Consistency in Error

No one can be surprised at Donald Trump’s abundance of errors and lack of success, since they correspond with precise consistency to his campaign promises and his bulldozer personality. The reversal of the policy to open relations with Cuba, initiated in 2015 by his predecessor Barack Obama, is only the latest fulfillment of his many public announcements when he was competing with Hillary Clinton for the presidency. As soon as he assumed the role of president, he threw himself headlong into fulfilling them, spurred on by the authoritarianism he demonstrated in his successful career as a businessman, and encouraged by advisers in his inner circle. But his political inexperience has led him to stumble again and again, both in dealing with specific issues and with the role of the United States in the world order.

In this vast spectrum of responsibilities, Cuba is a comparatively minor topic. Obama was right in being open to mitigating the antiquated embargo, imposed more than half a century ago, that failed in its intent to destabilize the Castro dictatorship. On the other hand, Trump strengthened the dictatorship by allowing it to blame the United States for the harsh conditions of Cubans. Trump has now slowed the growing exchange, fulfilling the promise that he made to the powerful U.S. Cuban community whose backing helped him with votes. Trump said that trade with the island doesn’t favor the island’s people, but instead favors the government’s monopoly over the economy. This argument is valid, but the new restrictions deprive many Cubans of the modest income improvements that they had begun to realize. The only redeemable thing in his discourse with Cuba is the demand of democratization of that country as well as in Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela.

Cuba, in any case, is the least of the nightmares that haunt Trump. The most serious is that he is under investigation accusing him of having sought to block attempts to clear up alleged interference by Russia in Trump’s favor during the election campaign. Although it is not likely, the investigation could even lead to impeachment. Before the alleged actions with respect to the Russia investigation, Trump’s hastiness led to missteps and justifiable criticism. Congress blocked his attempt to repeal Obama’s health care law. Trump tried to denounce the free trade agreement NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, but he had to slow down the shake-up in the face of the damage he would cause to the United States. He announced a border wall with Mexico to stop illegal immigration, but this issue, as well as the ban on the entry of Muslims into the U.S., is suspended in Congress and currently blocked by judicial rulings. Trump gave assurances that he would obligate NATO to pay more for its operation, but he had to back down. And regarding North Korea, he tried military muscle, but he has become dependent on China’s actions.

Trump’s position against abortion and in defense of the right to life is praiseworthy, as is his policy of lowering corporate taxes to stop the exodus of U.S. companies to other countries with lower operating costs. But in this matter, he was wrong to repeatedly pressure the companies and to view his objective through a protectionist lens. All his actions have been in line with what he announced as a candidate. But reality is showing that consistency ceases to be a virtue when it mostly translates into a chain of errors.

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