Dec 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 16 • By LEE SMITH
Last week’s announcement that the White House intends to restore normal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is part of Barack Obama’s larger project to overturn what he perceives to be wrongheaded, or at least outdated, foreign policies. From Obama’s perspective, the Cold War ended nearly a quarter of a century ago, so let’s catch up to the new reality.
For President Obama, amelioriating this country’s relations with Russia, Iran, and now Cuba amounts to a Grand Reset, a reevaluation of America’s position in a post-Cold War world. However, it’s not clear that either the president or his administration really understands what the Cold War was all about.
According to the White House press release last week: “Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” That is true, but of course the main obstacle to that empowerment lies not in Washington but in Havana. As many critics of the White House’s about-face on Cuba have noted, the infusion of cash from remittances and tourism alone is tantamount to a bailout of the Castro regime. In other words, normalized relations with a repressive ruling clique are no more likely to empower the Cuban people than the embargo.
However, it is important to remember that the original purpose of the embargo was not simply to empower the Cuban people. Rather, the larger purpose was to protect Americans.
In the wake of World War II, the United States became a global power largely in response to the Soviet Union’s designs in Europe and around the world. The continental United States spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and thanks to the defeat of the Axis and a blue-water Navy, Washington enjoyed hegemony in both, with key trading partners in Western Europe and Asia. The U.S. role was to protect those allies and thereby ensure growth, prosperity, and peace at home.
What threatened those pillars of postwar peace and stability was the Soviet Union, an expansionist power driven by a totalitarian ideology that reduced mankind to its lowest common denominator—want. However, what transformed the Soviet Union into a global threat wasn’t communism, or even the Red Army. Rather, it was Moscow’s nuclear arsenal that compelled the United States to fight or wage proxy battles on four continents for nearly five decades. Cuba was a problem not simply because of the Castro regime and its efforts to spread revolution throughout Latin America, but because it was the satellite of a nuclear-armed superpower, one that decided to base missiles there in 1962. Cuba was the means by which the Soviets brought the threat of a nuclear attack to our doorstep, a mere 90 miles from Florida.
This is the Cold War lesson apparently lost on Obama. If you believe the embargo was a failure, then it means you do not understand its original purpose—to push back against an expansionist totalitarian regime that threatened America at home. The administration’s Middle East policy is further evidence that Obama does not understand how nuclear weapons can turn even the sickliest regime into a destabilizing threat.
The White House believes that bringing Iran in from the cold, and even partnering with Tehran in Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State, will help normalize the regime. Then Washington will be able to cold-bloodedly balance Iran against traditional U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, a “normalized” Iran will allow the White House to continue to draw down in the Middle East, a region that seems to have little love for Americans no matter how much blood we shed or money we spend—and one that from Obama’s perspective has never done him anything but political harm.
The way he sees it, now’s the time to get out of the Middle East. Above all, we no longer have the same Cold War vital interest in Persian Gulf energy that kept us policing the Strait of Hormuz for decades. We might not be energy independent, but America’s energy revolution means that we’re moving toward being much less dependent on foreigners’ energy. Once he restores ties to Tehran, as he’s just done with Havana, Obama no doubt believes he’ll have a free hand to “focus on nation-building here at home,” as he likes to say.
Dec 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 16 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
We don’t expect much. It’s been nearly six years. We’re long past the point of hoping that Barack Obama will adopt policies that deserve our grudging approval, if not enthusiastic endorsement, particularly on foreign policy and national security.
But we do expect something.
Obama’s no-deal presidency. Dec 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 16 • By FRED BARNES
On domestic issues, President Obama rarely leads and doesn’t like to negotiate. In his first two years in office, he didn’t have to do either. He was spoiled by having overwhelming Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. And he hasn’t gotten over it yet.
Dec 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 14 • By TERRY EASTLAND
With his aggressive executive action on immigration, President Obama has struck a constitutional nerve in the body politic. The first lawsuit challenging the president’s action was filed last week by a coalition of 18 states led by Texas. Oklahoma is about to file, and other states may do so as well.
That’s just who he is.Dec 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 14 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Perhaps you too have been wondering why it is that President Obama is always, always telling us who we are as Americans and who we are not. Obviously, why he does this is a complicated question. And I guess “always” is an exaggeration. Frequently, though—he does it very frequently.
To pull one little item from the Google hopper: He was asked earlier this year about football players and the concussions they always (frequently) seem to be getting. There are few subjects the president won’t comment on.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:28 PM, Nov 21, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's newly announced executive actions on immigration policy and amnesty.
Obama stands alone, alas.Dec 1, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 12 • By FRED BARNES
There’s a lesson from President Obama’s first term that he should have learned long ago. It’s simple: On an issue that affects many millions of Americans, it’s best—even necessary—to have bipartisan support in Congress. Going forward in a purely partisan fashion is bound to cause national discord, increase polarization, and heighten distrust in Washington. Worse still, it means the issue will be controversial for years to come.
Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Let us now praise famous men, or at least one good federal judge, as some recent work of his demonstrates. Jeffrey Sutton is this judge, and he sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Earlier this month he announced an opinion for his court in DeBoer v.
Congress ponders how to stop Obama’s unilateral immigration moves. Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Move over, Barack Obama. The Republicans are now the party of hope—at least when it comes to Obama’s expected executive order on immigration.
“We hope the president isn’t going to do that,” Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the soon-to-be Senate majority leader, said November 13, in his first postelection press conference at the Capitol.
Democratic hero worship then and nowNov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By NOEMIE EMERY
One month short of his 78th birthday, and 27 years after his self-immolation, Gary Hart has been given a present of sorts by writer Matt Bai, who in All the Truth Is Out recasts the past as Hart wants to see it, a great man brought low by a change (for the worse) in the national zeitgeist that deprived the United States of a truly great leader, and a great mind of its mission in life.
Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By LEE SMITH
It's not clear when (or whether) the Obama White House will conclude a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. The extended deadline for the interim deal known as the Joint Plan of Action is set to expire November 24. And the president very much wants a deal that would cement his foreign policy legacy. On the other hand, there are still gaps on key issues, like how many centrifuges Iran gets to keep.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah—for 74 minutes.Nov 17, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 10 • By FRED BARNES
From time to time there comes a moment when a president is expected to say something meaningful about an event that has just occurred. President Obama faced such a moment last week after Republicans swept the midterm elections and captured the Senate. He had nothing interesting, much less meaningful, to say. But he did offer a few comments that were palpably untrue.