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Bush's Problems with National [sic] Building

Ah, another day, another stupid letter-to-the-editor in The New York Times. Or so, dear reader, it often seems. If you ask us, nary a 24-hour time span goes by without our taking in a dunderheaded missive in the Gray Lady.

Take, for example, the Friday, October 26 number of the self-proclaimed Paper of Record. It contains the following delightful epistle:

To the Editor:

In his Oct. 24 speech, President Bush reiterated over and over again that the Cuban people can count on the United States to assist their transition to democracy and the rebuilding of their society. But as they look at the still devastated Gulf Coast, and at the bloody, smoldering ruins in Iraq, where we haven't even been able to get lights and water back on, why would they have any confidence in President Bush's assurances?

The cold fact is that under President Bush, the United States' reputation for national [sic] building has reached an all-time low.

Wayne S. Smith
Washington, Oct. 25, 2007

The writer, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, was chief of the United States Interests Section in Havana, 1979-82

Well, gee: We suppose we ought to defend President Bush from the slings and arrows of this outrageous think-tanker. First, we hardly need mention that President Bush won't be in office too much longer. Accordingly, unless Fidel Castro is sicker than seems to be the case (and his brother magically disappears from the scene), it is unlikely that President Bush will be around to offer help with Cuba's "national building."

Further, we should stress the fact that Wayne S. Smith's reading of the situations in the Gulf Coast and Iraq are so strident as to be willfully tendentious. Sure, there are problems in Biloxi and Baghdad, but we don't think their inhabitants are all rubbing sticks together to start fires.

And then we must mention that Mr. Smith's piece demonstrates rather slipshod logic. According to him, President Bush has a bad record with nation building; thus he should not extend any offer of help to Cubans aiming to rebuild their Communist hellhole.

As far as Mr. Smith is concerned, if President Bush were more of a humanitarian, he would probably say something like: "Boy, Cubans, I'd really love to help you. But, since all the casinos aren't back in business yet on the coast of Mississippi, it's clear that I can't offer any useful aid. So enjoy your totalitarian nightmare for another few generations."

We bet that would impress Mr. Smith.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently wondering where Wayne S. Smith would rather live--in the nightmare of Biloxi or the well-governed wonders of rural Cuba.)


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Comments (42)

I would never ever subcribe... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

I would never ever subcribe to the NEW YORK SLIMES its americas worse all time paper not worth even lining a birds cage with

I hate reading what wingnut... (Below threshold)

I hate reading what wingnuts think about Cuba. I've been there via Toronto, where I live and work. Havana isn't the best place to live, but it's a lot better than much of Mexico and Latin America. AIDS is totally under control, kids eat three meals a day, everybody can read.... Granted, their TVs are really shitty and the buffets weren't as nice as in Costa Rica or Bermuda, but the people were a lot friendlier and the island a great deal safer. Castro's got an approval rating about twice as high as Bush, for what it's worth. (Nothing, but it's fun to point out.) Real political discussion took place amongst the academics at the university and the people who worked where I was staying. (Just because you or Michelle Malkin aren't aware of any English language anti-Castro Freedom Blogs to add to your blogroll as part of your tireless fight against The Axis of Islamocommufascism, and just because Castro is wrong to have used the death penalty to enforce laws restricting expression, doesn't mean it's a nation full of brainwashed Kool Aid drinkers. I prefer open democracy by a long shot, but Cuba ain't North Korea, and Havana is a much better place to live than Tijuana, Rio, Kingston, etc.)

Whatever the political situation of that country, lifting U.S.-imposed sanctions would improve their quality of life by giving them access to 1) enough health care supplies to allow their abundance of doctors to do their jobs, and 2) cheaper consumer goods to let them better spend all of the U.S. dollars that Canadian and European (and American) tourists are lavishing upon many of them. I trust you've spoken to your Congresscritter about it, as you seem so concerned about the Cuban people's welfare. I'm not saying that this idiocy is partisan btw. Bill Clinton has more to do with America's childish stance towards Cuba than GWB Jr., and that should be pointed out when they are embraced as a viable trade partner within the next ten years so that Bill isn't given any retroactive credit for it.

hyperbolist, why is it that... (Below threshold)

hyperbolist, why is it that the Europeans refuse to sell Cuba health care supplies?

I don't work for the Cuban ... (Below threshold)

I don't work for the Cuban State Department, but from what I gathered from medical professionals that I spoke to, it's because of a nearly universally opposed American embargo. The ban was partially relaxed, but it's still difficult for them to get sufficient supplies. More and more stuff is imported through Venezuela and Bolivia; also, I would bet that their shortage might have something to do with countries protecting pharmaceutical companies' intellectual property rights by limiting their access to generic drugs, Whether or not that's the right thing to do is a separate discussion, I think.

I don't see the Cuban situation as a political or security issue; I see it as straightforwardly humanitarian. The US does business with regimes much, MUCH worse than Castro's. It's time to stop being such a big baby, and to stop giving so many Cubans a reason to dislike America. The 9/11 hijackers didn't come from Varadero, and last I checked, there are no travel restrictions to Riyadh or Cairo. The status quo is retarded.

Hyperbolist, the answer is ... (Below threshold)

Hyperbolist, the answer is that nothing stops Cuba from buying medical supplies from Europe. European countries trade with Cuba all the time. Cuba lacks supplies because its socialist economy is a disaster - not because of the US embargo.

There are no intellectual property rights in generic drugs. The excuses are just excuses for the reality of Cuba's devastation by socialism.

The best reason for ending the US embargo is because it is falsely blamed for Cuba's economic failures.

Jeeze, a proponent of Castr... (Below threshold)

Jeeze, a proponent of Castro's Cuba.
It's so wonderful is the reason so many
of the natives risk their lives floating
old cars to the United States.

Castro's wonderfull world of health care
and medicine. Is this why the doctors are
fleeing Cuba, because they can't handle
the effects of living in a uptopia?

Since it's so wonderful hyperbolist, why
haven't you changed your mailing address to
Cuba? It would be much easier for you to
worship him up close.

I've never been to Cuba, no... (Below threshold)
Chris G:

I've never been to Cuba, nor do I have any relatives who have ever been there. So that disqualifies my opinion.

However, One of my best friends is a second generation Cuban raised in this country. His father and grandfather FLED Cuba in the 1960's. They loathe Castro, and think Cuba is a hell-hole. This is pretty much the same opinion I hear from most Cubans or people from countries in South America like Brazil, Bolivia and Venuzuela. I'm not sure why that is, but that is the case. I assume they have a better perspective as to Castro's flaws as a leader than I.

As for the gratuitous swipes at Bush for Katrina and Iraq, one would not be a credible leftist without them. Another thing a leftist/liberal/hand-wringer/bed-wetter needs to do is paint broad brushes with distorted facts.

For example, it is not the Gulf Coast that is still in ruin, it is New Orleans specifically and Louisiana in general. Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are managing to put the pieces back together. We won't mention party affiliations either. While life is not totally back to pre-Katrina for all, there is progress.

Louisiana on the other hand, is a good example of the effects of graft, theivery, and incompetence in state/local politics. I assume it was pretty bad, because the people elected an Indian Republican as governor, in a state where white Democrats have ruled with an iron grip for more than a century.

As for the Iraq swipe, we should look at the full context of the dynamics in Iraq. For example, when the very same people who are blowing up US troops and Iraqi civilians provide ringing endorsements of the Democrats coming into power, I would not tout that as a bad reflection on Bush. I'm not questioning the patriotism of the left... but I'm just sayin'

That's the stupidest thing ... (Below threshold)

That's the stupidest thing I've read in some time, Maggie. I state that Cuba is a better place to live than many of the "democracies" in the region, so you tell me to move there. I live in Toronto, one of the best places to live in this hemisphere. Why would I move to a second world country?

SPQR, its socialist economy is a "disaster" at producing rich people. There didn't seem to be any, actually (although it's more stratified than an actual communist "utopia" would be). Cuba's economy, though, is very effective at producing healthy, literate people, unlike the economies of Brazil, Nicaragua, Jamaica, etc. They have a far higher literacy rate than the US, and their life expectany and infant mortality rate are identical to America's. The country might very well flourish economically as a democracy, and regardless of material benefit, freedom itself is certainly an intrinsically worthwhile thing to have or pursue. My problem: the embargo isn't doing anything to promote prosperity in that country and it isn't hastening the spread of democracy. If anything it gives old school communists within the Cuban government ammunition in their never-ending propaganda campaign against liberalism.

Once again: I'm not defending communism, or saying it's a better place to live than its capitalist neighbors because it's communist. As for Castro (whatever you might think of his politics), he has shown more leadership than any American president since FDR, and I think his efforts have been hampered by the embargo--obviously, as that's what it's for. My problem is that there is no justification for having this embargo, and that real progress would be seen within the country if the US gov't were to take a less adversarial stance towards them. As you point out, all the embargo does is enable America haters (for good reason, really).

The country that invented the mojito deserves better.

Chris, wingnuts don't get t... (Below threshold)

Chris, wingnuts don't get to call liberals "bed-wetters". We aren't the ones who call the police when a brown guy buys cell phones, and we weren't the ones who took those stupid fucking color-coded alerts seriously. I, for one, find "Islamofascism" (are we still calling it that?) very unscary, whereas I assume you think it warrants the sacrifice of thousands of American servicepeople. Agree to disagree, or think I'm an idiot, or whatever, but be clear on who is afraid, dude.

I checked the literacy rates of the US and Cuba after that last comment, and realized that they are equivalent. I was mistaken. Still, the point stands: they do okay as far as quasi-totalitarian Latin American states go, and would likely do better (and become more democratic) if the US stopped treating them like enemies.

hyperbolist, it is amusing ... (Below threshold)

hyperbolist, it is amusing that you credit Cuban healthcare statistics, given that even the UN's World Health Organization admits that Cuba's statistics are not reliable.

Cuba has a lot of "rich" people by the way, they are the ones who are allowed access to Western goods that the regular citizens are not. They are called "party members".

Thanks for the Cuban propaganda, it is entertaining.

hyperbolist - Lets go thru ... (Below threshold)

hyperbolist - Lets go thru your 2 points shall we?

1) enough health care supplies to allow their abundance of doctors to do their jobs, and 2) cheaper consumer goods to let them better spend all of the U.S. dollars that Canadian and European (and American) tourists are lavishing upon many of them.

1. Horse hockey. Cuba trades with all Latin Am countries, Canada and much of Europe. This is a single reason why they are short of med supplies. A piss poor economy that must prioritize its trade on things other than med supplies.

2. They have to have some for them to be cheaper. The Cuban gov spends just enough for imported consumer goods to keep the very same tourists you note flood the country happy and primed for a return trip.

More Hyperbolist: - "They have a far higher literacy rate than the US,"

Really, higher than the U.S?

1. Cubans spend less time at school. Just 81% of the potential population is enrolled in secondary school -- compared to 97% in the United States. Enrollment in "tertiary" institutions like colleges and universities is just 15% of the rate in the United States.

2. However, the literacy rate in Cuba is only one percent lower than in the United States. And even though Cuba is a much poorer country, classes are smaller.

So much for that misinformation.

Cuba is broke because Russi... (Below threshold)

Cuba is broke because Russia stopped buying sugar from them at more tha market value to susbidize them. Russia was forced to do that because they went broke using the same economic system. The same one the Left wants us to copy. The same one Canada is doing its very best to copy right now. Hyperbolist won't need to move to Cuba, he'll be living in a third world country of his own if he doesn't de-ass his head before too much longer and so will Americans if they don't rein in the Left.

Hint, hint:Hyperbo... (Below threshold)

Hint, hint:

Hyperbole: exaggerated comment not meant to be taken literally [or is that liberally?]

Maybe the hoser is a sock p... (Below threshold)

Maybe the hoser is a sock puppet?

A simple question: Why do ... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

A simple question: Why do we continue the Cuban Boycott when have no problem with China?
Their total support came from the Soviet Union which, as we know does not exist.

"Still, the point stands... (Below threshold)

"Still, the point stands: they do okay as far as quasi-totalitarian Latin American states go, and would likely do better (and become more democratic) if the US stopped treating them like enemies."


Come on Hyperbolist. You truly believe all the crap you spout, don't you? You'd make a good little Castro puppet. "It's all because of the US." He loves it that everyone believes that. It takes the heat off him.

"Whatever the political situation of that country, lifting U.S.-imposed sanctions would improve their quality of life by giving them access to 1) enough health care supplies to allow their abundance of doctors to do their jobs..."

Give me a break. These people have a hard time even getting aspirin. Are you trying to tell me that the dozens of other countries who trade with Cuba can't trade aspirin?

"2) cheaper consumer goods ..."

They're trading with China fer crissakes. How much cheaper can it get?

It's not our fault that Cubans haven't realized the same freedoms and prosperity that we do. It's the Cuban government's fault. It's not that they can't get these things. It's that the their government has absolute control over every aspect of their lives.

Would it be too much, for once, for someone not to blame America?

None of the pro-Castro argu... (Below threshold)

None of the pro-Castro arguments are based on fact, but are bred by BDS. Is hyperbolist an America military deserter? That is one without the guts to back up they're sworn oath?

"A simple question: Why do ... (Below threshold)

"A simple question: Why do we continue the Cuban Boycott when have no problem with China?
Their total support came from the Soviet Union which, as we know does not exist."

I agree (although not the way you think). Our willy-nilly trade with China will be something we will regret.

We're going back on the Reagan approach of waiting for solid visible reforms before trade progressed. They were in dire straits and we missed our opportunity. Now they keep us busy by assisting Iran and, until only recently, let North Korea run around unchecked.

There's no reason to make the same mistake twice and boost Cuba's economy.


That and the government of Cuba that pointed nuclear missiles at us is still in power.

HyperbolicYou sir ar... (Below threshold)

You sir are a fraud. You come onto this site
banging the drum of Castro, how wonderful he
'treats' the inmates of Cuba, yet you would not
consider moving there yourself. Such blatant
hypocrisy. That is stupid.

Your post reminds me of the reporter Duranty of the NY Times. Look him up.

hyper-bolist has said so ma... (Below threshold)

hyper-bolist has said so many amusing things, but this is the one that made me laugh out loud:

"...just because Castro is wrong to have used the death penalty to enforce laws restricting expression, doesn't mean it's a nation full of brainwashed Kool Aid drinkers."

Yah, it's a great place,but watch what you say.

Hyperbole is an out and out... (Below threshold)

Hyperbole is an out and out idiot...so ignore his stupid opinion.

hyperbolistNever use... (Below threshold)

Never use the term "approval rating" in the same sentence as the word Casrto. Larry Lunt would slap your teeth out.


I wonder what those brave men abandoned on the beach at the Bay of Pigs would think about that approval rating.

Castro's got an approval... (Below threshold)

Castro's got an approval rating about twice as high as Bush
And prisons chock full of anyone who will tell you different!

"They have a far higher literacy rate than the US,"
For any books the Cuban government hasn't banned or burned. Or any journalist the Cuban government hasn't censored, banned or jailed. What fool would say that isn't "political"?

"Is hyperbolist an America ... (Below threshold)

"Is hyperbolist an America military deserter?"

As a Canadian, I am really embarrassed to say that he is probably not. His inability to reason, his willing acceptance of lies and his anti - Americanism are typical of middle class Eastern Canadians, Torontonians in particular.

I think it comes from their ongoing loss of power and influence both worldwide and in Canada. In Western Canada we have always loathed them and now the rest of the world, seeing them for what they are, can join us.

hyperbolist,Litera... (Below threshold)


Literacy, healthcare and approval ratings get you what in this quasi-totalitarian Latin American state(s)???. Yours may be the most ridiculous comments I've read on Wizbang in a long time.



hyperbolist: "...AIDS is to... (Below threshold)

hyperbolist: "...AIDS is totally under control,.."

Perhaps because for many years Castro and his wonderful "quasi-totalitarian" comrades imprisoned and even performed lobotomies on homosexuals.

Ah yes.

Like Walter Duranty in the Soviet Union in the 1930's, good old hyperbolist has "seen the future" and "it works!!" (insert approprate marxist billboard showing proud and strong workers looking up and toward the brave new world).

Well done hyperbolist. We always appreciate leftist apologists for commie dictatorships stopping by to tell us all how Communist totalitarians are really just "quasi-totalitarins".

How quaint.

It's really so, hmmm, "1968" of you.

Don't worry, I'm sure the Cubans with their 99% literacy rate appreciate the fact that they are only allowed to read offical propaganda.

What's really sad is that you, a Toronto native, can read anything you like, but that you prefer the "literary stylings" of Marxist one-party states.

Well played hyperbolist.

Well played.

Sigh... I don't expect any ... (Below threshold)

Sigh... I don't expect any of you to consider for even a moment that Cuba isn't as bad as exiles and ideologues would have you believe. I also agree that it isn't as good a place to live as Canada or the US. But I maintain the assertion that Havana is a better place to live, and raise a family, than Kingston, Jamaica and other Latin American cities. You know, places that it makes sense to compare Cuba to. If you disagree, then you've never been to one or both places. You can wander around the streets of Havana at night and take in the culture; wander around the streets of Rio or Kingston or Tijuana at night and you'll get mugged or murdered.

I guess the point is, the embargo emboldens and enables anti-Western elements within Castro's government. They're not all hard-liners, but the hard-liners can and do control internal debate so long as America presents itself as their nominal enemy. Were the embargo to be lifted, debate would take on a more realistic tone.

And all of you underestimate the extent to which real information is distributed throughout the country. Sure, Marxist propaganda is everywhere, but the university hosts conferences where people of all political stripes engage in open and earnest discussion on the future of government in the post-Cold War era. Anyone loosely associated with the tourist industry is perfectly aware of how nice it is to live in Canada or the States, and they're largely envious--but they also know what life is like in Haiti.

But fine, tell me I'm stupid and Castro is Stalin. You choose not to understand that the reasons that you have for treating Cuba like an enemy apply more forcefully to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, and other countries with whom the US enjoys amicable, or at least normalized, relations. I think it's time for American politicians to accept that this ongoing game of "Who's the bigger baby?" is a no-win situation, and that being grown-ups will force Cuban leaders to get serious about the future of their people (safe, nourished, and educated though they may be).

And BlacquesJacques, have you ever been to Toronto? It's friendly, lively, and affordable (unless you're looking to buy a house downtown). Some of us are gay, and some of us (gasp!) aren't white, but nearly none of us bite. (Can't vouch for the guy who sleeps in front of my building.) Come spend some of your unearned petro prosperity dollars here next summer, you'll have fun. You can practice your French in a cafe in a Haitian neighborhood, enjoy some tasty Ethiopian food for dinner, and take in some world-class entertainment at one of many venues. You can bring your cowboy hat. Those are popular right now with young urbanite hipsters anyway, and no one will know that you aren't being ironic.

"The country that inv... (Below threshold)

"The country that invented the mojito deserves better."

Ohhh, that's what they're known for! /sarc off/ Of course the Cuban people deserve better, but not at the expense of the U.S. Although the propanganda may have the natives believing we are at fault for their economic woes. That's what a dictator does, he blames misfortune on an outside source in order to maintain control and favor of the people:

"Cuba still practices centralized economic planning and prohibits private ownership of property, leading to stagnant growth. This, rather than the U.S. embargo, is the real cause of Cuba's poverty, which is well documented in a recent report from the State Department's Bureau of Inter-American Affairs (available at http://www.state.gov)."

I've spent lots of time in ... (Below threshold)

I've spent lots of time in TO. The gays are fine. The un-whites are fine, and be careful of your assumptions, boy-o, it's typical TO-think, my family is un-white. What sort of pale color are you and yours?

What I dislike are the people like...you. Reflexively and objectively pro-Castro, anti American, vaguely left and then utterly weasely in what they say when called out on it.

You think a guy with my nom de plume wears a cowboy hat or wants to practice French? In Toronto?

You Tronna folk need to stop talking about ethnic food, which you can now get in Lower Buttcheeks BC. Start thinking about how it came to be that Tronna is the most yokelish, the most provincial, the most hick city in North America, perhaps the world. Your narrow world and political views, your ignorance of the world around you coupled with your actual knowledge of actual facts, your ugly women, oh God what a place, sorry, if I go East, I go to Quebec, la belle Province, at least the socialists are stylish and the food is truly good.

Speaking of which, I've had the ethnic food (and the 'gourmet' food) in Tronna. Paid big for it too. The smallest French / German / Italian / Hungarian / Quebecois or whatever village patisserie has better food than Tronna even knows of. The smallest outback town in Alberta or Montana will give you an honest friendly meal that you cannot find in Tronna.

You guys are Starbucks light, the home of Tim bloody Hortons.

What expense are you referr... (Below threshold)

What expense are you referring to, LaMedusa? How much would it cost to lift no-fly restrictions and to engage the Cuban leadership as a foreign government and not some Marxist bogeymen?

Oh, quelle surprise! The U.S. State Department places 100% of the blame for Cuba's stagnant growth on a centrally planned economy. If only they'd adopted free market reforms after evicting the Spanish dictators, their quality of life would be parallel to Jamaica's or Haiti's. This may come as a shock to you, but GDP on its own is not a useful tool for measuring quality of life. (And quality of life is what matters, not abstract economic "progress"--consider Chile, Allende, and Pinochet; or read Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen.)

That's rich, BJS! Toronto i... (Below threshold)

That's rich, BJS! Toronto is a hick city, despite the fact that more than half of all immigrants to this country first come here. And Tim Horton's? That's for rural assholes who enjoy three tablespoons of sugar and a quarter cup of 18% cream in their coffee. It sucks, and it's actually hard to find downtown. Starbucks, though, are nearly as ubiquitous here as in Vancouver. What does "vaguely" left mean? Moderately left? Like, say, more than half of the people in the country? And no, we aren't stylish whatsoever. That Prada boutique across the street from my office is so gauche.

I'm not "reflexively and objectively pro-Castro and anti-American". I love New York, but I also love playing golf on Hilton Head. I appreciate the hospitality Americans extended to me and my parents on every trip we took south. I guess that since I disagree with the State Department's position on Cuba, though, that I'm a flag-burning anarchist. You love your false dichotomies, dontcha? As for Castro, I think he has many moral failings, although I find it funny how much animosity many Americans have for him despite their complacency towards the radical Islamic leadership of Saudi Arabia and its ties to 9/11 hijackers. Castro's no angel, but he has done good things for his people and there are far worse than him in GWB Jr.'s (or Clinton's) rolodex.

Finally, what, pray tell, is an "honest meal"? Is that when your steak doesn't lie to you? Whatever it is, I don't want to eat it if it means going to Alberta.

"What expense are you re... (Below threshold)

"What expense are you referring to, LaMedusa?"

At the added expense of trying to make the U.S. look charitable, like the compassionate country we already are.

"Oh, quelle surprise! The U.S. State Department places 100% of the blame for Cuba's stagnant growth on a centrally planned economy."

It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. It's been that way since Castro took power. When his butt's out of there, the Cuban people should by all means get all the help they can get from the U.S.

hyperbolist:An... (Below threshold)


And Tim Horton's? That's for rural assholes who enjoy three tablespoons of sugar and a quarter cup of 18% cream in their coffee. It sucks

With an assist from BJS you note a prime example of the attitude in Toronto.

Tim Hortons, it was suggested, set up an outlet in Afghanistan for the enjoyment of the Canadian troops that are stationed there.

The idea was to follow the lead of the Americans that have access to many fast food and "American" franchises of various types.

Tim Horton's first excuse was it wouldn't be "cost effective." That led to the company being excoriated in the press and blogosphere which in turn led to many other fallacious excuses for not going ahead with the project.

Finally after many weeks and a slight drop in sales they made an about face and the Canadian soldiers got their Tim Hortons.

"nary a 24-hour time span g... (Below threshold)

"nary a 24-hour time span goes by without our taking in a dunderheaded missive in the Gray Lady."

Kind-a-like the contributers to this site. Just kidding. You guys and gals are doing a heck of a job. Keep up the good work

"..but we don't think their... (Below threshold)

"..but we don't think their inhabitants are all rubbing sticks together to start fires."

DJ, it's not all day. It's only 18-hours/day.

"U.S. and Iraqi officials have spent billions on restoring Iraq's electrical system, yet Baghdad is only getting 6 hours of electricity a day?"

Baghdad barney:<em... (Below threshold)

Baghdad barney:

"DJ, it's not all day. It's only 18-hours/day."

And of course in your warped mind it's all the Evil Bush's(TM) fault.

Except its not.

Restoring and improving Iraq's electricity supply has been USAID's biggest and most costly challenge. In April 2003, Iraq's usable electrical generation capacity was 2,500 MW - 58 percent of the pre-conflict level. Before the conflict, access to power was unreliable and varied greatly throughout the country. USAID worked to restore electricity to homes, public facilities, and business throughout Iraq.

USAID has helped increase electrical generation to an average daily peak of approximately 4,500 MW. However, estimated total demand in Iraq is 8,500 MW and the looting of cables, destruction of hightension towers, and sabotage of fuel lines persist. Decades of operation without regular maintenance have resulted in increased breakdown and a need for significant rehabilitation.
Barney thinks if he recycle... (Below threshold)

Barney thinks if he recycles old discredited talking points, that he is doing the environment good.

Well, unfortunately e-Manure is not a fertilizer, Barney, you do no good.

Having been in Cuba and man... (Below threshold)
civildisobedience Author Profile Page:

Having been in Cuba and many other Latin American and Caribbean countries many times I just have to point out some BS above. Places like Honduras, and Guatemala may have more crime than Cuba, but their people can travel and do as they please and have access to many useful and affordable consumer goods. Places like El Salvador, Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic are relatively safe and have a much better standard of living than Cuba.

Cuba is great, if you are not Cuban. For the normal Cuban the country's infrastructure needs work, basic consumer goods are lacking and unfordable, and there are numerous restrictions on their travel. It is a police state, where the citizens are slaves of the communist party. Anyone commenting on how well the Cubans have it might as well be speaking of how well a beaten dog has it living with people who give it just enough shelter and food to survive.

Finally, lifting USA sanctions would have had no effect. Castro has been the one keeping consumer goods away from normal Cubans. He could have given them access to consumer goods from Europe or Asia at any time, but he restricts them from import. Only those in power get to enjoy the fruits of the world economy.

Thanks for setting me strai... (Below threshold)

Thanks for setting me straight marc, NOT!

Baghdad barney:<em... (Below threshold)

Baghdad barney:

"Thanks for setting me straight marc, NOT!"

What's that your new line. It used to be when proven definitively wrong you'd pull out the "blow it out your ass" line of response and disappear from the thread.

The recent change in comment policy must be having an effect. To bad it hasn't made a change in your honesty.

yeah maybe someday cuba wil... (Below threshold)

yeah maybe someday cuba will actually have some value when we begin sending all of our garbage there.

Sorry there hyperbolic, I h... (Below threshold)

Sorry there hyperbolic, I had to do some work last night and couldn't respond to your most recent Tronna puffery.

Prada is as common as dirt, the kind of place Britney Spears would go. Stylish is bespoke. That you would point to it as evidence of style is sufficient in itself to condemn you and Tronna.

I'm surprised you like Castro. I doubt the old monster ever shopped at Prada.






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