Friday, August 10, 2007

What about Cuba Obama?

Last month I wrote about what Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said concerning possible unconditional talks with US-designated "rogue states," including Cuba. Obama's comment set off a "firestorm" in many news headlines. I, among other sources, felt that his comments showed possible positive signs of change in US foreign policy, especially towards Cuba.

But, last week, in a possible attempt to counter the criticism, Obama showed his hawkish side in foreign policy saying that he would mobilize US troops into Pakistan "[i]f we [the US] have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf [of Pakistan] won't act." This comment set off another firestorm in the papers, and also, ironically, among supporters of the "War on Terror." I actually heard Sean Hannity criticize Obama's proposal because it would "destabilize" the region. This is coming from a man who supports a US strike of Iran's nuclear facilities, never mind the consequences of "instability" that action would generate in the region, not to mention the already "destabilized" region of Iraq.

Well, this week, at another debate of Presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama pointed out this hypocrisy among his Democratic opponents, who initially supported the Iraq War and have now leveled harsh criticisms against him. Here's his reply on You Tube. His reply is met with plenty of applause from the audience, while Hillary Clinton's rebuttal against Obama is met with boos. Obama's foreign policy position seems to be welcomed so far, mainly due to the fact that he initially opposed the Iraq War.

But, is this really Obama's position? Andres Oppenheimer wrote that Obama's position is more nuanced. This belief is based on a past interview that Oppenheimer had with Obama, where the Senator "had been a bit more cautious" in supporting unconditional talks with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela for example. Oppenheimer believes Obama is just "playing politics."

But, author and commentator Paul Street believes Barack Obama is much more hawkish than he lets on. In his blog, Street replies to a Foreign Affairs article written by Obama titled "Renewing America's Leadership" where Obama writes: "We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense." Street concludes that Obama intends to continue current US policy overseas with "noxious imperialism," and that Americans should have "salient reasons to fear the prospect of an Obama Nation."

Sen. Barack Obama is scheduled to appear in Miami later this month. The question of Cuba will no doubt be raised. According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Obama's position on Cuba is still unknown. But, they do mention that Obama has voted twice in opposition to funding of TV Marti.

I'm sure many are looking forward to his comments, especially pertaining to the US embargo towards Cuba. Both Democratic Presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton and John Edwards support the embargo, according to the CFR list.

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