May 21, 2002


Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, May 20, 2002)
First I want to join with my colleagues in commending President Jimmy Carter for his very successful visit to Cuba. His visit has demonstrated that an honest and respectful discussion of differences between the United States and Cuba is possible.

He rightfully called upon President Castro to respect the human rights of Cuban citizens and to allow for an open dialogue among the various sectors of Cuban society. He also called upon the United States to lift the embargo and allow Americans to travel freely to the Island.

President Carter's visit has opened up opportunities which could lead to improved relations and a more political space inside Cuba.

The operative word is could.

Sadly the Bush administration has not sought to take advantage of President Carter's visit. Instead they have responded in very petty ways. First, by making contradictory statements about Cuba's alleged development and export of biological weapons and second by holding today's press conference rejecting President Carter's call for revisions in US policy.

Today President Bush has set forth a laundry list of actions that the Castro government must take before the US takes even one step toward modifying US policies. By doing so he has guaranteed that the current political system in Cuba will remain the same ñ as it has for the last forty years that the US has pursued this ill advised policy.

The specific package of proposals announced by the Administration is much ado about nothing . Direct mail service ñ not likely to happen without the cooperation of the Cuban government, nor are scholarship programs for Cuban students. Humanitarian assistance by non-governmental organizations--this is already ongoing. Direct assistance to political dissidents--they have rejected it in the past and did so today on CNN.

Throwing worn out wallpaper over a cracked foundation--which is what the Bush Administration proposal amounts to--doesn't solve the problem. We need a fundamental change in the way we look at Cuba.

As Senator Dodd and his ilk work themselves into a dither over our refusal to deal with Fidel Castro, it might be worth recalling that had it been left to these folks we might still have more than one communist dictatorship in this Hemisphere.

Here's an excerpt of an interview he gave in 1983 [found in Soft on communism (Mona Charen, August 24, 2001, TownHall)] :

Georgie Anne Geyer: "Since these kinds of Marxists have never negotiated throughout history ... do you actually believe they would negotiate in good faith now? ..."

Dodd: "I don't know the good faith -- no one knows that. You can only find that out by trying, sitting down and seeing if they're sincere, and testing it out. ... I don't know them. I know they're not all Marxists, any more than all the Sandinistas were Marxists. ... I don't believe that every person who opposes the government in El Salvador is a Marxist either. ... I don't believe Marxism is necessarily monolithic either ... We can have intelligent, thoughtful relations with these countries, and we shouldn't assume that if someone happens to be a Marxist, that immediately they're going to be antagonistic to our interests or going to threaten our security."

In the early 80s, of course, Mr. Dodd was squarely in the mainstream with these views. (As he was when he decried President Reagan's decision to topple the Communist regime in Grenada.) In fact, though Senator Dodd was one of the ringleaders, it was Democrats generally who cut off aid to the Contras. Thanks to the Iran/Contra fund diversions these efforts to prop up the Sandinistas failed and the Democrats found themselves on the wrong side of history, the side of the oppressors, rather than the freedom fighters. But that was twenty years ago, and most of them learned from their mistakes.

Mr. Dodd, on the other hand, continues to wage that battle, as when he recently opposed the nomination of Otto Reich to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, because Reich had supported the Contras. And now, unbelievably, he seeks to salvage the lone communist dictator in the Americas--Fidel Castro.

Well, here's a phrase you probably haven't heard in awhile--and if you're young enough you'll never have heard it--but it's long past time we said it : Chris Dodd is soft on communism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2002 7:59 AM
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