Huff Post Continues its Love Affair With “Former” Cuban Spy, Arturo Lopez Levy 3

Kerry’s Cuba Sanity

By Arturo Lopez Levy in the Huffington Post

One would have to go back to John Quincy Adams, who served in the U.S. diplomatic service from the age of 17, to find a predecessor better pedigreed than John Kerry to lead the U.S. State Department. The son of a diplomat, Kerry is a war veteran. He was a senior senator, and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Few experiences have had greater influence on Kerry’s foreign policy views than his decades-long relationship with Vietnam, where Kerry served as a Swift Boat captain during the Vietnam War. Kerry’s experience in Vietnam, where visceral ideological attitudes prevailed over rational analysis, prompted the future senator to advocate for a more realistic course for U.S. policy. A decorated veteran, John Kerry became a spokesman for veterans against the war. He learned that to promote U.S. values and interests requires awareness of the relative nature of power and the force of nationalism in the post-colonial world.

Throughout his subsequent political career, Kerry has sought to correct the foreign policy mistakes that led to the fiasco in Indochina, learning to value diplomacy and engagement above force. Together with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), another veteran of the war, Kerry supported President Clinton’s steps to end the U.S. embargo against Vietnam. The result, according to Kerry, has been a “Vietnam that is less isolated, more market oriented, and, yes, freer — though it has miles to go.”

Admittedly, Kerry has not always applied these lessons properly — witness his regrettable support for the Bush administration’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. But elsewhere, as in his efforts to ease the archaic U.S. blockade on Cuba, Kerry continues to promote engagement as the fundamental tool of foreign policy.

In a 2009 Tampa Bay Times op-ed, for example, Kerry relates how the success of the U.S. rapprochement with Vietnam helped shape his advocacy for improved relations with Cuba, which he presented as a defense of U.S. interests and democratic values. “For 47 years,” he wrote, “our embargo in the name of democracy has produced no democracy at all. Too often, our rhetoric and policies have actually furnished the Castro regime with an all-purpose excuse to draw attention away from its many shortcomings.”

This evidence has informed the future secretary of state’s position against the ban on travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Based on the experience of tourists from other countries and the return of Cuban-Americans who “have already had a significant impact on increasing the flow of information and hard currency to ordinary Cubans,” Kerry understands that unrestricted U.S. travel to Cuba would be “a catalyst for change.”

The senator also placed a temporary freeze in 2010 on the poorly designed USAID Cuba programs, which have led to the imprisonment of Alan Gross, an agency subcontractor. According to an article by R.M. Schneiderman in Foreign Affairs, the revision of the Bush administration-designed USAID programs advanced the possibility of Alan Gross’s release as a Cuban humanitarian act. Senator Kerry participated in a effort to negotiate a diplomatic solution. With State Department’s approval, Kerry met Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba’s ministry of foreign affairs at the residence of the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

Unfortunately Senator Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American, stepped in and spoiled the possibility of a negotiated solution. The senator from New Jersey demanded that the full 20 million dollars be spent and the provocative programs be restored. Under the pressure of a delicate balance of forces in the Senate, the White House conceded. Schneiderman quoted Fulton Armstrong, a member of Senator Kerry’s staff who was involved in the dialogue with Cuban diplomats. “Poor Alan Gross — Armstrong wrote — the Cuban-American lobby had won.”

Kerry, who has visited Vietnam post-reconciliation, knows that a USAID program there helped to multiply Internet connectivity rates in the country. The USAID program in Vietnam is jointly implemented with the Japanese development agency and with the support of the local government, unlike the Helms-Burton law, which geared USAID programs in Cuba toward regime change and was repudiated in the UN for its unilateralism. The USAID program in Vietnam encourages development, which is what USAID was created for, not efforts to overthrow Hanoi’s government. The premise is that a population more affluent, better educated, and more connected will demand more democratic practices.

According to Kerry, the United States will never stop supporting human rights in Cuba, simply because they are fundamental values of American society. After all, the United States has continued pushing for civil and political liberties in Vietnam since ending its embargo. Washington does so not because it opposes Hanoi’s leaders or to impose a regime change, but as part of a rational strategy of promoting a peaceful evolution to a more open Vietnamese political system. Washington wants stable relationships with the whole Vietnamese nation, not only with the government. Peoples of the world, no matter how suspicious of U.S. motives they may be, appreciate human rights promotion within the framework of international law.

President Obama’s designation of John Kerry is also consistent with the political changes that have occurred in the Cuban-American community, expressed by the elevated Cuban diaspora vote for Democrats in the last election. Like Kerry, and as then-Senate candidate Obama stated in 2004, most Cuban-Americans believe that the embargo has failed and that it is time to influence the processes of economic reform and political liberalization that began in Cuba after the retirement of Fidel Castro.

Once public opinion turned against the war in Vietnam, the political leadership in the U.S. found it had no choice but to follow suit. Kerry is better positioned than anyone to be a leader and see that point of departure when it comes to U.S. policy and Cuba.

Editor’s Note: In the above article, “former” spy Arturo Lopez Levy claims “Kerry understands that unrestricted U.S. travel to Cuba would be “a catalyst for change.” What makes him think travel by Americans would succeed in changing Cuba when the island has hosted millions of Canadian and European tourists and yet remains a police-state? Increased travel by Americans would accomplish nothing but enrich Cuba’s military and intelligence services, which run almost every facet of the island’s tourism sector. In sum, foreigners travelling to Cuba virtually guarantee regime continuity and continued repression.

3 comments

  1. This love affair seems to be so passionate, that Huff forgot that Kerry has released a strong statement against Castroism in the last Department of State’s report on Human Rights.

  2. As it is organized now, people to people trips bring money to the Cuban government. By contrast, unlimited travel to Cuba would help private businesses grow. brhttp://www.gossipgorilla.com/2013/04/13/isabel-kaplan-jay-z-beyonce-and-me-our-trips-to-cuba/

  3. Fidel, Raoul, and Ramiro continue the attempts to seduce the US into small errors leading to major debacles. What else is new? Vietnam was led by Ho Chi Minh, born as Nguyễn Sinh Cung aka Nguyễn Ái Quốc who originally was a opportunist and a nationalist, and a US ally, and according to most historians, actually wanted a democratic republic. but saw his dream eclipsed by theambitions of the Soviets and the Red Chinese he had buddied up to.

    The US first promised to support his aspiration of a free Republic of Vietnam, but then buckled on that due to entangling treaties involving French and British colonial interests. Japan left Vietnam in a shambles, the French, once they returned, did little to restore the infrastructure and just attempted to resume exploiting their colony and the people as before.

    Ho made the mistake of cozying up with the Russians and the Chinese, whose plants on his staff rose to the occasion, such as General Giap. Ho Chi Minh had hoped to play the ends against the middle, avoid becoming a colony of Red China or Soviet Russia by cozying up to the US…he had lived in the US for about seven years, liked the best of what he saw. He had lived in China among the Comintern for about six years, too, married a Chinese woman. Not much enthused about the, either. Only the Russians were a somewhat unfamiliar player. The result of Ho’s machinations was the destruction of almost a whole generation of young Vietnamese men, the environmental destruction both in the North and South so well documented, and the near re-colonization of the land by China.

    The relationship of the US with Vietnam today is one that was literally born in blood and fire. It is being managed carefully. The US is mindful that Fidel sent “technicians” to Cuba who fought our troops and interrogated prisoners. Cuba also trained regular NVA troops and technicians in Cuba, and gave aid and support to the Viet Cong. Many of the Chinese now in Cuba are Cochin Chinese from Vietnam, kid yourself not. Vietnam is officially “red,” but is also diverse. The post war purge did not approach what the Castros did in Cuba. the current leadership is more a Third Way group, having learned the lessons fo a lost generation. The society has paid a high price, having to sanction polygamy and fairly widespread lesbianism in ways they never dreamed of.

    Though we have mostly fought Red Cubans indirectly, our forces have had a few direct confrontations and done very well. Most of us have no illusions about Red Cubans, what they believe, what they want, their aims, means, methods, objectives, history and moral bankruptcy.

    Bolivar’s dream was of a Gran Columbia, not a Cubazuela. My family in Venezuela have had three family members kidnapped inthe last two years. Though blindfolded, they carefully listened to all the captors. The leaders were military sounding Cubans, with Colombian managers and they could peek under the blindfolds— Venezuelan/Bolivarian National guard cuffed pants and boots. My nephew last week was severely beaten in a police barracks for peacefully exercising his right to demand an audit and recount of all votes. this is a right guaranteed in the original Constitution and in Chavez’s rewrite.

    My sister in law was an election judge. Bolivarian Militia shot automatic weapons all day at the building facade to attempt to coerce the center to close early to suppress voting for Capriles. they have seen Chavistas running amok killing each other, too!

    Let’s tighten the blockade, choke Red Cuba into a condition like Saddam’s Republican Guard, and if it doesn’t fall, nail them at long last with shock and awe!

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