Cuba's communist leaders must be ecstatic — and a little stunned — over the deal they just got from President Barack Obama because it rewards them handsomely and requires little in return, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela who worked with three Republican presidents told Newsmax TV
"This is one of the most inexplicable initiatives by a United States administration in the history of foreign policy," Otto Reich, who advised President Ronald Reagan in Cold War-era battles between the U.S. and Cuba in Latin America, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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By re-establishing diplomatic relations after half a century, exchanging captured spies, and easing restrictions on travel and commerce, Obama "has thrown a lifeline to a sinking ship where the longest-lasting enemies of the U.S. are standing on the deck: the Castro brothers," said Reich.
"Nobody has been in power longer than they have who are still alive," said Reich, referring to Fidel Castro and his brother and successor as communist Cuba's ruler, Raúl Castro.
"Why he did this?" Reich said of Obama, who announced the deal on Wednesday, saying it was time to chart a new course in relations with its estranged neighbor.
"Why is he replacing American taxpayers' dollars for the money that the Cubans used to get from the Soviet Union until they ceased to exist, and then [from] Venezuela?" said Reich. "Nobody really knows."
Reich said that Cuba's leaders might also be mystified.
"The Castros cannot believe their luck," he said. "Never in their wildest dreams did they think the president of the U.S. would come begging them for an agreement. The word is getting out that the reason the president reached out to Pope Francis
was because the Cubans were not responding in the way he wanted them to respond. They were not accepting his offers."
Reich doubted that the Pope's intercession had much of an impact, anyway.
"Raul Castro did this because he could not believe that he was getting American money, American investment, American trade and American tourists — all of those things — in exchange for simply a promise that he was going to be a good boy for the next 10 or 20 years — which, of course, he's not going to last that long," said Reich.
Reich argued that there was no reason to abruptly end 54 years of diplomatic and economic isolation of Cuba, and no reason not to continue applying pressure and waiting for a Castro regime propped up by others — initially the Soviet Union, lately Venezuela — to succumb to economic pressures.
"When the Soviet Union disappeared, [Venezuelan leader] Hugo Chavez stepped in with huge amounts of money — up to 25 percent of the gross domestic product of Cuba," said Reich, who runs an international business consultancy.
"Venezuela today is bankrupt," he said. "If the administration would've waited just a little while, we could've negotiated.
"I'm not against negotiation," he added, "but I am against us giving away our bargaining power to a bunch of people who have literally tried to destroy the U.S., as when Fidel Castro begged [Soviet leader] Nikita Khrushchev to fire the nuclear missiles that were in Cuba, already established, in 1962 [at the United States]."
Reich also said that Obama had proved himself to be a poor negotiator.
"For an 83-year-old general, Raúl Castro, who's not in good health, the head of a bankrupt government, to outnegotiate the president of the U.S. so clearly humiliates him, [and] really undermines the image of the U.S. around the world," said Reich. "People are laughing."
Reich speculated that Obama acted out of ideological conviction and political vanity.
"The left-wing Obama is coming out now that he's been unshackled from any political requirements. He doesn't have to run anymore, he's lost control of the Congress, and he's not going to get any legislation through the Congress," he said. "So he's using his executive authority to reshape the world in the way that he wanted to do it, but couldn't do it before."
"This president looked around and looked at the list of the six years of this administration and saw that he has zero foreign policy successes," said Reich. "He figured, where can he give away the store and look to the leftist side of the world [like] a hero? And that's what he did. … He doesn't care what it does to American prestige or our posture in the world."
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