Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To the shores of Tripoli

Alan Gross has dropped 90 pounds from his 250-pound frame, is losing feeling in his right foot and spent most of his summer watching Cuban baseball on TV.

The American arrested a year ago for illegally bringing Internet to Jewish groups in Cuba kills time with musical jam sessions with his jailers and by mapping out an economic recovery plan for the country that has held him without charges.

. . . Despite the public appeals for his freedom and letters to Castro -- Gross and his mother wrote him, too -- Friday will mark exactly a year since the world-traveling development worker found himself trapped in a diplomatic conflict between two nations.

The Cuban government recently rejected the Gross family's plea for a humanitarian release, and insisted that the case is moving forward like any other.

. . . Some have suggested that the Cuban government is holding out to pressure the United States to release five intelligence agents jailed in federal prison . . .

Gross has emerged as a pawn between two nations that severed diplomatic ties decades ago. His arrest appears to have stalled any momentum that may have existed for Havana and Washington to begin building bridges. Experts say Gross now serves as a symbol of both a nation that lacks the rule of law, and another's misguided efforts at promoting democracy.

The minimal basic duties of a national government do not include school lunch programs, the collection of estate taxes or mandating individual health insurance coverage. A nation may exist without any of those things.

The minimal basic duties of a national government do include the protection of citizens abroad. That's why Jefferson and Adams sent the Marines "to the shores of Tripoli" to protect Americans abroad from the Barbary pirates. In fact, the U.S. wasn't truly respected as a real nation until we fought and defeated those who kidnapped and enslaved American citizens on the high seas.

We're losing that credibility every time an American citizen is wrongfully seized and held abroad, whether in Cuba or Iran or any other despicable third world dictatorship.

No comments: