It’s exquisite in politics when a fiercely held principle collides with the reality on the ground. Then, we can sit back and enjoy watching the pols squirm.
Such is the case with the news that Cuba is preparing to drill for oil in its own waters. The problem is that, thanks to the Gulf Stream, Cuba’s waters become our waters pretty quickly. And if the Cubans perform the very tricky and high-tech task of offshore drilling with the usual skill and diligence displayed in attacking other projects, we can be fairly certain that, at some point, refugees won’t be the only thing washing up on our shores.
Thanks to an anachronistic embargo that remains in place because the Cuban exile lobby is so powerful in Washington, and because Florida is a swing state, there is no mechanism for us to cooperate with our neighbors to the south, aid them with our expertise, and implement contingency plans should the worst occur.
Since we can’t stop the Cubans from doing what they want in their own back yard, it might behoove us to see a way around our self-imposed restrictions. This may raise a howl in Little Havana and parts of New Jersey, but imagine the screaming when the tar balls start hitting the pristine sands of South Beach. Who will get blamed? The same members of Congress who, out of fear that the Cuban government might benefit from American dollars, strive mightily to keep the embargo in place.
They might want to remember that not all beachgoers in Florida are Cuban-Americans, and Democratic challengers will be delighted to remind everyone who was at fault should there be⎯ God forbid⎯a future disaster. Americans, being self-centered as they are, will have a hard time sympathizing with the cause of Cuban freedom if they know it’s responsible for ruining their weekends.