It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.
Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.
It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.
Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:
During a Senate floor speech on Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) used his time before his colleagues to call their attention to current protests in Venezuela and what protesters, who are mostly students, have been trying to accomplish.
Rubio’s speech started as a way to issue a reply to a report issued by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). The democrat’s report was delivered after he returned from a trip to Cuba. According to Sen. Rubio, Harkin’s views on the lives of common Cubans are not accurate, mostly because his accounts seem to gloss over the real facts, leaving the tyrannical and repressive nature of the Cuban government out of the picture.
According to Rubio, Cubans flee their home country out of fear of repression and in hopes of finding a place where they can work and where they are free to associate with others peacefully precisely because they do not have those experiences where they come from. Repression, Rubio stated during his speech, is what the Cuban government is really good at.
Herman Cain didn’t know that China was a nuclear power. He doesn’t know what is going on in Libya. He didn’t know what the Palestinian right-of-return was. He said it’s not practical to attack Iran because “it’s very mountainous.” And he recently said “I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy,” which is probably a good position to take given that he doesn’t know anything about foreign affairs. More evidence of that comes from his “foreign policy” on Cuba:
Cain, who last week stumbled over questions about what he would do in Libya, seemed to know little about Cuba. His campaign kept reporters at bay, and when asked about the Cuban Adjustment Act and the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cain seemed stumped.The policy allows Cuban immigrants who have made it to US soil to stay.
“Wet foot, dry foot policy?” Cain asked. His press handlers interrupted as Cain diverted his course and ducked back into the building. Later, when he emerged, he was asked again by another reporter. Cain wouldn’t answer.
Antonio Rumbos, a writer from Washington, DC, sent this to UL for publication. His work has previously been published at Reason.
In the wake of Google’s recent decision to stop colluding with the Chinese government in censoring online content, I feel obliged to point a finger in the direction of a certain global corporation whose behavior should be stirring more journalists to labor. Americans routinely and casually use express mail companies like DHL to send and receive parcels from around the world, but Cubans like Yoani Sánchez must subject themselves to theft and humiliation when attempting to use its services.
The Los Angeles Times ran a stunning piece in this Sunday’s paper detailing the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel J. Vandeveld, the man who was prosecuting nearly 1/3rd of the pending trials for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. Vandeveld, a self described conformist, became disenchanted with “the system” set up in Cuba over issues relating to fairness and lack of due process for the very prisoners he was suppose to prosecute. He lays out accusations of intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys by military officials, and even goes so far as to say he reached out to a defense attorney to ask “how do I get myself out of this office?”.
“It’s through no fault of the Internet, because people are not educated on how to use the Internet.” — Harry Reid on why the administration extended Obamacare enrollment
— Obama’s disapproval rating climbs again: Already at a dangerously level, President Obama’s disapproval rating is approaching uncharted territory, nearly hitting 60%. “According to the AP-GFK survey released Wednesday, 59 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance while 41 percent approve,” The Hill reports. “A similar poll released by the news outlet in January found 45 percent approved of him while 53 percent disapproved.” The rise in disapproval is attributed to his handling of the Ukraine situation, but his agenda is being panned across the board. “Obama gets lowest marks for his handling of the federal budget, immigration and the economy,” the Associated Press explains. “Support for Obama’s education policies, which had been a strong point, dipped into negative territory this month, too.”
— TROLOLOLOLOLOL: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) trolled President Obama, who is visiting the Vatican, with a hilarious early morning tweet.
This past weekend, FreedomWorks, a free market organization with strong ties to the grassroots and Tea Party, hosted Free the People, an event that brought together thousands of people from across the country to hear speakers and receive activist training to utilize back home.
Among the speakers was Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). During his 11-minute talk, Cruz told the crowd about how he left Cuba as a teenager as Fidel Castro was beginning his “revolution” to come to the United States. He also explained that the consolidation of power by the executive branch today is all too reminiscent of what he experienced in Cuba and urged activists to fight for freedom.
“I grew up in Cuba under a strong military, oppressive dictatorship. So as a teenager I found myself involved in a revolution. I remember during that time a young, charismatic leader rose up, talking about hope and change. His name was Fidel Castro,” recalled Cruz. “And, you know, we all followed him. We thought he was going to be our liberator. As a result of being involved in the revolution, I was imprisoned, I was tortured.”
Cruz explained that he was able to get out of Cuba on a student visa. He got a job as a dishwasher and paid for his education at the University of Texas. But he went back to Cuba in 1959 after Castro’s regime had taken over and, he said, he got the shock of his life.
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rankings can be very useful tools, assuming the methodology is reasonable and the authors use robust data. I’ve cited many of them.
Written by Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst for Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Originally publish on Tuesday, October 16th, it has been cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
This morning the Cuban government announced reforms of its 52 year old travel ban. In mid-January, the Cuban government will cease requiring exit visas and invitations from foreign nationals so Cubans can leave. It’s unclear how the new plan will be applied in practice. The Cuban government’s announcement might not be as welcome as people hope, but this is a substantial change in rhetoric. My colleague Juan Carlos Hidalgo wrote about how such an approach would affect Cubans here.
Assuming the travel ban is mostly or entirely lifted, this policy change will also affect Americans in numerous ways.
First, the United States has a unique immigration policy for Cubans. Known as the “wet foot/dry foot policy,” if a Cuban reaches American soil he or she is allowed to gain permanent residency within a year. If a Cuban is captured at sea, he or she is returned to Cuba unless they cite fears of persecution. This means that most Cubans who want to leave, with the exception of violent or other criminal offenders, will be able to stay in the United States if they are able to make it to American soil. No other nationality in nearly a century, except the Hungarians in the 1950s, has been subject to such a generous policy.
On Thursday, Jaime Daremblum, who is a former Costa Rican ambassador to the US and now a fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote a piece called The Cuba Fallacy. In it he tries to argue against lifting the nearly 50 year old US embargo against Cuba.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “The U.S. embargo against Cuba is the single biggest reason that Washington and Havana do not enjoy better relations. If we want the island nation to become a democracy, we should drop sanctions and pursue a policy of aggressive engagement.”
It is a simple and seductive argument, which explains why so many people have embraced it. Unfortunately, it is based on a fallacious reading of history and a naïve understanding of the Cuban dictatorship.
Over the past four decades, every American president who has pursued a serious rapprochement with Havana — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — has been left shaking his head in frustration. Whenever the United States has extended an olive branch, the Castro regime has responded with an act of foreign aggression (such as lending military support to Communist forces in Africa or killing four Cuban-American pilots) or domestic repression (such as jailing a U.S. citizen on bogus espionage charges) so provocative that it effectively ruined any chance of détente.
Daremblum also goes on to detail some of the human rights abuses committed by the Castro regime.