In 2009, during the Green Revolution in Iran, tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the murderous regime in Tehran. Then-President Obama and Vice President Biden failed to see the moment as an opportunity to encourage the Iranian people in their hopes for freedom and liberty.
In 2021, President Biden is again missing the moment when Cubans are risking their lives to take to the streets in record numbers to protest the communist regime in Havana.
Biden’s inability to seize the moment is a pattern, and it is not helping make America safer.
Throughout history, there are times when the West and its Allies have recognized the need to send a strong message against fascism and communism. After all, the American people are safer when our neighbors embrace democracy, human rights, and capitalism.
In 1630, John Winthrop gave a sermon proclaiming that freedom “shall be as a city upon a hill.” His inspirational words became Ronald Reagan’s favorite line for the United States of America. Reagan saw unmistakably that while the U.S. can have the latest national security technology and the most powerful military in the world, moral clarity in times of peril was a far more effective tool.
In 2016, Donald Trump took Reagan’s words as inspiration to stand with those fighting for their own freedoms without sending U.S. troops to do the work. Exporting American-style democracy does not always work, but Trump and Reagan both recognized the moral imperative to stand with protesters abroad when they risk their lives for liberty.
The socialist regime in Cuba is under assault from their own people. For many America First proponents, this is the moment we seek: people fighting for their own freedoms without expecting American troops to lead the way.
But make no mistake, America First means we also support the brave frontline protesters in their time of need by utilizing all of America’s soft power, which includes secure and reliable access to the Internet for the people of Cuba as they organize themselves.
Canada, Germany, France, the U.K., and the rest of the Western Alliance have been allowed to drift away from taking strong and quick stands in pivotal moments over the last 20 years. But now is the time for the West to join the U.S. in sending a loud and clear message to the Cuban communist regime that we support those Cubans in the streets who wish to one day join the West Alliance. This is the chance to bring down the communist regime in Havana. And Biden should not miss the moment, again.
Richard A. Grenell is the former Acting Director of National Intelligence and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
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