You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Editorial columns

  • Short-sighted decision shortchanges students
    Since taking office last year, one of the most exciting things I've seen in Indiana has been the growing momentum and support for early-childhood education.
  • In the best interests of Hoosier children
    Earlier this year our state made history by approving the first state-funded pre-kindergarten grant program for low-income families in Indiana.
  • Domestic violence a worldwide scourge
    Many of us have found ourselves shocked at the sight of Super Bowl champion Ray Rice punching his then fiancée, now wife, so hard in the face that she was rendered unconscious.
Advertisement

Views on Cuba plague Hagel

Much of the focus on Chuck Hagel’s record has been on his views on Israel, Iran and sequestration. Equally troubling has been his dismissive attitude toward the Castros and his enthusiasm to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba with no quid pro quo.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has already expressed serious concerns about Hagel’s views on Cuba. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairman of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, put out a statement objecting to Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary:

“During his time in Congress, Hagel supported legislation that would have provided a lifeline to the decrepit Castro regime that for the last half a century has exploited the Cuban people and posed a severe security threat to the U.S. ... In a time of regional turmoil and rogue regimes, our Secretary of Defense must ... stand up to dictators like the Castro brothers who seek to oppress the voices of democracy and freedom.”

At times Hagel has seemed clueless about the Castros’ role in the region. He has worked assiduously in favor of lifting the trade embargo. And, according to the Omaha World Herald in 2002, he once told a State Department official that calling Fidel Castro a threat is “just goofy ... this is a toothless old dinosaur.”

The Castro regime, of course, has grown close to the Iranian regime and has allied with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. In seizing and imprisoning American Alan Gross, it has advocated a swap with five Cuban spies (a position strenuously opposed by the Senate).

“Jimmy Carter, like Hagel, felt it was for lack of trying that relations were so dismal,” noted Frank Calzon, who heads the Center for a Free Cuba. But of course, this ignores outreach efforts under other administrations. Each solicitation has been met with aggressive action.

Calzon contends that Hagel “will not present different views” to President Obama, who has already been inclined to follow the Carter approach to Cuba. And Calzon is certain how the Castro regime will respond. “The Cubans will celebrate having Hagel in the Pentagon,” he said. “Not only will they see that as a sign of weakness but as an invitation to push the envelope. Instead of reducing the chance of conflict, the opposite is true.”

Jennifer Rubin is a Washington Post columnist.

Advertisement