Lifting the Cuban Embargo


The U.S. will lift travel restrictions on Cuba, but leave the larger trade embargo in place. Is that a smart move? Does it go far enough? Too far?

Posted by Lauren Keane on April 15, 2009 11:18 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (64)

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You've heard all the arguments for and against torture and the merits of those arguments. If you chose to live your life in the morality dungeon you have every right to do so. Just don't be shocked when those of us who chose not to take the low road find your position and justifications barbaric. You will never convince one of us these measures were necessary or should ever have taken place. We are absolutely convinced these actions demeaned us as a nation and we owe the world an apology and a promise never to sink into the abyss of torture again.

It seems to me you have our political process confused with Segal's, "Love Story." In the book there is the line, "Love is never having to say you're sorry." Basically, you've re-written that line to say, "Being a republican is never having to say you're sorry." After all, why be sorry when no matter what your party does you just blame it on the democrats? So now we have a democrat running around and aplogizing for the republican party and you're critizing him it? He wouldn't have to do this if you were capable of taking responsibility for your own actions and admitting when you make mistakes. However, I have serious doubts this in the genetic makeup of republicans. Republicans know that Clinton was responsible for everything that happened since the war of 1812 and no matter how bad a republican screws up they will always utter, "Clinton did it first, it's his fault." The republican party has evolved into a party that is devoid of responsibility and has the audacity to make snide remarks about people who actually understand and practice the concept of responsibility.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Let me see if I can give some short answers this time. I decided not to “torture” you with another long post.

“… but I agree that pardon was the right thing to do. Not because Nixon didn't deserve it, but for the reasons stated above….”

1. Nixon didn’t break into Democratic headquarters to keep us safe, so they could have kept him in jail for all I cared (at the time).

“…but you feel you are not alone so that makes it acceptable?…”

2. Saving American lives made it acceptable (to me at least).

“…Taken to the absurd there wouldn't be an ex-president not in jail. That's not something that helps create a system where the best and brightest seek the office now is it?…”

3. Yea! We agree.

“…I'd be in favor of a pre-emptive pardon for both Cheney and that nitwit Bush prior to indictments…”

4. A “moral” victory, Bob? But at what cost? A very divisive issue that I am certain was premeditated by Obama to make himself look really moral at the expense of Bush - to prove that he was about “change“. This will divide this country like no other issue. Then again, by pardoning Bush, Obama would look like the great unifier. Kind of like Ahmadinejad releasing the British sailors....

“…It is unfair to both Reagan and Clinton to lump them in the same category with Bush…”

5. You are right. Neither faced three thousand innocent civilians being executed by terrorist, and an economic hit of about a trillion dollars (if Shiveh is right).

“…There are a lot of democrats that want Bush's hide peeled off his body for torture. There are a lot of liberals who want the practice stopped…”

6. Both want it done for the same reasons though - hatred of Bush (the driving force)

 “…I know, I know the fetus can't make choices on their own, but that still doesn't address killing. What's the real difference between killing a mature human or a fetus?…”

7. No fetus has ever been accused of murder, rape or flown a plane into a building - grownups have. (Fetuses have been accused of stealing milk however)

“…The only real difference between Obama and GW is about 80 IQ points and hopefully that leads to better decision making…”

It doesn’t take a difference of 80 IQ points to run an apology tour, sit in a conference while Ortega blast the US for 50 minute with essentially no response and relish a picture session with a two-bit anti American like Chavez - it just takes being a liberal.

Hopefully, Obambi will leave his fantasy world of US bashing, and enter the real world to solve some very difficult and pressing issues - and he has a ton of work ahead of him. None of these issues will be easy to solve - domestic or foreign policy.

PS: Hopefully (for our sake), he won’t face the ticking time bomb scenario…(because he has principal)

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Well going after Reagan would be fairly difficult. However, as I have stated if Clinton was involved in torture he should be prosecuted like anyone else. (See, I'm not just a republican hater. I'll hate anyone who tortures)

Your basic premise seems to indicate you know you are in the morality dungeon when it comes to this issue, but you feel you are not alone so that makes it acceptable?

I agree to a great deal with both the Post's editorial today on this subject and alos with Robinson's opinion piece. They are slightly different with Robinson leaning more towards prosecution. Prosecution is a slippery slope. No doubt about it. Indicting a former president for torture opens the gates for future administrations to act too tentively for fear of indictment once they leave office. Taken to the absurd there wouldn't be an ex-president not in jail. That's not something that helps create a system where the best and brightest seek the office now is it?

I know how unpopular Ford's pardon of Nixon was at the time, but I agree that pardon was the right thing to do. Not because Nixon didn't deserve it, but for the reasons stated above. I don't think we can have a functioning system subject former presidents/vice presidents to jail terms. Hence, as we go down this road (and we are going down it) I'd be in favor of a pre-emptive pardon for both Cheney and that nitwit Bush prior to indictments.

It is unfair to both Reagan and Clinton to lump them in the same category with Bush. Reagan might have put some gas in the car. Clinton may have turned on the engine, but Bush raced the Indianapolis 500 in the car. I know, in for an ounce in for a pound, but I don't buy that argument unless one is trying to justify misdeeds. Nothing that approached the scale of Abu Gharib or Gitmo ever existed under Reagan or Bill "I can't keep my hands off plump interns" Clinton. (At least Jack Kennedy was messing around with Marilyn Monroe. Who does Bill go after? Monica? yuck!)

I said almost a year ago this issue was going to get ugly. At that time you told me the American people didn't care about it and it wasn't on the radar screen. There are a lot of democrats that want Bush's hide peeled off his body for torture. There are a lot of liberals who want the practice stopped. (Notice I separated Liberals from democrats? While you fondly enjoy trying to lump the two together they are actually very separate. Most liberals vote democrat as the lesser of two evils. However, most liberals don't like democrats very much either because they aren't very liberal) This is why when you go after democrats I just sit back and say go ahead. If you want to put Clinton in jail, be my guest. I won't even try to stop you. I do get the biggest kick out repubs calling Obama a socialist though. I know socialists and Obama ain't one. The only real difference between Obama and GW is about 80 IQ points and hopefully that leads to better decision making.

I have always found it curious that the party that is pro-life is the same party that champions the death penalty and torture. It's like saying we believe every fetus has the right to be born, but if you screw up we reserve the right to kill you later. I know there has to be some twisted logic there somewhere, but I've never understood it. I know, I know the fetus can't make choices on their own, but that still doesn't address killing. What's the real difference between killing a mature human or a fetus? How can one be acceptable and the other not acceptable? The end results are identical.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

We need to put a couple of myths to rest here.

1. “…No where will you find torture as one of those prinicples until Bush/Cheney put a systemic practice in place to authorize it and carry it out…”

In fact, Clinton did authorize subcontracting torture to countries that use extreme methods of torture (like Egypt) - and he damn well knew they were torturing terrorist!!!!!

“…According to Clinton administration official Richard Clarke:

'extraordinary renditions', were operations to apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of and almost always without public acknowledgment of the host government…. The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law. Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'"…”

According to Michael Schurer (Wikipedia also):

“..This is a matter of no concern as the Rendition Program’s goal was to protect America, and the rendered fighters delivered to Middle Eastern governments are now either dead or in places from which they cannot harm America. Mission accomplished, as the saying goes…”

And,

“…Thereafter, with the approval of President Clinton and a presidential directive (PDD 39), the CIA instead elected to send suspects to Egypt, where they were turned over to the Egyptian Mukhabarat…”

Reagan also participated in a extraordinary rendition program.

Is there any doubt that another President in the position of George W. Bush would have taken the steps (water boarding) to insure the safety of Americans so soon after 911? Only six people were killed in the first World Trade Center attack, yet Clinton was already breaking the law to hunt down terrorist. Based on that quote above, Gore clearly had no qualms about rendering terrorist to be tortured.

The response by Bush to 911 was not unique considering the responsibility he had to the citizens of this country. I suspect MOST people in his position - Democrat or Republican - would have approved the interrogations to (potentially) prohibit another attack on US soil where so many lives could have been lost (not to mention the economic cost). MOST people. It’s the height of hypocrisy for the Democrats to so loudly condemn someone who did what was necessary to keep us safe considering (in my opinion) they probably would have done the same thing. So who really is lying here? In addition, Nancy Pelosi was briefed by intelligence after 911 and as I understand it, waterboarding was mentioned as a method of interrogation in overseas detention centers. Where was the objection then? She's a lying, hypocritical b..ch.

2. I can’t possibly stress this enough, Bob. You have absolutely no credibility when it comes to Bush. You have never - to my knowledge - given him credit for anything, The last 2-3 years, you have called him a moron and the worst President ever something like a billion times…per week. The truth be told, Bob, if Bush stepped on a malaria carrying mosquito, you would want him charged with war crimes….

From “A tortured debate over the 'torture memos'“, Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, April 22, 2009:

“…ON THIS PAGE a few years ago I wrote several columns arguing that torture was never acceptable - not even "as a last and desperate option" in the war against jihadist terrorism, a war I strongly support….. I contended that the cruel abuse of terrorist detainees was something we could never countenance - not just because torture is illegal, unreliable, and a threat to the innocent, but because it is one of those practices that a civilized society cannot engage in without undermining its right to call itself civilized…”

He goes on to say,

“…But what if it hadn't been foiled? Suppose the CIA had been denied permission to use brutal interrogation tactics, and Al Qaeda had consequently gone on to murder thousands of additional victims in California. What kind of conversation would we be having once it became known that the refusal to subject KSM to waterboarding had come at so steep a price? How many of those now blasting the Bush administration for allowing torture would be blasting it instead for not preventing a second bloodbath?…”

He’s absolutely 100 percent right, Bob.

3. “…If, and when, they can say, "Sorry, we had the best of intentions, but we were wrong," the politics of this issue can go away completely…”

Why do liberals believe we have to apologize for everything we do as a nation? You would think - given that the whole world was in awe of Obama on the apology tour - that everyone would now break down and begin apologizing for all their country’s misdeeds. Russia? China? North Korea?

Dang, so far we are the only one, but don’t fret, Bob. On Obama’s next apology tour, he’ll apologize to the world for America’s torture of terrorist. Maybe he’ll even reach out to the family of Khalid Sheik Mohammed…

For the last time, I freely admit I’m in the dungeon of morality on this issue (but its not as lonely as you might guess down here).

“…prosecute a few people (Bush/Cheney, if prosecuted, would more then likely receive pardons from Obama anyway) and move on…”

You definitely represent the vindictive, hating left, that’s for sure, Bob - and what would Bush get for keeping you safe? A pardon from the anointed one. Can it possibly get any better than that?

Time for Obama to move on and forget this insane attack against a former President.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You must of missed my 2 posts where I said if Clinton was involved he should go down right along with Bush/Cheney. I don't support torture no matter what the person's political affiliation.

You wrote: "I stand by what I said. Three thousand people (or 300) is a lot of people to die because of someone's principal."

No, it's not. We have lost far more then three thousand or even 300,000 to principle. That's who we were. We were willing to sacrifice our soldiers based on a set of principles that didn't include torturing as a means to an end. People who are free and expouse democracy, capitalism and human rights have lived by a set of principles. No where will you find torture as one of those prinicples until Bush/Cheney put a systemic practice in place to authorize it and carry it out. I'm almost sorry Bush/Cheney weren't democrats. At least then you might be on the right side of this argument and actually oppose the dehumanizing of captives and the simulated drowning of them after they were forced to stand for 7 days wearing nothing more then a diaper and discharging their bodily waste on themselves while being deprived of sleep.

Let me try this. As far as this being a political issue it can only be viewed in a loose way as such if one party continues to support torture. As long as the repub's keep trying to justify it and continue to lie about it there is a modicum of politics to an issue that should transcend politics. This should go to the core values of who all of us as a nation are and apparently the repub's haven't received this memo yet. If, and when, they can say, "Sorry, we had the best of intentions, but we were wrong," the politics of this issue can go away completely and we can start the healing process from this black spot on our history. What we did at Abu Gharib, CIA secret prisons overseas and Gitmo was a disgrace and never should have happened. Take responsibility, apologize, vow that it can never happen again, put policies in place to ensure it can never happen again, prosecute a few people (Bush/Cheney, if prosecuted, would more then likely receive pardons from Obama anyway) and move on. Remember, we're a country that loves punishment and then loves to forgive.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Tom,

it's about TORTURE your arguing about, for haven's sake !!! Do you understand that ? Real American people tortured naked, hand-cuffed, imprisoned people. Don't you get that Bush or Cheney or Clinton are not at stake here, but HUMANITY ? You need a "Nürnberg" public trial on that. Where do you see Reps or Dems there ? If you're a flag-waving American, you should support any action meant to restore American pride, no ? It would do much better to America's high standing if *you* arrested and judged *your* criminals, than to wait that some "Judge Garzon" makes them be arrested in some foreign country (like Pinochet).

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

I believe that he could have claimed national security was at risk which would have been a true statement since his Director of National Intelligence opposed releasing the documents. He should have, at least, gone to court over the matter, but he chose not to, therefore, he made this a political issue.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

You never even answered the question. Let me try. Obama released the memos purely out of principal (after he censored the part that might have made him look bad).

My criticism of Obama is that he released the memos to the public. No one can force Obama to torture anyone. That's his decision.

"... but sometimes issues aren't about politics..."

By releasing the memos to the public, Obama made this a political issue, and a very divisive one at that, and by trying to make himself look so principled at the expense of Bush, he compromised our intelligence services.

"What was done by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Rice/[Clinton] at best was repugnant and probably criminal."

My brackets, Bob.

You must have missed this part of my post, Bob.

"...I grant you both that I am not taking the moral high ground here..."

I stand by what I said. Three thousand people (or 300) is a lot of people to die because of someone's principal.


Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

“I’m not quite so sure he had to release this info to the public. You have a source? Like what more important things on his agenda that would be at risk?”

The answer to your first question is easily found by Googling “Obama legal torture documents”.

A few of the founding are listed below, www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hP0A99SY53e72w2dkN74Hmi4XYNgD97JO1TO0

“President Barack Obama says the release of legal opinions governing harsh questioning of terrorism suspects is required by the law and should help address "a dark and painful chapter in our history."”

Or, www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/21/cheney-obama-cia-torture-memos

“Obama, defending himself against those in the CIA who argued that he should not have released the memos, said legally he had no grounds for blocking a freedom of information request from the US human rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union.”

There are a few hundred more sites, as you can imagine, that can be checked.

The more important items on his agenda are economy, healthcare, education . . . basically all those items that Bush missed and you probably think government should not touch. He can’t risk losing the votes he needs to pass his agenda, and he will lose them if he tries to govern as president Bush did, i.e. disregarding the other 2 branches of the government.

Obama has disappointed his main constituency many times as he has tried and failed to govern thru consensus. Country demands more transparency in government and wants accountability for the Bush era excesses. What Obama does is the minimum needed to satisfy the majority in the country.

Bob is super hot today. I think I step aside and let him quarrel with you on this one.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

I just finished reading a science-fiction novella (in a book of four of them, quite recent work by four British science-fiction writers) which has a quite repellent character named Dev Veeder (inspired by Darth Vader?) who is considered a war hero for his role in squashing a colonial revolt (colonists from earth are angry at earth for behaving like king George did before the American revolution). This "war hero" Dev Veeder is actually nothing more than a sadist and is a professional torturer. He says once that he breaks all the major bones in a person's body and then invariably the victim cries out for mama. Fortunately he receives his comeuppance toward the end--and the colonists are hid in little pockets here and there throughout the solar system and vow to fight on....

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Are you reading what you are writing. We're talking about human beings with supposedly high moral character torturing other human beings. Somewhere the gravity of what has transpired has just missed you entirely. All you want to do is pick on Obama for Bush/Cheney committing torture. If you can't pick on Obama you'll pick on a Clinton. You pick on anything liberal while these alleged bastions of morality and Christianity (Bush/Cheney) instituted a written barbaric policy of torturing human beings while being held in captivity. This isn't about Obama. This isn't even about Obama's people. It's about the written policies and procedures that were put in place by BUSH to torture human beings.

I can not understand why you can't see how upsetting the US running around and acting barbarians is to many of us. What was done by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Rice at best was repugnant and probably criminal. For certain it was immoral. I don't care who else did what to who or who stole somebody's cookie. All I care about in this case is there was a planned effort to hide, deny, lie about, and now justify torture as techniques to keep America safe with zero proof this is the case.

You are on the absolute wrong side of this argument. You can not defend what this past administration did in torturing people without looking like a barbarian. Pointing fingers at Obama, Clinton or anyone else in an attempt to deflect criticism from your immoral and barbaric party just makes you look foolish. I'm sorry Tom, but sometimes issues aren't about politics. Sometimes issues are about actual ideals and values. Torture is such an issue. Torture should transcend dem and repub. Both parties should be anti-torture just as all civilized people should be. Just because we are fighting uncivilized groups doesn't mean (and it shouldn't mean) we have sink to their level, but we did. You should be very ashamed of yourself trying to justify the unjustifiable. Only barbarians believe in torture.
.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Why do you believe that Obama left out the part where his Director of National Intelligence recommended against the release of the memos?

I swear, this is the West Wing....


TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob and Shiveh

“…"Thank God we had barbarians like Bush/Cheney [and Clinton], who were brave enough to commit atrocities on my behalf, to keep me free and safe."…” 

My addition and brackets, Bob.

Bob, you do believe in torture - when nukes are involved. Your limits are just different than mine, that’s all. I consider the deaths of three thousand people at the hands of terrorist plenty of reason to torture someone. Heck, I wish I could say that I felt bad about that, but I don’t. Panetta also said that he believes in torture in the ticking time bomb scenario - and he didn’t say nukes. The last I checked, he doesn’t work for Bush or Cheney.

From the New York Times, April 22, “At Core of Detainee Fight: Did Methods Stop Attacks?”:

“…Even President Obama’s new director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, wrote in a memorandum to his staff last week that “high value information came from interrogations in which these methods were used,” [an assertion left out when the memorandum was edited for public release.]

Just my brackets this time, Bob (my secret clearance).

Of course, Shiveh, if nothing can be gleaned from a terrorist by enhanced techniques, then I wouldn’t support using them, but I suspect (strongly) that these techniques do work.

I grant you both that I am not taking the moral high ground here (but then again, I considered the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima the right course of action, as well).

“…it looks like Obama was legally obligated to release the documents. He might have spent a month thinking if he should stonewall the due process of law (standard practice in the Bush White house) or obey it. Politically, it was not possible for him to pull a Bush on this one; there are much more important items in his agenda that would be at risk….”

I’m not quite so sure he had to release this info to the public. You have a source? Like what more important things on his agenda that would be at risk? Once again, the guy campaigned on unifying the country, and how is this going to do anything but divide the country? The Democrats were privy to the interrogations also. This could cause a lot of problems for them as well. Nancy Pelosi was on the House Intelligence committee at the time, for example.

Politically, this could be disastrous - and at a time when Obama already has a huge amount on his plate. I’ll follow the issue with interest, however. Sometimes I wonder if Obama has a clue what he’s getting himself into with these kinds of decisions.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

This from the man who interrogated Abu Zubaydah from March to June 2002: “There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.”

The article is printed in today’s NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/23soufan.html?ref=opinion

Also: “. . . it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.” And: “. . . it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.”

Tom,

it looks like Obama was legally obligated to release the documents. He might have spent a month thinking if he should stonewall the due process of law (standard practice in the Bush White house) or obey it. Politically, it was not possible for him to pull a Bush on this one; there are much more important items in his agenda that would be at risk.

From the above article again, “Just as important, we need to ensure that no new mistakes are made in the process of moving forward — a real danger right now.” I understand that Republicans are desperate to find anything to attack Obama with. But this one is not as good as it looks; better to let it go.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Now I'm impressed. I didn't know you had a secret clearance. How else could you have stated, "Obama also blacked out (censored) parts of the memo that showed the positive results of the program (open administration?)."

It's no secret on this post you are a big fan of renditions and torture invoking keep America safe as a justification. It doesn't bother you to get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror? What do you say? "Thank God we had barbarians like Bush/Cheney, who were brave enough to commit atrocities on my behalf, to keep me free and safe." How does any civilized person justify torturing other human beings who aren't burying nukes in the NY subway? I really want to know the answer to this question. I can't see how any civilized person would engage in torture and then try to justify it or hide it. In essence the argument is we tortured other human beings so we could safe guard our freedoms. What freedoms do torturers have? Torturers' aren't free, they are sick twisted human rights violators. Let the terrorists torture until we can hunt them down. Let us not sink to their level under the guise of safety, peace or freedom because torture is not about safety, peace or freedom. Torture is about man's inhumanity to man. We should be better then that. We should stand for higher and more moral principles then that. We used to stand for higher principles.
Did human decency cease to exist because of 9/11? I not only hope not, I reject the notion it did.


TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

OK, I admit it. The conversation had become a little too cordial, so I decided to stir it up a little. Is that so wrong?

Maybe I should wait until Obama actually makes a foreign policy decision before I compare him to Carter.

I disagree with his decision to release the memos obviously - especially if he censored the part(s) that show the results of the interrogation. How can Ignatius go through a whole commentary on the damages done to our intelligence industry and at the end say we are better off in the long run? Speak about short sighted.

From Politico:

"White House senior adviser David Axelrod says President Barack Obama spent about a month pondering whether to release Bush-era memos about CIA interrogation techniques Thursday and considered it "a weighty decision.""

Seems like it was his decision - and I might add, not a necessarily a smart political decision. Its extremely divisive to begin with, and he appears to be trying to impress everyone (in the world) on his "change" theme at the expense of Bush and Cheney. I consider it gutless to say the least, but potentially very damaging to our intelligence gathering.

In my opinion, Cheney didn’t do any damage as far as interrogations go. It’s a ticking time bomb scenario to me - especially after 911. Needless to say, the Democrats would have hammered Bush into the ground in the event of a second successful attack. This is all politically driven. Plain and simple. Change I can't believe in.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

David Ignatius in the last paragraph of the article you recommend says the following:
“America will be better off, in the long run, for Obama's decision to expose the past practice of torture and ban its future use.” How did you get from this, to: “Worse than Jimmy Carter already?”

This torture story is a distraction. It takes spotlight off Mr. Cheney and the office of Vice Presidency and puts it on CIA. It is necessary for long term health of our democracy to thoroughly investigate what Dick Cheney did in office. Probably enough can be found to send him to jail. Even if he is pardoned at the end, it’ll be enough to stop the next wanna be tyrant from trying.

Is it true that President Obama legally had no choice other than to release the documents?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Good article in the Washington Post concerning Obama's idiotic decision to release the torture memos (Ignatius, "Slow Roll Time at Langley"). Clearly, this was done to show how different (and better, of course) his Presidency was than the previous one - at the expense of our ability to gather intelligence and question detainees in a dangerous world.

The best decision now (by Obama) will be to let the torture memo prosecution die. He will do himself well to order Holder to NOT to prosecute.

Obama also blacked out (censored) parts of the memo that showed the positive results of the program (open administration?).

Despite the vindictive nature of the Democrats, this is not a positive move politically.

Worse than Jimmy Carter already?


blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I know. Can you believe we disagree over this issue?

Anyway you must have missed my post where I said hang Clinton by his heels if he conspired to commit torture. I don't care which party did it, I only care it was done. Those guilty should pay for acts of barbarism regardless of political affiliation. (You must have missed my post to Daniel where I told him you were a republican but I was no democrat)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

I guess we can chalk this up as another one of our rare disagreements. Nothing again on subcontracting torture (rendering), Bob?

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

I thought I needed to share this incident with readers of PostGlobal.

Recently, an engaging middle-aged man met a driver license examiner friend of mine (a charming lady, I must point out), "responsible for administering vision, written and skills and other tests as appropriate to determine eligibility of a driver license applicant", as the job description has it.

It soon became apparent that the man's vision, reflexes, ability to answer questions in tests, and talent were all well above average.

Asked to characterize his driving "style" in a few words before the road test, now that he had completed driver training school, the man insisted he was essentially "a forward looking guy, moving forward".

-- Do you never look in the mirrors to see what is happening or has just happened behind you, while driving? the lady asked.

-- Never, the man insisted. I consider that would be a waste of my time, "moving forward", he added.

To cut this story short, the poor man was denied his driver license.

I understand that to this day, many still wonder how that could have happened to such an eminently brilliant, progressive and endearing sort of "guy".

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

First, Theissen's article was dribble at best. My favorite line was when he was quoting the CIA memo of May 20th. It said "was a key factor." It never said it was the key factor. This leads us to ask the question how many key factors were there? 5, 10, 50 or a 100. What role did it really play? We don't know and that memo does nothing to enlighten us on how effect or useful these practices were. I'm not playing symantecs here. The memo was very carefully worded, but it doesn't say anything that would lead someone who knows how to read to believe these techniques provided any useful information.

Second, while quoting Theissen on the KSM plot you left out Froomkin article quoting from the intelligence community discrediting the KSM plot as a danger or even a real plot.

I know you want to believe this stuff is real, but until someone can come forward and put something on the table that is bullet proof all you have is innuendo. I'm sorry, but torturing people and then using innuendo isn't good enough. There has to be clear and convincing evidence these practices stopped an horrific act and that simply hasn't been shown to anyone. All we know up to now is a group of two bit slugs were tortured under the pretext of national security.

Cheney's interview on Fox was a disgrace. Here's a man who sat on that same channel and over and over again said, "We don't torture." Now this LIAR wants to have an honest discussion on torture? Yeah right, sure he does. That barbarian wouldn't know truth if it smacked him in the face. (Now before you go off on a tangent about the democrat's not being able to tell the truth to justify Cheney's out right lies I will agree with you. Bill Clinton lied about sex and while sex isn't torture, or shouldn't be, it's still a lie)

What's next Tom? Are we going to start beheading detainees and sending the videos to the terrorists to let them know we've sunk all the way down to their level? You may think this is ludicrous, but if someone told me 8 years ago we would torture two bit detainees I would have told them they were out of their minds. (Again, I know you are going to tell me these men are international terrorists with PHD's in disrupting countries and blowing up the world. However, you know I think this a dislusional approach to criminal activity)

As I previously stated I firmly believe one could come up a scenario where a State had nothing to lose trying torture. However, I haven't seen anything that approaches that type of hypothetical yet. Hence, all you are trying to do is justify a program that given it's scope can't be justified to the satisfaction of the vast majority of people. What we have done was wrong and likely criminal. Any detainee tortured from a country that had signed the Geneva Accords would certainly violate international law and could subject both Bush and Cheney to prosecution overseas.

Like I said in a previous post this issue isn't going away any time soon. There are just too many people that are livid over this program to let it die. I know Obama would love to let it die so he could move on. He's said so on a number of occasions. Now he's backing off those statements somewhat and saying he wouldn't object to an independent commission to study it. He didn't want a congressional panel as he thought it would just be split down party lines in a partisan fiasco. He's probably right. Republicans have to support the program and democrats see a chance to drive a nail into the heart of the republicans.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

You pop in once a week, and you expect us to respond to you?

To those who believe that torture doesn't work, you need to read the Washington Post today ("The CIA's questioning Worked", by Thiessen). Common sense dictates that if done correctly, a significant amount of information can be gleaned from “over the line” interrogation - as was the case.

“…Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques "led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the 'Second Wave,' 'to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into' a building in Los Angeles." KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that "information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the 'Second Wave.' " In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York…”

Panetta - at his confirmation - even supported the ticking time bomb scenario (and what, pray tell, is his definition of ticking time bomb?). Will he cross the line to help keep us safe only to face prosecution? Now, I doubt it.

Obama reversed his previous stance on prosecution to pander to Congressional Democrats and the moveon.org left (Bob). The evening news with Brian Williams suggested he really didn't want to prosecute, but gave in to Democrats in Congress. Obambi has risen again. Speak about shooting yourself in the foot, but he sure has principal, at least that’s what he’s trying to convey at Bush’s expense.

The biggest crime here is that he has given our worst enemies the limits of our techniques to gather intelligence, and now his administration will prosecute those that tried to keep us safe - and succeeded. But Clinton? No chance. Obambi should never of released the memos to begin with. Of course, our worst enemies now respect the US because of Obama, so I guess we won’t need torture, indeed, the CIA any longer.

By the way, in abroad sense, Shiveh, you are right.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Bob, Zoltan, Tom! You are arguing over what is and has always been part of human behavior. We call it by different names one of which is torture, but it is always torture. It is called defense when we send shrapnel thru the limbs of our enemy. It hurts and it can be lethal; “torture” as it has been defined. Collateral damage, torturing bystanders is acceptable as a by product of war. In Iraq, the acceptable ratio is 35 to 1. We torture 35 innocents in order to torture one that can harm us. We call it a necessity.

But to call it torture, the victim should be in our custody! He should be truly defenseless to be tortured! Is the condemned prisoner with a death sentence being tortured? The one who shall endure 10 years of sleepless nights or nightmarish sleeps before he is finally put to death – is he being tortured? We call it justice; torture is “just”ified! But what about his mother, the bystander, who dies every night thinking that one of these days “they” will kill his son. Tough luck!

We, the human race, torture all the time. Sometimes we call it war and glorify it; sometimes we call it justice and romanticize it. But we do it because cruelty is what we are capable of. Pouring water into someone’s mouth, a modern version of putting a red hot rod on prisoner’s body is not out of the rim of our capabilities. It is done as much to get revenge on someone from the clan that has slit our brother’s neck, as much for showing that we are all powerful and he is at our mercy, as it is done for getting information. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Zoltan and Bob long for a better humanity. They show the path that we must take to reach a higher and purified level of existence. They are our future. Tom is for now and here. He knows who he is - who we all are – and is willing to work with what he’s got. He’ll do the dirty work so the rest of us can concentrate on the good aspects of our humanity. The degree of intensity with which we oppose him is a good measure of how far we have walked the path. But we need Tom, as much as we need Bob and Zoltan.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Bob,

I don't only think that torture is immoral and inhumane, but also ineffective. I stay by 100% : torture cannot be tolerated under ANY circumstances.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Yes. If there is sufficient evidence to charge Clinton with conspiring to commit torture then I'm absolutely in favor of indicting him along with those in the Bush administration. This isn't a political issue for me. It's a human rights issue.

Zolko,

Every nation on the face of this planet runs "what if" scenarios, i.e., given these set of circumstances what would we do. These are all hypotheticals that in just about all cases never happen. I have tried to clearly state I'm against the torture of human beings in 99.99999% of any scenario. I think people who authorize, direct or participate in torture need to be put in jail 99.99999% of the time. However, I'm not naive enough to say there aren't circumstances (hypotheticals) where the use of torture, while still barbaric, can't be justified. I've never seen an actual case where it could be justified, but that doesn't preclude such a case couldn't exist at some point in the future. Frankly, this is nothing more then an academic exercise. The premise is very simple. Under what set of circumstances would reasonable people commit torture. The easy answer is they never would. However, if you take the time to examine the question you'll be able to come up with a set of circumstances where you would reluctantly agree you'd have nothing to lose committing torture. Ugly, but true.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

blund :

"Let's say we know an extremist group has stolen a 100 mega ton nuclear device and moved it into Syria. (...) What do we do? Do we sit back and let NY, Chicago or LA be turned into a nuclear waste land (...) or do we take out Syria with nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat?"

Sorry Bob but that sounds awfully like Saddam's WMD story. Bush/Cheney & the Gang had *exactly* this argumentation. We're not talking about hypothetical scenarii but recent history. Are you the same Bob that lectures Tom on the Iraqi fiasco ? Weren't Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Pinochet & Cie enough of a lesson ?

I for one certainly do hope that "we" don't obliterate 10 million people and vitrify a whole country because of some perceived threat made up by an "intelligence" service.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“…Personally, I find torture barbaric and the people who authorize it or carry it out barbarians. It is the one action by the Bush/Cheney administration that wasn't incompetent. It was planned and deliberate and those responsible should be brought to justice for it…”

You are being political here, Bob. Do you believe that Clinton should be brought to justice for rendering of prisoners to foreign countries for torture, i.e., subcontracting torture?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

In the New York Times this morning, it was disclosed that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding 183 times in 2002. He admitted planning 911. If anyone qualifies for the criteria that the New York Times set for torture i.e., a ticking time bomb scenario, Khalid does. As far as Bush/Cheney knew, the attacks on the World Trade Center were just one in a series of planned attacks. Again, the NYT is hypocritical, and clearly politically motivated, or else they don’t read their own editorials.

By suggesting the “no moral authority” argument, you are saying that the US can never use human rights as an issue - such as in Cuba, or previously in China. Interesting argument.

But there is a difference between torturing a “terrorist” who‘s intent is clearly to kill innocents, and torturing or jailing an individual because he disagreed with his government, or because he demanded a democratic, representative government. There is a difference between a terrorist and an individual jailed or executed because he protested the invasion of his country (Tibet, for example). There is a difference between a terrorist who’s intent is the murder of innocents and the gulag (Zolko), where MILLIONS were jailed as political prisoners (and an estimated one million died between 1934 and 1953).

Maybe a better argument would be that the US has no right to criticize anyone that tortures individuals intent on killing innocent people for political reasons (terrorist, Bob). As it stands, you advocate punishing millions of innocent people because of thirty terrorist. To me, its just another liberal sellout to human rights. Make any sense to you?

blund Author Profile Page :

Zolko,

Quite the contrary. All that I was saying if the US (or any other country) knew a nuclear weapon had been stolen and was intended to be detonated in one of their major cities it is the duty and responsibility of that society to take any and all actions to prevent that detonation. Under this hypothetical I firmly believe the vast majority of reasonable would agree.

However, it is a quantum leap in logic to assume because I agree with this hypothetical I would ever transfer this argument to justify the torture Bush/Cheney put in place. Their argument was given the worst case example as outlined above it justified expanding the use of torture to other individuals who didn't have nuclear weapons. I reject that argument.

I can even give you a hypothetical that's far worse then this one. Let's say we know an extremist group has stolen a 100 mega ton nuclear device and moved it into Syria. These extremists have told us they plan on detonating this bomb in a major US city. This bomb could easily kill 10 million people and cause between 50-100 trillion dollars in damage. All of our intelligence gathering services have come up empty in finding this bomb and stopping this attack. What do we do? Do we sit back and let NY, Chicago or LA be turned into a nuclear waste land and then hopefully track down the prepetrators later or do we take out Syria with nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat? Talk about a lose, lose scenario this is one. Millions of people are going to die either way. Is it our millions that have to perish or someone else's millions?

Back to torture. I have yet to see a real life scenario that justified the use of torture. Whether we've done it or someone else has done it. Personally, I find torture barbaric and the people who authorize it or carry it out barbarians. It is the one action by the Bush/Cheney administration that wasn't incompetent. It was planned and deliberate and those responsible should be brought to justice for it.

I agree with your previous post on the irony of having a torture facility on the island of Cuba. On one hand we're accusing Cuba of human rights violations while we're committing human rights violations on soil we lease from them.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Zolko from Daniel. Brilliant post--the one where we have the U.S. torturing people right on the island we accuse of human rights violations. We better just back off Cuba now before everyone else gets as smart as you and takes the U.S. to school on this one.

graymatter11 Author Profile Page :

Lifting the embargo on Cuba is a win/win situation for both parties. Cuba needs to improve their economic conditions , as desparately as the United States needs to demonstrate their ability to convience the world that it is actually capabale of delivering on its promise of "a changed geo political system " . I can think of no better example than the lifeting the inhumane seige of the people of Cuba. The world resoundly abhores this atrocity, and rightfully so. This is " a deed " worthy of
example by this administration to deliver upon, without pre conditions.
The U.S. does not have a ligitmate argument on human rights , when the current example of its own human rights policies are in question. Let each sovereign nation clean up its own house.
The economic stimulus that can occur for both Nations has the potential to mutually benificial. The U.S. has already done extensive studies on the economis stimulus that would occur for both the ports of Miami, and New Orleans for goods and service's that would occur in the millions of dollars, that could be sorely needed in this economy.
Another well known fact is the need to modify the existing Sugar Industry, which now cost the U.S. taxpayer more than neccessary, because the "Sugar Barons" adversely lobby congress to their advantage , not the U.S. taxpayer. The U.S. could realize an economic advantage to revisiting imports of sugar from Cuba, when the costs under the current system actually doulbles the price payed by U.S. consumers.
In a era where we are all being compelled to conserve our energy resources, and cut corners wherever we can to help eleviate Global Climate Change. It is about time to get real on where the "the needs of the many, out weigh the needs of the few" .
These are positive steps , that if objectively persued , provide a sound foundation for this country as well as that of Cuba, to build upon.
The only obstacle is to get honest with each other, and geniunely put the needs of all of their people ahead of selfish self centered interests.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

blund :

"If the question were posed to me I would choose torture over a nuclear blast"

Did you think that one over or are you only "bumperstickering" and "flagwaving" ?

What you are actually saying is that you would be ready to *really* torture for a *perceived* threat. You are here justifying ANY exaction by ANY person against ANY other. You class yourself in the same category as Bush/Cheney/Patriot-Act with this one if for you *your* humanity is worth less than some *danger*. Once you open the Pandora box that under some circumstances torture is valid, you'll always find someone arguing that they have a valid reason for torture.

There can be no compromise on torture: it's inhumane.

Besides, it's useless as you can not know the veracity of the information you get: people will tell you anything. It didn't work for the french in Algeria, it didn't work for the USA in Iraq/Afghanistan/Vietnam, it didn't work for the soviets in their gulag, it never worked for anybody. It's only a terror tactic : "we are evil to a point you cannot imagine and nothing can save you".

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I couldn't agree more. If the question were posed to me I would choose torture over a nuclear blast in NY or LA. Now if the intelligence showed it to be Washington DC I'd have to think real hard about that one (just a joke). I'd try drugs first, but as a last resort given the benefit of the many over the few I'd support whole heartedly torture. No one in their right mind would want to see 10 people vaporized.

Having said this there has to be a standard. Fishing expeditions aren't standards. One has to reasonably believe the means justify the ends. Since that is a relative standard we need to put more safegaurds in place to prevent torture on fishing expeditions. No one thought or had reason to suspect the high value (although I disagree with this term) detainees, prisoners of war or whatever you want to call them had any information on a nuclear/biological attack on this country or our allies countries. Hence, torture was over the top. It was a fishing expedition. While we were told it produced actionable information we were never told what this actionable information was. Too many sources have discredited this actionable information to make it believable. Obama did stop these practices on his 2nd day in office.

Even though it's been almost 40 years since I was in Vietnam, to this day, I have memories of what armed conflict is like. To say it isn't pretty would be an understatement. Many things happen that are no doubt atrocities. However, that is very different then taking what amounts to prisoners of war and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. I sincerely doubt if either Bush/Cheney had ever been in combat they would have done this. The intelligence they could expect to gather from these spedunklers wasn't worth the price we are paying and will continue to pay for our actions.

Over the course of the next year this will be a topic that receives a great deal of discuss and time by the justice department. Whether criminal prosecutions come out of it or not is yet to be seen. Personally, the only just punishment I can see is for Cheney and Bush to go through the program they created for 6 months and then let's see if they consider it torture.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Sorry Salamon, it was a little over the top....

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“As much as Obama wishes he didn't have to deal with this issue he's being forced into it. This is by no means over with.”

The minute he became President, he had to deal with it. First of all, a ticking time bomb scenario is not out of the realm of possibility or even necessarily rare - and I’m not talking about a nuclear terrorist attack. It could be an attack with just several hundred potential fatalities and/or wounded. If the CIA recommends torturing a suspect who may have information on this potential attack (because he won‘t talk using the standard interrogation methods), Obama will have to make a decision - try to save lives or try to be moral. He will try to save lives (naturally, and I suspect even you would). No one could blame him for that, however, he could face charges (especially if he had opted to pursue charges against the Bush administration).

The New York Times did cross the slippery slope by opting to favor torture under certain circumstances. As I said before “I would also like the New York Times to suggest just how they know that a ticking time bomb scenario exist? Typically, this kind of information would come about from intelligence. How would they know the report was true?”. If the terrorist refused to talk, then obviously, the intelligence agency would torture him to acquire the necessary information (whether true or not). So, in effect, the NYT supports torture, yet condemns Bush for the use of torture. Its hypocritical, and politically motivated at the same time.

People say they don't support torture in general, but polls should ask the question "in a ticking time bomb scenario....", then I suspect the percentage of people that support torture would go up considerably. Most people with the responsibility of a President will probably answer yes, in my opinion.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

Ah, now I know what it is. You read a lot, but you have a hard time with comprehension. I've never called you a republican or even implied it. Tom is a republican and a consistent one at that. You are no republican. If your comprehension was better you would have realized I'm no democrat. I usually vote for democrats as the lesser of two evils.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

I find it absolutely fascinating that the USA installed their "gulag" (Guantanamo) in their Cuban enclave, AND that they accuse Cuba of human rights violation. The irony of this is so enormous that I can't believe it's not made on purpose. How wicked you need to be to do such a blatant provocation. And now, Obama is releasing the torture minutes of meeting AND promising to "open" relations but without actually lifting the sanctions.

It's so revolting in it's obscenity that I don't know whether I should blame the journalists for not noticing or the politicians to dare think we're so stupid that we won't notice. I *really* don't know.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

U.S. a Christian nation at war with Islam?

The problem is more serious than that.

What is occurring is that slowly but surely Western Civilization's classical heritage--Greeks, Romans and then the Renaissance and the scientific revolution which owe so much to the classical world--has been outstripping the Judeo-Christian strain within Western civilization and opening quite a big gulf with the Islamic world.

Not speaking of the Islamic world for a moment and just considering Christianity and Western civilization's classical heritage, we notice first of all that the Judeo-Christian strain is an import into the Western world and not native. The Judeo-Christian strain was superimposed on the Greek and Roman Legacy and dominated to a remarkable degree native traditions, but then slowly but surely it has become apparent that the Western heritage from the classical world on has been reasserting itself and overcoming the import of religion derived from the near east.

Today Christianity is in somewhat of a pathetic aspect compared to Western civilization's classical tradition and like thrust. Take recent comments for example on whether Christianity is dying in the Western world. First of all we have the old arrogance of the Judeo-Christian strain which says Christianity is above politics and should not be involved in the political arena. This is obviously not only putting on airs but a lie. First of course the airs of superiority and then the lie that politics will not be entered--a lie because Western civilization's classical tradition onward will not relent and Christianity will not be able to keep from forcing itself through politics in an attempt to survive.

So right away we can see that the import into the Western world from the near east--Judeo-Christianity of course--is having problems surviving, and it is not difficult to expect that Islam will have an even more difficult problem. Christianity actually occupies somewhat of a "middle" position between Western civilization's classical heritage and Islam. Christianity helps Western civilization's classical tradition even as it itself is threatened by it. But Christianity is bowing before the classical tradition in the West rather than preserving what ascendence it had and somewhat clashing with the Muslim world. But really above Christianity and Islam we have the ever greater thrust of the Western world's classical tradition.

Christianity really is not in the battle between the West and Islam. Now taking Islam in relationship with the West we have a peculiar phenomenon. Of course the Western classical world existed before Islam. But then the classical world collapsed, the Judeo-Christian strain within Western civilization asserted itself and we are told that the Islamic world was heir to the riches of the Western classical world and that the West except for Christianity fell into barbarity. Christianity was really at war with Islam once, but we can see now that probably all along it was really the classical world and its heritage that was at war with Islam.

To be clearer, I am not one of those people who believe that the Islamic world not only was heir to the Western classical tradition but preserved said tradition and eventually passed it on to the West--saving said tradition for the West. The way I see it is that the classical world collapsed, Christianity rose, and although the Islamic world did receive riches from the classical world the Islamic world really did not make great use of such because no Renaissance as in the West let alone a scientific revolution occurred. On the contrary the classical tradition from the West into the Islamic world was always clearly subordinated to Islam and it has been so ever since. The Islamic world rose only so far. Furthermore, and to bring the point home, I suspect that the Islamic world did away with more classical tradition manuscripts than saved for the Western world. The Islamic world has really never come to grips--never relented--when in relationship to the Western world.

To be clearer, the Judeo-Christian tradition dominated in the West more than the classical Western tradition dominated in the Islamic world. The Islamic world pretty much kept its foot on the classical Western tradition, and as the classical Western tradition has reasserted itself in the West and come to dominate Christianity the Islamic world has been kept even further behind and resorts to such comments as having been once more civilized than the West and as having saved for the West its own classical tradition.

No need to add any more really except to say the obvious: certain people today are saying that the West is not in conflict with the Islamic world but only in conflict with Islamic fundamentalists who are "hijacking" the Islamic world. That is not only a lie, it is a logical impossibility. As the West strips off the import of Judeo-Christianity from itself and rises into a superexpanded and developed version of its own classical tradition it cannot help but clash with the Islamic world and in fact reveal to a great degree how much it was a lie that long ago the Islamic world respected the Western classical tradition and in fact saved said tradition for the West.

The battle today between the West and Islam is between the strain from the classical tradition passing through the Renaissance and culminating in the scientific revolution and a religion even more primitive and fundamentalist than the Judeo-Christian tradition. Only two outcomes are possible. Either the Western classical tradition onward outstrips Islam as it has largely outstripped the Judeo-Christian tradition, or the classical tradition will find itself falling as Christianity reasserts itself within Western civilization and Islam pounds from the outside. In other words, as the classical tradition fails Christianity will find itself ironically on the side of the Islamic world until of course the Western classical tradition is not a factor and then the Judeo-Christian world alone will exist and in contrast with the Islamic world. But as the Western classical tradition outstrips Christianity within the Western world Christianity is undecided whether to sympathize with Islam against the Western world or help the Western world against Islam in the misguided belief that it--the Judeo-Christian tradition--owns the Western world.

So there we have it: it is not so much Christianity against the Islamic world as the purity of Western civilization--her true creations from her true soil--which is at battle with Islam. From the classical world through the Renaissance to the scientific world the West has been outstripping all worlds and is parallel only to those worlds who match it, such as Asians such as the Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, etc.---essentially really all of the Asiatic world including probably India. The West really is at war with Islam--a more serious and evident war than any Christian crusaders against the Islamic world. And my prediction is that the Islamic world will fall and that the people in those areas will have to take Western traditions to itself as the Asiatic world has. But the battle could get pretty rough. I make no predictions as to the severity of the battle. I just believe that except for some Asiatic strains that the purity of the Western world--her classical tradition onward--is the crowning glory of the world, and that if this crowning glory must be dealt with, it can only be dealt with by accepting and truly building on it--and not saying such things as the Islamic world says, namely that it not only was heir to but really applied the Greek and Roman teachings and can do so in fact with any Western traditions and that these traditions are not only compatible with Islam but can exist under Islam.

The West is at war with Islam and the West will win. And we will go beyond the moon to mars. And we will discover and create this and that. And we will succeed in making a glory of our little blue, white and green planet. Such is a recent meditation on the Western world and its relationship to more than Islam.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel.

Your words were that the U.S. has shown less restraint than the other nuclear powers for being the only country to have used the weapons.

I pointed out that in all of human history there really has been only one chance that a nation or people or whatever could have conquered the world, as so many nations, people, whatever have tried in the past--and that time was in 1945 when the U.S. acquired the bomb. Furthermore I pointed out that the battle against the Japanese was quite difficult and that if the U.S. had not used the bomb we would have had to invade the Japanese islands and going from what occurred on Iwo Jima (and other islands) it would have been a door to door fight and casualties would have been horrendous--we had to use the bomb.

Furthermore I pointed out for all your typical liberal accusations--and it seems liberals accuse so much that they now take mere accusation at anything for an accurate view--that the Japanese have never made anything like a big deal about what occurred and instead proceeded to create one of the best economies in the world.

Furthermore I crushed your view that the other nuclear powers have shown more restraint than the U.S. by pointing out what everyone seems to know but you--namely that with the rise of other nuclear powers than the U.S. the concept of mutually assured destruction was put in place. You could not possibly know whether these other powers have restrained themselves or have been restrained by the threat of being annihilated themselves.

The problem with you Blund is that you are the liberal equivalent of conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have suffered by the likes of people like you and your republican equivalent. Your worldview is composed more of what you have learned in conversation--and conversation typically with people like yourself--than informed from all possible sources culminating in the written word.

Now take me. Due to my wide reading I came across the mention of a gay black science-fiction writer named Samuel Delany. I was curious and decided to read him--and his book was good. A strange world in which whether you are man or woman you are referred to as "she". And homosexuality and even bestiality are rampant. And people eat food out of each others mouths. Modern liberalism vastly beyond modern liberalism (other details in the book bring this home).

And I should mention that I am always reading two books at once--one fiction, the other non-fiction. The non-fiction book I am reading now is Leo Strauss on Plato's Symposium. I decided to read Strauss because many people have said he is the intellectual father of the modern neoconservative movement. I read one book by him already and decided to read more. So far I do not see how one can move from Strauss to the modern neoconservative party. In fact Strauss so far as I gather is quite brilliant. I intend to read a couple more of his books.

The point I am trying to make is I notice you seem intent on positioning me diametrically opposed to you every time I disagree with you--which is to say you position me as a republican. Well sorry, I believe my reading as above demonstrated proves that I am above such things as the Republican and democratic party mob mentality. Most Republicans and democrats in my view give a bad name to their respective parties.

If you want to understand where I come from, I celebrate the classical virtues of logic, reason, clarity, economy, brevity, concision, and proportional form. I will give an example of that in my next post when I give a copy of my response to the current question on Washington Post's on faith site which is "The U.S. a Christian nation at war with Islam?" I might be wrong in this next post I will post here, but it should be evident that I try to reason clearly and in fact demonstrate the above virtues I have mentioned.


Furthermore it should be demonstrated I cannot be reduced to the modern republican or democratic party.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

Think about it. Arguing the only country to have used nuclear weapons against an enemy shows restraint because they didn't use more is ludicrous. If you can't see how twisted that logic is then I'm sorry for you.

Had you not invoked my name at the end ("Except to BLUNDering fools.") I would have passed on even responding. However, even though I am devoid of character, a fake and a fool I still feel an obligation to respond when someone asks me to do so. Sorry, you didn't like my response. I found it rather witty myself.

I can tell you your original post brought back visions of Slim Pickens riding the nuclear bomb in the movie Doctor Strangelove.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I couldn't have said this better:

"There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to the number who died at Stalin's hands. There's the "Why doesn't anyone realize that communism is the absolutely worst thing ever to hit the human race, without exception, even worse than both world wars, the slave trade and bubonic plague all put together?" school, and there's the "Come on, stop exaggerating. The truth is horrifying enough without you pulling numbers out of thin air" school. The two schools are generally associated with the right and left wings of the political spectrum, and they often accuse each other of being blinded by prejudice, stubbornly refusing to admit the truth, and maybe even having a hidden agenda. Also, both sides claim that recent access to former Soviet archives has proven that their side is right."

by: The Twentieth Century Atlas-Death Tolls

The numbers range from a low of 6 million to a high of 76 million under Stalin alone. The general consenus seems to be 20 million with approximately 7-10 million of these people dying in 1932-33 from the famines that swept Russia.

China is much more difficult to assess. It seems the great majority of people that died under Mao also died from famine during the Great Leap Forward. Approximately 30 million died of starvation. However, the west didn't even know the famine had taken place until around 1980 and China has never opened up it's records. Of the remaining 17.5-27.5 million deaths claimed from various sources the vast majority of these were in Labor Camps. While these numbers are estimates there seems to be enough evidence to back a number of around 15 million in labor camps. In terms of executions in China under Mao for political reasons this number is somewhere around 1.5 million between 1949-1969 give or take a million based on which source you choose.

Hence, I admit being too low on my original numbers. However, in order to come up with the 120 million number you need to cite sources that were anti Russia and China (or in one case after China had a falling out with Russia a Russian claim) and for the most part have been completely discredited. An example is the 57-76 million number in Russia under Stalin. Russia had a total population of around 160 million in the 30's. Taking out 57-76 million (mostly men) would have left them with too few able bodied men to have fought the 2nd world war. Had Stalin really killed or had killed even 30 million men during the 30's it would have decimated the male adult population in Russia. There is no doubt what Stalin did was horrendous by any standard. I cannot be counted as a Stalin fan or Stalin apologist. In many ways he made Hitler look like a Sunday School teacher.

Are you hinting at the terrorists we tortured had nuclear weapons and were planning on using them against the US? If not, this hypothetical isn't applicable to our torturing "high value" detainees. This is simply an argument to justify torture. It goes like this: If we'd torture someone who had a nuclear bomb we can torture anyone. The truth is we can torture anyone. We've seen that. We have seen the memo's attempting to justify it. Once you open Pandora's Box without an extraordinary set of circumstances (nuclear device) there was a price to pay. That price is the loss of moral authority over the issue. All Obama can say is in his 2nd day in office he banned such practices. We all know Dick Cheney sat on Fox News and specifically stated time and again, "We don't torture." We all know this was an outright lie. We did torture. Whether it was 2 people or 100 people isn't the point. The point is America put a "legal" (if there is such a thing) framework in place to commit torture. It is simply contrary to promoting human rights. You can't have it both ways. However, we can say we did this in a democratic way? Yuck! As much as Obama wishes he didn't have to deal with this issue he's being forced into it. This is by no means over with.

Things I hate about America? Sure. I hate that we tortured people. I hate we invaded a country (Iraq) without clear and convincing evidence there was no alternative. I hate we had slavery. I hate it took until the early 1900's to give women the right to vote. I hate it took until 1954 for Brown v. Bd. of Ed. to be decided by the Supreme Court. I hate we slaughtered the Indians. Sure there are things I hate about America. (current events and history). What do you hate about America besides democrats?

Things I love about America. I love our freedoms. I love our ability to redress wrongs. (Even if that has led to 70% of the world's attornies being American) I'm a big fan of our economic system. I have a great deal of faith in our ability as a nation to adapt to changing times. This list could go on for pages so suffice it to say I love the US much more then the things I hate about it. I've always been a firm believer when you're car breaks down you take it into the shop and repair what is broken. You normally don't replace the car you just fix it. I feel the same way about America. When something is broken just fix it. We're good at fixing things. We had slavery, now we don't. Women couldn't vote, now they can. Blacks had to endure sub-standard education, now we have desegregated schools. Sometimes it takes a little time to fix what is broken, but I have faith in our systems ability to change and adapt over time to right wrongs. So, if you think I hate America you couldn't be more wrong. I love this country and realize it is a work in progress.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:
Itrust you wioll apologize rfor your remark concerniong me as posted to Blund.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund. That was your response to my post? So much for lofty secular humanist pretensions. What a fake and coward you are. Your entire post twisted everything around as to myself and painted me out to be some sort of warmongerer--hell, you painted me out to be some nuke crazy monster. Yes, your post was sarcastic but why I fail to understand. In other words sarcasm is a type of making fun of someone's position but the position you were making fun of can hardly be compared to the post I sent. Again you make me out to be some sort of nuke crazy monster. So much for your character.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

On why it does not go far enough (in context).

"Chavez to Obama: Join My Book Club -- Chavez gave Obama a copy of 'The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,' a book by Eduardo Galeano..." (FOXNews.com)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

From the Jerusalem Post, this morning:

"...An American journalist (Roxana Saberi) jailed in Iran has been convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison, her lawyer said Saturday, dashing any hopes for her quick release.

The verdict was the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of spying, and it was unclear how the conviction would affect recent overtures by the Obama administration for better relations and engagement with Washington's longtime adversary..."

Of course, we have no moral authority to criticize the Iranian government which convicted and sentenced her in a ...one day trial. Furthermore, she probably had it coming - like the homosexuals they executed a couple of years back...but you won't see me criticizing them because we torture terrorist - and that's morally equivalent or worse.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“…I wouldn't quibble with between 8-12 million deaths attributed to communist dictatorships during the 20th century, but 120 million is a big stretch…”

I originally got the number of 120,000,000 from a David Horowitz column. I am sure that you wouldn’t take his word for it so I did a little research to come up with a new number. No one knows for sure, but these are averages based on studies by individuals. The actual number could be higher or lower.

From “Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm”:

RUSSIA (30 million)

Under Stalin: average of 17 estimates - about 20 million (actually, the author lowered to 20 from 30 because he thought it was more reasonable)
Russian civil war: average of 10 estimates - about 9 million

CHINA (57 million)

Chinese civil war: 2.5 million

Great Leap Forward(?): 14 estimates - 31-33 million
Cultural Revolution: 13 estimates - 1 million
Ethnic minorities (Tibetans mostly): 8 estimates - .75 million
Labor Camps: 5 estimates - 20 million

CAMBODIA: 2,000,000

Just from these three regimes, the total is 90 million. The “Black Book of Communism“ estimates about 100,000,000. Horowitz’s number is within reasonable estimates of the total. Wonder why the US fought this ideological war, Bob?

“..They have been. However, where did we get the moral authority to chastise them for this? The International Red Cross just released a report accusing the US of torture. Obama just released DOJ memos backing up the Red Crosses report. You can't live in a country that pays political hacks to justify torture and claim human rights superiority. This is the price we pay for what Bush/Cheney did…”

This, of course, is completely idiotic - right there with your statement from the previous question:

“…At the same time we're the only country who has ever fired off a nuke in anger and we did it twice. Not the Pakistani's, not the Russians, Indians or the Chinese. Nope, only us. The fact remains every other country on the face of this planet with nuclear weapons has shown more restraint then we have…”

First of all. I’ve stated this before. We have always tortured and with a great deal of certainty, worse than water boarding sleep deprivation and slapping someone around a little. You know it and so do I. Torture was not confined to the Bush administration, but in your mind, everything we've done wrong as a country, began in the Bush administration. Of course, the "moron" Clinton began the "rendering" prisoners program which is US supported torture. How come you never mention that, Bob?

From the Wall Street Journal, Hayden and Mukasey, April 17, 2009, “The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror”.

“…The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of the techniques discussed in these opinions. As already disclosed by Director Hayden, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, [fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations…]” My brackets.

I fully and unapologetically support the use of torture for the terrorist in question. Even the New York Times, which has demonized the U.S. at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, wrote in an editorial (2005?):

"We're not naïve enough to believe that if the C.I.A. nabs a Qaeda operative who knows where a ticking bombs hidden, that terrorist will emerge unbruised from his interrogation..."

Do you agree with the New York Times? If you do you are a hypocrite, and if you don’t, you are an idiot? Which is it Bob? I would also like the New York Times to disclose just how they know that a ticking time bomb scenario exist? Typically, this kind of information would come about from intelligence. How would they know the report was true?

The no moral authority argument doesn’t hold water, Bob. It didn’t hold water when discussing China (in the past) and it doesn’t hold now. Castro is the dictator of a really oppressive regime, and we are a liberal democracy that has in the past made mistakes, and will in the future make mistakes. We are a morally far superior country to Cuba, but it doesn't have to be that way, Bob. Cuba can change. In any event, either you are a liberal and support human rights in Cuba, or you support the Chinese foreign policy of non interference in the internal affairs of another country you do business with, in which case, you are a hypocritical liberal. If human rights really mattered to you, you could also rightfully criticize the US for being hypocritical in supporting some dictators while shunning others.

“…We have more people in jail then China and Russia combined. Either we're a lot more evil then the rest of the world (which I don't buy) or we've become a nation of punishment (which I do buy)…”

If they broke the law, and the punishment calls for incarceration,, then they deserve to be in jail. Seems simple enough to me. Judges can only follow the laws as written. If you don’t like that, then change the laws. Unless you are implying something sinister, like racism, for example…

 “…They need to elevate their standard of living…”

Then they need to liberalize their economic and political system, and that’s why I support pressure on the regime - not just a renewal of diplomatic relations because liberals fly to Cuba and proclaim we should. Incidently, they are a propped up failed regime.

Finally, from a simple question about improving relations with Cuba, how did you end up on a tangent of all the things you hate about your own country, Bob? You must love the post of your lap dog, Salamon.... 

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

"Communist dictatorships were responsible for about 120,000,000 deaths in the last century - probably one of the largest failures of a political system in modern history."

While there is no doubt Stalin had large numbers of people killed those numbers run between 700,000 and 2 million. The estimates I've seen on Pol Pot run as high as 3 million. However, I'm at a loss as to where this 120 million number comes from. Mao didn't execute large numbers of people. The entire death toll of both the 1st world war and the 2nd came to 67 million people and it would be impossible to blame these numbers on the communists. Both of these wars were started by the European west and/or an Imperial Japan. I wouldn't quibble with between 8-12 million deaths attributed to communist dictatorships during the 20th century, but 120 million is a big stretch, and while deplorable, it pales in comparison to the World Wars in political failures.

Other then the fact both Pakistan and Cuba need aid I'm not sure what they have in common. Are you trying to say all dictatorships shouldn't be trusted or just communist dictatorships and Pakistan?

I would never dream of arguing Cuba wasn't guilty of human rights violations. They have been. However, where did we get the moral authority to chastise them for this? The International Red Cross just released a report accusing the US of torture. Obama just released DOJ memos backing up the Red Crosses report. You can't live in a country that pays political hacks to justify torture and claim human rights superiority. This is the price we pay for what Bush/Cheney did. There isn't another country on this planet that can't and won't under the right set of circumstances point their finger at us and say, "where do you get off? You torture and that's the ultimate violation of human rights." Whether you like it or not that's the position we're now in. It will take many years to live this down. In the mean time the US preaching human rights will just bring foreign leaders to roll their eyes and grimace. Our other problem in the human rights arena is our incarceration rate. We jail everybody for just about anything. We deprive our citizens of freedom at a rate that exceeds all of these nasty communist dictatorships you speak of. Currently, about 700 per 100,000 US citizens are in jail. Compare that to 33 per 100,000 for a whacko like Chavez. Cuba is running about 200 per 100,000. We have more people in jail then China and Russia combined. Either we're a lot more evil then the rest of the world (which I don't buy) or we've become a nation of punishment (which I do buy). The problem in talking about human rights when you do this is the other side points out America's record in incareration and rolls their eyes and grimaces again. A whacko like Chavez can honestly say to his citizens, "Go to America and go to jail. You are over 20 times more likely to end up in jail in America."

Personally, I'm a big fan of democracy. I might wish ours was more of a social democracy, but I'll take democracy over dictatorships or communism any day. As you said Cuba is another failed communist state. More accurately it should have been stated Cuba is another communist state that is failing. Cuba needs the United States and the United States needs Cuba. They need to elevate their standard of living and we need friendly relations with a large island only 90 miles from our border. If this is handled correctly it can be a win win situation for both countries.


TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PG

Unless Raul Castro has signaled that Cuba is changing their record of human rights violations - and they‘re substantial for a small country - then there is little sense reopening diplomatic relations with the Communist regime. Cuba offers very little to the US - except, cigars, refugees, and some relatively good baseball players. Cuba is another failed communist regime.

At this point, it appears that Obama is testing the waters - which I agree with (without the apologies please, Mr. President). If opening a line to diplomatic relations secures positive democratic change in Cuba, then Obama is taking the right step. Beware of false promises from a dictator in need of foreign aid (Musharraf, for example). Communist dictatorships were responsible for about 120,000,000 deaths in the last century - probably one of the largest failures of a political system in modern history.

Its also good to increase our presence in South and Central America as well.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

"... the United States... needs to engage Latin America as a whole, not as part of a sideshow, but as part of its overall global strategy." (dailyexception.com)

Interesting. What that strategy is or should be is precisely what needs to be discussed and is not, except for bits and pieces. Cannot be more telling than that on our current lack of international "leadership" in the region, really.

manishyt Author Profile Page :

www.dailyexception.com

Cuba is not a real issue - the Cold War is over. America must prioritize its real global problems: jihadi terror, a rising China, and an economy overburdened by debt. Latin America, however is important, precisely because it plays a role in each of those global priorities. I hope that the summit in Trinidad doesnt get so over-hyped on Cuba that it misses the bigger picture!

http://dailyexception.com/2009/04/16/latin-america-is-important-as-part-of-a-global-strategy/

yeolds Author Profile Page :

BLUND:
great post, pity that you felt the need to ionclude the last line.
It is obvious readong various WP blogs, that there are too many who would/could take your sarcasm seriously. What a indication of the Education syswtem of the USA for the last 50 years!!!.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

We indeed live in interesting times.

I understand better now why those who once were all too happy to give an honorary degree to a Barry Goldwater may not consider President Obama deserving of one... Did not a Curtis Emerson Lemay get his without a fuss?

Their "greatest work"... and vision... were behind them.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

I bow to your superior intellect. I agree the US showed almost unlimited restraint in only destroying 2 Japanese cities with nuclear weapons when we were capable of destroying so many more. We could have turned both Russia and China into nuclear waste lands where nothing would live or grow for a half a million years, but again we showed great restraint. We could have nuked that pesky ME and done away with all those Muslims in a blink of an eye, but again we showed great restraint. (Of course we'd be out of oil today if we did that, but that's beside the point).

Yes, I think the world should be eternally greatful we didn't make them either bow down in front of us or get radiated out of existance. We could have zapped everyone who wasn't a brain dead southern baptist. It just goes to show you how loving and caring America really is.

And while were at it I'd like to agree with you on Russia. Those ingrates stole our nuclear technology so they could make bombs. After we let them live and didn't annihilate them they stabbed us right in the back. We should have nuked them anyway. We had a 15 year window to do it and we didn't take advantage of it. Again, only because we're so caring. It's really hard to believe after we let them live they have been such a thorn in our side.

While we on the subject let's go nuke NK. Those whacko's obviously deserve to die today. A push of a button is all it takes today to end our Korean problem. Unfortunately, a few million Chinese and SK's will probably die from fall out, Japan may not be able to grow rice for a thousand years, but that's a small price to pay to keep this planet safe. Don't you agree?

Yes Daniel, we are a nation of restraint and frankly we've been too restrained. Our prohibition on torture doesn't seem fair as just so many other groups are torturing we're behind the times. (Oh, I forgot we caught up on this one). Anyway, I think we should be able to take out a few cities or countries periodically just to let the world know they mean nothing to us. Nothing keeps people and countries in line like bone chilling fear and a great stockpile of nuclear weapons.

(Note to anyone who hasn't read one of my posts before. This one was 110% sarcastic)

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

On the previous postglobal question the conversation somewhat wandered from the topic and someone said that of all the nuclear powers the U.S. has shown the least restraint for the bombing of the Japanese in the great war.

The truth is in 1945 the U.S had a window of opportunity that would be the dream of any would be conqueror of the world. In all of human history there was no greater window of opportunity for a single nation, people, what have you to conquer the world. Furthermore that window of opportunity is extremely unlikely to ever open again.

The United States had the atomic bomb. The United States could have utterly annihilated its nearest competitors for domination of the world. Instead the U.S pretty much kissed the French and Filipino girls goodbye and went home. Talk about self-restraint. Furthermore even the Japanese have pretty much agreed over the years that no "lack of restraint" was involved.

In fact the Japanese were more concerned with moving on and developing great automobiles, electric appliances, etc.

On the other hand the U.S.'s nearest competitors for world dominance showed absolutely no restraint in developing nuclear weaponry--and rightly so, because they recognized the unprecedented advantage the U.S. had.

Furthermore all the nuclear powers other than the U.S. cannot be complimented for restraint precisely because they were after the U.S. in developing the bomb and faced the spector of what is known as mutually assured destruction.

The topic is closed.

All that remains to be added is that Iran--the Islamic powers in general--show a troubling tendency not to be daunted by mutually assured destruction. In fact there is tendency to relish it in Islamic religion. An apocalypse means the enemies of Islam are destroyed and the faithful Muslims go to heaven and consort with virgin girls.

Now the topic is really closed.

Except to BLUNDering fools.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Be magnanimous--in fact salute the Castro brothers--and let everything go on Cuba. We (the U.S.) can afford to. It was a good battle between the Castros and the U.S. but the U.S has evidently won. So just drop everything. Let it go.

Think2 Author Profile Page :

As in any relationship, it takes two. So let's be happy with small steps and see what happens. No need to rush in and have to rush out later.

chatard Author Profile Page :

No need to send cash or goods to Cuba. The Congressional Black Communists have returned to report the island is a paradise. The people are happy, healthy and well-fed. Fidel and his "lovely wife" live in a modest home. All is well. These people down there are obviously in heaven and with their god. Leave them alone.

jhtlag1 Author Profile Page :

Oh, a "just right" step. It's been nearly 50 years, so a few more or less don't make much of a difference. Let these small changes do their magic, let Castro die, (not to be snarky, just to remove one more stumbling block in the conversation) I'd say it was enough for now, come back and revisit in a year or two.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

This micro decision is only part of a much broader picture.

The American war against the Cuban revolution is over. Like the Vietnam war, it has been lost. In the region, Cuba has now more support than it has ever had, with even Costa Rica having rallied behind it, recently... and having itself called for an end to the US outdated and failed blockade, one of the longest in history.

US influence in Latin America is at an all time low. In recent years, through the electoral process, the region has indeed moved steadily "to the left", as some would have it. Latin America is now united and conscious of its own collective future and interests like perhaps never before.

In today's world, Latinos are unlikely to return to that "respect for human rights" they have enjoyed under the leadership of US dictators with their accompanying death squads, such famous endearing products of the School of the Americas (shamed into renaming itself the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Latinos know all too well that their region is now making history by being part of a new world order, alongside BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

This micro decision is therefore at most a first baby step in the direction of a much needed change in policy, by the US, toward the whole of Latin America. As usual, it has been made exclusively to serve the best interests of the United States of America.

So much more needs be done though, including ending the blockade and paying compensations to Cuba and to the Cuban people for all the crimes committed against them, as per the official US Government documentation accessible to anyone who ever cared to study it. That is the least one would expect from any decent country making amends after more than half a century of vicious, hostile acts against another people.

On this issue more particularly, very much a humanitarian one, time will tell whether Obama was worth his salt after all.

blund Author Profile Page :

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Wise words for just about everything we do in life. Cuba is no different. This is the beginning of normalization of relations with Cuba. In a number of months or even a couple of years we will have normal relations with the Island.

I didn't see anyone else in the last 47 years make the effort to start the process of normalization. We should be cheering this move.

greglm Author Profile Page :

It seems that the real reason for the economic blockade of Cuba is that Cuba was a semi-colony of the United States that dared to break free of the empire. None of the other reasons (communism, democracy, human rights) used to rationalize the blockade are convincing because the U.S. has proper relations with so many countries that are described as communist, undemocratic, repressive, etc. To emphasize my point I remind readers that the U.N. General Assembly has repeatedly condemned the blockade. This past year the vote was 185 to 3. The arguments made by the U.S. delegate to the Assembly are no longer taken seriously.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

This minor step while symbolic, has absolutely nothing in it as far as "change you can belive].

Having decent contact with Cuba, allowing her to make money in healthcare [far superior to USA practices], teaching the USa how to live without a gargutan CO2 footprint, and at the same time encouraging that Cuba increase her per capita GDP, would be ends benefiting both the USA' and Cuba's present and future generations.

Real and encompaqssing steps by the USA to stop the embargo, to stop undemining the presest governmental structure, returning the fraudelently gained naval base, would also help the USA reach out to the Spanoish Speaking Sauth America

Mr. Obama has to make up his mind to be either a LEADER, or be an constalntly whaffling from real steps [be it economic, foreign polidy, war] to doing next to nothing to following the fatal steps of MR. Bush.

DOBRYDN Author Profile Page :

I favor lifting all barriers to travel, trade and finance as well as closing down all propagandistic operations such as TV Marti. The present policy is an obvious failure so a different strategy is called for. We have succeeded in keeping the Cuban people starved of resources. If and when they become more prosperous those who want to change their government will import weapons (ex. Mexico) and work to change it if and when they choose and are able to do so. Cubans certainly know how to organize a revolutionary coup. Interchanges of ideas, products, commmunication and other contacts will quickly enable people to understand how far behind they are from other nations in so many respects. Leave the matter to them and they will take care of it by themselves. Isn't this is what democracy is supposed to be about? It can't be imposed by a foreign source without military conquest. Perhaps a number of Cubans resident in the US will return to their native land as well.

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