Nothing can derail the Obama administration’s desire to secure a legacy achievement in the form of thawing relations with the communist government in Cuba. Neither the Cuban government’s human rights record, nor the nation’s continued support for anti-American governments in Latin America, nor even the return of Cold War-era geopolitics in the form of Havana’s cozy relationship with Russian spy networks can dissuade the White House from reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.
“I think that in the nearest future we can restore the radio intelligence base in Lourdes that had been used first by the USSR and then by the Russian Federation,” a senior member of the Russian State Duma Security Committee recently told RIA Novosti. “Under conditions created on the international arena as a result of the US pressure and anti-Russian sanctions, cooperation with the Cuban Republic will develop in the direction of restoring the relations that our countries had up to mid-1980s.”
No matter, the would White House, if they bothered to say anything at all on this matter. The desire to open relations with Cuba is not founded in geopolitical realities but the near religious conviction that this dated vestige of Cold War foreign policy must be scrapped in the name of Progress.
To that end, the administration is apparently tired of the American military antagonizing the communist dictator emeritus in Havana. According to a report via Vice, the State Department is advising the Armed Forces Radio Network operating out of Guantanamo Bay to ditch their longtime slogan, “Rockin’ in Fidel’s Backyard.”
That means dropping the identity that the station has cultivated for over 55 years. The edict would compel the station to throw out all its associated merchandise, including cups, mugs, key chains, bottle openers, and a popular Fidel Castro bobblehead doll. What’s more, the proceeds generated from the sale of these items that for decades have gone to funding activities for the students who attend the on-base high school would also disappear. All in the name of cozying up to the dictatorial, anti-American Castro brothers.
“Radio GTMO officials told VICE News that a committee has recently been set up to discuss changing the logo and motto, which means the swag that has been sold there over the years will become collectors’ items,” Vice reported.
Although the motto is well-known among both military personnel and the media, lawyers, and human rights groups who have visited Guantanamo over the past 13 years, Radio GTMO does not broadcast the maxim over the air for fear of angering Cuban citizens. Instead, disc jockeys have at times opted to say, “We’re close, but no cigar.” That phrase won’t be used anymore either.
Guantanamo officials told VICE News the policy changes will also lead to other subtle changes on the naval base, but they won’t yet discuss what those changes will entail. What is clear, however, is that the US has no intention of returning the 45-square-mile naval base to Cuba. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said those discussions are not taking place and that the naval base, which the US has operated for more than 100 years, should remain open. Raul Castro, Cuba’s current president and Fidel’s brother, said last January that reestablishing diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba would be difficult if the US doesn’t “give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base.” [emphasis added]
What’s the difference between the hypersensitive servility that is compelling soldiers stationed at GITMO to be nice to a dictator and that which ignited fits of ignoble introspection following the terrorist attack in Texas last Sunday. When did it become obscene to offend the sensibilities of those who deserve to be offended? Even by admitting that attacking the cult of personality built up around Castro might offend the Cuban government concedes that nothing has changed in that Island prison nation. It’s still an autocratic strongman government led by a small, petty dictator.
The Obama administration contends that the best thing America could do for the Cuban people is to legitimize its repressive government by allowing Americans to travel to the country and spend tourism dollars. Weak sauce. Every indication is that the administration cares little for the oppressed Cuban people and very much for how the American history books will judge his legacy.