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Despite the exhortations of freedom fighters like former Czech president Vaclav Havel, European leaders have caved in to Fidel Castro and permanently restored diplomatic access denied in 2003, after Castro jailed 75 reporters and dissidents:
In the showdown between Old and New Europe over Cuba, Old Europe has won - and the communist dictator in Havana, Fidel Castro, has gotten a break for at least a year.
The European Union decided yesterday not to restore diplomatic sanctions it imposed on the island in 2003, affording Mr. Castro a year of "constructive dialogue" before next reconsidering whether to ban high-level diplomats' visits to Cuba, open embassies in Havana to Cuban dissidents, and take other measures that have greatly irked Cuba's strongman.
The decision was issued at yesterday's External Relations Council meeting, a gathering of the foreign ministers of the 25 E.U. member states, in Luxembourg. It was the most recent development in a diplomatic saga that began in March 2003, when Mr. Castro rounded up and jailed 75 independent academics, journalists, and librarians, among other opponents, in what is known on the island as the "primavera negra," or "black spring."
Europe has long criticized our embargo on Cuba, and perhaps with some justification; after all, we trade with China and other countries who also rule with an iron fist. Europeans, though, have always had a naive and romantic view of Castro, believing him to be a liberator of the oppressed Cubans (and not coincidental to their attitude, a gadfly to Yanqui hegemony in the Western Hemisphere). However, after the Black Spring, Europe managed to make the right choice and punish Castro for his human-rights abuses, withdrawing high-level diplomatic contacts and reaching out to the dissident groups who want freedom.
Castro retaliated by freezing economic contacts between Cuba and Europe. To Americans, this retaliation appeared ridiculous; we do quite well without Cuban interaction, and the only people that Castro's fit of pique was going to hurt was Castro and the Cubans. Unsurprisingly, however, Spain (under the Socialists) cracked last year and started opening up diplomatic channels with Cuba to restore its economic interests, leaving the rest of Europe in a quandry. Zapatero got the other Europeans to give Castro six months of diplomatic normalcy to improve his human rights record.
After the six months expired, the EU determined that "no satisfactory progress on human rights" had occurred in Cuba. Under the agreement that the Spaniards worked out, that should have led to a reinstatement of the sanctions. Cuban dissidents and Eastern European nations argued for that solution. In the end, however, the appeasers of Europe prevailed, led by Zapatero.
With no motivation to improve, human rights abuses in Cuba can now go on indefinitely without any fear of consequences from Europe. This provides a couple of object lessons for American policy:
1. Despite the calls for liberalization of our Cuban policy to create a climate for change in Cuba, we now see that such a policy would be futile at best and counterproductive at worst. History shows that economic engagement with tyrants only produce a stronger base for the tyranny to continue, thanks to greater resources available for cronyism.
2. Europe has not learned its lesson from the 1930s about the failure of appeasing dictators in hopes of transforming them into democrats. In fact, Zapatero appears most anxious to lead the Old Guard into a repeat of the League of Nations debacle with Mussolini, where the halfhearted and temporary application of sanctions only emboldened the Italian dictator into greater acts of defiance. This seemingly congenital defect in political thinking shows that Europe will never be a reliable partner in fighting tyranny anywhere, including and especially Islamofascist terror.
In this case, no European can claim that they weren't warned.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Capitulate: (verb, intransitive) : to surrender often after negotiation of terms b : to cease resisting : ACQUIESCE Because Old Europe refuses to learn from its own history: In the showdown between Old and New Europe over Cuba, Old Europe... [Read More]
Tracked on June 14, 2005 1:46 PM
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