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Conservative Hypocrisy on the Cuban Embargo

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We are witnessing classic conservative hypocrisy with their predictable opposition to the lifting of the 54-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba. That includes many Latin American conservatives who have come to view the U.S. government as their “papasito” and who are now lamenting that the U.S. government might no longer be intervening on their behalf in Cuba.

Let’s count five ways that conservative hypocrisy is manifesting itself.

1. Conservatives love to preach their favorite mantra: “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.”

Yet, the embargo has always been a direct attack on the rights of the American people to freely engage in economic enterprise with the Cuban people. Keep in mind that if an American spends even a dime in Cuba, the U.S. government prosecutes him and attempts to jail him for 10 years, with the full support of conservatives.

How is the embargo reconcilable with conservatives’ favorite mantra? It’s not.

2. Conservatives say that the embargo should not be lifted until Cuban leader Raul Castro respects civil liberties.

But why should the economic liberty of the American people depend on what Castro does?

Moreover, when, pray tell, did conservatives arrive at this born-again fervor for civil liberties?

After all, let’s look at the U.S. side of Cuba — the side where the Pentagon and the CIA decided to locate their infamous prison camp and military “judicial” center, with the full support of conservatives. Indefinite detention, torture, no jury trials, no due process of law, no effective assistance of counsel, hearsay evidence admissible, evidence acquired by torture admissible, kangaroo military tribunals, no right to confront witnesses, and secret proceedings.

In other words, all the things that you’d expect to find in a communist regime!

And let’s not forget why the Pentagon and the CIA chose Cuba, rather than the United States, in which to locate this infamous facility. It was done with the specific intention of avoiding the application of the Constitution and interference by the federal judiciary.

In other words, the national-security state’s disdain for America’s constitutional order was manifested by its wish to avoid the principles of the Constitution at all costs, even to the extent of locating their infamous facility in a communist country. And all with the support of conservatives, the new born-again advocates for civil liberties on the other side of Cuba.

The sad fact is that given its massive violation of civil liberties, including rendition and torture, immunity for malefactors, and support of brutal, tortuous military dictatorships like that in Egypt, the U.S. government and conservatives lost moral standing to lecture others on civil liberties a long time ago.

3. Conservatives say that the embargo shouldn’t be lifted until the Castro regime stops persecuting dissidents.

But why should Castro’s persecution of dissidents be the business of the U.S. government any more than the U.S. government’s persecution of dissidents should be the business of the Cuban government?

Indeed, how is Castro’s persecution of people who believe in capitalism any different in principle from the U.S. government’s persecution of people who believed in communism throughout the Cold War? Weren’t members of the U.S. Communist Party persecuted, prosecuted, and sent to jail? Weren’t they spied upon, monitored, and harassed by the FBI? Didn’t Americans have their careers ruined for believing in communism? Weren’t the CIA, FBI, and U.S. military dead-set on infiltrating and destroying the Fair Play for Cuba Committee?

Indeed, let’s not forget about all the people in Latin America who believed in communism or socialism who were tortured and murdered by the U.S. military and the CIA, operating in concert with the Latin American military dictatorships they installed into power throughout the Cold War.

In fact, so long as the U.S. government continues its steadfast refusal to provide a full accounting of the U.S. national-security state’s murder of American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, who the U.S. national-security state considered were “subversives” for believing in welfare-state socialism and opposing the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, during the Chilean coup in 1973, which the CIA brought about, the U.S. government will continue to lack moral standing to complain about Castro’s persecution of dissidents.

4. While we are on the subjects of socialism and hypocrisy, let’s not forget that conservative critiques of Castro’s socialist economic system ring hollow given the fact that conservatives wholeheartedly agree with the core principles of Cuban socialism.

Need I remind anyone that conservatives, like the Castro brothers, ardently believe in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, farm subsidies, occupational licensure, border controls, drug laws, trade restrictions, and income taxation? It’s only libertarians who oppose all those statist measures.

5. Finally, let’s turn things around and assume that the Castro regime invaded the United States, tried to assassinate an American president, initiated acts of terrorism and sabotage within the United States, incited the American people to overthrow their government, encouraged a military coup in the United States, and demanded that the United States respect civil liberties.

I’ll bet that American conservatives would scream to the high heavens, exclaiming, “Hey, we can do those things to you but you can’t do them to us!”

That’s what conservative hypocrisy is all about.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.