Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ever Wanted to Go to Cuba?

I know I do. And some time in the next 8 years, it might happen.

The US has had a long (and somewhat inexplicable) embargo of doing anything with Cuba, including talking to their leadership, because they're Communists. I should note that we have a free trade agreement with one Communist country (Vietnam) and we at least have a relatively healthy relationship with another big one (China), but for some reason, we just can't seem to get past the fact that we don't like Castro much.

Don't You Want to Be Here?

Obama's new take on diplomacy is likely to mean a more open mind towards states we're currently not talking to--and Mr. Castro has expressed approval for Mr. Obama already. Some people have argued to me that we are being "soft" on Communism if we open up to Cuba, but this elicits a few responses. First, we are not punishing the Cubans much by not having diplomatic relations with them. The trade embargo hurts, but it sure hasn't convinced them yet to decide on Capitalism, and it's unlikely to do so in the future--therefore, it's mostly wasted effort. Second, we really shouldn't care that much if they call themselves Communists. No, they don't have elections, but (again) nor does China. Nixon and Kissinger recognized and normalized with China because they were able to face reality, not because our strategy of recognizing Chiang had suddenly worked. As it turned out then (and is even more true now), such a coming-to-grips with reality did not hurt the American image, and did not falter our deterrent reputation, but instead enhanced our ability to deal with the Communists and take advantage of splits in their camp.

Cuba isn't doing anything to actively hurt our country. Now, Mr. Obama has an opportunity to embrace the Cubans into the American sphere as friends, rather than let them fall to the resurgent Russians (remember how well that worked the first time?). Opening trade with Cuba and flooding them with American dollars will certainly be an incentive that the Russians cannot provide. And heck, I'd really love to visit some of those beaches and smoke some of those cigars.

So, Mr. President, if you are reading this blog, I ask you to do two things. First, leave a comment, so I can brag. Then second, lift the embargo on Cuba and open up diplomatic relations. It's really a good idea.
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