Allies and Enemies

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”..................Lord Palmerston

On the other hand, he also said:

I hold that the real policy of England... is to be the champion of justice and right, pursuing that course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Quixote of the world, but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks that justice is, and whenever she thinks that wrong has been done.

Of course Palmerston is probably not totally reliable guru for foreign policy, but these two pithy quotes do supply some food for thought for every strategic champion of justice. The first is a fact of life that every successful US President has mastered. It means that in foreign policy it is often necessary to not only let bygones be bygones but also to sometimes sup with the devil and even go to baseball games with him.

Commenter (or perhaps commentator) Fernando has been abusing Obama and me lately for Obama's policies toward Cuba. Obama is practicing Palmerston's first principle toward Cuba, and I tend to think that he has chosen an opportune moment. The Castros are very old men, and regime change, one way or the other, is likely soon. US power to facilitate changes we approve of will be much greater if we come to the event not as enemies.

Fernando, so he says, is a Cuban emigre who became an American Citizen, is evidently quite successful, but doesn't live in the US. He has a bitter, personal, and probably well-justified hatred of the Castros and their regime. His enmity is personal and perpetual, and he is outraged that the US is abandoning his jihad - outraged enough to make thinly veiled threats involving suicide vests.

I think he lacks necessary critical distance.


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