Never mind that since last December President Obama has been falling all over himself to please and appease Cuba’s Castro regime. He has failed to come up with arguments compelling enough to persuade Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba. So, while pocketing Obama’s concessions, Havana has been complaining to the United Nations General Assembly that the U.S. embargo is still in place. On Tuesday, the General Assembly continued its annual tradition of approving a resolution slamming the U.S., urging the tailoring of U.S. law to UN interests, and demanding that the U.S. embargo be lifted. As usual, the resolution passed with near total support, the tally this year being 191 in favor, 2 against — the two holdouts being the U.S. itself, plus Israel (which, as a loyal ally, voted with the U.S.).
Lest anyone think this is some clearcut case in which the UN collective is right, and the U.S. is wrong, let’s be clear on what this vote is really about. It is not actually about Cuba per se, or the embargo. Cuba is a tyranny that routinely violates the principles of the UN charter, without incurring protest by the eminences of the UN. And Cuba has had abundant opportunity for years to trade with most of the world. The real constraint on its economy is Castroite communism, not the leaky barrier of the U.S. trade embargo. In this long-running saga, the Castro regime is not the victim. It is the villain.
But the UN’s thug-heavy General Assembly is not, as a rule, much concerned with the realities of right and wrong, nor do most of its member states give a hoot for the human rights ideals enshrined — or should we say, entombed — in the UN charter. This vote is a chance to beat up the U.S.; an annual rite in which Cuba leads the mob. Among the countries celebrating the passage of the resolution were such stars of the UN firmament as North Korea, which in 2013 was caught red-handed smuggling from Cuba a huge stash of munitions, hidden under bags of sugar aboard the freighter Chong Chon Gang. In an explanation of the vote, as summarized by the UN, North Korea’s envoy shared with the eminences of the UN his government’s concern that the U.S. embargo on Cuba “was hampering the peaceful and stable development of the region.”
Sudan, whose president is under indictment by the International Criminal Court, also spoke up against the embargo, calling it a violation of international law. Belarus, one of Russia’s weapons-dealing despotic sidekicks, told the assembly that “it was the inalienable right of each country to decide its own model of development without interference in its internal political system by military or political means.” The barrel-bombing chemical-weapons-using government of war-wracked Syria lamented “the inhuman nature of the embargo,” and threw in a complaint that “coercive measures had also been taken against Syria, negatively affecting its economy.” Zimbabwe and Laos lectured America on the rights of the Castro regime. For the world’s developed democracies, it ought to be an embarrassment to vote in lockstep with this gang. But in the horse-trading at the UN, Cuba has made an art of out-sized influence — and along with a cost-free chance to stick a thumb in America’s eye, there is of course the aging romance of those old Che Guevara posters, especially for those who do not have to live under the brutal system he espoused.
Cuba itself, which introduced the resolution, skipped right past the ruinous effects of 59 years of Fidel and Raul Castro’s murderous communism, and instead accused the U.S. of causing $121 billion in economic damages.
This was not quite the reception the Obama administration, hands outstretched to the Castros, had been hoping for. But instead of denouncing the mob, U.S. envoy Ronald Godard delivered an explanation of the U.S. vote that sounded more like an apology — or maybe a plea for mercy. Noting that Obama has met twice this past year with Cuba’s President Raul Castro, Godard listed a heap of nice things that President Obama has done this past year for Cuba’s Castro regime, pleading with UN members to understand — as if America were the guilty party — that “although normalization will be a long and complex road, we’ve made considerable progress.” He noted that Obama has “called on Congress to lift the embargo as soon as possible” and sweetened that with the assurance that Obama is doing what he can to bypass America’s lawmakers by taking “executive action to adjust regulations.” And he insisted that “the United States will not be bound by a history of mistrust” (as if the problem were not Cuba’s regime, but some abstract and unfortunate accident of “mistrust”).
The cold comfort here is, pathetic as the U.S. response was, it could have been even worse. Last month there were reports that when the Cuba embargo resolution came before the General Assembly, the U.S. instead of voting against this annual UN exercise to pillory America might actually abstain. As the New York Sun editorialized, that would have been an extraordinary case of a U.S. president standing against his own country, making a mockery of his constitutional oath.
As it turned out, Cuba’s resolution was so offensive that the Obama administration could not bring itself to abstain, and instead voted on the side of America. Godard, in his explanation of the U.S. vote against the resolution, said, “The text falls short of reflecting the significant steps that have been taken and the spirit of engagement President Obama has championed.” Yes, folks, it’s another case of appeasement breeding ingrates galore. It’s also one more reason for Americans to ask themselves why they should be shelling out billions every year for the UN, where piling on 191-2 in favor of thugs and against America is very much business as usual.