Hey #Cuba, Let's Play Ball! - USA Today Dialogue Between Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas 8/20/15

USA Today published a little give and take, between a "liberal Democratic strategist," Bob Beckel and a "conservative columnist," Cal Thomas on August 20, 2015, titled "Hey #Cuba, Let's Play Ball!"

You may expect that the conservative columnist would be opposed to the new US-#Cuba relations, but that's actually not how it turns out, although he does reflect much hesitation. The two share a bit of common ground in this entertaining give and take.

Bob opens the article discussing history, but also stating, "remember that Washington briefly recognized [The Castro government] after it overthrew the corrupt government of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959." He then talks about the Bay of Pigs fiasco, before saying, "It is long past time to try a different approach."

Cal responds, "Unlike many conservatives, I am cautiously supportive of the renewal of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Congress has the final say on when, or if, sanctions should be removed. They should be lifted, if at all, in increments and conditioned on progress on human rights."

Bob shifts to the embargo, saying it "has devastated Cuba's economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to severe poverty and food shortages." He says the new changes are "a good beginning."

Cal says, "... communism is what caused the most harm to the Cuban economy, but I'm a believer in light overcoming darkness. While increased tourism will boost the Cuban economy, visitors will be able to share information about the U.S. and the world. These could contribute to a movement that will someday free Cuba from the Castro brothers."

Bob recites the current upswing in polls in favor of the moves.

Cal talks about Nixon opening the door to China, and then says, "Cuba is one of the last relics of the Cold War. Not having diplomatic relations for more than half a century has not brought freedom to the island. You're right; it's time to try something different. You can't have a positive influence on nations if you don't talk to their leaders...."

Answering a question from Cal on what he sees as benefits of the new relationship, Bob says, "First, both our economies will benefit, Cuba's more than ours. ... Second, Cuba's allies - especially Russia and Venezuela - will lose influence in the Caribbean region, which they established because of close ties with Cuba. That alone is a long-range benefit to the United States."

Cal cites Marko Rubio's personal history and reservations.

Bob responds that this is "Cold War thinking." "Cuba has more to fear from this new relationship than we do when it ones to maintaining its dictatorship. Perhaps the most important benefit to come out of this will be the enhancement of our national security."

When asked why he says that, Bob points to the Cuban missile crisis, and says with Cuba as an ally, that could never happen again.

Cal retorts that Cuba is "not going to be an 'ally' anytime soon." "The best policy going forward is to watch the government's behavior and use new diplomatic relations and the possibility of a gradual lifting of sanctions as a wedge to enhance freedom and a better life for the Cuban people."

Bob turns the topic to baseball, stating that there is a lot of talent there, and that he sees an expansion team being created. And he's excited about the possibility of importing Cuban cigars.

Cal responds, "I knew we would get to your real motives," and states how Kennedy ordered as many cigars as Pierre Salinger could get his hands on before putting the embargo into effect. Cal closes with, "Maybe baseball diplomacy will help open the prison doors and contribute to a freer press and competing political parties. But I think without regime change in Cuba, the Washington baseball team will win its first World Series since 1924 before all these things happen."

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