The strange world of Lincoln
By Max J.
Even in the
mad, mad world of today’s radical Republican politicos, his words and ideas
stand out for their sheer daffiness.
His name is
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and his is quite an accomplishment amidst Pat Robertson’s
fatwa against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Barbara Bush’s comments that New
Orleans residents, being poor, did quite well by being evacuated to the Houston
Astrodome, and other delusions of the raving right. Could there be anything
crazier than Senator Rick Santorum’s thesis, stated in his recent book, that
many women work outside the home because of radical feminist brainwashing?
Indeed, in the category of the demented and the demagogic, the competition
within the right is fierce. Consider what Bill O’Reilly, host of his own show on
Fox News, the “fair and balanced” network, said recently:
Bush to address the U.N.
says we must be steadfast in battling terrorism. I'm sure all the U.N. people
fell asleep. They don't really care about anything over there at all. I just
wish Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had
flooded them out. And I wouldn't have rescued them.
Tough as it is to top the deranged rants and
fantastic theories of conservative icons such as Robertson, Bush mère, Santorum,
and O’Reilly, one man managed to do it last week: Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
Reacting to an incident in
which officers of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security
apprehended ten Cubans attempting to reach Florida on a makeshift boat, the
Republican representative from Miami did not limit himself to raving against the
“wet foot/dry foot policy.” Instead, he suggested that the United States should
engage in an act of war as a substitute to its current Cuban immigration policy.
In the past, Diaz-Balart
has said many crazy things, and he has been especially militant in his
opposition to “wet foot/dry foot.” He even got himself arrested while
protesting the policy outside the White House. But that was during the Clinton
administration, when Diaz-Balart could use the issue to club the President and
the Democrats. The Congressman has been much quieter since there has been a
Republican in the White House implementing exactly the same policy.
Now, in a transparent
attempt to give President Bush political cover for continuing to implement “wet
foot/dry foot” while polishing his own credentials as an ultra hardliner, Diaz
Balart told The Miami Herald that the United States should establish a blockade
against Cuba. According to the Herald story:
Diaz-Balart acknowledged the wet foot/dry foot policy would be difficult to
change because it was part of a greater migration accord with Cuba. So instead,
the Diaz-Balarts feel the U.S. government should blockade all shipments of oil
to Cuba to force Fidel Castro from power.
It is hard
to decide what is worse, the gross irresponsibility of the proposal, the utter
lack of logic of the argument, or the dishonesty that underlies the whole thing.
What is clear is that, with these statements, Diaz-Balart establishes a new
standard that surpasses the aforementioned lunacies of Robertson and company.
of Cuba would be an act of war against that country as well as an extremely
hostile action against states that ship oil to Cuba. It would be a clear
violation of international maritime law. And, while Venezuela is Cuba’s main
supplier of oil, an oil blockade of Cuba could interfere with the sovereignty
and right to commerce of several other nations, including Russia.
of blockade, moreover, is unlikely to cause the Cuban government to crumble or
Fidel Castro to surrender. But it is sure to take an enormous toll on the
welfare of the Cuban people.
act of aggression, such as that proposed by Diaz-Balart, would not only provoke
extreme tensions with affected countries, it would sink the already battered
image of the United States in the world. A recent poll published in The Miami
Herald revealed that even among Latin American elites – in other words the kind
of people most likely to be conservative and pro-American – both Hugo Chavez and
Fidel Castro are more popular than George W. Bush. A blockade of Cuba would
increase hostility against the United States and evoke popular support for Cuba.
At a time
when the United States military is overextended fighting two wars and responding
to domestic emergencies, Diaz-Balart suggests a new mission for the armed forces:
to embark in another illegal and unpopular adventure. It is difficult to decide
whether Diaz-Balart has greater disregard for the interests of the people of
Cuba or of the United States.
stance is no surprise. It is but a radical extension of the thinking of a
shrinking but extremely influential exile sector, that composed of hardliners
who have carried out an endless campaign advocating an all-out U.S. economic war
against Cuba. It is also further evidence – if any were needed after the recent
brutal tightening of travel restrictions – that Diaz-Balart and his ilk know no
limit when it comes to carrying out their vendetta against Fidel Castro. Once
again, they proved that they have an infinitely high threshold for the pain of
their fellow Cubans.
absence of logic in Diaz-Balart’s proposal is almost as outrageous as its
inhumanity or its total lack of respect for legality. The Congressman says that
a blockade should be instituted since the wet foot/dry foot policy would be
difficult to change because it was part of a greater migration accord with
Thus, Diaz-Balart argues that the United States should virtually declare war
against another country simply to avoid canceling a simple migration accord with
that country! He suggests – apparently with a straight face – that an act of war,
in violation of international law with potentially far-reaching global and
domestic consequences, should be undertaken in order not to abrogate a simple
agreement with no more force of law than the will to maintain it on the part of
the two nations that entered into it. Does this make sense?
unless one considers the real reason Bush won’t change his Cuba immigration
policy, which is political, namely, the public opinion repercussions if the
administration were to break the immigration accord, and this would lead to a
mass Cuban influx.
lies the brazen dishonesty in Diaz-Balart’s position. He knows – but chooses to
ignore – the fact that Bush can cancel the immigration agreement and revert to
the “open arms” pre-1994 policy with a mere stroke of the pen. Or, more sensibly,
the President could decide to increase the number of Cubans who can enter the
United States legally from 20,000 annually to 50,000 or 100,000, as the Cuban
government had requested when the agreement was negotiated in 1994.
neither Bush nor Diaz-Balart is eager to see tens of thousands of Cubans, mainly
motivated by economic conditions and once here all-too-eager to send money and
make visits to the homeland, come into the United States through lawful, regular
and safe means. Thus add hypocrisy to the case against Diaz-Balart.
blockade proposal would be laughable were it not the case that, under the Bush
administration, U.S. policy toward Cuba has embodied so many of the hard-line
zealots’ fondest wishes. One silver lining in this whole deranged episode is
that, if anyone still believed the protestations of the hardliners that they
don’t favor U.S. military action against Cuba, Diaz-Balart’s own words would
offer the best rebuttal.
Diaz-Balart’s exceptional performance against so many tough competitors, it is a
disappointment that he is not listed in a web site (http://www.democraticunderground.com/top10/)
dedicated to such accomplishments. However, not all is lost; the site does