Cuba’s Soft Power: Exporting Doctors Rather Than Revolution

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bruno-rodriguez.jpgRecently, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went at it during a session when 187 Members of the United Nations were about to vote against the United States and two allies on the issue of the US embargo against Cuba.
Rodriguez said “President Obama has a historical opportunity to lead a change of policy toward Cuba and the lifting of the blockade”, but also said “the blockade is an uncultured act of arrogance,” “an act of genocide”, and that the embargo was “ethically unacceptable”.
I would have encouraged Cuba’s foreign minister to say instead that the embargo was an anachronism of the Cold War, has not achieved the goals the US had for it, harmed both Cuban and US interests, and that the countries should realize its the 21st century and find a way to move forward.
But given the pitch of things that day at the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice threw some tough words back at Foreign Minister Rodriguez calling his remarks “straight out of the Cold War era” and “hostile.”
rice_ambassador_susan.jpgShe went on to underscore the more substantively important point that President Obama and the US were prepared to engage Cuba on a number of issues of mutual interest and concern. That at least is good news and really the only statement that mattered.
But theatrics and rhetoric aside, what is astonishingly absent from America’s autopilot driven position on the Embargo is that with the end of the Cold War, Cuba is not exporting arms and revolutionaries — Cuba is exporting doctors.
There are more than 51,000 Cuban doctors and health care professionals working around the world today, primarily in developing nations. Many of these are working collaboratively with US and European NGOs actually in third countries — particularly in Africa in dealing with AIDS/HIV, river blindness, malaria, and a number of health maladies.
America and Cuba both maintain too much a habit of Cold War era rhetoric, but the facts on the ground are that Cuba is not a threat to the United States or its allies in any fundamental ways that justify the kind of barriers we have erected between Americans and Cubans — at the government to government as well as at the people to people levels.
The other thing that US diplomats could do to constructively redirect a history of escalating, toxic public exchanges is to commend Bruno Rodriguez for his chapter in Cuba’s “soft power” history.
In the Obama administration’s roster of foreign policy practitioners today, people like Anne-Marie Slaughter, James Steinberg, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Richard Holbrooke and others have done roll up their sleeves work in developing nations — but I think all of them would admire the year of humanitarian service Bruno Rodriguez did on the Pakistan/Kashmir border.
To make a long and very fascinating story short, Fidel Castro organized a team of 1,500 doctors into the “Henry Reeves Brigade” and offered them to the US to provide support for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Predictably, the US declined the gesture. Shortly after, a major earthquake hit the heavily Islamic fundamentalist region along the border of Pakistan and Kashmir.
Castro sent the brigade to Pakistan to help earthquake survivors and those suffering long-term shock and other problems related to the earthquake in the months after.
The current Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez — who was then a deputy foreign minister — was dispatched along with the Reeves Brigade to oversee the medical operations in the mountainous, difficultly accessed earthquake zone.
Americans and Europeans also sent medical teams — one major base camp each that stayed about a month each. The Cubans sent seven major base camps and thirty field hospitals, remaining for a year.
Reportedly, the Cubans, American and European medical personnel coordinated well in the field and worked together without incident. In one case, a Cuban doctor had to dress in a full hijab as a female doctor in order to deliver the baby of a local woman — who would have been subjected to harsh punishment if known that a male doctor did this. But the Cubans did send many female doctors and health professionals as well.
At the time this all occurred, Pakistan and Cuba did not have diplomatic relations — and today they do. And their are Cuban doctors doing work in Pakistan today — and Pakistani students studying at the Latin American School of Medicine.
The Henry Reeves Brigade has, since Pakistan, been deployed to help in the great Sichuan Earthquake in China and also to do disaster relief in Latin America. The Brigade now has more than 3,000 health care professionals who are experts in disaster-related medical support.
This is a case of soft power with hard results, a story that anyone can commend despite all of the other warts and problems in a relationship. Americans and Cubans worked together to help others — and nation to nation opportunities for Cuba and Pakistan grew out of that engagement.
It would be useful to see some of this kind of material make it into our diplomatic posturing as we work to get past the past.
The Cold War should be over, and once we begin to find narratives that can fill up the pages of the present and the future, that were not written as the result of inertia and being on auto-pilot, we can move to the next, more constructive phase in US-Cuba relations.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

52 comments on “Cuba’s Soft Power: Exporting Doctors Rather Than Revolution

  1. ... says:

    paul – i haven’t figured it out myself yet, lol…

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    …,
    “sun ra’s cousin” is a brilliant idea for a new moniker. Then at least we`d know
    which PLANET you`re living on (or maybe not).

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    lol you guys! a search on my real name would bring up too much, lol… i could change my moniker to sun ra’s cousin… would that help?

    Reply

  4. Outraged American says:

    Hey Paul, it appears that Swine Flu, or at least anything
    approaching a pandemic, is a medical hoax/ joke. From the UK
    Independent’s Health Editor:
    Jeremy Laurance: Let down by the reality of swine flu
    We have to explain that science deals in probabilities, not
    certainties
    (EXCERPT)
    Forgive me if this sounds callous, but I am finding it hard to
    conceal my disappointment about swine flu. For years I have
    been writing about the “next flu pandemic” and its potential to
    cause catastrophe, on the basis of what virologists told me.
    I went to Hong Kong in 2003 to report on the outbreak of Severe
    Acute Respiratory Syndrome – better known as SARS – because I
    thought that might be it. I followed the spread of avian
    influenza from the Far East across Europe to Britain in 2006
    with, yes, eager anticipation. And when swine flu broke out in
    Mexico last April and the first flu pandemic in 40 years was
    declared, I sounded the alarm as loudly as anyone.
    I didn’t expect it to end with a whimper instead of a bang. But
    that is how it is looking now – for this year at least. New
    infections have plateaued for the last two weeks at levels only
    just above the baseline for seasonal flu. The official reason given
    is the “half-term effect”: children off school slow the spread of
    the virus. But swine flu may well now be on a downward trend.
    Flu outbreaks happen in waves of up to 16 weeks, and more
    usually 10 weeks. We are already in week 10 of the current wave.
    ENTIRE ARTICLE
    http://tinyurl.com/ycskoqt
    But look on the bright side: Rumsfeld made enough off of Swine
    Flu to pay for a pig farm with a billion or so hogs even bigger
    than he is.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Well POA,
    as a start, I would suggest that Stewart should do what Kervick did some hours ago – do
    a google search on …, just to see what kind of guy he is – and to check if … has a habit
    of saying negative things about Joe Biden on the internet.

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oops, sorry, …, I didn’t mean to imply you are DOA.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Are you the only commenter who`ve escaped the side effects of Rummy`s swine flu vaccine?”
    Now I gotta admit Paul, that one got a robust hardy-har-har outta me.
    I gotta chuckle too at …’s monicker. If Stewart is bugged by anonymous screen names, he probably won’t survive a debate with “…”. Surely, it’ll give him apoplexy when he lays eyes on the Duke Of Anonymity.

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    …,
    haven`t you heard it?
    Are you the only commenter who`ve escaped the side effects of Rummy`s swine flu vaccine?

    Reply

  9. ... says:

    another comment section that is closed…. here’s a comment for the “””What Can America Offer Its Allies?”” thread…
    how about a wake up call? when someone is sleeping, maybe you can get them to wake up! i guess this is unlikely given how asleep the usa is at present…
    Another Jewish town adds ‘Zionist loyalty’ to bylaws
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1128408.html

    Reply

  10. ... says:

    well, i was away from twn for a week – got back here friday and it seems like the wind has been sucked out of twn… not sure what happened, but it is interesting how quickly things change… instead of the berlin wall coming down, it looks like it’s being put back up here at twn…

    Reply

  11. Outraged American says:

    OT: Posse Comitatus goes to hell- US troops being used to fight
    gangs in California using Iraq “surge” techniques.
    While I’m not a fan girl of gangs, and have been car-jacked and
    then stalked by one because I fought them off, this is just plain,
    old wrong.
    The National Guard is overseas and US troops are over here
    doing domestic policing? NOPE. No way is this right.
    Posse Comitatus was put into place to stop us from being a
    military state and that’s the way it should stay, no matter how
    bad domestic issues get.
    http://tinyurl.com/yl7lhds
    And for all the posturing on here about illegal immigration and
    as a legal immigrant myself, I say YES to a guest worker program
    and NO to unfettered, ILLEGAL, immigration and as someone of
    mixed (many) races myself this is not about racism it’s about the
    hard cold reality on the ground in the Southwestern states:
    Frightening excerpt (AGAIN, KEEP TAXES SPENT LOCALLY ON
    LOCAL NEEDS AND WE WOULDN’T HAVE THE MILITARY TAKING
    OVER OUR COMMUNITIES!)
    The gang problem dates back decades in Salinas, headquarters
    of the northern California network known as La Familia or
    Norteños. Organized in regiments, the gang operates more
    coherently in Salinas than its rival, the Mexican Mafia based in
    Southern California, according to Sgt. Mark Lazzarini, a Salinas
    police officer. He briefed the Monterey contingent and calls it a
    “godsend.”
    “Only half of our gangs are structured: the Norteños,” he said.
    “The southerners are completely unstructured. Half of our
    violence is kids who get into a car and go out and hunt. These
    kids don’t know their victims. How do you stop that? It’s very
    chaotic.”
    That’s the flip side of the “surge,” city officials say.
    To secure Salinas, the mayor wants more boots on the ground,
    though finding the money to hire 84 officers became more
    problematic after local voters recently rejected a 1-cent increase
    in the sales tax, billed as “a penny for peace.” More officers
    would mean less dashing from call to call and more time to
    demonstrate that police work for residents.
    Social programs will play a key role in a city where gang
    membership often flows from the long hours when youths are
    unwatched by parents working in the lettuce fields.
    “The kid’s left alone a lot,” said Lazzarini. “Pretty soon they
    become a ‘neighborhood kid.’ ”
    All the pieces, however, must leave city officials speaking with
    one voice.
    “I don’t want to use the word ‘psychological operations’ because
    that’ll really make people go crazy,” said Rothstein, who teaches
    a “classified seminar” on information operations in Monterey.
    “But the idea is, talking to the public thwarts negative messages.
    All that is part of a strategic communication plan that has to
    inform everything you do.”
    Leonard A. Ferrari, provost of the Naval Postgraduate School,
    embraced the project from the start, hearing in Donohue’s plea
    an opportunity for a school “in transition from just a defense
    institution to a national homeland and even a human security
    institution. The Justice Department estimates 1 million gang
    members nationwide. If the Apollo program gave the mattress
    industry memory foam, the $1 trillion invested so far in Iraq and
    Afghanistan could pay a dividend in American streets.
    “The idea was, not just Salinas,” Ferrari said, “but is there a
    national model for this?”
    ENTIRE ARTICLE AT LINK

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, thank God we can comment somewhere, otherwise we woulda missed Stewart’s pearls of wisdom.

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    tried to post a comment on the thread up above – ben katchers article on turkey and see i am unable to… i guess steve is doing the comments on a trail basis on only certain threads… otherwise i am wondering what is up…

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    Dusty Rhodes?
    Nope.
    The Israel Lobby?
    Can`t say that I`ve heard about it.
    Does it have any connection with that political scandal in Portugal recently?
    Or was it perhaps Puerto Rico or Bangladesh?
    Hmm… So Israel has some powerful lobby groups?
    Interesting. Thanks for this refreshing info!

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Paul, I just can’t stand these repetitious litanies, can you?
    BTW, have I mentioned the power the Israeli lobby groups have on….uh, oh….uh….have I ever told you about Dusty Rhodes, the palamino quarter horse I had as a kid?
    Uhhhhm, ‘scuse me, I think someone is at the door…

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    I read a couple of N. Stewart`s comments.
    “Love Joe Biden!”
    “Yes, VP Biden is generally thought of as a foreign policy genius”
    “Biden is brilliant in foreign policy and always has been. Why not just say that instead of…”
    Really refreshing point of views there, Mr. Stewart – compared to those newcomers on this blog who in the past have said
    “Love Sarah Palin!” or “Bibi is brilliant in foreign policy and always has been”.
    (Not to speak of those who “overrun” this place…)

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thanks for the chuckle, Dan.
    Stewart’s discomfort with “anonymous” posters seems to be a bit laughable in light of his obviously prolific internet campaign of revisionist history. Perhaps now that you’ve pulled his covers he’ll gift us with an explanation of the motives behind such unabashed cheerleading and distortions of history. Perhaps he’ll even enlighten us as to whether he dons a skirt when he becomes Ms. Miller, or do both personnas prefer trousers? Of course, I could just be espousing a conspiracy theory about the trousers. I admit it, I could have it all wrong. Perhaps both personnas prefer skirts, instead.

    Reply

  18. Dan Kervick says:

    A quick scan through the internets reveals that an N. Stewart, Elizabeth Miller and sometimes Principia, Champless and “Back Beat” show up together in various places around the net to give Joe Biden a boost when there is a feature article about him. They can be spotted over recent months in the comment sections of Newsweek, US News and World Report, the Weekly Standard and Foreign Policy, as well as here at Washington Note. It looks like they may fan out from the Huff Post site devoted to Biden.
    The comments are not of a notably probing or insightful quality, usually just variations on repeated themes of “Joe is a genius”, “Joe is the only man with a plan for …” and “The media treat Joe bad.” But it appears that some staffers, relatives or just unoffical Joe Biden fan clubbers make it their business to police the net for Biden naysayers and get their man’s back.
    No problem with that really. But we could do without the lectures from newcomers on who should or should not be posting here.

    Reply

  19. samuelburke says:

    The Issue of our times.
    “We will be unable to freeze settlements expansion or any other Israeli policy of apartheid if we do not engage in a unified strategy against it. Towards this direction diplomatic action is fundamental but is not enough. Non violence resistance is the only means to revive a culture of collective activism among all sectors of the Palestinian people. Powerful models are already spread across several villages in the West Bank. Let’s follow the examples of those Palestinians who succeeded in breaking down sections of the Wall last week, in Ni’lin and Qalandya, marking the 20th Anniversary of Berlin Wall’s fall” went on Barghouti..
    “We witness today the complete death of the so called peace process” concluded Barghouti “but nothing will prevent the Palestinian people from declaring their independent state. Israel does not respect the law and it contravenes Oslo agreements, increasing the number of illegal settlements in West Bank, perpetrating the siege on Gaza and stealing Palestinian land with the ongoing construction of the wall. Why should a declaration of an independent state on June 4 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem constitute a violation of the Oslo agreement?”
    “We refuse to be slaves of occupation, slaves in ghettos.”
    http://mondoweiss.net/

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, the torture photographs have been buried entirely with a stroke of the pen from Gates. It’d never do for the American people, and the global community, to know the “incentives” that were employed to get these “confessions”.
    Hide the Goldstone Report, hide the torture photographs, do everything humanly possible to conceal the truth from the propaganda swilling masses. From Washington giving the ax to the ‘ol cherry tree, to this ignored piece of paper known as the “Constitution”, we have been fed two centuries worth of absolute horseshit.

    Reply

  21. ... says:

    those are the kinds of actions that lead many observers to think the usa has completely lost it in terms of leadership or direction… obama has changed nothing in this regard…

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    ot – steve, are you going to comment on this issue of trying some of the gitmo suspects in new york?
    here is what glenn greenwald has to say about it..
    “…We’re now formally creating a multi-tiered justice system for accused Muslim terrorists where they only get the level of due process consistent with the State’s certainty that it will win. Mohammed gets a real trial because he confessed and we’re thus certain we can win in court; since we’re less certain about al-Nashiri, he’ll be denied a trial and will only get a military commission; others will be denied any process entirely and imprisoned indefinitely.”

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama has a smooth tongue, but apparently he doesn’t have the balls to back up his words. Istael, Honduras, DADT, health, Gitmo, FISA, torture, transparency…..
    What exactly DOES this posturing fraud intend to do, if we can’t count on one single damned thing that comes out of the corner of his mouth?? Its anybody’s guess, I suppose.
    http://www.thestate.com/metro/story/1028505.html
    DeMint wields influence
    He gets Obama to back down on Honduras
    By JAMES ROSEN – McClatchy Newspapers
    WASHINGTON – — Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican known for his efforts to influence domestic immigration and health-care issues, has scored a foreign-policy coup by helping to compel the Obama administration to shift its stance on strife-ridden Honduras.
    After demanding for months that deposed Honduran President Mel Zelaya be restored to power, senior State Department officials now say they’ll accept the outcome of Nov. 29 elections in the Central American country even if Zelaya does not reclaim his post.
    “We support the elections process there,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday. “We have provided technical assistance … These elections will be important to restoring Democratic and constitutional order in Honduras.”
    That position is a marked change from the tough stance President Barack Obama took in the days following the June 28 removal of Zelaya, when Honduran soldiers launched a dawn raid and whisked him away in his pajamas.
    continues…

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, does commerce have anything to do with “national security”. With our auto industry on the skids, its a real shame that WE aren’t supplying trucks to Cuba, isn’t it? But I guess our esteemed “leaders” aren’t real concerned about fucking the American worker out of marketplaces to sell our wares. After all, most of our “representives” are millionaires many times over. What the hell do they know about paying a doctor bill, or getting a starter put on your twelve year old heap? Its no skin off their collective asses if the Chinese worker replaces the American worker, they’ll still be eating steak when Mr. Tradesman is eating dirt.
    http://www.radionuevitas.co.cu/web_english/news/cuba_151109_2.asp
    Cuba, China Sign Cooperation Deals
    By Ana Luisa Brown
    Havana, Nov 14 (Prensa Latina) Chinese companies from the province of Shandong and Cuban entities signed here commercial and economic cooperation agreements during a visit of an Asian delegation to the island.
    The mission is led by Yiang Yikang, members of the Central Committee of China Communist Party Secretariat in that province who was received by the member of the secretariat of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Victor Gaute.
    Among the documents signed there is an agreement involved with the nickel industry and another for purchasing-selling of trucks and a covenant for a donation of a last-generation server to Cuba, reported Gramma daily Saturday..
    The equipment is allocated to the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Research Center which donation joined another one of 100 laptops for the Education Ministry.
    They also signed documents on lamps delivery for streets lighting, refinery restoration and reconstruction of fuel tanks.
    The delegation also hold talks with The Vice President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas, the Head of the PCC International Affairs Department Jose Marti and Armando Cuellar, President of the Peoples Assembly in Havana Province.
    Shandong, with a population of 90 million inhabitants is the second Chinese province for its economic development and it is a very important city for its development in trade and cooperation with Cuba.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Any ideas on what this “Stewart” character wants here?
    Obviously, he ain’t interested in debating actual policies. Could it be he is engaged in trying to convince Steve to shut us all up? My bet? He’s whining to Steve like a schoolgirl who’s just had her ponytail yanked.
    This Cuba thing is almost surreal. Can anyone tell me why this embargo is still standing? Is Cuba a threat? Is Cuba any worse at oppressing its people than any number of nations are, INCLUDING many we subsidize and consider “allies”? Nadine’s insincere bit of “compassionate” intellectual flotsam, such as her post on Sanchez, really demonstrates the mindless and corrupt insanity that drives United States’ foreign policy. Obama could put an end to this horseshit, or at least a good piece of it, with little or no effort. Yet he refuses to do so.
    Its crazy. Anyone else note that these insane pieces of shit have now blocked the Goldstone report from even being posted on any government websites? They don’t want us to read it. It scares the shit out of them that we might draw an INFORMED opinion on anything. They’re afraid we might draw the “wrong” conclusions if we are allowed to think for ourselves with uncensored and unedited information.
    Note how Nadine doesn’t offer any reasoning behind her posting of the Sanchez piece. When pressed, she claims it was to encourage Steve to “put in a word” for Sanchez. Is anyone buying that crap? Its like the big to-do that was made over Iran’s treatment of dissenters. Do you think Nadine was whining when these treasonous sacks of shit in the Bush Administration were stashing war protestors in “free speech zones”, out of the public eye, and beating the shit out of a few of them to send a message?
    Neda, now Sanchez. Never mind the thousands of Palestinians rotting in Israel gulags, without being charged or having access to legal representation. Never mind Tristan Anderson, and the DAILY abuses against Palestinian peace protestors that are protesting an ILLEGAL separation fence that is everybit as oppresive and symbolic of tyranny as the Berlin Wall was.
    So yeah, lets continue this imbecilic policy of the Cuban Embargo, with the likes of Nadine defending it with hypocricy and ideological idiocy. Why not? I mean its not like we are respected and trusted by the world community anymore. We might as well go for broke, and see if we can alienate and piss-off the ENTIRE planet. It will certainly be ironic when the only friend we have left is the one that thinks false flag attacks are perfectly A-OK to engage in when they can’t bribe or blackmail our politicians into doing their bidding. With freinds like this…..

    Reply

  26. Outraged American says:

    Hey Stewart, buddy, never use the words intelligent and
    Outraged American in the same sentence, which you didn’t, to
    your credit.
    I’m a simple gal from two simple places, Arizona and Calcutta.
    Except Calcutta does have those damn, holy, cows wandering
    around killing people who brake for them in traffic, which is all
    the time, and severing the heads of people in the cars behind
    them, and all the nuttiness about whether Vishnu is Krishna and
    who the sam heck is Ram.
    Thinking about it, Arizona is much more complicated than India.
    We have one God here called “Gun.”
    One credo, which simply put is, “Get the Meskins out of here
    before their pit bulls kill or impregnate my daughter”
    And limousine liberals who think that putting an Obama/ Biden
    sign-up on their well-manicured lawn is “Change we can believe
    in.” Like continuing the grotesque BIPARTISAN rape of the Bill of
    Rights that the Cheney administration seems to be proud of, and
    the Obama administration is continuing, in a gang banger type
    of way.
    We out here in Arizona are terribly hard to analyze, especially by
    the people who claim to represent us in Congress. McCain, Kyl
    and Shadegg for me. They wouldn’t know what a Circle K was if
    the Sikh/ raghead behind the counter shot them for stealing a
    six-pack.
    So again, while we out here in Nowhere Land can be angry and
    are, we are still the Voice of America, and DC needs to hear us.
    Steve’s got a channel to them and we don’t.
    In all my five years of producing TV and radio independent news
    that was broadcast across the US and the world, so one would
    think it would be an audience they wanted to reach, I can count
    on two fingers important people from the government who
    agreed to come on or sent their reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jon
    Huntsman.
    The arrogance of the Congress and the government in ignoring
    the needs and wants of the people they “govern” is…I would say
    “breathtaking” but that’s a word I only use for Kiri Te Kanawa
    when she sings “Panis Angelicus”
    So, again, while I agree and respect whatever Steve decides, the
    fact that we are here, in a weird way Tom Paines, and perhaps
    are getting our frustrations and those of our neighbors and
    friends out to those windbags in Washington is important.
    There is such a huge divide in this country between the people
    who live here and the people who rule us, and, going back to
    India, India is emerging as a power because it is gaining a
    middle class, the US is disintegrating because it’s losing its
    middle class. Our voices need to be heard — it’s been proven
    over and over that a stable country must have a free press and a
    stable middle class.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Hmm…OA, intelligentsia. Very good.”
    From someone who has done nothing here, except offer some crap about “anonomous posting”, and accused posters who have contributed here for years of “overrunning” the comment section, your condescension is unwarranted. If you’re so friggin’ smart, why don’t you give us something other than whine and derision?

    Reply

  28. Stewart says:

    Paul Norheim wrote: “During the heydays of Sarah Palin the newcomers were in majority.”
    Please tell me those days here are over ;-)
    But I understand what you are meaning about regulars, Mr. Norheim, thank you.

    Reply

  29. Stewart says:

    Hmm…OA, intelligentsia. Very good. But I honestly hope the newer commenters whom visit different blog as I do (and linked here with a previous story) will return here. They also have interesting input. I would think all are welcome.
    The bow deemed protocal, even on a few conservative leaning blogs; however, much ado will be much ado to some.

    Reply

  30. Outraged American says:

    I was scared to weigh in here, given that I was probably numero
    uno on Steve’s shiite list and weigh a lot, but I think that easy e
    said it all in the Levy post thread.
    And that’s not because I’m the founder and one and only
    member of the easy e Fan Club. Well, there are actually three of
    us, me, easy e and his shaving mirror.
    What easy e said, and he is a pilotless drone, I’ve gone for a
    spin, is that the value the comment section adds is that the
    commenters are “regular” Americans far outside the Beltway.
    Or in Paul’s case from someplace they eat strange and often
    tasteless food. What do you eat in Norway? Don’t say salmon
    because I’ve had a bad experience with salmon — NEVER try to
    make curry out of it. BARF. And I lost about 15 pounds in
    Switzerland because all my friends would give me was risotto,
    UGH, or polenta, DOUBLE UGH, and the McDonald’s charged $10
    for a Uggie Big Mac and didn’t even give you jalapenos on the
    side.
    Then Poland. If you want to go on a diet, four days there is
    cheaper and vastly more effective than Jenny Craig. You might
    never want to eat again.
    Europe would do well if it had one good taco stand — there is
    nothing like refried beans with a pound of cheese and a pool of
    hot sauce on them and a side order of lard, to perk one up and
    get over all that Euroweenie, rainy day, philosophizing and get
    to work ruling the world like A-Mur-Cans do.
    I truly mourn for people who have never tasted a good taco,
    which would be everyone in that benighted place called Australia
    – I still shudder remembering going taco free for almost a year.
    Juanita’s — the taco stand that will make America once more
    the bastion of truth, liberty, justice and the American Way,
    unless you’re an illegal or in Bagram — if you’re ever in So Cal
    it’s worth the trip out to the boonies.
    To get back to my point, and there really wasn’t one, Obama
    bowed to Japan’s emperor and the Sludge Report is all over it.
    So what? We owe them a couple for those little gifts we dropped
    on them, and the fire bombing of Tokyo and the tariffs that
    enraged them into WW II.
    In India, the traditional greeting of “namaste” is a form of
    bowing and no one would think twice if Obama had done that.
    When I was traveling and met Japanese — who seemed to have
    reached critical mass in New Zealand’s South Island — never
    saw them any other place, even in New Zealand’s North Island,
    which led me to think that maybe they came by spacecraft, or
    the Grand Canyon, which is Little Tokyo on steroids, they bowed
    over everything.
    You’d ask them something like, “I really have to go, I’m going to
    hit you if you don’t let me use the toilet first” and they’d bow.
    So I wonder if Steve, if he is still talking to us, and, given his
    background in Japan as the concierge of one of those sex hotels,
    would weigh in on the bow that wowed the world.
    And despite that I think it will hurt Steve’s standing, I do think
    that if indeed people in Warshington are reading our comments
    maybe it’s reminding them that We the People are still here, at
    least for the next few minutes before we have to start eating
    each other for protein and fun.

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    stewart is just blowing hot air…he is not worth taking too seriously if you ask me, especially as he has offered nothing of substance here…

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    Stewart,
    Who are the newer commenters from previous posts that you are talking about?

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sadly, either the newer commenters from previous posts, along with their refreshing POVs, have abandoned or perhaps will return later”
    You mean like those that sought to revise history when denying Biden’s perticipation in marketing the invasion of Iraq? Interesting that when their revisionist history was challenged with actual facts, they did not return to defend their assertions.
    “As now, the comment section appears to be overrun by the same half-dozen individuals”
    So, because your coffee klatch chooses not to comment, those that do have “overran” the comment section??
    I take it you have nothing to say about the topic, eh?

    Reply

  34. Paul Norheim says:

    Stewart,
    I think this is largely dependent of the topic (the three last ones have all been related to Cuba and
    the embargo). If Steve gets really tired of the regular commenter, he can write a post about cocktail
    parties with Maureen Dowd, Ben Affleck and The Prince of Darkness, and suddenly fifty new posters
    pop up out of nowhere. The same if he writes a post about issues like bombing Iran or the political
    unrest there. During the heydays of Sarah Palin the newcomers were in majority. However, these new
    posters tend to disappear again after a day or two.

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, Nadine, the ploy in your comment is painfully obvious, to all that post here. I do not condone, marginalize, or deny human rights abuses committed by ANY nation, including those committed by Cuban police. I challenge you to cite one single instance of me doing so.
    Yet, as you well know, I can point to a myriad of YOUR comments, that seek to deny, mimimize, justify, and condone the documented abuses Israel has committed against the Palestinian people.
    Because of your blatant devaluation of Palestinian lives, demonstrated by your own comments, one must conclude your concern for Sanchez is no more than politically expedient to your own extreme RW ideologies, rather than any sort of concern for human rights.
    Is it your contention that Sanchez’ treatment at the hands of Cuban authorities provides a rationale to continue the embargo?
    I certainly see NOTHING in your original post that implores Steve to “put in a word” for Sanchez? And why should he? Sanchez is not in custody, and by her own admission, sustained no serious injuries. Are you going to ask him to “put in a word” for Mohammed Omer on his next trip to Israel as well? Or for Tristan Anderson? Somehow I doubt it.
    No, Nadine, I’m afraid trying to lay your own brand of hypocricy at my feet is transparently disingenuous. All who post here must surely wonder at your highly selective “compassion” for the human rights of various peoples, that seems to be founded along racial, ethnic, and geopolitical considerations.
    Honestly, you don’t really seem to care that the vast majority of the posters here are not taken in by your constant application of shameless propaganda, aimed at advancing your wingnut ideologies. And to this casual observer, thats extremely bizarre. Why constantly feed propaganda at people that recognize it as propaganda? It makes no sense. I’m am begining to think that the far right constituency’s abject ignorance is the gauge you use to judge the intelligence of ALL Americans, and because the extreme end of the teabagger movement is so unfathomably ignorant that it buys into your kind of nonsense, you think EVERYBODY will.
    Well, Nadine, allow me to make yet one more attempt to gift you with a clue. We ain’t buying it. And just about everyone that posts here has told you we ain’t buying it. Wouldn’t your time be better spent trying to convince those on the fringe of the fringe of the far right? You know, the ones that possess the one or two additional brain cells that don’t completely buy into your brand of propagandized political fantasies, but are still mentally and intellectually deficient to a degree you might win a percentage of them over to your bizarro take on reality???
    Something tells me that Sanchez would be as disgusted with your brand of “compassion” as I am.
    You might study the following website, and perhaps you can actually learn something about unbiased concern for human rights, particularly as it applies to bloggers of differing nationalities. I entertain no delusions that it will change the motives that drive your narrative, but perhaps it will teach you a thing or two about how you might hide that bigotry a bit more efficiently.
    http://committeetoprotectbloggers.org/2009/09/30/israel-attempts-to-silence-mohammead-othaman/

    Reply

  36. nadine says:

    Why POA, I thought you cared about human rights. Thank you for proving that you only care about human rights when Israel is being accused of violating them. The thousands of political prisoners jailed and killed by the Castro brothers will get not an ounce of sympathy from you. I thought Steve might put in a word for Ms Sanchez. There was a time when the Left cared about human rights. But now it seems only the hated neocons do.

    Reply

  37. ... says:

    nadine quote “In the words of Maggie Thatcher, the trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”
    the trouble with capitalism at this point is virtually identical.. keep on printing endless reams of fiat money and sooner or later folks realize all you’re doing is printing on worthless paper… this is where the usa finds itself at present…military might is all that backs it up at this point… it’s hard to remain confident in that for long…. the jig is close to up with printing money with no thought of ever paying any of it back… the federal reserve and those running it can go screw themselves…

    Reply

  38. JohnH says:

    Once again Nadine stoops to parroting disinformation, this time that of Venezuela’s oligarchy and US militarists. I guess she thinks Chavez is to be faulted because he is not god and couldn’t prevent a drought to avoid water conservation!
    Fact is, Venezuela is one of America’s most reliable oil suppliers, even after the feisty Chavez took office. But the critics show no appreciation for Chavez’ diligently serving up the US national lifeblood on a daily basis.
    True, Venezuela’s economy has hit a rough spell (which ones haven’t?) but the record under Chavez has been outstanding. “Before Chavez came to office there was in effect no growth at all – sustainable or otherwise. It is certainly a more than a little rich of the opposition to critique Chavez’s economic growth as somehow being deficient when they themselves couldn’t get the economy to grow at all!” “They” were those following the policy prescriptions of the Washington consensus.
    http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/2397
    There’s a good reason why Nadine never cites sources. Facts might prove inconvenient to her opinions…

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    One really has to wonder what Nadine’s “point” was in posting about the travails of Ms. Sanchez.
    Often, it seems, human rights “advocates” are really just political ideologues, whose citation of incidences of abuses are merely propagandized tactics of debate, applied hypocritically and without true conceren for human rights, exccept as a wedge to drive the debate in the direction that best suits their agenda.
    To see Ms. Sanchez held up as some sort of trophy that demonstrates Cuban disregard for human rights, by a vocal advocate and supporter of the abuses committed daily by the IDF against Palestinians, is a despicable display of political opportunism, and actually telegraphs a disdain for human rights, rather than a sincere concern.
    http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/news/archive/2009/11/14/gazan-photojournalist-wins-norwegian-pen-prize.aspx
    Mohammed Omer (25) is a Palestinian journalist who has written for the Norwegian weekly “Morgenbladet” and worked for the “Norwegian People´s Aid” in Gaza. He also writes for international media including the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Electronic Intifada, The Nation, and Inter Press Service. In 2008, Omer was awarded the 2007 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. In the award citation, Omer was honored as “the voice of the voiceless” and his reports were described as a “humane record of the injustice imposed on a community forgotten by much of the world.”
    While traveling back from the prize ceremony in London to the Gaza Strip, Omer reported that he was stripped to his underwear, humiliated and beaten by Israeli soldiers. He was subsequently hospitalized upon his return to Gaza, where it was discovered that Omer had sustained several broken ribs and various bodily contusions as a result of the ordeal. He is now undergoing medical treatment in the Netherlands.

    Reply

  40. nadine says:

    “People focus on Chavez’ rhetoric. But he has cut international oil companies out so as to channel money back into people oriented services. People see that he has stood up not just to foreign exploitation, but — more importantly — he has provided critical social service”
    And now there is no new investment in Venezuala (surprise, surprise), economic cooperation has been stamped out, they’re going broke, and Chavez is telling people to take three minute showers. In the words of Maggie Thatcher, the trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. Chavez is just about there, oil or no oil. But of course, he will always blame the US.

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    It’s clear that new arrangements must be worked out with Latin America. Resurrecting the Monroe Doctrine and and propping up clumsy fascist elements will not serve anyone’s long term interests. And it won’t be enough for just business and labor to work together to exploit opportunities. Public investment in infrastructure, education and health care has been woeful. To realize opportunities in Latin America, business must be willing to share some of the gains will a strong public sector.
    People focus on Chavez’ rhetoric. But he has cut international oil companies out so as to channel money back into people oriented services. People see that he has stood up not just to foreign exploitation, but — more importantly — he has provided critical social services. That message resonates in Latin America.
    The American foreign policy establishment can either get with the program or continue its traditional, clumsy fascist policies. IMHO it looks like the coup in Honduras has set a very sour tone for this administration’s Latin American policies, and we can expect more of the same elsewhere in the hemisphere. This will not enhance the region’s ability to realize the opportunities or put them on any secure, long term footing that would give investors anywhere much confidence.
    People throughout Latin America are organized and motivated to demand their rights. Policies that smack of exploitation will be resisted. Times have changed, maybe not in Washington, but in Latin America.

    Reply

  42. Mr.Murder says:

    Strategically we’ve seen the east and mideast buy into South America in the past decade.
    The world’s largest oil reserves sit in South America or just offshore of there.
    This is the area that must be addressed, America has a growing Latin presence slated to become a voting majority. We will have more in commone with many of these lands than we will have differences.
    This isn’t just about Monroe Doctrine being resurrected. There’s growth potential there, this could mirror along the lines of EU countries where we’ve brought new ones into the fold. We could learn a lot of lessons in looking directly at how the EU has fast tracked certain former satellites.
    Now think of it under a security umbrella, one mirroring NATO.
    Do we wish to allow others to become the hub of future arrangements, or have them on the periphery where they have less leverage?
    We’re losing out already, Colin Powell was in South America on 9-11 visiting OPEC members. He was trying to get in front of these things. Albeit, with our clumsy fascist element on the right leading the way through power brokers in Columbia(anti-union).
    My argument is that business working with labor can fast track it better than top-down authoritative types that would carry along our status quo. Move the goalposts a bit to the left….

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “They beat me and then they shoved me into a car head-first. They did not give me any explanation at any time, but it is clear their goal was to stop us from taking part in the march,”
    Hmm, could just as easily be written by any number of unaccused Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli gulags. Arguing for human rights is an easy skill to do well, all one has to do is be unbiased as to whose “human rights” merit respect. To criticize a nation for human rights abuses, while ignoring the equally abusive nature of another nation, turns “concern for human rights” into “just stumping for a political agenda”.
    I would say Ms. Sanchez is fortunate to be free. Many Palestinians can enjoy no such situation, held without charges, or representation. Arguing for a continued embargo, using such incidences as fodder against Cuba, begs the question; Why don’t we embargo Israel?
    Unabashed hypocricy is hardly a convincing argument for the status quo.

    Reply

  44. nadine says:

    Any update on the status of jailed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez?
    Award-winning Generation Y blogger Yoani Sanchez beaten, detained
    SECRET police agents have abducted and beaten award-winning blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose online reports chronicle the dark side of everyday life in communist Cuba.
    Three agents in street clothes snatched Ms Sanchez and her friend Orlando Luis Pardo off the street in the Havana district of Vedado as they headed out to an anti-violence march.
    “They beat me and then they shoved me into a car head-first. They did not give me any explanation at any time, but it is clear their goal was to stop us from taking part in the march,” Ms Sanchez, who writes the blog Generation Y, said.
    Two other friends of hers were ordered into police cars and released later, she said.
    In an item on her blog, which is often critical of the Americas’ only one-party communist system in which only state media are legal, Ms Sanchez wrote an expose under the headline “A Gangland-style Kidnapping”.
    “It was a very violent episode,” she wrote.
    “They squeezed my wrists very hard, beat me in the back in the kidney area, and when people stepped in to do something, they said we were counter-revolutionaries.”
    The advocacy group Human Rights Watch condemned the attack in a statement that said “Cuban authorities should cease all attacks on human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and civic activists”.
    “The international community should condemn attacks on those who peacefully exercise their basic rights to freedom of expression, opinion, and assembly in the strongest terms,” it said.
    “Cuban authorities are using brute force to try to silence Yoani Sanchez’s only weapon: her ideas,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch. “The international community must send a firm message to Raul Castro that such attacks on independent voices are completely unacceptable.”
    Ms Sanchez, winner of the Maria Moors Cabot 2009 award and Ortega y Gasset Prize awarded by Spain’s El Pais newspaper, said she was not seriously injured and was released half an hour after the arrest.
    “Clearly, the beating hurts even more a day later; I am still really affected by all of this, but it is not going to stop me from writing my blog,” Ms Sanchez said.
    Cuban authorities say Ms Sanchez and all other political dissidents are “mercenaries” in the pay of the United States and other western countries.
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,26320959-401,00.html?from=public_rss

    Reply

  45. ... says:

    regarding the post by Jon Weinberg down below.. not sure why i can’t post on that thread..
    good on Erdogan… more world leaders need to show some courage to address and make such comparisons…

    Reply

  46. ... says:

    why try having a conversation with an idiot?
    chavez sees the usa as just this.. how else to explain the usa’s position especially with regard to cuba?? all the power to chavez and screw the usa if they persist in screwing the rest of the world and never getting their shit together…
    johnh and poa – gold star…. best, …

    Reply

  47. Steve Clemons says:

    Mr M. — Gold star.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  48. JohnH says:

    “This in turn could shape Chavez into an approachable realm of discussion.”
    Why bother? Why not just embrace discussion with Chavez directly?
    In any case, the problem is not Chavez or Castro. The problem is that people in Latin America have two centuries of experience with US’ need for domination. That’s why Chavez rhetoric resonates. Removing people who articulate that problem only kicks the can down the road only to resurface in a few years. Perceptions won’t change until the US embraces a policy of mutual respect and cooperation.

    Reply

  49. Mr.Murder says:

    Triangulation is the item of importance. Steve knows that embracing discourse with Cuba can counterbalance the prevailing presence of Chavez.
    This in turn could shape Chavez into an approachable realm of discussion.

    Reply

  50. JohnH says:

    “President Obama and the US were prepared to engage Cuba on a number of issues of mutual interest and concern.” Peachy keen! But why does the US need to maintain the embargo? Can’t the US engage Cuba without an embargo, like it does with 180 other nations in the world? Why does the US have to hold a gun to Cuba’s head and demand they negotiate only under duress?
    US’ Cuba policy is farcical, which is why 187 nations voted against it. The US can’t seem to shake its unilateralist behavior, which drowns out any positive message sent by a couple humanitarian teams in earthquake zones.
    And Steve wonders why Hugo Chavez’ message resonates in much of Latin America? Just look at US behavior in Latin America!

    Reply

  51. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, we export white phosphorous, land mines, and cluster munitions. And our US based corporations are providing the ecological pollution that guarantees the ill health of indigenous heathen populations. So in effect, its supply and demand. Being the moral and humanitarian nation that we are, we are providing the patients that these nasty communist doctors are venturing forth to treat. Call it a “partnership”.

    Reply

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