A time for change
As protests occur in Seattle against the World Trade Organization and its questionable practices affecting the environment and worker rights around the world, those marching in protest have failed to recognize the biggest flaw surrounding the relationship between the United States and the WTO. Any American effort to initiate China into the WTO while maintaining its trade embargo against Cuba is hypocritical and goes against the need to support democracy and capitalism abroad.
The United States is trying to gain China's official entry into an organization which proclaims itself as: "the only international organization dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible." While it may be in the best interests of the American economy to open up trade possibilities with the developing country, it sets a dangerous precedent. It shows our support for countries who practice the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was founded.
In February of 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated, "The policy of the United States is clear. We want a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. It is that simple. It is that unshakable. And towards that goal, we will never compromise our principles, nor cease our efforts."
President Clinton echoed these thoughts in March of 1998 when he stated "(Our policy) demonstrates the United States' compassion for the Cuban people, our strong interest in building bonds between the citizens of our nations, and our determination to provide the people of Cuba with hope in their struggle against a system that for four decades has denied them even basic human rights."
The current American trade embargo against Cuba is not building bonds, it is maintaining a stale and ineffective policy that is hurting the people it was designed to help. By preventing the free exchange of goods between the two countries, the citizens of Cuba have been deprived of basic necessities.
Established nearly 38 years ago, the embargo has failed to achieve its original goal - eliminating Fidel Castro from power and bringing an end to Communism in Cuba.
As we speak, Fidel Castro is still in power, and Cuba remains the only Communist country in the Western Hemisphere.
Last January, revisions were made which were designed to decrease the severity of the embargo, but these revisions fall short of allowing the citizens of Cuba what they are entitled to.
China, on the other hand, has not done much to support the development of capitalism and democracy. If China is given WTO status, then this is comparable to a child earning his Eagle Scout recognition while falling a few merit badges short.
If the U.S. contends that Cuba has maintained a practice of human rights abuses against its citizens, it has apparently forgotten the history between China and Tibet. Forty years ago, China invaded Tibet and has continually thwarted the nation's culture and freedom.
Perhaps, most importantly, China has initiated a web of spying that has placed the national security of the United States in danger. Recent redirection of missiles towards Taiwan has set the stage for a conflict between the United States and China. Taiwan has asked for U.S. support and precedent indicates the U.S. will respond. In March of 1996, the U.S. sent naval support to the Taiwan Straits as China conducted missile tests over Taiwan during their elections.
And, most recently, China takes the principles of Communism to a new level with its censorship and recent movement to dismantle the Falun Gong religious group.
In the current situation, the United States has allowed ineffective policy to stagnate in one country at the expense of its population, while at the same time rewarding the behavior another which threatens the national security of the United States with espionage and creates an inevitable conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan. If the U.S. responds to this behavior with a reward, it should be consistent and open up relations with Cuba.