'I went to Cuba'
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Early in 2009, a few months after his/her inauguration, President Newperson ended a half century of the United States treating Cuba as a pariah state, flying into Havana International Airport on Air Force One to be greeted by a frail Fidel Castro.
As is his custom, the Cuban leader talked the ear off of his visitor for hours on end. Newperson patiently listened as Castro vigorously complained of a long list of real and perceived wrongs that had been done him and his country since his overthrow of the regime of dictator Fulgencio Battista in 1959.
"I can't do anything, nor can you, about what has gone before. I can only influence the future and that's why I'm here," Newperson told Castro when he finally managed to get in a word. "I don't agree with many things you are doing here, and you don't agree with many things about my country. But it is in the best interest of both Cubans and Americans that we at least try to bridge our differences, find those things we share in common," Newperson went on.
Then he told Castro he was eliminating the ban on travel to Cuba, lifting restrictions on trade and was prepared to restore full diplomatic relations. "All I ask in return," Newperson said, "is that you give strong consideration to releasing all political prisoners and beginning the process of allowing democracy to flourish here."
Newperson's trip was roundly criticized by many who saw it as kowtowing to a dictator, one who couldn't possibly be around too much longer, in any event. BUT THE PRESIDENT'S unprecedented trip to Cuba wasn't just about Cuba; far from it. "In a world in which too often the impulse is to settle matters through violence, isn't it time for peace to go on the offense?" he asked. "And the only way peace can work is by people who have very different, even conflicting, views of what's right, finding the means and will to sit down across from a table, without any preconceived demands or expectations, to look each other in the eye and discuss what bothers them, and what might be if they could learn to live with each other."
"I went to Cuba, not only because I wanted to end a policy that has failed in its purpose for five decades," Newperson said, "I did it because I wanted to show that if the United States and Cuba can put aside 50 years of loathing each other, the participants in other long-term conflicts around the world can do the same."
Then he announced that his secretary of state and other high-level foreign-affairs officials had been sent to urge governments around the world to seek ways to begin discussions with their worst adversaries.
"The untended and unresolved conflict is a powder keg waiting to explode," Newperson said in one of her/his weekly news conferences. "I've been accused of attempting to solve intractable issues from a position of weakness. But I ask you, since World War II what war has solved anything? Our strength lies in being engaged, in truly seeking to find reasonable solutions to long-standing problems wherever they are, whomever are the protagonists, through continuing, never-ending dialogue, that doesn't succumb to the few who cannot abide by peace." A REPORTER WHO suggested that the president was being naive, that America's superpower status rested on its military and economic might, was politely told: "I disagree. The greatest source of our power is our example as a free, tolerant, law-abiding and caring nation. If we live up to our own standards, if we treat others as we would be treated, and if we change the message from one that embraces war and violence as a solution to one that advances peace through peaceful means, the world will follow."
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Is the peyote, man!
A magical, fantastical ride with the new president; obviously a Democrat.