Stale Policies Must Go

Posted on December 18, 2014

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Source: NY Daily News

Source: NY Daily News

As the GOP goes utterly apeshit over President Obama’s decision to have full diplomatic relations with Cuba, with some casting it as appeasement to communist dictators, I have yet to hear one cogent, constructive argument as to why relations with the island nation shouldn’t be “normalized”.

Let’s examine the arguments:

  1. Coddling, appeasing dictators. By normalizing relations with Cuba, President Obama was essentially giving the Castro regime credibility and providing a U.S. stamp of approval, of sorts, on the Communist regime that has a history of human rights violations against its own people. Fifty years of a trade embargo has worked… to keep the Castro regime in power. According to conservative GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s response, “For those who say this is a concession somehow to the Cuban regime … I think that that is a wrong way to look at it. That is simply wrong. The policy that we’ve had in place for the past 50 years has done more in my view …. to keep the Castro regimes in power than anything we could’ve done.”
  2. Moral depravity of Cuban regime? So, is it the history of Cuban human rights abuses giving conservatives pause? Well, not really. I mean, how can the U.S. have a policy of virtually unfettered trade with China, yet have a restrictive trade embargo against Cuba and use human rights violations as a meaningful justification for the different treatment? You can’t. In fact, an argument can be made that by allowing more trade with Cuba will improve the conditions of the Cuban people, including the way the regime treats them. There may well be a loosening of restrictions resulting from increased trade with the US… that 50 years of embargo failed to cure.
  3. 3 vs. 1 puts price on U.S. citizens travelling abroad. Actually, it was the remaining 3 of the Cuban “five” that were given to Cuba in exchange for U.S. aid worker Alan Gross and who President Obama described as “one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in a Communist country,” a U.S. spy, who had been imprisoned for 20 years in Cuba.

So, why normalize relations with Cuba? Well, establishing a relationship with Cuba has the support of the business community, evidenced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support. Additionally, being able to secure the release of the U.S. Aid Worker was a priority for the President. A third reason is that Americans favor normalizing relations with Cuba. “[I]n every Gallup poll since 1999, a majority of Americans have wanted to normalize relations with Cuba, with the number varying between 55 and 71 percent in favor. And bare majorities — or in one 2000 poll, a plurality — have also supported ending the U.S. embargo against the country.” Also, Cuban-Americans ages 18-29 favor ending the U.S. embargo of Cuba 62% to 8%.

Finally, how does normalizing relations with Cuba play internationally? President Obama’s decision has been well-received by Latin America and France, and I suspect, many others will follow in their praise.

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Posted in: Cuba