“Just Another Apologist for Cuba’s Oppressive, Massacrous Regime” By Logan Williams

Just Another Apologist for Cuba’s Oppressive, Massacrous Regime

By Logan Williams

On June 25, 2024, The American Prospect published an essay by its founder and controlling editor, Robert Kuttner, titled “Bob Menendez and Biden’s Cuba Policy.” Presumptively, this essay presents the general editorial position of that publication. The irony, of course, is that while The American Prospect claims to be “an independent voice for liberal thought,” it has now chosen to align itself with one of the world’s most brutal and illiberal totalitarian regimes.

Robert Kuttner’s piece claims to offer an astute, original contribution to the analysis of the United States’ Cuba Policy, but in reality, the piece is none of those things. The crux of Kuttner’s simplistic, implied argument—the argument of which he wants to convince his audience, without actually explicitly writing—is that, since ex-Senator Bob Menendez was corrupt, so too must his foreign policy have been mistaken.

Logical fallacy

Kuttner seems to hope that his audience will not notice that this ad hominem attack is a logical fallacy. We noticed.

Kuttner tries to support his argument with incomplete information and erroneous claims that are meant to paint a picture of President Obama’s success at reforming Cuba—if only that was true. In fact, what Kuttner failed to write is that, during the Obama Administration’s rapprochement with the brutal communist regime, there was a resultant dramatic increase in human rights abuses on the island, not the supposed decrease promised by naive or disingenuous progressive activists.

The Obama Administration Secretary of State, John Kerry, even felt an obligation to publicly disavow the policy of rapprochement, years later, by expressing his “disappointment” that the Cuban dictatorship stubbornly refused to reform after the United States’ efforts at good faith engagement.

Engagement failed

The Obama White House, while certainly the most ardent supporters of engagement, were actually not the first to try and fail—they were in good, bipartisan, company. President Nixon, President Ford, President Carter, and President Clinton each attempted varying degrees of normalization with Cuba, only to fail due to Cuba’s own antagonism.

Nor did U.S. engagement with Cuba under President Obama’s leadership result in a reduction of Russian and Chinese influence on the island, or the integration of Cuba as a responsible member of the world order—as many continue to vehemently argue will occur as a natural result of further engagement, even today.

In 2013, North Korea was caught smuggling military hardware to North Korea, in violation of United Nations’ sanctions, and in 2015, Cuba was caught receiving smuggled weapons from China.

The military relationship between Cuba and China as well as Russia did not lessen, if it changed at all, it increased in strength—as was demonstrated by the Wall Street Journal’s spectacular investigative reporting and revelation that China had constructed a fully operational military base on an island just over ninety miles off the cost of the mainland United States.

Moreover, according to the National Endowment for Democracy, Cuba has been at the core of a decades-long all-out assault upon the institutions and principles making up the international liberal order—and Cuba has been one of the most crucial states in organizing this duplicitous strategy of lawfare and subversion.

Biggest falsehood

Perhaps the biggest falsehood presented by Kuttner in this piece was his attempt to present Senator Menendez’ Cuba policy as a policy of “zero liberalization,” as if the policy supported by the vast majority of Cuban exiles, who only long to be free, is somehow illiberal. Kuttner’s attempt to present engagement with Cuba as the liberal and moral imperative, ignoring the fact that any form of engagement (especially tourism or trade) funnels cash into the pockets of the Cuban military dictatorship, and the United States financing the torture and oppression of Cubans, is as offensive as it is bad policy.

Mr. Kuttner has brought shame upon the intellectual legacy of the once-respectable publication, The American Prospect. It is no wonder that Kuttner’s article was syndicated by CubaSi, a propaganda apparatus used by Havana to elevate pro-regime “journalism”, and maintained by the Cuban dictatorship’s agents under the guise of “solidarity” activists, outside of the island.

Robert Kuttner—and The American Prospect, at large—have lost the right to claim the ideology of liberalism. Anyone who is willing to glorify a torturous and oppressive regime—while vilifying that regime’s innocent victims, who are only locked in an endless struggle for their freedom— has lost the moral high ground.

Logan Williams is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a degree in History and Global Affairs. His research focuses upon liberalization in post-totalitarian states, nationalism and state-building, as well as broader democratic theory. He has worked as a foreign policy research or editorial intern at the Center for a Free Cuba, the Center for International Relations, The Center for Military Modernization, and the Center for the National Interest.