Michael's Dispatches

General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey Cancels Trip to Cuba


Published: 22 December 2009
By Barry McCaffrey (General Ret.)

Dr Wayne Smith
Center for International Policy 22 December 2009
1717 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC. 20036


Just got in last night to read the Reuters reports that Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced President Obama at the Copenhagen Conference as an  "imperial and arrogant  liar" in the most vile and personal terms imaginable.

The Foreign Minister could not have borrowed talking points from Cuba's worst enemies to more effectively harm the country's future economic and political  interests.

The AP wires also note Raul Castro mentioned Cuba's recent "war games" to prepare for US invasion. What a laughable assertion of an external US military threat.

This type of shallow and vitriolic 1960's public diplomacy also makes Cuban leadership appear to be non-serious, polemical amateurs.  President Obama is the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years.  This Foreign Minister Rodriguez speech probably slammed the window shut on US Congressional and Administration leaders being willing to support bringing Cuba back into the community of nations.

This situation makes me very sad for the Cuban people.  I see little reason to visit Cuba and deal with leadership of this appalling lack of good judgment.

Please withdraw my name for the proposed visit to Cuba in January.

Barry McCaffrey
General USA (Ret)


Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jsmith · 12 years ago
    "President Obama is the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years. " I respected GEN McCaffrey until I read that lie. I suspect it's politics-speak for "the most similar in view to that of Cuba's dictatorial leadership" and that's I haven't taken his photo down in my office.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave Phillips · 12 years ago
    My name is Dave Phillips, and I am a former Marine.
    As I am sure you are well aware Audie Murphy is an American legend. He remains America's Most Decorated Soldier of World War Two, as well as having been a best-selling author, movie star, poet, songwriter, businessman, but above all patriot and a hero for all generations.
    Audie Murphy has been my role model my entire life. He was the perfect role model for the youth of my generation and remains a role model for the youth of today. Unfortunately, many of the youth of today have never heard of him.
    Some years ago, a Petition effort was launched to honor Audie Murphy with a U.S. Postage Stamp. Americans just like yourself banded together and through teamwork and the combined efforts of thousands of your fellow citizens Audie Murphy was finally honored in 2000 with the release of a commemorative U.S. postage stamp.
    It is my desire to see Audie Murphy presented posthumously with our Nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his dedication to America's freedom and his lifelong devotion to country.
    I have prepared an online Petition to President Obama requesting that Audie Murphy be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    The Petition can be found by clicking on the link below:


    or by simply typing the words "Audie Murphy Medal of Freedom" into Google.
    I would be most appreciative if you could once again stand with your fellow citizens and sign the Petition requesting that America's Most Decorated Soldier, Audie Murphy, be posthumously bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    Thank you for your time, patience, and consideration in this matter.

    Dave Phillips
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul S. · 12 years ago
    "the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years"

    What planet does Gen. McCaffrey live on?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    cdor · 12 years ago
    I must have slept through the Obama administration. Who is this most thoughtful and non-idealogical President that General McCaffrey is describing?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    covan · 12 years ago
    I've been wondering where the Castro-loving commies hung out. Seems they're here.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    YNSN · 12 years ago
    In terms of what the ideology towards Cuba has been for the last 50 years, and the hopes for Cuba to rejoin the world community. The GEN is correct, Obama is their best hope. but, I guess they like their feet with bullet holes in them...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TheOldMan · 12 years ago
    I don't think the Cuban government wants to "join the world community". Doing so would open the floodgates to different world views and that would be the end of the Cuban government.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike47 · 12 years ago
    McCaffrey's statement is correct, and it's no compliment to the Obama regime. We've had a clear and consistent isolationist policy toward the Cuban government since Castro rose to power. Only since Obama came into the picture has the closed door had any chance of opening. McCaffrey simply (and astutely) recognizes the Cubans just threw away any chance for improved diplomatic relations in the near term. That does not diminish McCaffrey in my eyes. He is simply very skilled at getting along with whomever is CINC, and that comes from his training as a soldier.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CPT Gray · 12 years ago
    while I believe Obama is one of the most despicable presidents, along with most of his administration, we've ever had ... I have to agree with Mike47. If McCaffrey was any less "tactful" he'd lose many chances to be more informed and more involved. We want good, intelligent men like him involved and informed. I believe Secretary Gates is also an extraordinarily tactful man... or would you rather he speak his mind about 'everything' bluntly and bullishly.... that way we'd have a very different kind of nominee for the Obama Administrations' Sec. of Def.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Roger A · 12 years ago
    Whilst I can't speak for the rest of the UK I can say that in general the feeling is that you Yanks at last have a President who recognises that the rest of the World actually exists and counts for something...at least he knows where the rest of the World actually is and seems to care about whether the US is pissing people off, which your previous idiot didn't.
    General McCaffrey plays a pretty straight bat and is astute - he wouldn't have made general if he wasn't, so his views should be listened to.
    The Cubans - from where this particular Brit sits, appear to be playing a very strange game in regard to its relations with the US. In truth Fidel Castro is probably not particularly happy with Bruno Rodriguez's outburst on Obama (maybe he'd been out on a Tequila-bash with Chavez the night before?) and Raul is not the strongest leader on the planet either (a bit like Bush Jr) - remember the regime in Cuba revolves around Fidel, not Raul or any of the minions like Rodriguez, so Cuba is currently weak and the aparatchiks there probably realise that the game for them will be up once Fidel dies and the autocracy crumbles. The US will be needed (there's nobody else in the region - even we Brits know that much) to help Cubans to sort out post-Castroism, so it's probably in the present incumbents' minds to spin out the uncertainty and regenerate anti-US feeling amongst their population (again) in order to lengthen their grip on 'power'.
    I feel sorry for the Cuban people (although they probably don't want western pity) and go along with McCaffrey's assertion that this has probably put relations back a few years....but that doesn't matter too much, at least the US will be able to keep its Congressional aid dollars in its pocket a few years more...and that has got to be a good thing given the current state of the economy (and cost of Afghanistan).....doesn't it? The bottomline is that Bruno Rodriguez has played into the hands of Obama who he probably sees as a viable threat to the present Cuban regime through its people.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris N · 12 years ago
    Roger A comment from the UK is exactly why their country is self destructing. Frankly the US could care less about that we are "pissing people off". This President we have now plays right into the hands of the commies. Just because he's a general doesn't make him 'smarter'...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jawbone · 12 years ago
    Chris N.

    You seem to go pretty far out of your way to be insulting to Roger. Unless I miss my guess we're on the same side.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    stevehva · 12 years ago
    General McCaffrey,

    First, I would like to extend to you and your family a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

    I read with interest, via Michael Yon's web site, your recent letter to Dr. Wayne Smith of the CIP. Although I find your reasons for reconsidering the trip you had planned to Cuba to be well reasoned and certainly justified by any measure of realistic geopolitics, I did find one of your comments to be disturbingly out of place.

    For any thinking, informed individual, your description of President Obama as, "the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years" to be laughable at best, and disingenuously condescending to the American people at worst.

    This point of disagreement not withstanding, thank you for your service.

    With regards,

    Steve H
    Sterling, VA
    WP Class of '74
  • This commment is unpublished.
    covan · 12 years ago
    Certainly, any thinking, informed individual would see Obama's thought processes as vastly superior to those of Bush.

    USNA class of '66
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Harry · 12 years ago
    Re: Covan

    Obama may be smart but he's a snake to be generous - I'm no great fan of Bush's but I'd take him any day.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    stevehva · 12 years ago
    So a grad of Squid School has weighed in. Excellent! Your impressive reply was chock full of cogent counterpoints. Firstly, the subject was Obama, not Bush. Secondly, Obama's "thought process" is best evidenced by his inept handling of the recent constitutional crisis in Honduras, and/or his reluctance to come to any decision regarding Afghanistan until hounded into one by a suddenly interested press. I could go on for several paragraphs, but it's Christmas, and I'm in a generous mood.

    No, my friend, I'm afraid you and your fellow USNA grads still suffer from the emotional burden of having to admit Jimmy Carter as one of your own.

    In the spirit of the season, however, I sincerely hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoy a prosperous New Year!

    Steve H
    WP '74
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    I'll try this one more time. In my first post in reply to Gen. McCaffrey's letter I made a statement that the Generals remarks concerning President Obama proved (to me at least) that the Generals was an “.....”, using an insulting term to describe the Generals intelligence.

    My comment was not approved / posted, I assumed because of my using the insulting term to describe McCaffrey.

    But then a comment by "Roger A" using the EXACT SAME insulting term but in reference to President George W. Bush IS approved.

    So I ask again, what is the agenda Mr. Yon or whoever is moderating these comments for you?

    Why is it OK to insult President Bush but not General McCaffrey?

    Or will these comments be trash binned as well?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    KellyC · 12 years ago
    Indeed, I can see where some would question the validity of this statement from Gen. McCaffrey. I'm guessing that the good general is being somewhat pragmatically political as some have noted, although it does have the whiff of fawning in it.

    Honestly though, people generally consider someone non-ideological when they align with their own ideologies because most people don't consider themselves ideologues and assume everyone else at the other end of the spectrum is the *true* ideologue. As for 'thoughtful', one wonders in what exact context the general was referring to. The implication then is that the previous 50 years of administrations weren't as thoughtful as the current one. In what way? With respect to what? Pres. Carter was thoughtful; Pres. Obama is more thoughtful? How is being thoughtful about Cuba going to improve relations? How has Pres. Obama shown his thoughtfulness to be beneficial to American foreign policy so far? Personally, I believe his thoughtfulness has led to the wrong conclusions on many, many issues including Honduras, Iran, North Korea, etc. I mean, for the smallest and most banal of examples, if I was a head of a major foreign government and Pres. Obama's gift to me at our first meeting is a DVD box set that won't even play in my native country, then I really wouldn't see that as 'thoughtful'. Senile relatives give gifts more thoughtful than that!

    While others here have referred to the previous administration as 'your previous idiot', it's interesting to note that the despotic regimes around the world have only tightened their grips on power and continue their vitriolic rhetoric despite the non-diplomacy of the 'current idiot'. Because they didn't like his 'style', many dismissed the foreign policy of Pres. Bush as arrogant and ultimately deleterious to the world but he was effective. But while western powers want everyone to play nice and see merely the absence of war as 'peace', the Bashar Assad's of the world (and truly, G. W. Bush's) see the reality more as it really is. One hopes that Pres. Obama will start to see it that way too but he's got a long way to go; former Pres. Carter never did and still doesn't.

    Finally, simply because one becomes a general does not necessarily mean anything. To apply a civilian metaphor, is someone a genius simply because they become CEO of a company? While I respect and deeply appreciate the general for his service (as I do all military personnel), it doesn't mean I don't apply the same grains of salt as should be applied to anyone else military or civilian.

    Funnily enough, Gen. McCaffrey's cancellation of his trip to Cuba and comments about their leadership shows more of the leanings of the 'previous idiot' than the 'current idiot'.

    As always, thanks for what you do Michael keeping us informed in a way that's impossible for the rest of the media.
    And, thanks to those who serve and protect us in the most unselfish ways imaginable; you are constantly in our hearts and prayers and your sacrifices do not go without notice.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JimS · 12 years ago
    snip ** Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced President Obama at the Copenhagen Conference as an "imperial and arrogant liar" in the most vile and personal terms imaginable. **

    Seems to me Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez is yet another who has not fallen under Obama's spell. From my personal comparisons of Obama's statements in the 'news' media, he is indeed just as Rodriguez describes him: "an imperial and arrogant liar". I can't imagine what the "most vile and personal terms imaginable" could be, but I'll second them.

    But this statement from Gen. McCaffrey: "President Obama is the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years." Absolutely incredible!
    What the general's motives might be for making such a preposterous claim I can only speculate.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tom King · 12 years ago
    First of all I had the supreme honor and pleasure of working for you During Operation Desert Shield and Storm. I also served your Command at the United States Southern Command before you departed to ONDCP and got a royal screwing (budget wise) by the Clinton administration. I know what your knowledge of theater events and situations entail and how your endless hours of selfless service to the mission and your country made you the premier POC for Latin American Affairs and a source to be referenced.

    As far as Cuba goes your statement was well placed. Barrack Hussein Obama knows Chicago politics and backdoor bar room negotiations but does not possess anyone with your experience on his staff that can work the subtlties of dealing with Cuba. When you stated that Raul missed his opportunity "...most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years. This Foreign Minister Rodriguez speech probably slammed the window shut on US Congressional and Administration leaders being willing to support bringing Cuba back into the community of nations." I took it to mean that because of Obama's lack of knowledge, and global experience, the door was/is open for some healing and reconcilliation. I also understood it to mean, (even though, in my opinion, Barack Hussein Obama is hell bent on ruining our nation), there is a willingness, by the United States Executive Office, to work out regional issues to facilitate that healing.

    I would follow your leadership anywhere Sir. You are a good man, a true Patriot, and a Great American.

    P.S. I just returned from Afghanistan and am working on another contract for Bagram or somewhere in Macedonia or Montenegro.


    Thomas G. King II
    SFC, US Army, (Ret.)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry Scott · 12 years ago
    Regarding Cuba, I served in that country 1987-89 as the State Dept.'s public affairs/human rights officer and have some strong feelings about both the way US diplomacy has prolonged the misery for the Cuban people and the ideologically laden counterproductive statements made by Cuban officials from Castro's early UN speech to the latest dust up at Copenhagen. Wayne Smith to his credit has been working since 1977 to bring about a poliitical reconciliation between our contries and to restore civility in the dialogue. His efforts, as well meaning as they may be, have fallen on indifferent and often antagonistic ears in the US. Most Cuba watchers will agree that our long standing policy of isolation towrads Cuba has produced no tangible change in the government or advanced US objectives an iota. In fact, on the rare occasion when the two countries could agree on something such as the withdrawal of Cuban military forces in Angola, Cuban compliance was met with State Dept. cynicism. Instead of using the opportunity to established a more constructive dialogue, the US reacted by actually increasing the obstacles to detente. One wonders incredulously why the strongest military nation in the world cannot learn to get along with a second rate socialist country that is absolutely no threat to our security and has been placed erroneously on the list of terrorist exporting countries. What do we fear from opening relations with Cuba? If that ideology had existed at the time Nixon went to China, there would never have been an opening and God knows what China might be like today if we had not taken the initiative back then towards Mao. In a word, we live with a failed policy towards Cuba to the detriment of the Cuban people and their displaced countrymen in the US. Isn't it time to put aside petty school yards fights and get down to serious talks with our adversary? The rest of the world recognizes Cuba. We are the only hold out.
    Jerry Scott USNA 1957-59 (Class of 61)

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Many methods are available to keep the work rolling. Click the image for a more info.



Quick Link to Paypal

Recurring Donation

QR Code

QR Code


To support using Venmo, send to:


My BitCoin QR Code

Use the QR code for BitCoin apps:


Or click the link below to help support the next dispatch with bitcoins: