McCain Declares Cuba Policy a Success
He made some opening remarks focusing on foreign policy before taking questions and I had the opportunity to ask him to expand his thoughts.
He challenged Barack Obama’s statement in last night’s debate that he would sit down and talk with Raul Castro without precondition. McCain said he’d be happy to hold talks once they have free elections and release their political prisoners but not before.
In my questioning, I noted that we had managed to have unconditional talks with the likes of Joe Stalin and Chairman Mao. While conceding that point — although noting that our marriage of convenience with Stalin quickly fell apart once our common foe was defeated — he thinks Raul is a particularly bad fellow and that, more importantly, our holding talks would increase his legitimacy and possibly extend the reign of Communism over that country. I noted that we’d been trying to change Cuba’s regime by isolating them since well before I was born and that I’m not a particularly young man anymore. McCain begged to differ, saying our policy was containment and it had worked. He noted that Cuba’s ability to expand their influence to far-flung places in Africa and even inside Latin America had been eliminated.
In his opening remarks, the Senator noted the rioting in response to Kosovo’s independence declaration but stated that he believes it will taper off and Kosovo will be a free society. I asked where one draws the line on national sovereignty claims. McCain said there was no cut-and-dried rule that he could apply. He agreed with me that micro-states could be a problem and that tribalism, particularly in East Africa, had created much misery. At the same time, he believes the long history of human rights abuses against the Kosovar Albanians made them a special case.
Pat Curley asked about the possibility of a McCain-Obama race breaking the mold in terms of Electoral College competitiveness and, specifically, which Red and Blue states in recent years would be in play. McCain stated that he thought he would be “very competitive” in California and thought he had a good chance in New Jersey and even New York. On the down side, he thought he would have more trouble with New Mexico than has been the case in recent years. (See Curley’s write-up for more detail.)
Note: I made some minor additions to the above account to more fully flesh out the conversation in the first few minutes after initial publication.
He cited Brian Latell’s prize-winning book After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba’s Revolution. See also Latell’s TIME 100 piece, “RaÃºl Castro.”
Photo credit: The Scratching Post