Terry H. Schwadron
July 17, 2021
To my ear, Joe Biden was clear and timely on our two developing hemispheric international situations:
· On Haiti, Biden said sending U.S. troops to Haiti is “not on the table for now“ as the island nation deals with the chaos following the assassination of its president by insurgents that include a U.S. resident who apparently saw himself as president himself. Haiti had requested U.S. troops to help the nation guard critical infrastructure following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse last week.
· On Cuba, where unusually large citizen dissent has broken out on the streets, Biden said the U.S. is weighing intervention in the Cuban government’s ongoing crackdown, by providing access to the Internet that has been closed down, limiting protesters’ ability to communicate, something that could keep the protest alive.
In other words, Biden is paying attention, considering short- and long-term policies and commitments — basically the opposite of knee-jerk reaction to send in troops or to ignore the situation altogether. Basically, thoughtfulness seems consistent with whatever we know about Biden’s administration.
Why then, are Republican guns already afire with pretty fiery criticism along the lines of too-little, too-late when the incidents themselves are only days old.
It’s because Biden apparently can do nothing right by these folks — even in two international situations that do not directly affect America’s own ability to operate.
It’s not even clear yet exactly how serious the situation is in Cuba or Haiti. Both situations are fluid, however unusual and different the circumstances. The chaos is similar, the lack of food and medicine is the same, the need for jobs, investment, development and stability much alike.
But the desire to stamp Cuba as “communist” is so strong for the GOP that sloganeering is driving an immediate need to jump on street protests basically to call for the overthrow of the long-term island government. And in Haiti, poorest country in the hemisphere, Republicans mostly indicate that they don’t care.
Once again, it is the perception of domestic politics — the appeal to descendants of Cuban refugees in South Florida — that is driving Republican policy opinion, if not for both parties.
In like fashion, there is street turmoil in South Africa, civic roiling in Hong Kong and the from-time-to-time manufactured street uprisings in Iran — but these don’t draw as much Republican ire for Biden unless describes as part of his “weak” China policies, even though, again, they were happening in one form or another under his predecessor.
Biden sent enough U.S. Marines to keep the embassy in Port au Prince secure, but that’s it for Haiti.
And he has ordered a review of technologies to determine if the U.S. can support Internet in Cuba, and is considering such things as shipping vaccines and making payments to Cuban-American families to share with Cuban relatives — if our government can assure that such moves will reach real people in Cuba and not just a governmental in-crowd.
Indeed, Biden labeled Cuba “a failed state that is repressing their citizens,” which is different from what Barack Obama had tried in moving beyond boycotts and such, reinstated by Donald Trump.
Apparently, that’s not good enough.
Biden’s political opponents are taking every opportunity to skewer his approach, says Politico.com.
Whether the issue is pulling the troops from Afghanistan, something also promulgated by Trump, or recognizing that Palestinians have rights, an obvious difference with Trump, dealing with threats from Russia and China, nothing Biden does is good enough for the likes of outspoken Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Mario Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina or Tom Cotton of Arkansas — all vying to position themselves as the likeliest heir to the Trump throne.
“For my Republican friends, if 10 angels came swearing from above that the president’s decision on Afghanistan was the right one, they would say the angels lied,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said to Politico. Senator Cruz is is holding up every single State Department nominee right now, “so the Republican strategy is to try to make it as hard as possible for President Biden to manage crises around the world,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Republicans have taken political shots at Biden over Cuba. Senator Cotton called Biden “pathetically weak,” but stopped short of trying to pin the unforeseen Haiti problems on Biden.
In a Republican world, Biden making nice with Germany as an ally means not being tough on Russia and its pipeline projects. Where were these guys when Trump was accepting Vladimir Putin’s opinions over the U.S. intelligence community?