Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fareed Zakaria, Get a Compass. The GPS is Broken.

CNN, by some it stands for "Communist News Network".  It's an attempt at slander that should be chuckled at.  A more fitting jab at the name would be something like "Certainly Not News".  But nonsense aside, despite all of the visually pleasing technological displays that they provide viewers, their GPS seems to be broken.  Fareed Zakaria's GPS seems to have led him to a place that can't be explained.  He would have been better off using a compass.

Mr. Zakaria never struck me as one of the boisterous TV personalities who foams at the mouth while being offensive to his guests.  And he has always been a gentleman in his defense of capitalism and the imagined rights of the powerful nations to impose on others their own ideas about how things should be.  While his recent view supporting the idea of changing US policy towards Cuba is welcome, his interpretations and characterization of Cuba's economic difficulties are severely off.

"Let's begin by asking whether the existing policy is working. In 1960, the United States enacted an embargo against Cuba. Its purpose was simple and explicit: regime change. Did it work? Well, until he retired from the presidency in 2008, Fidel Castro was the longest serving head of government in the world. Surely that's about as powerful evidence as one can get that the policy did not work and is not working."  He is sincere in pointing out the reason behind the US policy and certainly Fidel Castro was the man in Cuba who could have borrowed a sign for his desk from an American president which said 'The Buck Stops Here'.  Then the man with a GPS goes on to say "The truth is that Cuba's miserable economy is almost entirely its own fault."  Had he been holding a compass, he would have been led to a much different analysis.

The suggestion that the main problems are Cuba's own fault is one of those half-truths that leads an honest attempts of analysis astray.  Certainly Cuba chose its own course and decide upon creating a particular economic system.  But it did so at a time when there were two major blocs of international trade.  Being forced out of one by the imposition of an embargo, it made the logical decision to form itself in a way that maintained its newly won independence and became integrated in to the socialist trading bloc.  Not only was it based on survival and independence, but it allowed the nation to achieve what so many others couldn't in regards to education and medical advances.  Since the disappearance of the socialist bloc, Cuba found itself in a very difficult spot having an economy set up for a world which no longer existed.  So yes, it is how it is because of their own decisions.  But the bulk of the problems it faces now, along with transforming its system, is the set of obstacles created by laws, extra-territorial laws, created in Washington with the precise reason of trying to strangle the Cuban economy.  In that sense, US policy has been quite successful.

Surely Mr. Zakaria understands the effects of sanctions as he has explained them so well in regards to the damages they have caused to Iran's economy.  To ignore or overlook them in the case of Cuba is either sloppy analysis or just dishonest.

He wants the US to "give capitalism a chance".  I think the US should give capitalists a chance, but they would have to do so by playing by the rules that Cuba chooses if the are to participate there.  Also more importantly, Cuba has not asked for capitalism to be given a chance.  What they have asked for is a chance for free trade.  Commercial exchanges to be allowed in practice, not in name only like the many "free trade" agreements that we like to tout.  Businesses would be allowed to operate according to the laws of the places in which they do business.  That's all and it shouldn't be too much to ask. Free trade between nations is impossible if the US maintains its current and long standing policy of preventing it.  The vengeful policy has long worn out its welcome and even its goals are recognized by many as offensive.

He sticks with his imperialist attitude by saying that Washington should offer some relaxations in the policies but only if Cuba does what the United States thinks it should do.  That just simply wouldn't be any fundamental change in the current policy!  He must truly believe that the US has the right to judge another nation's political system.  That just isn't a right, it's an assumption, but one that isn't even applied uniformly, only in some cases arbitrarily.  Has the United States demanded political reforms in all countries?  Of course not.  It only make those calculated demands of some nations and it's almost always based on a strategy that hopes that reforms would lead to a political system subservient to US interests.  There is nothing humanitarian or idealistic about it.

So Fareed Zakaria's GPS has led him to the same place he started, some sort of glitch in the technology that may have been avoided by using a simple old fashion compass.  

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