The Obama administration has made a giant stride in what could be the biggest diplomatic victory in recent memory by reestablishing connections with Cuba. There’s no reason why the embargo should remain enforced and by cooperating with the Cuban government, the United States can make bank and subtly encourage Cubans to explore the possibilities of pursuing a more direct democracy.
After more than 50 years of trade embargos, strict isolation to the Communist Island, and sour tensions over the Cuban missle crisis, the United States issued an intense trade embargo that has been documented as the most enduring embargo in modern history and it’s clear that such policy is officially a remnant of cold wars past.
By opening up and easing trade with Cuba, the United States can facilitate the commerce that American companies have been eager to pursue (The auto mobile industry is an appropriate example, Cubans have become experts at replacing old car parts due to our embargo of sending replacement automobile parts to them, The United States could also pursue automobile competition with The Chinese, who now hold most of the automobile trade)
On a separate front; opponents of renewed Cuban relations argue that by endorsing trade between the two governments, the United States would be officially forgiving and ignoring the human rights abuses committed by the Castro administration against the Cuban people. Opponents also argue that our trade with the Chinese government hasn’t made them any less repressive, so the same result cannot be expected to be reached in Cuba, and that the hopes of instilling a democratic mindset into the Cuban people through economic activity is a “long-term play”
This idea is understandable, but flawed to a certain degree. If history has taught us anything- it’s that the ideal “American mindset” that we’re raised with is an appealing thing not only for our citizens domestically, but for foreigners and hopeful emigrants abroad.
A “longer-term play” is better than no play at all. Right now there are more invigorated protesters and freedom fighters in China than probably ever before. It isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that our economic cooperation with them has influenced the political mindset of most Chinese citizens to the point that many of them feel that democratization of their country is inevitable – and while this might not make the government “less repressive” – it will and has lessened the government’s ability to tame the wishes of their people, which democracy never hopes to limit.
Trade has the potential to open immigrants to the wonders of our democracy. What we’re seeing is the beginning of increased economic activity and ease of tension. What we can hope for is the beginning of the Cuban people’s liberation.
As you’ve most likely heard by now, American journalist James Foley was beheaded by the Islamic militant group known as ISIL. The execution was carried out as promised by the extremists after they vowed to murder Foley, should the U.S. continue its renewed air strikes in Iraq.
The airstrikes were approved in early August, along with humanitarian relief- after president Obama announced that the U.S. would begin military action in Iraq as a response to increasing threats to the safety of U.S. personnel stationed there; he also cautioned about the possibility of ISIL sparking genocide in the region and stated that the U.S. could not turn a blind eye towards the conflict.
Foley’s parents claim to have been threatened by the White House, when they raised funds to pay off Foley’s captors.
“We were told very clearly three times that it was illegal for us to try and ransom our son out and that we had possibility of being prosecuted” his mother, Diane Foley, said on ABC news.
The National Security Council has taken an interesting approach to these accusations, with NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden stating:
“The law is clear that ransom payments to designated individuals or entities, such as ISIL [ISIS], are prohibited. It is also a matter of longstanding policy that the U.S. does not grant concessions to hostage takers. Doing so would only put more Americans at risk of being taken captive. That is what we convey publicly and what we convey privately.”
Many American media outlets as such as FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, fail to raise the important questions: How could this have been avoided, what could have been done?
As reported by Yahoo News, a mission to save Foley was conducted in August. Intelligence agencies believed that they had discovered Foley’s location in Syria, and “several dozen” special forces operations were deployed from aircraft carriers and engaged in a firefight with militants; but as the scene was later investigated, it became apparent that the location of the hostages (including Foley) had changed. The rescue mission was declared unsuccessful as a result.
What’s so interesting is that the release of this information by the White House marks the first time that the U.S. has divulged information about military personnel being “on the ground” in Syria since their civil war three years ago- yet they won’t comment on when the operation took place or how many hostages they were attempting to rescue in total during that operation. However, a detailed yet unconfirmed account of the rescue attempt by a resident in Raqqa paints a likely picture of how events unfolded in the James Foley rescue attempt, the account in its entirety it resembles the mission carried out to assassinate Osama Bin Laden.
Now to answer the questions set before:How could this have been avoided, what could have been done?
As you may know The White House has a pretty shoddy way of getting Americans back from oppressive regimes and terrorists. Bureaucratic red tape frequently halts or stalls negotiations in returning Americans to the homeland- and families are left to worry.
The situation between the Foley family and the White House is somewhat understandable over the concern of ransom funds being used to fund terrorist acts, but how long should a family wait to see results?
At the root of the kidnapping was the issue of American intervention in Iraq and Syria combined with U.S. aggression against ISIL – which can be seen as another attempt of “nation building” on America’s part– this is what ISIL was attacking.
In the transcript of the beheading, the executioner- suspected to be Abdel-Majed-Abdel Barry, A.K.A. “Jihadi John- says the following:
“I’m back, Obama, and I am back because of your arrogant foreign policy toward the Islamic state. Because of your insistence in continuing your bombings in Muhassan, Alboumar, and Mosul dam, despite our serious warnings. You, Obama, have yet again, for your actions, have killed yet another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knives will continue to strike the necks of your people. We take this opportunity to warn those governments who have entered this evil alliance of America against the Islamic state and back off and leave our people alone.”
“Any aggression towards the Islamic State is an aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership. So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”
Notice the distinct omission of any hatred towards democracy or our culture, the freedom and equality of women within our social construct, or anything else resembling the “they hate us because they hate us” rhetoric that gets repeated time and time again by mainstream pundits. All of the grievances mentioned are a result from an embittered regime struggling to fight back against foreign and domestic enemies.
Keep in mind that ISIL is surrounded by enemies all over– governments in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Iran are all hostile to it, and it also has the enmity of Al Qaeda, the Kurds, and other rebel groups in Syria- the truth still remains that ISIL is less of a threat than Al Qaeda. President Obama himself has even said on occasion that the amount of territory that ISIL controls is small and while debates go on about how much territory they currently control, it’s mostly agreed to look as pictured above.
As well funded as ISIL might be, there’s no reason to believe that they could afford a war on all fronts with their middle eastern rivals, as well as their European and American enemies.
To this day, ISIL has only vowed to carry out an attack against or our people, should we continue to attack them.
“any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”
Though ISIL may have beheaded an American citizen- it was due to renewed aggression by the United States Government in what they see as a threat to their sovereign region, and considering that they claim to speak for “Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership”- makes it that much of a bigger target for its predominantly Muslim neighbors, and that much less of our problem.
*This is post is not excusing ISIL, nor is it an attempt to justify their actions, it is simply an attempt to put the events listed within context and to promote constructive discussion*