To quote a well known provocateur: "You're sucking me in again". ;)
"Yes we are arguing different things- you about the 90s, me about right now. I'm not misunderstanding anything- I pointed that entire point out before, several times. My point is that your argument was that one good reason to end the embargo was because it was evil because it was causing a humanitarian crisis. (Well, actually the INITIAL argument was about economics, back on pages 13-15 or so, and then you brought up the medical crisis as some sort of smoke-and-mirrors distraction.)"
I think the difference here is that you seem to me to be trying to compartmentalize the two periods, whereas I see them as two points on a historical continuum, where events in one period had effects that persist into the present. I have been trying to approach the issues we have been discussing that way from the beginning. Thus I connect the initial impact of the embargo with Castro's decision to rely on the Soviet Union, which led to adopting their economic system, which left his economy in a shambles when they withdrew, which left Cuba particularly vulnerable to the CDA and Helms-Burton, which led to the humanitarian crisis whose effects very likely persist to this day in some segments of the Cuban population, i.e. those who were children then who are now impaired to some degree, cognitively and/or physically, or adults who were blinded by their neuropathy. This is just the way I was trained to analyze issues like this, and I think it is a valid approach. Cuba since 2000 did not just appear out thin air like some deus ex machina. As for smoke and mirrors, more of the same; I consider health care and an economy to be inseparable, each influencing the other. Do you consider them as entirely separate issues? Can an unhealthy population be as productive as a healthy one? Consider one historical example, the impact of opium on China back in the 18th and 19th centuries, after the British forced the Chinese to allow it to be imported. Estimates are that upwards of 25% of the civil service became addicted, not to mention business people, etc. Do you think that might have had an impact on the Chinese economy and society, say 10-15 years later? Or would you consider that a moot point as well?
"I'm now willing to grant that it at least significantly contributed in the 90s, but I maintain that whether it caused a crisis in the past is moot."
Which would indicate that you consider at least part of the data I supplied reliable?
"That's why I've kept harping on the subject. What YOU clearly still don't understand is that I'm arguing with your basic premis that the humanitarian crisis in the 90s is even relevent right now. It is pointless to the debate on the embargo today. Heck, as you say you did grant that "The embargo is no longer the problem it once was..." I just get puzzled when you keep trying to establish how horrible the 90s were after you've said something like that, because TO ME this discussion appears to be taking place in 2013."
Again, you want to compartmentalize and forget the past, whereas I see the past as connected to the present. I said the embargo per se is no longer the problem it once was. I also said its impact earlier had lingering effects, as I reiterated above for perhaps the 4th time in our dialogue.
"But, at least I've moved you to the point that you are willing to mention Cuba's bankrupt economic policies instead of just knee-jerk blaming the US for everything that's wrong in the world while implying that everyone else is an innocent victim."
I have never argued otherwise, Dean. For me it's a matter of degree. There is no question that the Soviet economic model ultimately proved unworkable, that is history. It will also ultimately be the case with Cuba. What I have argued is that the embargo made things even more difficult for Cuba and was responsible to a considerable degree for the humanitarian crisis of the 90's. I have also argued that the embargo forced Castro to rely on the Soviets and adopt their economic model in the early 60's, which set Cuba on a course to the near economic collapse we are seeing today. As for the knee jerk remark, it always gives me a warm and fuzzy when you start to flail around. ;)
"I'm not sure that trying to say that Cuba got better because the "rest of the world" suddenly decided to trade with them is correct, though. Source? :) I'm more inclined to put that one on the liberalization of the Cuban economy. They are trading more with the rest of the world now because Cubans are now finally allowed to keep reserves of foreign currency, which makes trade much, much easier."
Trade helps, especially when the Cubans are trying to recover from the huge disruption caused by the Soviet withdrawal of support. Liberalization helps, too, no doubt about it. My guess is that they will end up with a more market oriented economy, but without some of the excesses that characterize the current US system
""The CD and Helms-Burton Acts were cynically devised and timed to take advantage of Cuba's plight..."
Got a source for that one, too? I mean- it wouldn't surprise me, but I'm more inclined to cut it with Hanlon's Razor: 'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.' We are talking about Congress, after all. :)""
Some things shouldn't require a source. I mean, if you think that CDA and Helms-Burton were introduced and passed because Torricelli and ol' Jesse woke up with hangovers one morning and decided it would be a good day to rattle Fidel's cage, well, all I can say is I've still got one bridge left in my portfolio that I might be willing to let go to a fellow BPLer for a very reasonable price..... ;0)
""And, can you address this? :"By 1993 Cuban GDP had dropped to 65% of it's 1989 level due to withdrawal of Soviet aid. ... Cuba's medical budget in 1993 was 25% of what it was in 1989.""
I could speculate that it doesn't do much good to budget for things that are not available, due to the embargo, withdrawal of the Soviets, and a lack of hard currency, but I don't know what their thinking was. They put a very high priority on health care, so they had to have had their reasons. Do you have any other ideas?
"Given that you made such a big deal out of the 1% hit to Cuban GDP caused by the embargo, can you argue with a straight face that this didn't affect Cuba more than the change in the embargo in the 90s?"
I would respond that both had an impact. Can I quantify it? No. Can you? In any case, both had an impact due to the embargo, by your own words. I doubt it makes much difference to some kid with a vitamin deficiency which one had the greater impact.
"I mean, look at that drop in medical funding! I still think that their joke of an economy was more to blame (which they are liberalizing). The more I learned about the 1992 embargo the more it seems to have clearly contributed significantly, but I'll still put more blame on the Cuban economy and the degree to which it imploded without Soviet aid. They improved in the 2000s by liberalizing."
Can you quantify which had the greater impact? I think we both agree that the embargo had a significant impact, and that their economy was a mess after the Soviet withdrawal. Yes, they improved by liberalizing, but who knows how much they would have improved without the embargo had they stayed the course? Probably not as much as by loosening up, but I'll bet things would have been better than they were with the embargo. It caused a lot of unnecessary suffering. As I said above, I'd guess they'll end up with some sort of mixed economy along the lines of the Scandinavian countries if we just get out of their face.
"Nice to know that you have standards. :) But seriously, I could almost argue that the only reason I included that one was for laughs. It was quite blatant propaganga."
Did you really think I'd bite on something like that? :)
@ "What I find at least as interesting is that you still can't find any articles from the period I was addressing that contradicted the articles I cited."
"As I've explained ad nauseum, the period you're addressing is moot. Show me something from the period I'M addressing- i.e. after 2000 or so- that proves that the embargo is 1) causing a humanitarian crisis as of 2013, or 2) so crippling the Cuban economy that they can't buy medical supplies or food."
This IS getting to be ad nauseum. I have stated and restated my position that the events of the 60's-90's had effects that persist into the 2000's, including the economic model that Castro was forced to adopt early on due to the embargo, not to mention a very likely a cohort of permanently impaired Cubans who were unable to get the nutrition and medical treatment they needed because of the embargo. You probably know better than I the outcome of untreated nutritional optic neuropathy, Guillain Barre syndrome, and esophageal stenosis in infants. Would not a lot of these people be less productive, perhaps require extended care, etc, all contributing to a drain on the economy? The ones that survived, that is.
"You'd be surprised. If the paper is bad it usually simply gets ignored. Maybe someone is spiteful enough to write a response, like with the propaganda piece, but mostly the professionals in the field just sort of talk amongst themselves. A good example are those papers I mentioned that tried to argue that laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repairs are cheaper and faster than open repairs. Ha! I didn't search for responses to your papers- they are often not indexed well in the search engines, especially for older articles, so they can be hard to find. Now, if you do something really bad like falsify data THEN there is hell to pay."
So presumably the articles I cited at least did not falsify their data. In which case, they present a sobering view of the embargo's impact.
"Correct. You are not. Why not? :) In all seriousness, though, I acknowledge that you grant that the current state in Cuba is not the disaster it was in the 90s. I just think that you're saying that... but still harping about the 90s."
See above, I can't make myself any clearer than I already have.
@ "Fawning is a pretty value laden word."
"Hmm. Yeah, probably. I may have had it on my mind because it was used more appropriately to describe that first joke of a paper. Oh, and my admiration isn't grudging. As I said, clearly the Cubans are good at primary care- something we are bad at. I suspect that some things are just easier in a dictatorship. :) For instance, an organized, centralized primary care schema. As I said earlier- communist dictatorships can do any ONE thing very well if they make it a priority, but when everything else is going to hell it becomes sort of a Pyrrhic victory."
I wouldn't consider achieving a world class primary health care system in spite of our considerable efforts to undermine them a Pyrrhic victory. :) For me a Pyrrhic victory is more like the one we say we achieved in Iraq. But if you want to experience a real Pyrrhic victory, be patient just a little longer. There's one just around the corner, when we start our next war, with Iran.
@ "As an aside, do you automatically consider anything with which Barry is associated to be suspect, without assessing the content?"
"Would you automatically be suspicious of anything that Hwang Woo-suk published? If not then you're a fool. People have reputations, for good or ill. But to answer your question, no, I was more trying to point out that much of the flap you're describing is really just the same small cabal of people. And then other people who are actually doing research- such as those neuropathy articles- then just reference their drivel in their discussion sections and claim "this was all caused by the embargo."
I've been called worse. However, I at least attempt to assess what they are saying before making a fool of myself. Interesting, though, from my perspective that no counter cabal has come forth to present the true picture of how the embargo affected Cuba and send those comm-symps scurrying back into the bushes.
@ "And also demonstrating once again our total inability to let other people pursue their destinies in peace, using tactics that are perennially reviled by the vast majority of the nations of the world,..."
"Presumably under the heading of "pursue their destinies in peace" you would include being able to be critical of their own government without being thrown in jail or shot? :) I mean, let's not be disingenuous, here- the Cuban government are Bad Guys. The debate about whether or not sanctions ever work or if they just entrench a regime while causing suffering in the populace at large is a complex issue that is still being argued in the halls of power today. Clearly it didn't work with Cuba, though..."
Ideally, yes, but that is really none of our business, particularly given the current deteriorating state of civil liberties in our own country. Then there is the troubling question of why we don't apply that same standard to the likes of the Saudis, Bahrainis, Ethiopians, and so on, not to mention a long list of our former buddies down in Latin America, The Philippines, various parts of Africa. The list is long. Why the solicitous concern for the long suffering Cubans? Disingenuous? A government that establishes a world class primary care system is not all bad, at least IMO. As for sanctions, show me a case where they have worked. North Korea? The centrifuges are still humming away and they just conducted test #3. Iran? Undeterred to date. Iraq? There emerges that troubling question about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to lack of clean drinking water and access to medicine, and it still took two wars, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, several million refugees, 4500 plus US combat deaths and over 32,000 visibly wounded, along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers apparently suffering with varying degrees of PTSD, and the complex issue of whether sanctions are effective is still being debated in the halls of power? Sanctions have never worked. Their impact falls almost entirely on the innocent, and we stand alone among the nations of the world in employing them, or at least initiating them and then assembling coalitions of the more or less willing to join us. This is not knee jerk criticism, Dean, so please don't go there again. It is a well considered position. Argue against it if you will, but don't call it knee jerk.
@ "... Cuba has evolved since the Soviet withdrawal and confirmed that it has far outlived its original misguided purpose. The only losers now are the US government and companies that could be doing a land office business down there."
"Yes, clearly on all of that we agree. Except that I would include the Cuban people among the 'losers' here, too. They are getting the shaft from both ends."
There is a Russian proverb: The shortage will be divided among the peasants.
So it has ever been, and so it will always be I fear. It doesn't make much difference what economic system we are talking about, there will always be peasants. And shortages. We've got more than a few "peasants" of our own these days, wouldn't you agree, particularly as regards health care. Best to take care of our own peasants and stop making things more difficult for Cuba's.
"Oh, no! I tried to leave this debate and you wouldn't let me. Hippocrite. :)"
OK, OK. Anything but a hippocrite. Have at it. ;0)