President Barack Obama unveiled a new U.S. policy toward Cuba on Wednesday as part of a deal that brought American Alan Gross home in exchange for three convicted Cuban spies. As he has done so often in the past, Obama tried to channel the perspective of America’s enemies and critics, as if his job were to act as a neutral mediator instead of defending U.S. interests and values. In the course of his address, Obama told American ten major lies, both of omission and commission.
Here they are, in order of appearance:
1. No mention of the Cuban missile crisis. “I was born in 1961 just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba….Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War and America’s steadfast opposition to communism.” Cuba’s role in helping the Soviet Union project a direct threat to the U.S. mainland is carefully elided (though Obama, as he has done before, refers to his own birth as a kind of watershed.)
2. Suggesting that the president can establish a U.S. embassy on his own. “Going forward, the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana and high ranking officials will visit Cuba.” An embassy needs to be funded by Congress, and needs an ambassador to be approved by the Senate. None of that is going to happen–nor should it, especially after the disastrous experiment in re-establishing an embassy in Syria, which Obama did in 2009, to no good effect whatsoever.
3. No mention of Cuba’s role in repressing democracy abroad. “Cuba has sent hundreds of healthcare workers to Africa to fight Ebola.” Yes, and Cuba has also sent experts in repression to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Cuban agents also allegedly beat and raped Venezuelan protestors earlier this year. For decades, Cuba assisted guerrilla armies abroad, fomenting bloody revolution in some countries and propping up communist regimes elsewhere. It continues to do so.
4. Suggesting that Cuba does not support terrorism. “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.” Yet Cuba was caught, only last year, smuggling “missile equipment” to North Korea, the dictatorship that targeted America with a cyber-terror attack on the day Obama announced the new Cuba policy. Cuba continues to offer other kinds of support to terrorists.
5. False claim that the U.S. is to blame for lack of information in Cuba. “I believe in the free flow of information. Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.” This is perhaps the most offensive lie of all, since Gross was detained for trying to help Cubans access technology. The reason Cubans lack news and communication is because the regime censors them brutally, not because of the U.S. embargo.
6. False promise to consult Congress on Cuba, when his administration broke that promise. “As these changes unfold, I look forward to engaging Congress in an honest and serious debate about lifting the embargo.” And yet when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked White House official Tony Blinken whether the administration planned any major Cuba policy changes, Blinken (now Deputy Secretary of State) lied and said any change would come in consultation with Congress.
7. False claim that Cuba agreed to release political prisoners as part of a deal with the U.S. “In addition to the return of Alan Gross and the release of our intelligence agent, we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.” As the Washington Post noted, these political prisoners were already set to be released as the result of negotiations four years ago with the Vatican and Spain.
8. False commitment to principle of changing policies that do not work. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.” If that were really what Obama believed, we would not see the administration pursuing policies whose failure is already evident as a matter of historical record: high taxes, economic redistribution, socialized medicine, union-dominated schools, restrictive labor and environmental regulations, and so on.
9. Conflating the collapse of the Castro regime with the collapse of Cuba. “Moreover, it does not serve America’s interests or the Cuban people to try to push Cuba towards collapse.” A false “binary choice.” By failing to differentiate between the regime and the country, Obama signaled his intention to allow the Castros and their heirs to entrench their power–abandoning the cause of freedom and reform, just as he did with the mullahs in Iran during the 2009 uprising.
10. Falsely identifying the U.S. as a colonial power. “Others have seen us as a form of colonizer intent on controlling your future..…Let us leave behind the legacy of both colonization and communism, the tyranny of drug cartels, dictators and sham election.” America actually liberated Cuba from Spanish colonialism, and though the U.S. influenced the island heavily for decades afterward, Obama’s attempted moral equivalence between “colonization” and communist tyranny is a false one.
Obama borrowed a quote from the Cuban literary giant José Martí: “liberty is the right of every man to be honest.” Yet as my colleague Frances Martel has pointed out, Obama shortened that quote, leaving out the phrase ” and to think and to speak without hypocrisy.” Obama’s speech was both dishonest and hypocritical. It was an ominous introduction to a new policy that might have deserved a chance, were it not based on such evident disregard for American interests and Cuban freedom.
For more on the dishonesty of Obama’s speech, see Martel’s “Line by Line: Every Empty Promise in Obama’s Cuba Speech.”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak