfort to both the Castro regime and to the even more feckless Maduro Chavistas in Venezuela prolongs the agony of two collapsing regimes — and the greater agony of the people. Saving the dictatorships is not really a legacy that Barack Obama needs, or should want.

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