It may not be too early for President Obama to start job-hunting given his lame duck status, and I have a suggestion for the perfect fit. He should look into a job at Sony Pictures. The president and the company are on the same page when it comes to appeasing dictators.
This week the president announced he is giving Cuban President Raul Castro pretty much everything the dictator wants in return for the release of an imprisoned American, whose captivity was proof of the tyrannical regime's human rights violations. On the same day, Sony Pictures announced it is canceling the release of a comedy about North Korean President Kim Jong Un in response to threats against theaters scheduled to show the film on Christmas Day. It would be funny if the stakes weren't so deadly serious.
What the president has done with respect to Cuba is very much in keeping with his appease-dictators policies, in hopes of burnishing his legacy as a peacemaker. Good luck with that. So far, the president has written fawning notes to Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei, as well sending Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate a nuclear deal with the Iranians, which is allowing the mullahs to stall for time while they seek to build a bomb.
And, of course, Obama's been slow to help pro-democracy activists in many other countries, most tragically in Syria, which has perversely strengthened both the Assad regime and the Islamic State terrorists who now dominate the opposition. As a result of Obama's feckless policies, half of the population of Syria has been forced to flee their homes, with some three million refugees now living outside of Syria, and 200,000 or more have died in the fighting.
It's wonderful that the American hostage Alan Gross is home. He lingered for five long years in a Cuban jail for the crime of trying to help Cuba's small Jewish population get access to the Internet. During his imprisonment, Gross missed his mother's funeral and his daughter's wedding and suffered severe health damage, reportedly losing 100 pounds and most of his teeth.
But Gross' release should in no way be tied to formal recognition of Cuba. If the president wants to make the case that the United States should normalize relations with Cuba, let him make it to the American people and Congress, not concede it in a secret deal.
Even the exchange of prisoners negotiated to secure Gross' release, as well as that of an unnamed Cuban U.S. intelligence asset imprisoned for two decades, favored Cuba, not the United States. In return for one U.S. spy and one humanitarian, the U.S. released five convicted Cuban agents, two of whom were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of four Cuban-Americans. Another woman freed worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency for 17 years and is widely considered one of the most damaging spies in modern history.
Despite the imbalance of this deal, the Obama administration is touting it as a huge coup. But even The Washington Post decried the bargain as a "comprehensive bailout" of the Castro regime, which "will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms." The Post concluded, "Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life."
None of this should be a surprise. Remember, in 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, if elected, he intended to reach out to Castro, as well as to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il and Hugo Chavez, with "no preconditions." You can say one thing, Obama kept his word with Raul Castro, the only one still in power on that list of rogue tyrants. The others have either died or faded away, though their successors have proved just as bad.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that he "would not rule out a (White House) visit from President Castro." Maybe the president could invite Kim Jong Un along, as well.