Obama’s Spinelessness and Trump’s Moral Courage on Castro
The death of Fidel Castro was the first foreign policy test for President-elect Donald Trump and he acquitted himself brilliantly. For anyone who thought that his tough talk was just campaign bluster, witness the incredibly strong statement made about the bloody Cuban strongman:
Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.
For those of us used to President Barack Obama’s bland, milquetoast amorality on world affairs, and his practiced refusal to condemn evil, Trump’s words are a breath of fresh air and, God willing, portend a new American foreign policy based on the American principles of holding murderers accountable.
Contrast Trump’s words with Obama’s perfection in saying absolutely nothing:
Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends — bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity.
This neutral nonsense betrays a cowardly refusal to condemn Castro as a tyrant. Most memorable is President Obama’s unique ability to make Castro’s death about himself and his own presidency.
Perhaps President Obama forgot that he is leader of the free world and could have used the death of a dictator to say something about the importance of human liberty and human rights. But why, after eight years of Obama cozying up to Erdogan of Turkey and, worse, Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, should we expect anything else?
Indeed, his secretary of state John Kerry, whose tenure has been distinguished by near-total capitulation to Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, said of Castro: “We extend our condolences to the Cuban people today as they mourn the passing of Fidel Castro…He played an outsized role in their lives, and he influenced the direction of regional, even global affairs.”
I’d be outraged if I were not already asleep.
I have long said that President Obama’s greatest failure as a leader is his refusal to hate and condemn evil. Could there be any greater confirmation than this, and just six weeks before he leaves office?
But while Trump distinguished himself as a leader prepared to bravely express his hatred of evil, virtually every other world leader followed President Obama instead, disgracing themselves to various degrees. I put them in three categories: brown-nosers, appeasers, and suckups.
Taking the pole position of brown-noser-in-chief is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His obsequiousness to the murderous Castro was so great that it read like parody: “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century.” Trudeau added that Castro was “Cuba’s longest serving President.”
Notice that Castro “served” rather than ruled, and that he was “President” and not dictator.
But Trudeau was just getting started.
“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’” Trudeau continued to say that Castro was “a legendary revolutionary and orator” and the dictator’s death at 90 had brought him “deep sorrow.”
Here you have the leader of one of the Western world’s greatest democracies saying that an autocrat who murdered his people and ruled over them with an iron fist was loved by them.
As an American who loves Canada and has the privilege of hosting a national TV show there, “Divine Intervention,” I am embarrassed for the good people of Canada.
Trudeau’s revolting comments were rightly exposed by Senator Marco Rubio as “shameful and embarrassing,” and by Senator Ted Cruz as “slobbering adulation.”
Then there are the appeasers, those world leaders with no backbone and who have probably set their sights on their countries opening up a beach resort in Cuba, or who will use Castro’s crimes to cover up their own.
Bashar Assad of Syria, a man better known for gassing Arab children than writing eloquent eulogies said, “The name Fidel Castro will remain etched in the minds of all generations, as an inspiration for all the peoples seeking true independence and liberation from the yoke of colonization and hegemony.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a man who never met a dictator he couldn’t coddle, expressed how “at this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island.”
I would never have thought Vladimir Putin of Russia a suckup, but how else to explain hailing Fidel Castro as a “wise and strong person” who was “an inspiring example for all countries and peoples.” Kind of stomach-turning.
But perhaps the most disappointing comment came from Pope Francis who sent a telegram to Raúl Castro: “Upon receiving the sad news of the passing of your beloved brother, the honorable Fidel Castro…I express my sadness to your excellency and all family members of the deceased dignitary…I offer my prayers for his eternal rest.”
If there is any spiritual justice in the world, the only place Castro will rest is in a warm place in hell.
The Pope, to whom so many millions, including myself, look to for moral guidance, on this occasion can look to the President-elect of the United States for the proper response in the confrontation with evil.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including “The Israel Warrior,” which has just been published. The winner and record holder of The London Times Preacher of the Year competition, he has also received the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.