Wednesday, December 17, 2014
President Obama's gamble on Cuba
I hold no brief for President Obama. I believe he's deliberately trying to destroy the United States of America as we've known it most of our lives, and holds the Constitution and our Founding Fathers in contempt. I don't trust him further than I could throw him, which isn't very far at all . . . but on Cuba, I think his policy change announced today is probably the right thing to do.
Consider that ever since the Cuban Revolution, the USA has maintained stringent sanctions against that country to no effect at all. They didn't change the regime; in fact, they drove it into a harder-line embrace of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. When we eased restrictions on trade with Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed, and tried to improve relations with other Communist-era countries and governments, we conspicuously failed to do so with Cuba - with the inevitable result that the hard-liners there took an even harder line. We also drove the Chavez/Maduro revolution in Venezuela into ever closer ties with Cuba, to the latter's economic and the former's security benefit.
If President Obama plays his cards right, this could have far-reaching consequences. The USA has far more to offer Cuba, economically speaking, than Venezuela does, so it could put enormous pressure on that alliance. It could potentially also reduce Russian influence in the Caribbean, if a more capitalist Cuba can be persuaded to be less of a Cold War-style Communist lackey. It would have domestic implications, as the large Cuban exile community in the USA would probably benefit in many ways from closer ties with their former motherland. This, in turn, might shake up the so-called 'Hispanic' bloc among the US electorate, changing long-standing allegiances.
I don't know whether President Obama's doing the right thing here; for that matter I instinctively, viscerally distrust anything he does. However, I've also got to be honest. The USA's former policy towards Cuba was a failure, and a dismal one at that. Einstein famously defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". In that light, the former US policy towards Cuba was, indeed, insane. Perhaps a new approach might yield more positive results. We've nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain. Therefore, no matter how reluctantly, I've got to give President Obama credit for trying. For all our sakes, I truly hope he succeeds.