July 01, 2004

Tyler Cowen Seeks to Join the Ranks of the Shrill

Jacob Levy alerts us to Tyler Cowen's desire to join the ranks of the shrill:

Marginal Revolution: I've had enough: Here is our latest foreign policy initiative:

New US curbs on travel to communist-ruled Cuba went into effect on Wednesday, with opponents decrying them as an attack on family and the Bush administration arguing they will hasten the fall of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Cuban Americans may now visit relatives on the island once every three years instead of annually and they may go only to see close family members rather than more distant relatives, among other restrictions aimed at toughening the four-decade-old US economic embargo on Cuba.

"It's unimaginable, abusive," said Raquel Chaviano, one of hundreds waiting at Havana airport on Tuesday for one of the last flights back to Miami before the rules went into force.

"The family is the main thing in life, and it has nothing to do with politics," said Chaviano, who left the Caribbean island in 1980, leaving behind her daughter and siblings.

Here is the full, sad story. Here are more details about the human costs of the policy. Here is some material on America's failed use of sanctions against Cuba.

What do you have to do to join The Ranks of the Shrill? Does someone have to send you an E-Invite?

By the power vested in me by Paul R. Krugman, and through the invocation of the ideas of Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Lord Acton, John Stuart Mill, and all the other friends of liberty, I hereby enlist and welcome Brother Tyler Cowen to The Ranks of the Shrill.

I should, however, point out that there is fine print: this kind of absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid policy toward Cuba is not the exclusive province of this particular administration or this particular congress, but is the reflection of the structural strength of the anti-Castro lobby. Don't hope for things to become less stupid for a while, no matter who wins elections.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias gently admonishes and corrects me. Kerry's Cuba policy is "marginally less absurd, punitive, counterproductive, and stupid."

FURTHER UPDATE: The Poor Man and his commenters have things to say as well:

The Poor Man: The Coalition of the Shrilling: Brad DeLong intones the forbidden verses which consecrates an aspirant into the Occult and Hermetic Order of the Shrill:

By the power vested in me by Paul R. Krugman, and through the invocation of the ideas of Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Lord Acton, John Stuart Mill, and all the other friends of liberty, I hereby enlist and welcome Brother Tyler Cowen to The Ranks of the Shrill.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

Posted by The Editors at July 2, 2004 09:18 AM


That is not shrill which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even shrillness may die.
Posted by: Hal at July 2, 2004 09:57 AM

Why does Yog-Sothoth, the goat with a thousand young, hate America?
Posted by: Tweety Fish at July 2, 2004 10:13 AM

Yog-Sothoth hates America too, but every student of the dark lore knows that Shub-Niggurath is the black goat of the woods with a thousand young. Now, if you'll excuse me I must go and re-heat my breakfast burrito.
Posted by: Comic Book Guy at July 2, 2004 10:48 AM

That's Shrub-Niggurath.
Posted by: Paul at July 2, 2004 10:52 AM

Go f*** yourself.
Posted by: Dick Cheney at July 2, 2004 11:07 AM

We have the DNA results back, and Yog Sothoth ... is not the father!!! He can stop paying child support on his 1,000 young.
Posted by: Montel Williams at July 2, 2004 11:40 AM

Posted by DeLong at July 1, 2004 08:57 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Florida ceased to be a swing state, wouldn't the anti-Castro folks pretty much loose their pull?

Posted by: Bones on July 1, 2004 09:27 PM


sanctions are terrorism.

terrorism: acts that hurt innocent people for a political end.

sanctions against cuba are usa sponsored terrorism. let's end it.

Posted by: p on July 1, 2004 09:56 PM


This raises a good point.

Actuarially speaking, the next president has fairly good odds of presiding over the post-Castro transition. Do we want President All-Hat-No-Cattle with his hand on the helm?

Posted by: Michael Robinson on July 2, 2004 03:39 AM


presidents from Ike onwards have tried to get rid of Castro, mostly by assassination, americans should be ashamed for their country.

Posted by: old ari on July 2, 2004 03:45 AM


Something to think about: Why did we invade Iraq and not Cuba? Mad dictator? Check. Horribly opressed population? Check. Threat to US interests? Check (at least to a right-winger!). Feeble military? Check. Plus, the Miami Cubans have been beating the war drums for forty years, and are now a powerful voting bloc in an important swing state.

Posted by: lightning on July 2, 2004 04:49 AM


What's all the fuss? Bush is shooting himself in the foot.
This is good news for Kerry.
Patience, patience.

Posted by: seth edenbaum on July 2, 2004 05:04 AM



We did invade Cuba (or at least helped support an invasion - remember the Bay of Pigs?), but as part of the agreement to have the missiles removed we agreed not to invade.

As for the coldly practical pov towards invading, it would shred what little bit of credibility the US still has in this hemisphere regarding its intereference in the affairs of its neighbors, and while the exile lobby talks a lot about taking castro out militarily, I'm sure their pov would change if family members were potential casualtiess in any invasion.

As for the military's capabilities, even without the Soviets underwriting them they are a skilled fighting force. Their would be a lot of casualties on both sides and I doubt if the entire population would welcome us as liberators.

Cuba will change from forces within Cuba, not from the outside.

Posted by: Randy Paul on July 2, 2004 06:28 AM


This just further injures the innocent people of Cuba (rumors of hunger when I was there). Kicking innocent people who are already down apparently is no problem for the Bushistas when it comes to securing votes in a key swing state.

Posted by: Bob H on July 2, 2004 06:39 AM


ermm, who let the President shoot himself in the foot?

I mean, there are about 600,000 Cuban-American voters in Florida, and in 2000 they voted significant majority (approximately 4:1) Bush.

Oh, it won't swing the whole, but a paltry 10% swing in an election anywhere near as tight as last time would be a very unpleasant thing for the Republicans to experience.

Posted by: Kirk_Spencer on July 2, 2004 06:49 AM


I will never understand the US policy toward Cuba.

There is nothing wrong with Cuba that 10 years of trading with the US will not fix.

We should have a goal of eliminating the Castro regime, but the best way of doing that is the same way we've managed to effect (some) change in Russian and China. Trade with them. Show them the fruits of capitalism. The current government will not stand.

It is almost as if we want Castro to stay in power.

Posted by: pfc on July 2, 2004 07:13 AM


The sad thing is, I'd expect that engagement, rather than isolation, would be the quickest path to ridding Cuba of Castro.

Look how quickly East Bloc communism withered away once travellers and goods from the west became available. Were Cubans faced with an influx of American tourists--smuggling in Levis and laptops--I think the Castro regime's days would be numbered in double digits. Nothing props up totalitarianism more than isolation.

But in my estimation, the leadership of the exile community isn't really interested in liberating Cuba. They are interested in reclaiming property that was nationalixed in the 1950s. By aligning ourselves with the aims of the exile leadership, the United States has punished innocent Cubans, exploited the hopes of orinary exiles, and perverted our national concern with liberty. Shame, shame.

Posted by: jlw on July 2, 2004 07:18 AM


Bush's switch on visiting rights is politics. I don't approve of it, but it's not terribly relevant. JFK was the last President to have a truly humane Cuban policy, namely trying to free its populace from horrendous, tyrannical rule.

Since Castro took power, 25% of its population has fled to the US and to various Latin American countries. Conditions in Cuba are so horrendous that people are willing to sacrifice everything and risk their lives to get out.

BTW a friend of mine visited Cuba illegally last year. It's quite easy. He simply Mexico and bought a round-trip ticket to Cuba there.

Posted by: David on July 2, 2004 07:21 AM


It's as if, instead of saying "tear down this wall," Reagan had decided to build an even bigger one on the western side...

Posted by: lemuel pitkin on July 2, 2004 09:25 AM


Kudos to Michael Robinson for the 'President All-Hat-No-Cattle' tag that still plants a smile on my face.

Posted by: calmo on July 2, 2004 10:27 AM


Where would you rather live? Cuba or Haiti? I know which I would prefer.

Posted by: blowback on July 2, 2004 05:13 PM


I don’t understand this shrill opposition to a trade embargo with Cuba. The Cubans are free to trade with Canada, Mexico, and many other countries. What can’t the Cubans buy because of our embargo? Why is it inappropriate for the US to express it’s displeasure with Cuban policies by having an embargo? We did that with South Africa. Why is an embargo against South Africa ok, but not with Cuba? Castro is certainly a bitter enemy of the US and urged Khrushchev to launch Cuban-based IRBMs (with nuclear warheads) against the US in October 1962 (see the book “One Hell of a Gamble”). Khrushchev then came to regard Castro as a complete lunatic. Castro in turn had a tantrum against Khrushchev hurling the ultimate Latino insult against him: “maricon.” Castro is even too much for some American Communists. Ronald Radosh (a self-declared red-diaper baby) toured Cuba and came back a changed man after seeing the horrors of the Castro regime (see his book “Commies a journey through the old left, the new left and the leftover left). Nevertheless if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have an embargo, but then I wouldn’t have had one against South Africa either. I just don’t like embargos, but I understand why some people do.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on July 2, 2004 07:19 PM


Well, A. Zarkov, I guess the main difference is that, as of the past 40 years, embargoes on Cuba have done nothing, whereas embargoes on South Africa worked.

As for why this is, I have my own hypothesis (namely, "the smaller the influential party on a government, the less effective economic hardship is in changing policy: e.g. sanctions would be effective for a democracy, fairly effective for a limited-franchise semi-democracy like South Africa, and bad for an autocracy like Cuba), but regardless, the fact is that if the same tactic is used for such a long time with no effect, it's silly to continue (especially in light of the fact that more prosperous countries in Eastern Europe, which are far less impacted by trade with the U.S., communism fell 15 years ago, and Cuba is (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) an outlier in terms of both its success in maintaining communism repression and the vociferousness of U.S. opposition to its regime.)

Posted by: Julian Elson on July 3, 2004 12:56 PM


I want an "I Was Shrill Before Being Shrill Was Cool" T-shirt.

Posted by: Seth Gordon on July 5, 2004 04:11 PM


Quod incepimus conficiemus - What we have begun we shall finish

Posted by: mike tyson accused of rape on July 9, 2004 10:07 PM


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