By: Marshall Ulger
The 1953 Iranian coup d’etat, the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’etat, the 1961 Cuba Bay of Pigs invasion, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, are all examples of the “Eisenhower Doctrine,” a policy that states the United States will intervene, whether politically and/or militarily, in overthrowing regimes that do not meet their political standards of “capitalistic democracy.” These are all examples of interventions that resulted in severe political and social turmoil and still exists today. Unfortunately, if we do not know this history it will inevitabley reoccur. In other words, history is bound to repeat itself.
On October 13th, 2017, United States President Donald Trump stated major changes to U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Caribbean at a conservative political conference. According to Reuters, President Trump stated, “the United States would maintain sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela until they restore political and religious freedom…and we are challenging the communist dictatorship of Cuba and the socialist oppression of Venezuela. And we will not lift the sanctions on these repressive regimes until they restore political and religious freedom for their people.” These new Cuban sanctions were applied on November 9th, 2017. They restrict travel and trade with Cuba for US citizens and the United States Government. President Trump touted the United States’ return to an antagonistic relationship with Cuba by saying, “My administration has…imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela,” during his State of the Union on January 30th, 2018. President Trump’s stance on Cuba is a sharp contrast from his predecessor’s, President Barack Obama’s, approach.
Although President Trump and Former President Obama disagree on Cuba, they seem to agree on Venezuela. Both presidents believe Venezuela is oppressing its people politically and religiously. According to Venezuelanalysis.com, a week before he left office, President Obama, during a speech about renewing his executive order that labeled Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the United States, brought up the Venezuelan government’s “erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption.”
Venezuelan oppression extends to religion as well. “The Venezuelan Government has withheld reimbursements for services provided by the Church… [And] church officials describe a hostile environment that Venezuelan clergy endure, including threats of prosecutions, expropriation of church properties, harassment, electronic surveillance, and preventing Church representatives from participating in prison ministries,” a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2012 report states. Considering both political and religious instability in Venezuela, both Presidents have found the country to be a threat and both have imposed sanctions on it.
However, their agreements do not extend to Cuba. In December 2014, President Barack Obama stated he would take actions to normalize relations with Cuba, the first time such actions have been taken since the original trade embargo was placed in 1958; almost sixty years. Obama took actions to ease travel and trade restrictions on Cuba, and as he stated in a speech he made in Havana on March 22 nd , 2016, “I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.” Although the prior administration did attempt to open up relations with Cuba, it still recognized its issues. The Cuban government controls its political and economic environments, and people are arrested for peacefully protesting and exercising their freedom of speech. However, even with these deficiencies, President Obama still attempted to establish friendly relations with the island country.
President Trump has halted these efforts, “reversing the diplomatic breakthrough that his predecessor Barack Obama initiated with Cuba by restricting travel and trade [to Cuba],” as reported by Telesur on January 31 st , 2018. These returning sanctions unravel President Obama’s actions and returning to a culture of isolation and strife is a step backward when compared to President Obama’s approach of inciting change through openness. Trump has embraced the old ways of the Eisenhower Doctrine of aggressive interventions. Although the doctrine has failed multiple times with devastating consequences, Trump is willing to try again. From his failed XFL team, to filing bankruptcy eleven times; Trump is used to failing and is always willing to try again, circling around for one more chance. History is bound to repeat itself, especially if we ignore the consequences of our actions. The President can change and instead of circling back and repeating the mistakes of the past can move straight forward down the road of progress to the future.