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Obama, Clinton, Carter: A Tradition of Appeasement

It is remarkable how quickly the drama over the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng fell off the media screen. Although his case is essentially unresolved, the U.S. media wasted no time shifting focus from Chen’s actual predicament to alleged misdemeanors from Mitt Romney’s distant past.

Why? The Chen story was getting uncomfortably close to revealing the Democratic Party’s longstanding policy of appeasing foreign despots. I witnessed this policy.

On April 12, 1978, President Jimmy Carter hailed Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu as a “great national and international leader.” I was standing next to Carter in the White House, and I could hardly believe my ears. Ceausescu despised appeasers. While driving away from that official ceremony at the White House, he took a bottle of alcohol and splashed it all over his face after having been affectionately kissed by President Carter in the Oval Office. “Peanut-head,” Ceausescu whispered in my ear.

Three months later, I was granted political asylum in the United States, and I informed President Carter that he was praising the wrong man. In fact, Ceausescu was an international terrorist and arms smuggler who was also selling off Romanian Jews and Germans for Western currency. The result?

Carter alleged that the KGB had staged my defection in order to destroy his excellent relations with Ceausescu, and he ordered that I be deported back to Romania.

Fortunately, saner minds prevailed. Nevertheless, a book co-written by Roger Kirk, a former U.S. ambassador to Romania, provides irrefutable testimony that President Carter danced to Ceausescu's music. Here is just one example. In September 1978, President Carter sent a ranking counselor, Matthew Nimetz, to Bucharest to apologize for my being granted political asylum. Nimetz conveyed to the tyrant that the U.S. administration would “do our utmost to assure that publicity on the Pacepa case is avoided completely, or kept at a bare minimum.” Indeed, the Carter administration did everything in its power to prevent me from publishing even my own memoirs.

On the memorable day of July 19, 1979, President Carter did it again. He affectionately kissed Leonid Brezhnev on both cheeks during their first encounter in Vienna. Brezhnev also despised appeasers -- in his own way. Five months after the infamous Carter-Brezhnev kiss, a KGB terrorist squad assassinated Hafizullah Amin, the American-educated prime minister of Afghanistan, and replaced him with a Soviet puppet. Then the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. President Carter feebly protested by boycotting the Olympic Games in Moscow. That compromise gave rise to the Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden’s anti-American terrorism. The rest is history.

After Carter lost the elections, I sent William Casey, the new director of Central Intelligence, a draft of my future book Red Horizons and a memo in which I asked why the U.S. administration wanted to exchange my golden Romanian cage for one of its own making. In a letter dated December 17, 1985, DCI Casey wrote that he found the manuscript of Red Horizons “very interesting,” and he added that it would be effective in providing a clearer picture on what was going on in Romania. “The president has read it and was impressed.”

That president was Ronald Reagan.

A few months later, Red Horizons was serialized by Radio Free Europe. On Christmas Day of 1989, Ceausescu was executed by his own people at the end of a trial based on accusations that came, almost word-for-word, out of Red Horizons.

When Ronald Reagan became president, the U.S. was being treated with contempt by most petty tyrants around the world. The Soviet Union was on the march in Angola, Cuba, Ethiopia, Syria, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, and, of course, Afghanistan. Reagan reversed all these trends, and his successor, George H. W. Bush, was credited with winning the Cold War and demolishing the Soviet empire.

Unfortunately, in 1993 we got another Democratic president, who reinstated Carter's policy of appeasing Communist tyrants. On April 22, 2000, President Bill Clinton's marshals forcibly returned a six-year-old boy to Communist Cuba -- a child who had miraculously escaped alive from a boat that capsized and sank, killing the mother who had tried to free her only child from Castro's tyranny.

Fidel Castro was afraid that the bright-eyed, telegenic Elián González might become a symbol of freedom and that he could damage Castro's image abroad and at home. Therefore, a few days after Elián was found floating on the ocean in an inner tube, Castro gathered 300,000 Cubans on Havana's streets to protest the "kidnapping" of Elián by the United States. Then, just as Ceausescu had tried in my case, Castro attempted to lure Elián back. His two grandmothers were sent to the United States with photo albums containing pictures of Elian's relatives, schoolmates, home, dog, parrot, and empty school desk "waiting for you to return." The grandmothers were provided with new wardrobes and travel expenses. They were accompanied by Cuban handlers, who stage-managed their every move in the United States.

Elián did not fall for Castro's tricks. President Clinton did.

Elián Gonzáles became an international symbol of freedom. Today the Miami house where he lived as a free child is a popular shrine to Elián -- now a 16-year-old pampered prisoner on an isolated Communist island. His old school uniform still hangs in the closet in Miami, along with all the new clothes that he never got a chance to wear. A giant image of the infamous Associated Press photo showing a federal agent pointing an automatic weapon toward Elián, who had been hiding in a bedroom closet, is also on display. We can only hope that some other courageous man, another Ambassador Kirk, will someday let us in on the real reasons why the Clinton administration sent Elian back to Castro's prison.

Now another Clinton has created another Elián: Chen Guangcheng. Chen, a Chinese political dissident, may be blind, but it seems he sees better than does Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who happened to be in Beijing when Chen escaped from Communist detention. Chen saw that Communist China, even though today wearing capitalist clothes, is still a huge prison from which people can escape only with foreign help. Gary Locke, the U.S. ambassador to China, told reporters: "He knew the stark choices in front of him."

Hillary Clinton also knew the stark choices in front of her. If Chen were granted political asylum, the leaders of China would stop granting the U.S. the credits the current administration badly needs in order to transform America into a monument to this presidency. She therefore sent Chen back to the Communist prison from which he had escaped, just as her husband, Bill, had sent Elián back to the Communist prison from which he had so narrowly escaped.

In 1979, President Carter informed his White House staff that, while on a solo fishing expedition in his home town of Plains, Georgia, a rabbit had approached his boat, “hissing menacingly, its teeth flashing and nostrils flared and making straight for the president.” In 1986, President Carter’s press secretary Jody Powell revisited the story in his book The Other Side of the Story. “The president confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind.”

The same thing seems to be true of the current leaders of the Democratic Party. Let’s hope that next November the United States will get a White House and a Congress able to tell the difference between wild rabbits and dangerous foreign despots.