- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From the moment he became president, Barack Obama has been community-organizing the world.

Instead of operating from a position of national strength and dealing with the world as it is, Mr. Obama chose to deal from a position of national weakness in order to turn the world into what he thought it should be: a utopia of “social and economic justice.”

His presidency is scarred with the wreckage of this dangerous experiment: the global rise of the Islamic State and other Islamist and terrorist groups, an enriched and emboldened Iran, the Syrian civil war, a globe-altering migrant crisis, newly aggressive Russia, China and North Korea, the gutting of the U.S. military and restrictive rules of engagement for dealing with any of these escalating threats.

Mr. Obama has deliberately realigned the global power structure in order to weaken America’s power, position and influence. This has required turning traditional relationships on their heads, so that our allies have been largely abandoned and our enemies embraced and elevated.

Mr. Obama latest community-organizing experiment lies 90 miles off the U.S. coast. In late 2014, Mr. Obama formally reopened ties with the Castros’ communist dictatorship in Cuba.

As a capstone to this diplomatic sea change, he will visit Cuba next month to check off yet another legacy item: a Nixon-goes-to-China moment. If President Nixon could reach rapprochement with communist China and walk through the streets of Peking, then Mr. Obama could certainly do the same through the streets of Havana.

The difference is that while Mr. Nixon negotiated a mutually beneficial agreement that scored China as a counterweight to growing Soviet power and to managing the war in Vietnam, Mr. Obama got exactly nothing in exchange for closer relations with Cuba. No concessions on democratization. No agreement to liberalize economically. No deal to release political prisoners and stop overall political and religious persecution. In fact, since Mr. Obama’s announcement, political and religious oppression has worsened.

This is what Donald Trump means when he accuses Mr. Obama of being the worst negotiator ever.

Mr. Obama, however, is giving away the store on purpose. But if he really wants to channel Mr. Nixon, let’s examine what Mr. Nixon advised on Cuba.

A famously staunch anti-communist, Mr. Nixon paved the way for dealing with communist regimes if — and only if — U.S. interests were served in the process. Shortly before his death in 1994, his last book, “Beyond Peace,” was published. In it, Mr. Nixon made a surprise declaration: He would support the lifting of the economic embargoes on Cuba, but only if the Castro government no longer posed a security threat and if the Cuban people were to reap the benefits.

“The unique nature of the relationship between the United States and Cuba gives us a special responsibility toward its people,” he wrote.

“As long as Castro was part of a global network of communist aggressors, the embargo strengthened international security. But that network has vanished, and our best service to the Cuban people now would be to build pressure from within by actively stimulating Cuba’s contacts with the free world .

“This means we should drop the economic embargo and open the way to trade, investment, and economic interaction, while insisting that ideas and information be allowed to flow as freely as goods,” he argued. “Today’s global economy is essentially a market economy. Where the market system penetrates, it carries along the seeds of political and economic reform. We should put the challenge squarely on Castro.”

Instead of challenging the Castros, Mr. Obama is indulging them. His visit will cement the regime’s increasing oppression, grant it international legitimacy and demoralize victims of human rights violators everywhere.

Moreover, Mr. Obama is also likely to turn over the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Castros once he empties it of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Cuban possession of Guantanamo Bay would turn Mr. Nixon’s formulation on its head; with that kind of sophisticated facility to lease to say, Russia or Iran, Cuba could once again pose a grave security threat to the United States.

Mr. Obama wants to have a historic moment of the kind Mr. Nixon had in 1972. But Mr. Nixon never would have rewarded the Castros without first getting guarantees of liberalization, having U.S. demands met (say, a return of American fugitives, such as cop killer Joanne Chesimard), and keeping Guantanamo Bay. Further, Mr. Nixon never would have sacrificed the Cuban people and American interests for his own ideological and ego-driven agenda.

Mr. Obama’s stroll though Havana will be a grotesque perversion of Mr. Nixon’s visit to Peking. But then again, unlike Mr. Nixon, Mr. Obama has always been more comfortable consorting with our enemies than supporting our friends and those who desperately seek greater freedom.

Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.

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