BY LUKE WATHEN
After over 50 years of sanctions and hostility, the wall between the United States and Cuba is gradually becoming a bridge. President Obama made headlines recently by making a historic diplomatic visit to Cuba.
Despite the amicable nature of the visit and the general sense of cooperation between Obama and Raul Castro, Obama has met a fair share of criticism for his visit.
“So Obama lands in Cuba,” Rush Limbaugh said last Monday on his radio show. “We call it one small step for man, one giant leap for Marxism.”
Limbaugh is not the only noted voice who criticized the president’s visit. Glenn Beck, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz all spoke out against the meeting between Castro and Obama, claiming that it gives validity to the country’s communist government.
What is interesting about this is that the aforementioned men who vocally oppose Obama’s visit to Cuba are the same men who champion the presidency of Ronald Reagan as being one of the best in American history. Reagan, to them, was influential in bringing about the end of the Cold War by meeting with the then-leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev.
Yes, Reagan met with Gorbachev, leader of the world’s most powerful communist nation at the time, and he is championed as being an American hero because of it.
These are not the only times that a president has met with a communist leader or restored diplomatic relations with a communist country. Richard Nixon was famously the first president to visit China after it became communist, the US restored relations with Vietnam, a country which we had previously been at war with, under Bill Clinton and presidents spanning from Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush visited with leaders of the (now defunct) Soviet Union.
And yet despite this, Obama is somehow worthy of criticism for visiting Cuba.
As demonstrated by presidents past, one of the best ways to curb age old gripes and bitterness is with a diplomatic visit. Extending an olive branch is what helped end the Cold War after all.
Because of this, the complaints levied against the president are contradictory and, frankly, childish. The Becks and Limbaugh’s of the world will have you believe that what Obama is some radical departure from US foreign policy.
In reality, this visit is nothing new. By claiming that Obama is supporting communism, they are saying that Reagan, Nixon and multiple other presidents did the same.
The dissenters can say what they will but this visit is a welcome change to American-Cuban relations. In a time where it seems the US has more enemies than allies, there is certainly no harm in making new friends.