Communism

On Friday the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway announced that the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace has been awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident who has fought for democracy in China for more than 20 years. Liu has been detained, arrested and sentenced repeatedly for his peaceful political activities, beginning with his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and on four other occasions since.

This years winner of the Peace Prize is a refreshing contrast from last year when the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Barack Obama for… well ahh, we are still not sure for exactly what.

The Nobel Committee made its decision after threats from Chinese officials that awarding Liu would damage Norway’s relationship with China.

In recent years, the Peace Prize has been awarded to questionable recipients such as Obama, Al Gore in 2007, Jimmy Carter in 2002 and Yasser Arafat in 1993 to name just a few bad choices. The recent choices of Obama, Gore and Carter were primarily the Norwegian Committee’s equivalent of saying “we hate George Bush.”

There is a better tradition of the Prize being awarded to true heroes who fought their oppressive governments. These include Poland’s Lech Walesa in 1983, Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov in 1975, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 and, more recently, Iranian human rights activits Shirin Ebadi in 2003. See here for a complete list of Peace Prize laureates.

Even the Nobel Prize of Literature this year has gone to an accomplished writer who has been an advocate for freedom. Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian author, who in his youth supported Castro’s revolution, changed his views over time and, in 1990, ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru on an anti-socialist, pro-freedom platform. A great choice, especially given the dominance of leftist writers among fashionable European and American elites.

We are glad that the Nobel Committee has returned to responsible, sane choices after last year’s infatuation with Barack Obama.

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Finally we are reading about a government laying off half a million government employees and wanting more jobs in the private sector. Has President Obama suddenly had an epiphany and reversed his previous policies?

Well, not exactly. The announcement of seemingly sensible policies comes from ahhh, … this is embarrassing… from communist Cuba:

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Cuba announced on Monday it would lay off “at least” half a million state workers over the next six months and simultaneously allow more jobs to be created in the private sector as the socialist economy struggles to get back on its feet.

The plan announced in state media confirms that President Raul Castro is following through on his pledge to shed some one million state jobs, a full fifth of the official workforce — but in a shorter timeframe than initially anticipated.

“Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities and services with inflated payrolls and losses that damage our economy and result counterproductive, create bad habits and distort workers’ conduct,” the CTC, Cuba’s official labor union, said in newspapers.

The last paragraph sounds like something we could say about the businesses the Obama administration has bailed out.

Florida Pundit is featuring this story not because we believe that real reform can take place under the Castro brother tyranny even if Fidel admitted that communism doesn’t work for Cuba. (He has been trying to claim that he didn’t mean it.)

It is just interesting that even the most entrenched communist regime is at least making noises that sound like the direct opposite of what the Obama administration is pursuing.

For a more sobering perspective on what is going on in Cuba read Investor’s Business Daily (via Babalu Blog):

It sounds like a necessary bow to fiscal reality in a state that produces nothing of value. But the incredible thing is, the cutbacks will barely begin to address the government’s issues.

Sixty percent of the Cuban work force is completely unproductive, according to a U.S. State Department report.

So a 12% layoff of the work force would leave about half of the state’s remaining work force still standing around on work sites with nothing to do but collect paychecks.

The Castro brothers are trying to sugarcoat these layoffs as “reforms” to the system — offering to increase private business licenses for tiny outfits such as nail salons, taxis and auto mechanics, as if they would willingly permit a small window of capitalism.

But even that’s unlikely. Only 200,000 extra permits will be issued, leaving most laid-off workers out in the cold. Getting a business permit will soon be a major source of corruption in an already-corrupt state.

What’s more, once these new businesses get profitable, the state will step in to confiscate their “excessive” earnings, negating the entire point of private enterprise — as they did a decade ago.

All this shows is how the ruling Castro oligarchy works. It’s a master at creating a crisis, mitigating it for a time, consolidating its power, then cracking down anew. If that’s not failure, what is?

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Fidel Castro, recently returned from the almost dead, has become quite talkative giving speeches in public and now an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic.

When asked if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting he answered: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

No kidding. Watch this video for to see what 51 years of Cuban communism have done (via Babalu Blog):

But why would Castro make such an admission? Goldberg tries to explain the statement away and goes on trying to show what a cuddly old retiree the murderous dictator has become telling us about a visit with Castro to a dolphin show.

We don’t know what’s going in Castro’s mind, but some of the other things he said may offer clues to his agenda. Like he did in front of Cuba’s communist parliament a few weeks ago he talks Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He throws Goldberg a line condemning Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s anti-semitism. He even expresses regret about asking the Soviet Union to threaten the US with nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration would like to lift the embargo against Cuba. Could Castro’s behavior be targeted to encourage the forces in America that would like to see the embargo lifted? A few nice-sounding phrases for a massive economic lifeline thrown to the decrepit Cuban regime may seem like a good trade off for the Castro brothers. Allahpundit at Hot Air was one of the first to speculate about this.

I have no illusion about Fidel or Raul Castro. These two gangsters have been playing games with gullible Westerners too long to have any credibility. If Castro were serious about the his communist model for Cuba not working, why not initiate massive change?

Cuba could benefit from the examples of former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe that have transformed themselves from communist slave state to thriving free societies. There is twenty years of experience that Cuba could learn from.

If Castro wants the embargo lifted, that is a good argument for keeping it in place until the decrepit regime collapses. I understand Cuban-American support for the embargo although I have always been ambivalent about it. If we could establish trade that doesn’t benefit the regime, but rather individual Cubans (a big if), could trade with Cuba hasten the demise of the regime? After all communist countries like the former Czechoslovakia and Poland conducted trade with the West in the 1970s and 1980s. Communication between visiting Westerners and locals helped firmly entrench the political and economic ideas of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan which became guiding forces once the people of Eastern Europe were free to choose their destiny.

Still this is not the time to lift the embargo especially if most Cuban Americans, many of whom have family members still suffering in Cuba, oppose such a move. While it would be intriguing to set up more contact with the Cuban people and such a move could help subvert the regime, the gang in Washington certainly isn’t capable of executing such a plan. The Obama administration with its leftist elitism instead would focus on building relationships with the government and just help prop it up longer.

We shouldn’t be fooled by Castro playing the mellow old man who suddenly says surprising things. There is an agenda there and it can’t be anything good for the Cuban people and for the advance of freedom.

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A Warning from an Old Friend

February 14, 2010

Lech Walesa, the first post-communist President of Poland, recently visited the United States. He has had some disturbing things to say about the direction the United States is headed in:

The United States is only one superpower. Today they lead the world. Nobody has doubts about it. Militarily. They also lead economically but they’re getting weak. But they don’t lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. There was the hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we lost that hope.

Together with Pope John Paul II, also a Pole, President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Walesa was instrumental in bringing freedom to Eastern Europe and in defeating communism and the Soviet Union. As a shipyard worker, Lech Walesa founded the Solidarity movement in the late 1970s that, a decade later, toppled communism in Poland.

It should give pause to all the advocates of ever larger government control of more and more aspects of our lives, that a man whose life’s work has been the advancement of human freedom sees the trends of the Obama administration as a devastating decline in the moral and political standing of the United States.

Here is a video of Walesa’s statement preceded by a brief introduction of Walesa by Glenn Beck:

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Obama’s Absence in Berlin

November 8, 2009

President Obama is not attending the celebrations in Berlin commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. For a president that has extensively traveled during his first year in office and who even chose Berlin for a major, if problematic, speech during his campaign, this seems strange at first glance. Consider that he even went on a last minute trip to Copenhagen to make a narcissistic plea for bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. And he will go to Oslo in December to accept the Nobel Peace Prize which even he admits he doesn’t deserve.

But upon some reflection, it actually is very consistent for Obama not to attend the event that more than any other one symbolizes the triumph of capitalism and limited government. When candidate Obama spoke in Berlin in 2008 he talked about the fall of the Wall as an event where the “world came together as one.” This statement didn’t make any sense. The fall of communism was an unambiguous triumph of freedom over 20th century totalitarianism. We won. They lost. Of course, West Berliners welcomed their fellow citizens from the East with open arms, but they were welcomed because they embraced Western freedom, not because everyone was coming together regardless of their beliefs. East German Politburo members were not welcomed.

President Obama today advocates a radically different approach to government and to international relations than the policies of President Reagan that led to the fall of communism, policies that were continued in varying degrees by his successors George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. What are these differences?

In relations with governments hostile to Western freedom, the approach starting with Reagan was a strong national defense and an unwillingness to compromise on basic principles. Bush 41 continued this in Kuwait, Clinton to some extent in Kosovo and Bush 43 in the fight against Islamist fanatics after 9/11. Yes, there were failures by Clinton to react to the growing attacks from al-Qaeda and by both Clinton and Bush 43 to effectively contain North Korea. However, throughout the 28 years from 1981 until 2009, the responsibility of the United States as the world’s leading (and after 1989 only) superpower to stand up to threats against freedom and to intervene when our interests where threatened was never fundamentally questioned.

Barack Obama, on the other hand has traveled around the world apologizing for America’s actions before his ascent to power. He did this in 2008 in Berlin, in his speech to Muslims in Cairo and most recently at the United Nations General Assembly to name just a few. Towards Iran he has adopted a policy of appeasement reminiscient of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” policy towards Hitler in the late 1930s. Obama has fully bought into the stereotypes of America as the world’s bully that became popular among the global left during the Bush administration. Of course, President Reagan was attacked in the same way as a warmonger who would cause a nuclear holocaust. Once his policies resulted in victory for the Western world and the end of 40 years of Cold War, the left’s hatred of Reagan and the US was largely forgotten and President Clinton had the fortune of governing during an exceptional period of history.

President Obama advocates appeasement toward Iran and wants to shift power to international bodies such as the IMF on economic and monetary policies and the UN to redistribute wealth under the pre-text of “fighting global climate change.” These policies are ultimately a violation of US sovereignty and for our Constitution.

What role would Obama have in Berlin given his policies? He has repudiated the approaches that led to the triumph of Western freedom. European politics have recently moved away from the leftist ideology advocated by Obama. If he repeated his pronouncements from other global events in Berlin, he would be a nuisance at best. He can’t give credit to America’s policies that led to the fall of communism without undermining his own policies. And there certainly would be no forum for his narcissism promoting himself as the new great hope of the world. It makes perfect sense, for Obama not to go to Berlin. He wouldn’t be welcome.

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