by John Haylett
WASHINGTON has developed a habit in recent years of designating itself, its Nato allies and assorted hangers-on as “the international community.”
By that token, the international community has suffered a crushing defeat at the UN general assembly where opponents of the US blockade of Cuba scored an historic 188-3 landslide victory.
The international community has now shrunk to the US, its partner in crime and gold medallist in US aid receipts Israel and tiny Palau, the beneficiary of $250 million from Washington in 2010 as part of a “compact of free association” between the two sides to help to concentrate its mind.
The Marshall Islands, which is also bankrolled by the US under a compact of free association and hosts Washington’s Ronald Reagan ballistic missile defence test site, felt secure to abstain on the issue.
Similarly with Micronesia, another poverty-stricken beneficiary of US largess to the tune of $100m a year and free access for its citizens to work in the US in return for allowing its territory to be used for military bases.
US diplomat Ronald Godard, who drew the short straw to justify the ongoing blockade, called it “one of the tools in our overall efforts to encourage respect for the human rights and basic freedoms to which the United Nations itself is committed.”
In other words, the US considers it has a messianic role to choose how to defend UN values even when 188 of the organisation’s 193 member states say it is wrong.
It may appear to many people — or the international community, to coin a phrase — that this attitude is based on supreme imperial arrogance.
Unfortunately, it is based more on political cowardice than overconfidence.
Candidates from both major US parties still subscribe to the fairytale caricature of Cuba as an island of subversion in thrall to the Soviet Union, which hasn’t existed for over 20 years.
They buckle before the onslaught of the anti-Cuba right-wing Cuban-American lobby as they have bowed the knee to the Aipac pro-zionist machine.
And there is no longer any need to do so.
Cuban-Americans are no longer the undifferentiated reactionary mass of the 1960s and 1970s, largely composed of bitter anti-communists still mourning their wealth and power lost to the 1959 revolution.
Most recent immigrants left their homeland for economic reasons, with three-quarters of Cubans who migrated to the US from 1994 onwards backing unrestricted travel to Cuba and 70 per cent wanting diplomatic relations restored.
The recent US presidential election witnessed a sea change in Florida, where Barack Obama took the state with a big swing of Cuban Americans.
Even in Miami’s Little Havana they swung behind Democrat Joe Garcia, dumping anti-Cuba hardliner David Rivera, the sitting Republican.
There is nothing whatsoever to gain by President Obama remaining wedded to an inhuman and futile policy.
As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the UN, Obama “has the constitutional powers that would enable him to listen to the public opinion and generate the necessary dynamics, by means of executive decisions, even without the approval of the Congress.”
Such a political initiative would be welcome at any time, but in the wake of hurricane Sandy, which devastated both the eastern US and eastern Cuba, it could lay the basis for a new era of US-Cuba relations.
And it would guarantee, as Rodriguez put it, Obama’s “historical legacy.”