There is a solution to a problem that sickens and besmirches both American political parties, as well as their entire constituencies. What more intractable geopolitical situation has this nation ever encountered than the present southern border crisis. So many people want in, but so many don’t want them in. It is a stalemate, and everybody is losing.  

The problem is, in part, the availability of land, and the already heavily overloaded population and carbon burden of the American landmass. In part too, it is the associated availability of education and health care resources. In part, it is also the dire threat to the balance of power in the political system, which is at present somewhat evenly weighted. 

Our land policy of Manifest Destiny in the 1800s meant that our own colonists planted themselves so far west on this continent that California, now overwrought with humanity and pollution, is pushing people back eastward to places like Utah, Arizona, and Texas. 

On the other hand, there is a vicious, contagious tumor on the North American body politic. That monstrous sore is totalitarian communist Cuba, a place free and proud more than once before she swallowed that bitterest of all pills. Cuba’s influence has metastasized throughout the central and southern hemisphere, contributing greatly to the tyrannies that motivate so many to make a desperate flight for our borders today. If we want to prevent much more of that flight in the future, there is something we can do now. 

Teddy Roosevelt, the pride of the Republican party, but also an early progressive, and thus a truly two-way populist figure, once rode roughshod over the Spanish imperialists in Cuba and won her freedom for her. Under our watch for the first half of the twentieth century, Cuba was both managed and mismanaged as a territorial possession or neighbor. Then, in 1959, we provided aid and friendship cover for the tin pot dictator Fidel Castro, before he finally flew his Soviet colors. Then we stood back in fear and trembling at what we had invited into our midst.  

Because Cuba was now under the protection of the “superpower” Soviet Union, we could not even think to touch Cuba again. The problem was, Soviet Russia never was a real power on a par with America because she never commanded anything near the heart and soul of her own people. A very few understood she was a paper tiger built with American resources and ingenuity and not her own, and many more came to understand that after she imploded in 1989. Soviet “protection” of Cuba was a charade, just like a drug lord’s “protection” of neighborhoods is as good and helpful as a true and honest police department’s protection is. 

It is time the U.S. plucked Cuba again and turned her harbors and fields and cities into places where freedom loving exiles from Central and South America can work the land, and live peacefully in a territory of the U.S., and perhaps eventually as one of the United States. 

Ah, but you say, the Russians would never permit this. They would thunder out a nuclear response, you say. No, they wouldn’t. In the first place, they would not hazard any military response at all, for the same practical reason we did not hazard a military response when Russian tanks rolled into the Crimea in 2014. Crimea is in the Russian sphere of influence and Cuba is in the American sphere of influence. Both nations understand those realities clearly. 

In fact, we can ensure that we are able to take Cuba without firing a shot, and here is how.  

Biden can send a special envoy to Russia to negotiate the deal well in advance, effectively providing an insurance policy against any violence. Perhaps he would even consider sending Donald Trump to speak with Mr. Trump’s good friend, Vladimir Putin. How and why would two presidents agree to work on a badly needed solution for America? Because each of them wants voters from the other man’s party? Because each of them cares in their own way about America? Because each of them wants to find a way out of the perilous international situation America has created in our own back yard? The actual reason doesn’t really matter. The solution to the problem matters.  

This particular envoy assignment is not necessary for the plan, but let’s pursue it a little further anyway. If Trump doesn’t recover his foreign affairs credibility, he cannot win in 2024. If Biden doesn’t pull off something bold and elegant in foreign affairs, even after the “end” of America’s forever wars, neither can he. Both presidents, and both political parties, need to do something. If the two of them accomplish this together, they can prove that America is not deadlocked politically forever. The two parties can still work together. Perhaps also they can then step back and make room for younger and more democracy-conscious reformers who might take a stab at re-invigorating the American republic within the two parties, or else by means of several other innovative parties acting in coalition to govern America. 

If Biden and Biden’s choice of envoy cannot make an understanding with Putin, our tanks roll peacefully into Cuba anyway. The natives will place flowers in the metal barrels. Cuba’s own expats in America could then return to their families, now freed of servitude to a god they do not love. Our own bankers and industrialists would embrace the new investment opportunities so close to home. Such investment would be more politically palatable than continuing investments in a China that now menaces the world. 

Cultural, humanitarian, and public affairs wonks would then enjoy the opportunity and challenge of working to implement the resettlement of refugees from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Cuba. 

Robert Kimball Shinkoskey is a retired state government worker who writes about current affairs from a historical perspective. His book, The American Kings, documents the foreign affairs administrations of the Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama. 

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