Thursday, August 16, 2007


I ran across this story on CNN just now. In a nutshell, it's about Travelocity paying a fine for inadvertently arranging travel to Cuba several years ago.

Here's the thing. I'm ok with the government warning me about foreign locales because it's dangerous to go there. I'm ok with them recommending that we don't go. I'm even ok with them banning certain business activity with foreign countries. But I don't recognize the goverment's right to tell me, a free citizen, where I can and can't go, especially outside of this country's borders.

Unlike Libertarians, I do understand and support that certain rights are abrogated in the social contract we make by taking part in society. You don't have a right not to pay taxes. But you do have a right to travel wherever you please.

Now I'm no martyr. Although I don't recognize the legal or moral right of the government to ban me from traveling to Cuba, I do recognize that they have the might. I don't care to go to Cuba, but if I really wanted to, I should be able to, without the threat of fines or jail time when I come back.

And that doesn't even address the other major part of this issue - that sanctions like these don't even work. They didn't work in Iraq, they don't work in Cuba, they don't work in North Korea. All they do is starve the populace and create anti-American resentment that their leaders use to stay in power.

They're not even applied consistently. By all rights, we shouldn't be doing any business with China. But I actually think China is a better model to look at. Although still terribly behind in civil liberties and human rights, they're very slowly moving in the right direction. I think a lot of that is due to their engagement with the rest of the world.

Posted by


James McGovern said...

Here is a link to a great article on Fidel Castro that is definitely worth reading:

Toast said...

Great post, Chris. Our Cuba policy is one of those things that doesn't get the scrutiny it deserves. It's hypocritical and completely inconsistent with our stance towards many far more oppressive regimes. But the nutjob Cuban ex-pat lobby has had our policy towards their former home in a choke-hold for half a century.

(BTW: When we were in Key West, Tracy bought a Cuba hat. One of the flat army caps with the red star and "CUBA" written on it. She loves it but she's afraid to wear it out in public.)

Chris Howard said...

I don't intend this to be an apology for Cuba or Castro. Even with all the problems we have in America, we're far, far better off here than people in Cuba. I think Castro and his government should go, I just don't think the embargo or the influence of the Cuban exile community has any positive effect in that direction.

Chris Howard said...

Our Cuba policy is one of those things that doesn't get the scrutiny it deserves.

I agree. And our presidents of both parties kowtow to the Cuban exiles in order to get their votes. Wouldn't it be nice if our government actually looked at what works and doesn't work and tried something different?

I made the comment above in response to the first comment. Although I think our Cuba policies are counterproductive, I don't think Castro is some great humanitarian.

Mr Furious said...

If Cuba is your issue, Chris Dodd is your candidate...

What an "Adult Foreign Policy" Would Look Like

Chris Howard said...

Thanks for the link Mr. Furious. It's a very good piece. I haven't really looked at Dodd on other issues, but he's right on on this one. Nice to see there are some people in high places who aren't so crazy on this issue. Just too bad there aren't more.

Toast said...

I don't think Castro is some great humanitarian.

I don't either. Although the case could be made that he actually gives more of a shit about his people than George W. Bush does.

Toast said...

And btw, Dodd has the most sane, forward-looking, progressive-friendly policy portfolio on any of the Dem candidates. It's a shame he doesn't have the high profile that the Big Three have, 'cause he's a better candidate than any of them.