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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Taking sides

Reuters, November 8:

"Nearly every country in the world joined on Tuesday to urge the United States to lift its four-decade old economic embargo against Cuba in a record U.N. General Assembly vote.

"The vote, held for the 14th consecutive year, was 182 to 4 with 1 abstention on a resolution calling for Washington to lift the U.S. trade, financial and travel embargo, particularly its provisions penalizing foreign firms.

"The five voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstained and El Salvador, Iraq, Nicaragua and Morocco did not vote. Last year the vote was 179 to 5, with more countries refusing to vote.

"Cuba has been under a U.S. embargo since President Fidel Castro defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs in 1961."

Some of the "no" countries have consorted before. Israel is a client state and Palau and Marshall Islands are heavily dependent on American largesse. Back in 2003, Israel's "security fence" was condemned by the International Court of Justice. A subsequent UN vote proved the world was against Israel's apartheid wall, but Marshall Islands and Micronesia sided with the US.

Once again, Israel and the US remain internationally isolated.



Urge? We are Superior. We lead. The rest of the world follows.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 4:38:00 pm  
Blogger J F said...

So, what should be done about Cuba's human rights violations?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 6:49:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The trade embargo is criminal and utterly counter-productive.
It's still hilarious how the US treats Cuba. Such anger, such vitriol, such pointlessness.
Pressure on Castro re human rights is both proper and necessary, but current policies achieve nothing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:05:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

JF, there is an argument - applicable to other ostracised states such as North Korea and Burma - that human rights will improve only when sanctions are lifted. Do you honestly think that the economic embargo against Cuba is helping to improve matters related to human rights? If not, what relevance does your comment have to the continuing US embargo? If you are suggesting that human rights violations should preclude a nation from trade with (or assistance from) the US, then how does this argument apply in central Asia?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:14:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

The whole embargo thing is a joke. I guess it placates the anti-castro Cubans in Miami. Being rabidly anti-communist also helps.

Ant, you forgot the significant other country who voted against the Court of Justice on the apartheid wall. - Australia

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:30:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

I don't agree with the embargo, BUT just because the UN says so it's pretty silly logic. I mean, most of those 182 countries are fellow dictatorships; what moral authority do they have on the question?

Just because everyone thinks something doesn't make it right. If all your friends jumped off the Harbour Bridge, would you do it too?

Be good.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005 7:43:00 pm  
Blogger J F said...

Okay, the embargo's a joke; propose effective measures to replace it. The EU's been working – sans embargo - on improving the human rights situation but without significant progress. What will work?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 8:53:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

J F said...
"Okay, the embargo's a joke; propose effective measures to replace it."

Simple economics my dear Watson. When sticks fail, try carrots. Yes, that's right: institutionalised bribery. Here's how it goes: "You do some human rights fixing, allow independent monitoring,* and we'll then hand over wads of foreign exchange or in-kind transfers (like cars, paint and bricks for a start), no post hoc strings attached." It would be interesting just to see what would happen. Social experiments are fun! and instructive! (e.g. We now know for sure that you can't just invade countries, topple their dictators and whack in a liberal democratic 'tradition' in "six months" as Rummie first suggested. A very instructive social experiment, that one ... albeit not much fun unless you're into dead Arabs**).

*Not by the UN of course, because as Ibrahim is always quick to point out, they are anti-semitic, Nazi, Islamo-fascists ... but someone agreeably impartial.
**...Which might explain Ibrahim's support.

But onto more important issues: what the hell is going on in Micronesia? They abstained? Does this mean they've lost or gained a backbone?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 10:39:00 pm  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:15:00 am  

F - So, what should be done about Cuba's human rights violations?

Antony - The trade embargo is criminal and utterly counter-productive.

Any day now Cuba's will will break. Pretty soon they will realize America's Superiorness and it is futile to resist.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:15:38 AM

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:17:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

One day, Castro will die. Then we'll see.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:26:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

What makes the embargo so utterly futile is the overwhelming hypocrisy of it all. The US has never given as damn about human rights when there was a buck to be made. It's just a conveniet facade from which to hide behind.

The US would never apply the same standards to China or Saudi Arabia, and it has been allies with Uzbekistan (where Karimov lives to boil his victims) etc.

Let's be honest, the US has been punishing Cuba for decades becasue Castro gave the US the middle finger and continues to get away with it. the other reason is that a bunch of rich US businesses and mob families got stiffed when Castro came to power.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 1:50:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Since most every country, including what passed for the Vatican, has sinned in this matter, we should all do absolutely nothing for fear of being considered a hypocrite.

Or we can tell the Addamo's of the world to piss off and do what we believe to be the right thing through our flawed yet effective democratic process.

Addamo - piss off.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 3:53:00 am  

Yeah - Piss off addamo. ibrahamav - Your good argument shows how Superior you are. Are you American or have had a Great American influence your life?

Thursday, November 10, 2005 6:28:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Superior, what's your major malfunction? Whatever joke you've got going has been run well and truly into a ditch.

Edward, why is it that your side can't ever make an argument without resorting to racist accusations? (Yes, everyone on the right lives to see dead Arabs. Do you really think we all just sit around getting hard-ons thinking about killed Iraqi civilians? That we snuggle up to our partners in bed and say, "Hey, baby, why don't you check out my LANCET study?")

Thursday, November 10, 2005 7:13:00 am  

shabadoo - You make me laugh just by saying your name. After saying it a few times(between giggles)I realized that it sounds Moslem if said backwards. I'm on to you. Aussie Intel should know about you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 7:30:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Shabadoo, he's just a one-trick pony. Sup will flame and burn out as all unsustainable ideas do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:05:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Hecklers, please note: This post is not about human rights in Cuba. And the author does not deny that human rights violations exist. There are few nations on earth where they do not occur, as you likely already know. When the issue of human rights was raised by a commenter, the relevance was questioned, and it was then agreed that US sanctions are not the solution (as if that's what they are intended for). Now you demand a solution to the human rights violations of Cuba. How does this have any bearing on the US sanctions? Why is Loewenstein criticised for his inability to solve human rights problems when the hawkish behaviour that you defend has proven completely incapable of doing so? This is a pretty flimsy criticism.

Superior American, Cuba's will has not broken, and I doubt that it ever will. History disproves your shallow rhetoric. I think the mob that you most likely read call this being "mugged by reality". Get your head out of your arse. Are you really scared of that little island? And what do you say about the contrasting position taken by Washington when it comes to Uzbekistan? I'd be genuinely interested to hear how you support the actions of the hegemon in that situation.

Ibrahamav, let me guess. These comments make me a fascist.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:29:00 am  

dirtbikeoption - If we hang with the Uzbeks some of our Superior values will rub ff. Just like they have done in Egypt.
They just had free and fair elections, or have you not heard?

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:36:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Dirt, I think S.A. was being ironic. However: I have been to Cuba, and it's not a question of will or not. I've stayed in Cuban's homes and eaten at their tables. And you know what? The revolution is dead. No one believes in Castro; they just believe in feeding their families. And embargo or not, socialism is no way to do that. There's a quiet capitalist revolution underway, and when Castro kicks off, look out - the Cubans are hella smart and hella industrious.

My criticism of Anty wasn't so much his inability to solve the problem as the idea that somehow the UN's say on the embargo is legitimate, being that so many of its members are dictatorships as bad or worse as Cuba. This lot we should listen to?s

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:50:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Superior, you get more hilarious with each post. You reference to American values rubbing off on Egypt is strangely accurate though.

In the US election, there were counties in Ohio that recorded far more votes (to the GOP) than registered voters. In the last election (which Mubarak sayd was the first legit election in Egypt), he got more of a majority than he did with the earlier elections he admitted to being rigged.

Nothing like sharing know how.

Ibrahim, good to see you back with a vengeance. I'm glad they've given you guys at the asylum your internet privileges again.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:57:00 am  

addamo - You must get your news from Michelle Moore.
Ibrahamav - I know what is like to be in the "safe place". I was labeled Megla something or another. That is till I wore them down with my Superior intellect. It was a pretty dour place. By the time they waved goodbye they were all smiles and filled with joy.
Hope you get out soon.
ps - Internet access? I'll have to give my old friends a call. All we were allowed to do was make baskets and such. I got quite good. In fact I became quite a Superior Basket Maker, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:20:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Ah, free and fair elections in Egypt. I see. "Superior American" is actually a piss take of the right. Clever.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:29:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

PS Shab, like it or not, the UN is the world body. It may be popular on the right at present to scorn the UN as a nest of vipers, but the reality is far different, and you know it. Again, you prefer to muddy the waters of discussion with your tired arguments. Fact is, the embargo is criminal, and the US only gets away with it cos it rules the roost. Might is right, yeah?

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:32:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Michael Moore? C'mon, you can do better than that tired old one. Why go to Michael Moore when you can get this stuff from the NYT or Washington Post?

I am impressed with your paternal instincts tough. I'm sure Ibraham is in serious need of a hug.

Now back to the topic. Yes I agree, that fear of being accused of hypocrisy should not stifle our efforts to put an end to human rights abuses. But you will excuse my cynicism, given how this cause is repeatedly pulled out of our collective arses as a phony pretext to pick a fight.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:36:00 am  

dirtbikeoption said..." piss take of the
right." Please interpet in English please.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:36:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Superior, I am suggesting that you are satirising the behaviour of neo-con/rightist blog commenters. Either that, or you are just a drongo.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:03:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Ooops, now you're going to have to explain drongo.

Trust me dirt, Superior is no neo-con/rightist pundit. I've some across them and they make Superior look a tree hugging liberal.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:07:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Dirt, did you support sanctions on apartheid South Africa?

Again, I'd lift the embargo yesterday if I could; as I say, I've been there and the best way to kick out the commies would be to flood the place with greenbacks.

What is this "the world body" thing anyway? It is, at heart, a trade association for heads of state, and as a good leftist who is suspicious of authority, I'm not sure why you are so enthusiastic about the attempts to turn the UN into some sort of supra-national governing body.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:12:00 am  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:12:00 pm  

dirtbikeoption - I said English. Drongo? That's Indig talk?
addamo - "tree hugging liberal." That was a pretty low blow. Totally uncalled for.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:13:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

The UN asks the US to remove sanctions.
Are sanctions something that can be decided ,via the ballot box ,in the country enacting the sanctions ? I would have thought so.
Got to love that process.
DBO - you seem a very caring person but the US can do what it likes re sanctions and denouncing them as criminal means nothing.
And I think you need to look back into the past actions of the UN before thinking it is a suitable body to do much of anything.
The sooner Bolton puts the blow torch to that flaccid belly the better.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 5:38:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Shabadoo said...
"Edward, why is it that your side can't ever make an argument without resorting to racist accusations? (Yes, everyone on the right lives to see dead Arabs."

Huh? Right wingers are a RACE now?

I'm calling Darwin.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:15:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, I was too young to support sanctions against SA (or anyone else for that matter). (Don't tell Gibbo!) I didn't support sanctions against Iraq, and I don't support sanctions against Burma. The UN thing needs to be discussed at length, not in a handful of lines here. Happy to, anytime.

Boredinhk, denouncing the US government as criminal is meaningful in the sense that it demonstrates how Washington escapes legal scrutiny completely. You may see this as symbolism only, but symbols may yet have power over reckless hegemons. Oh, and yes, the US can do what it wants. We have seen that in Laos and Nicaragua and many other places. That does not exonerate Washington, though. If you are also subscribing to the supposed real politick of "might is right" then we should agree to disagree, because I will never accept that.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 11:22:00 pm  
Blogger Taylor Kirk said...

We're doing our weekly debate on this topic this morning. We'd love for you to comment!

The Latin Americanist

Friday, November 11, 2005 1:54:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I find it laughable that the US can point he finger at Cuba's human rights record when Cuba's infant mortality rate is way lower that most US cities.

Friday, November 11, 2005 9:42:00 am  

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