I watched Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” on Wednesday night concerning President Obama’s handshake with Cuban dictator Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral and was left shaking my head.
Although O’Reilly acknowledges Castro as a “killer,” “tyrant,” and a “thug,” he argues that Obama shaking hands with Castro helps alleviate suffering and opens the door to future negotiations. He goes on to liken Obama’s outreach to Castro to Richard Nixon visiting China and to Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev.
O’Reilly’s analogies are woefully inadequate. In going to China, Nixon took advantage of a chasm in the Communist world and used China as leverage against the Soviets. As for Reagan and Gorbachev, it must be remembered that Gorbachev was the fourth Soviet premier during Reagan’s presidency. The Gipper did not cultivate a relationship with Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov or Konstantin Chernenko. The reason for this is very simple. Gorbachev was a departure from his predecessors in his implementation of glasnost and perestroika which liberalized Soviet society and would in great part lead to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Although O’Reilly characterized him as one, Gorbachev was no tyrant.
Raul Castro is no Mikhail Gorbachev. Indeed, this past Tuesday, the Cuban government observed International Human Rights Day by arresting more than 150 dissidents. There is no glasnost or perestroika in Cuba.
O’Reilly argues, “Spitting in the eye of dictators and tyrants is a good photo-op, but it doesn’t get us anywhere.” And conferring legitimacy upon dictators and tyrants does?
With this in mind, O’Reilly also indicates he has no objections to the recent nuclear agreement reached between the Obama Administration and Iran. While he acknowledges the deal itself is flimsy, O’Reilly says that if Iran steps out of line the Obama Administration “will be in a much stronger position to confront them.” And what makes O’Reilly think the Obama Administration would actually confront Iran? What are they going to do? Set another red line? If they did then Iran would cross it with impunity and without consequence. When all is said and done, Iran gains a nuclear weapon and international prestige while the United States is viewed as a paper tiger.
Raul Castro has done nothing to warrant an American President to reach out his hand in friendship. By doing so, President Obama has both rewarded and reinforced Cuba’s bad behavior.
As for O’Reilly, he has rewarded and reinforced Obama’s deluded view that he can change the world with the sheer force of his charm and personality.