Cuban Scholar To Las Vegas: Robert Gates

Randy Black asks: Does David. Crow really believe that the denial of the visas for the Cuban scholars’ trip to Las Vegas will damage the views on Democratic ideals among Cubans? Interesting sidebar on Texas A&M President Robert Gates: He is the only CIA employee to go from entry-level CIA employee to director of the agency in its history. His doctorate is in Russian and Soviet History from Georgetown. He is the author of the memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War , published in 1996.
David Crow answers Randy Black: Yes, I do believe that the U.S. is missing out on a great opportunity to expose Cubans to one of the things our country should be proudest of:  our university system and tradition of academic freedom.  And if that doesn't win them over, Vegas-style capitalist decadence surely would.  {RH The LASA convention should have been held not in Las Vegas, but at a major university. The idea that Las Vegas would win the Cubans over seems unlikely, and in any case an odd way of winning foreign friends].

But don't take my word for it:  read the Robert Gates New York Times (3/31/04) editorial. Among Mr. Gates's statements:  "[P]rotecting our security requires more than defensive measures; we have to win the war of ideas, too."  One would think that Mr. Gates's credentials would be solid enough to convince even the most conservative of Republicans.  My question to Mr. Black is this:  does he really believe that denying visas to Cuban scholars will hasten the end of the Castro regime?  That belief is surely more fantastic than the idea, endorsed by a former CIA director, that exposing others to American ideals peacefully can only report long-term benefits to our national security.

For the full text of the Robert Gates article, of which here is an excerpt, see

Osama bin Laden and other terrorists are on the brink of achieving an unanticipated victory, one that could have long- term consequences for the United States. Over the decades, millions of young people from other countries have  come to America to study at our colleges and universities. Many have  remained here to start companies, to keep us at the forefront of  scientific and technological discovery, to teach in our schools and to enrich our culture. Many others have returned home to help build  market economies and to lead political reform. After 9/11, for perfectly understandable reasons, the federal  government made it much tougher to get a visa to come to the United  States. Sadly, the unpredictability and delays that characterize the new system - and, too often, the indifference or hostility of those doing the processing - have resulted over the last year or so in a  growing number of the world's brightest young people deciding to remain at home or go to other countries for their college or graduate education. Thousands of legitimate international students are being denied entry into the United States or are giving up in frustration  and anger. Not surprisingly, universities in Australia, Britain, France and  elsewhere are taking advantage of our barriers and are aggressively  recruiting these students. According to the Chronicle, foreign student  enrollment in Australia is up 16.5 percent over last year; Chinese enrollment there has risen by 20 percent.

RH: Robert Gates does not mention Canada. whose universities have been great beneficiaries of these changes.  From Vancouver, WAISer Roderick Barman reports that the University of British Columbia has an agreement by which is receives students from the Technological Institute of Monterrey, Mexico. Canada, like Mexico, lives in the shadow of the US, and the two countries feel an affinity.  To this is added the animosity caused by US visa problems.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 8, 2004