Obama in Cuba – Too Soon Or Too Late?

President Obama arrives in Cuba for an historic visit – it’s been 90 years since a US president visited. But critics claim the visit should not come before Cuba’s human rights record improves. Is this a good idea?

Ron Paul: Hello everybody and thank you for tuning in to the Liberty Report. With me today is Daniel McAdams. Daniel good to see you.

Daniel McAdams: Good morning Dr. Paul.

Ron Paul: Good. It looks like the most important or the issue that got the most important attention of the weekend was the visit by the President. He went down there on a social call, maybe a summer vacation, who knows what, but he ended up in Cuba. It did get a lot of attention, it is fascinating. I’ve sort of always leaned in the direction of doing more with Cuba, so I found it pretty interesting. It’s probably no guarantee that we are going to have perfect relations and I am sure there is still some people out there that aren’t too happy with this, but I am sure you saw that on the news and I am just wondering what you were thinking on this.

Daniel McAdams: Yeah, it was an amazing scene to see the whole Obama family coming off of Air Force One, touch down in Havana. It was the first time in 90 years, since Calvin Coolidge, that a US President set foot on Cuban soil. Certainly it was an historic event.

Ron Paul: We have to just think though, what is going to lead to and the complaints, there are complaints from the neocons, but they’ve complained for several months and they’ve complained for years. I recall campaigning a few years ago in Miami, on the debates, the older audience, Republican tradition people, when I mentioned that we ought to start talking about Cuba and doing more with them, there was a little bit of booing and hissing, but I was getting used to that after a while, but the next day I met with a large group of young Cuban Americans and they were all for open up the doors, let us go there, we can’t even send Kleenex and toilet paper to our relatives down there, so there were so many restrictions, so they were all for it. The sign of the times came that things were changing and I think for the better.

Daniel McAdams: I remember that debate and you had such a funny moment, where it was supposed to be the dramatic, the phone rings and you get a call and it’s Castro on the line, what would you say? Your answer was funny.

Ron Paul: I don’t know how great it was, I thought it was less than perfect, I said I’ll ask him what he wants, but the audience responded on that occasion favorably, but afterwards, immediately afterwards and this happens, I imagine to more people than just me, I could have given a better answer, my thoughts were what I should have said or followed up with Castro, it’s about time we took you guys on a baseball game, thinking back how the ping pong games with China helped to break the ice and I think sports were just great, that is why I was so disappointed with Jimmy Carter when he decided to not allow our athletes to go to Moscow, because of Afghanistan.

Anyway, I think it’s very positive, but this does not mean there is going to be an ambassador, that has to take Congress and there will be a lot of fighting and fuming. Overall, I thought the general sentiments were less hostile because it looked too positive for people to sort of pile on right now and condemn this, because it’s so different than us threatening people or sending drones, like it’s so different than what we are doing in Iraq, getting ready to send more troops to Iraq, when we said there would be no troops on the ground.

It is so different, but in a way our foreign policy, not just of this administration, but in general, it’s so schizophrenic, it goes from we are the best people in the world, we love everybody and we are going to take care of everybody, to the part where it says if you don’t do exactly as we say, we will put sanctions on you and we will use military force against you, even though you have been a close ally of ours forever and ever, we are going to turn on you and that happens so often, but on this occasion I think it was on the positive side.

Daniel McAdams: Yeah, it’s interesting, you mentioned baseball, because one of the things apparently today they are going to do is sit down together and watch the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national Team, so they will have the game you wanted after all.

Ron Paul: Yeah, but the big problem is people are worried, they might beat us, so who knows. We will see.

Daniel McAdams: But, I think it’s a good point and a lot of the detractors from the visit said this is terrible, Castro didn’t go and meet him at the plane, he always does this. I think for me at least and you pointed this, I think it’s by design that Obama and his family came off the plane and it didn’t look like a state visit, because it wasn’t the head of state meeting the head of state, it gave it a different tone and I think that was probably by design, it was probably wise to keep it that way.

Ron Paul: Yeah and I think that will be a benefit. One criticism I heard, which I find just ridiculous, not that it is wrong, it was an accurate statement, but it was so hypocritical on our part. Some of our neocons said and I think this is one of the conditions that the negotiators are going to work with, you got to assure us that human rights are protected in Cuba, which is a good idea, that would be nice if we could do that, but when are we going to do that here at home, when are we going to protect human rights, when are we going to admit that we have more prisoners in our prisons, we don’t have equal justice under the law, if you are poor and minority and smoke marijuana, you are going to be in prison for a long time, sometimes you go to prison with a nonviolent crime for life.

This idea that there is some political prisoners there, which I don’t have any doubt, but it also goes back to the hypocrisy of our relationship with Cuba over many years, because we were on Batista’s side, but Batista was no angel, he had been an elected leader from ’40 to ’44, but in 1952 when he became a dictator, it was a coup and the coup was playing in the United States. This just fed into the pro-independent Cubans, it just happened that the pro-independent Cubans were following a Marxist viewpoint rather than one of free markets and liberty, even though in the 19th century was arguing that case for independent, but Cuba hasn’t been independent for a long, long time and then when 1998 comes along, how much did we precipitate there and the Cubans didn’t attack America, but they got a declaration of war, but what was the motivation?

Maybe the Philippines and Puerto Rico was involved, maybe that neat little base Guantanamo was involved and all of a sudden we know that they ended up with us owning that base and we gave independence to Cuba, but we are really owned Cuba under the dictators that we controlled and that was the motivation for the revolution to come. When you think how Castro started in the early 50s with a few dozen people that he moved in there and fought in the mountains, but that means that the sentiment of the people, he had to get some support from the people in order to accomplish that and once again it was the backfiring, the blowback, the unintended consequences of our foreign policy.

Sure, we had a lot of successes and we owned a lot of land and we owned the sugar and everything else in Cuba, so it was a material benefit, but eventually it comes back to haunt us and I think that’s what happened and it’s taken a long time to correct those problems.

Daniel McAdams: Yeah and under the Batista dictatorship, a lot of people that were forced to flee when Castro overthrew him are really the basis of the Miami right wing Cubans. They had all the goodies under Batista and they are just bitter that they had some of the privilege taken away. But, on the issue of Obama’s visit I think in some ways there is an ambivalent feeling that we have as people who are pro-private sector, because the specter of the head of state going over there and meeting another head of state to talk about the economy and these sorts of things is, it looks nice, but there is a downside to it, because what I am sure you would rather see would just be simply open the doors and let every American go. I look at the agenda, President Obama is going to speak with Raul Castro today and he said he is going to talk to him about economic reform and human rights and as you pointed out, we could use both of those here.

Ron Paul: When you get freedom as an individual or marketplaces, you release creative energy, but when the governments get involved, they wreck things, because then somebody will come up and say somebody is out-competing us, so we need a little bit of help, we need protection or we hurt our own businesses by overtaxing and overregulating, so therefore they get in and they said we will talk to him and sort this out. Then, they have to say we have to come up with not free trade, we have to have managed trade. Who is going to manage it? Another level of government.

It becomes the opposite, so that is why some of the complaints about our trade agreements are absolutely justified, because I was opposed to all those trade agreements where the power is delivered to the Presidents illegally to design these programs, so under those circumstances it’s not free trade that they criticize. Managed trade is horrible, but I don’t think I’ve heard anybody campaigning this year where they say what we need to do is get out of those agreements. I think if an individual, if you give them their freedom or there is free markets, you release creative energies and people work in their own self-interest and sometimes that scares the living daylights out of people.

But, if their own self-interest is designed to make money and be successful and hire people, then there is nothing wrong with that. This is very positive. But, once governments get into business management, I think that is what you are alluding to, is the fact that the corporations are lining up who will get to do, but they were doing that and they continue to do that with Iraq and they can’t get an agreement who really controls the oil over there and that has been a big argument. Look how we’ve been involved in the Middle East and controlling natural resources and things.

They just don’t understand the basic principle of the limitation of government power, to not ever allow governments to use aggressive force to manipulate markets or people or other countries. It’s not complicated, but everybody has an exception. I am for liberty, except… I am for freedom, except for this or for this. I am for non-intervention overseas with friends who listen and do what we tell them, but we are for intervention when we have to deal with our national security, which is a cop-out.

Daniel McAdams: I remember way back in another life, I had the opportunity to spend some time in states that were just emerging from communism, it was fascinating to watch. You talk about pent-up energy, you are so absolutely right because from the very first days in places like Albania and Hungary, after the communists fell, you saw a really messy emergence of real capitalism, you saw people with a little stand selling something and it wasn’t pretty, but they were experiencing the market and how it works for the first time and they were so energized.

The problem happened when places like Hungary and Albania became close to the US government, now we are in the same camp for freedom and the US what do they do? They sent in a bunch of professors, a bunch of experts on law, you’ve got to create a legal taxation system, you’ve got to do this and that and they sent in the NGOs, you’ve got to hire people at this rate, you are going to do this and before long, they completely destroyed all of this wonderful energy that was being released.

Ron Paul: And how often, one of the first things that we advise that they do is they get an IRS and a central bank. Then, when it fails, as one would expect, as our system is failing, the critics who want to take advantage of that say see, we told you that freedom doesn’t work and free markets hurt and they won’t identify this as corporatism and the power of the corporate interest and the power of the financial interest to set up all of these trade agreements, as well as the Federal Reserve System to alot credit, because the prediction is, under those circumstances, you will always wipe out the middle class and there will be pseudo-prosperity for a while, but it will all be based on debt and then it ends up with a cataclysmic ending and that is the bust.

We’ve experienced a boom here and these other countries, but what the intellectual challenge for us is to point out that they can’t blame freedom for this and I think back what happened in the depression, the blame for the 20s was placed on the gold standard and too much capitalism, too much freedom and yet the same circumstances were there, because it was not free markets and there is inflation and all the other government mischief going on.

It’s crucial, this is why a little bit of politicking in a campaign here and there might garner interest to challenge people to go and look, but ultimately none of this gets solved, none of this gets solved unless people look at this in a principled sort of way, because that is what answers the question. They say they are not interested in that, we need people who are more pragmatic, but everything that we have today, everything the communists have and the fascists have and the Keynesians have, it’s all intellectually backed by it.

It’s been written about, it’s taught at schools and it’s a propaganda that raised generation after generation to believe this, so the challenge is great, but the opportunity is wonderful, because this system is coming apart, whether it’s our foreign policy and trade policy and the way we should treat other people, it’s failing and hopefully this new generation that has become fascinated with free market economics in the real sense and has become fascinated with reducing the size and scope of government, I think is a wonderful thing coming.

I do want to thank everybody for tuning in today to the Liberty Report and I think this episode of our President going down to Cuba should be looked at in positive way, even in spite of the many negatives that people might point out. Compared to our President ordering bombs and more troops in the other parts of the world and getting involved in coups, that is detrimental, so if we could just have a more friendly relationship with more people and realize that there is other ways to deal with these problems.

We have a long way to go, but it is certainly a lot better than the day I got my draft notice in 1963, no, in 1962 I got my draft notice, because of the Cuban missile crisis, that I would be called for military duty and it was over Cuba. I think we are a long way from that and therefore we should continue the progress made. I would say today and this weekend and what the President is doing, is a step in the right direction and hopefully we can build on it.

I want to thank everybody for tuning in to the Liberty Report today and please come back soon.