by Randolph T. Holhut
let's get this straight... |
If we understand the mindset of Republicans, they: believe:
The party of "family values" wants to keep a young boy away from his father. The party that has sat silently by while more than one million Americans have died from gun-related homicides and suicides since 1960 suddenly is outraged that armed force was needed to liberate Elian from the Cuban-American relatives that refused to turn him over to his father. And the party that likes to talk about law and order was backing a group of people that was brazenly defying the law.
It would be easy to say the conservatives' hatred of Fidel Castro is the reason for their behavior. But as much as they hate Castro, they hate President Clinton more. Even though they struck out with Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate and Sexgate; even though they've spent years of investigating and legally harassing everyone around Clinton with little result, they seem willing to do it one more time over Elian.
The usual members of the Clinton lynch mob in Congress have wanted hearings and investigations into the Elian rescue, until the more rational among them realized that polls show a majority of Americans believe Elian belongs with his father. While not altogether happy with the means it was accomplished, most Americans also generally have approved of Attorney General Janet Reno's decision to use force.
Most Americans sick of the bullying and hysteria of Elian's Miami relatives and the rest of the Cuban Americans in South Florida who think they are a privileged class. Politicians have pandered to them for years, but Americans view the anti-Castro claque in Florida as an annoyance.
That's why it's equally ridiculous to see Vice President Al Gore siding with the Republicans in denouncing Elian's rescue. Even though he hasn't a chance of carrying Florida in November, he still feels a need to pander to the Cuban-Americans.
All this hysteria surrounding Elian and Castro seems even more stupid when you contrast it with the recent ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese died in a war that ended with the communists winning. Yet, 25 years after a bitter war that still scars our nation, we've resumed diplomatic ties with Vietnam and have slowly begun the healing process that only time can bring.
We fought no war with Cuba, nor has Cuba invaded our shores. Yet, we still maintain an economic blockade against Cuba and treat Castro as Satan incarnate. If we can find reconciliation with Vietnam, we certainly can find it with Cuba.
Now that the hysteria seems to be dying down, this would a good time to reexamine our relationship with Cuba. President Clinton had his chance, but caved in to the anti-Castro lobby in Congress by signing the Helms-Burton Act in 1996. This made the ban on trade and travel to Cuba a federal law rather than merely an executive order. Now, future presidents must ask Congress to lift the embargo -- a highly unlikely event considering how many members of Congress are under the sway of the Miami Cubans.
If Clinton really wants a "legacy," here's something he could try: He could push Congress to end the ban on exporting food and medicine to Cuba and expand trade and travel opportunities. He could also try to normalize relations with Cuba. If we're starting to talk again with Iran, North Korea and Libya, we certainly can deal with Castro in a calm and sensible way.
The Cold War is over. It's time for the U.S. and Cuba to end the bluster and resume normal relations.
May 8, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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