NASHVILLE, TN, December 18th, 2014 – President Barack Obama will pursue a reversal of the United States embargo policy toward its neighboring island nation, Cuba. In response, conservative politicians and pundits are squawking over this fresh betrayal and the abandonment of America’s moral high ground.

“This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, who is considering a presidential bid and whose parents emigrated from Cuba in the 1950s. “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power.”

Former Republican governor of Florida, home to many Cubans that fled Castro’s horrifyingly abusive rule, agreed. Bush wrote that the administration’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba is “the latest foreign policy misstep by this President, and another dramatic overreach of his executive authority. It undermines America’s credibility and undermines the quest for a free and democratic Cuba.”

In my mind, only radical leftist feminism competes with communism for the most destructive and vile ideological framework; I have no love for despots, communists or autocrats. Also, I understand the origin of the trade embargo and the original intention of Cold War era policymakers: make communist Russia’s pet outpost so expensive to maintain, they forfeit the relationship or waste resources maintaining its economic infrastructure. Some could argue that the embargo worked and was necessary to combat Castro’s warlike intentions toward Cold War America. Others argue that the embargo hurt the Cuban people by providing Castro an anti-Western narrative and justification for continued economic repression. Regardless, it appears the US will soon pursue “normalized” diplomatic relations once more, so what does that mean?

“Normalization” would allow the US to establish an embassy, carry on diplomatic relations, and negotiate over trade — trade which could either help the impoverished, oppressed Cuban people or provide the regime with a new leash on life. Conservatives argue that Obama, in his infantile naivety, is luring America into bed with a devil next door, an absolute moral crime. Why? Because, like so many of our trade partners, Cuba is a repressive Hell controlled by an authoritarian regime that demands absolute control over the Cuban people. Supporting trade or commerce sanctions the continued abuses of Castro’s regime.

Yet I wonder how these same conservatives feel about the US trading and “normalizing” relations with China, an utterly repressive giant that our thirst for cheap, disposable things has propped up despite its immoral human rights abuses. The Chinese government censors the press, the Internet, print publications, and academic research, and justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve “social stability.” The single ruling elite enforce appalling domestic policies, including the One Child Policy, which requires forced abortions for women impregnated after their first born. This Draconian police state is supported by American consumers, conservative and liberal alike.

Are critics of this Cuban policy reform done with their Christmas shopping? How many of those items came from China?

How about our trade relationship and diplomatic coziness with Saudi Arabia, a nation that arrests, harasses and silences peaceful dissidents, denies women and girls basic human rights and privileges, and subjects thousands to unfair trials and arbitrary detention, including public beheadings for those accused of “sorcery and witchcraft”. This despotic autocracy, along with others in the region (which we also trade with), actively crush political reform at home and in neighboring Bahrain. These crimes are conveniently ignored or silenced by Western press to protect our selfish interests (see Amber Lyon, Emmy-winning CNN journalist turned whistleblower). The kingdom has had ties to “re-education” programs, which fuel militant Islam, a threat to the U.S. conservatives consistently argue endless war is required to combat.

How’s that cheap fuel?

The crimes of many of our closest trade partners dwarf the abuses of the 2014 Cuban government. Having moral principles requires consistency. One cannot cry for morality-based international foreign policy in one instance while supporting immoral foreign policy decisions in others.

As Tom Nichols with The Federalist wrote, “The Cold War is over, and in a globalized world, our best weapons are information, money, and culture. If conservatives really want to be associated with the future rather than the past, then they must accept that it’s the twenty-first century, and normalization with Cuba was inevitable. Castro will always be the man who encouraged Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to launch a nuclear strike on the United States for Cuba’s sake. (The Soviet boss rebuked him. Imagine a leader too unstable and emotional for Khrushchev.) Castro and his brother deserve, to use a line from the classic Western “Silverado,” “a fair trial and a first-class hanging. But that’s not going to happen.”

Nichols is right and Conservatives opposing reform are wrong. We truly have no idea what the net impact of this policy reversal will do for the Cuban people. We can continue with ineffective policies formed for a dead age or pursue the best opportunity in a half-century for changing conditions in Cuba. Politicians parroting a narrative unsupported by the legacy of US foreign policy should stop their moral preening. Human rights concerns have never trumped America’s thirst for things and likely never will. Claims otherwise are laughably more naive than President Obama’s foreign policy positions.