imageFor decades the U.S. wrestled the Soviet bear for international primacy in a long and bitter Cold War. Finally, the bear and its Communist system succumbed, driven into the deep freeze of insolvency in 1989.  Yet remnants of international Communism persisted, most stubbornly in Cuba.

Throughout the Castro brothers regime in Cuba, an American trade embargo has been in place crippling the Cuban economy. Now, in his final year in office, President Barack Obama has flown to Havana to meet with Cuban leaders, including President Raul Castro.  This makes Obama the first sitting U.S. President to visit the island nation since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Even as we struggle to combat the barbaric jihadists in the Middle East while trying to re-boot the political hard drive in our own hemisphere, there are those who say a stronger hand is what’s needed, not a conciliatory one.

But as we should have learned in Vietnam, in a battle for hearts and minds against an asymmetrical enemy, might alone will never be the deciding factor — and as suggested in a previous post (Our Sorcerer’s Apprentice) may actually work to our disadvantage if in the wrong hands.

And so while attempts to define us by our faults may reveal shortcomings, whenever others question America, I suggest we revert to the appeal that worked so effectively against the Soviet Communists. I speak of the Charmin Supremacy.

We may have holes in our program, it’s true. There may be losers in our free market system in an increasingly globalized economy. But, ladies and gentlemen, I place in evidence one roll of 2-ply Charmin bathroom tissue, and stand by it as among the most powerful embodiments of American hegemony.

The first time Russian athletes came to compete in the U.S. in the late 1980s at the Los Angeles Marathon, they were put up in the posh L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Each suite was loaded with luxurious amenities. Yet all the Russians could say after looking around was, “Yuri, did you see? 2-ply!”

Yes folks, the Charmin Supremacy. We may not be perfect, but what do our foes have to put up against us, wipe-wise? In the end (or on it), sometimes the battle lines lie south of hearts and minds.



  1. Absolutely right, Toni. The Cuban Embargo has produced absolutely nothing except poverty in Cuba, making them even more dependent on the central government, while history gives us so many examples (including present-day Vietnam, btw) of countries where diplomatic and economic engagement brought improvements in governing, human rights, and the standard-of-living.

  2. Good one, Toni. And you’re so correct. I agree with Craig too, about going to Cuba. Thousands and thousands of Americans are going to go to there now as tourists; the Cuban people have no idea how their lives are going to change in the next decade (and, for that matter, our lives as well)

  3. Toni:

    Could not agree with you more. First time I went behind the Iron Curtain into Odessa to compete was in July of 1972. I can attest that the toilet paper there felt just like the paper towels we get over here at gas stations to clean our windshields with! And, the stadiums didn’t always have sit down toilets…some just had a hole in the concrete floor with a rope handle to pull hanging down conveniently close by! We had to pay extra attention to not get our shoes wet! The Japanese have the Russians beat all to hell when it comes to the commode dept! I can only hope that Cuba is better than Russia when it comes to toilet paper but one never knows. I just wanna go down there and see all the old cars that have somehow been kept running for 50+ years. and held together with duct tape, super glue, and gallons of bondo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.