Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama should talk to Cuba. Part 1

In today's LA Times is an Op-Ed by William LeGrande and Peter Kornblush about why Obama should engage Cuba. I completely agree. I've read other articles on this topic, and so far they're all saying the same thing. This one has a great history of presidential relations with Cuba since Castro came to power. What I didn't know is that most of those presidents have engaged in some kind of diplomacy with Castro, usually in secret.

This is one of those issues that should have been resolved a long time ago. Whatever intellectual justification there was for the embargo (if there ever was one) evaporated a long time ago. The political justification is in tatters. All we have left is the illusion of fighting communism, an illusion that almost everyone on the planet can see is, in fact, an illusion, and a few militant anti-Castro fanatics left in Miami.

The benefits of lifting the embargo are clear and profound; better lives for the people of Cuba, reunited families, some opportunities for American companies in a new market, not a bad thing in this economy, and signs of relief from around the world. What are the risks? That Castro will be strengthened? That Raul Castro will somehow manage to perpetuate the dictatorship even after he and Fidel are gone? Even if that is the case, what implications does it have for the US? Cuba has not harmed the US since Castro took over, apart from a few threatening moves during the Cuban missile crisis, and has almost no power to do anything to us now. And why would they want to? The Castros paint themselves as Davids versus the US as Goliath, and legitimize themselves thereby.

Cuba hasn't done anything to us, they have no incenctive whatsoever to do anything to us, and they haven't the means to do anything to us. What are they going to do, export revolutionaries?

So the benefits are great, while the risks are all but nonexistent. As soon as Obama starts lifting various restrictions, the demagogues who oppose normalizing relations between the US and Cuba will be exposed for the fearmongers that they are.

I really can't wait for January 20th.

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