I have had difficulty believing the uproar in right-wing circles over President Obama shaking hands with Cuba’s President Raul Castro. For goodness sakes, it was at the memorial for Nelson Mandela! Should Obama have spat in the face of Castro?
The hypocrisy of the political Right has been amazing. Comparing shaking Castro’s hand to shaking hands with Hitler? Do these folks have no sense of history? Senator McCain, who decided to enter the fray, condemned President Obama, but it was McCain who shook the hand of the late president of Libya, Qaddafi, who the USA described as being everything but a child of God. So, why did McCain not show his rear to Qaddafi?
It is this attitude of arrogance and bullying that unsettles most of the planet. The political Right believes that the U.S. should treat the rest of the world with contempt unless the world accepts our terms. The rest of the world has a different view.
If it stopped there it would be bad enough, but it gets worse. This idea of bullying helps to explain why we are much too close to war with Iran. It is from Republican and many Democratic politicians that we have suggestions that the recent agreement with Iran was too timid. As I have asked, would they rather war? The answer seems to be “yes,” they want the total surrender by the Iranians to the terms that the U.S. dictates. As it is said, that is a non-starter. But it also helps to explain why countries find it difficult to trust the intentions of this country.
This brings us back to Raul Castro. The U.S. has been working to destroy the Cuban Revolution for more than 50 years. It has orchestrated a blockade, carried out terrorist assaults, assassination attempts, as well as overtly and covertly supported Cuban exiles in terror campaigns. In the international arena that is known as aggression.
So, rather than asking the question of whether it was appropriate for President Obama to be polite and to shake the hand of President Castro, one can actually ask: Was it not exceptional that President Castro was so polite when the leader of the country that has been attempting to overthrow his administration and has permitted the existence of terrorists on its soil offered his hand?
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.