Two Policies, Two Wrongs
12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ask, DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t TellÃ¢â‚¬Â (DADT) is about to fade into the history books as the policy of the U.S. Armed Forces with respect to gays and lesbiansÃ¢â‚¬â€for the most part long-serving, professional, and courageous soldiersÃ¢â‚¬â€serving openly in their ranks. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about time.
One of the myths about DADT is that Colin Powell, serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the obstacle around which it was forged some 17 years ago (see this morningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s news, 4 February 2010). Actually, the U.S. Congress bears that burden. John McCain and other Republicans who are speaking out now in opposition to doing away with DADT are the latest manifestation of that obstacle. But today that obstacle will be easily overwhelmed.
Not so in 1993. When a beleaguered President Clinton realized that key members of his own party in the Congress, plus Republicans, would stymie his effort to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, he turned to Powell to get him out of the mess he had created. The result, crafted by the Joint Staff in the Pentagon working for Powell, was DADT.
Why would I broach this subject on The Havana Note?
Because like DADT, U.S. Cuba policy is wrong, overdue for change, and ripe for the beginning of that change.
One of the various pieces of legislation now percolating in the CongressÃ¢â‚¬â€some for pure travel rights, some for travel plus other rights such as more normal agricultural salesÃ¢â‚¬â€will likely wend its way to success this year, but not without obstacles to its passage most of which, but not all, are in the Republican Party.
Looking solely at travel rights for all Americans, there is a clear correlation with DADT. It is a constitutional right of all Americans, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces if they can meet all required mental and physical standards.
It is a constitutional right of all Americans to be able to travel where they wish. If we can go to Beijing, Hanoi, and Pyongyang, we can go to Havana.
As with DADT, there are obstructionists in the Congress. But as with DADT, they will be overcome.
There is one alarming dissimilarity, however, between DADT and full travel to Cuba: no one in the White House seems to care about the Cuba issue.
This lack of concern exists partly because there is no one in the White House who knows much about Latin America, and partly because there are huge challenges on the PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agenda that dwarf the Cuba issue and even Latin America writ large.
The former deficiency can be solved by hiring a Latin American expert who knows what he or she is talking about; the second by letting that expert have the lead on policy toward the region. All the President and his national security advisor, Jim Jones, need to do is follow.
The first step will inevitably be toward Cuba, because that outdated and purblind policy is what all of Latin America is waiting for America to set right.