Four years ago today, Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes represented the United States at the funeral service for Fidel Castro in Cuba, where he mourned the communist dictator's passing alongside official delegations from China, Russia, Iran, and other prominent human-rights abusers.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at the time that Rhodes's role as "principal interlocutor with the Cuban government" in the Obama administration's campaign to normalize relations with the communist dictatorship made him an obvious choice to represent the United States at Castro's funeral. American taxpayers financed the trip.
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Rhodes also played a leading role in the Obama administration's diplomatic effort to give Iran billions of dollars in exchange for a promise of good behavior. Like the normalization of relations with Cuba, the Iran deal was not sanctioned by Congress and was therefore swiftly and easily reversed by President Donald J. Trump, whose election one month prior to Castro's funeral left Rhodes speechless and struggling to fight back tears.
Obama himself traveled to Cuba in March 2016, becoming the first sitting president to do so in almost 90 years. He attended a baseball game in Havana, where he sat next to next to Fidel's brother, Cuban president Raúl Castro. Days later, Fidel Castro denounced Obama's visit in a letter published by the Cuban Communist Party's official newspaper, writing, "We don't need the empire to give us any presents."
Ben Rhodes's controversial role in the Obama administration was vividly illustrated in a May 2016 profile in the New York Times, in which the so-called "foreign-policy guru," who holds a masters degree in creative writing, confessed: "I don't know anymore where I begin and Obama ends."