So perhaps handshake-gate has passed over, as this piece in the New York Times on the Obama Administration’s plans to engage Cuba in informal talks and also begin what they hope to be an “open relationship” seems to have mostly blown over. A few points.
Mr. Obama has faced mounting pressure from Latin America and from his supporters in this country to do more to reverse the United States’ 47-year-old trade embargo against the Castro dictatorship. Cuba has become the litmus test by which many Latin American nations measure the United States’ commitment to improving relations with the region.
Indeed. The embargo against Cuba has done little but immeserate Cuban citizens over 4 decades, and yet, a Castro is still in power and the country is still communist. And just because a lot of people still have a tendency to revile at the even the passing mention of communism, it’s worth pointing out the Cold War has been over for roughly 20 years. Why some politicians envision this embargo as anything other than a misguided, if not vindictive, policy is beyond me. I’m not even sure who the constituency for this sort of demagoguery is. Which brings me to my next point.
The official said any overtures toward Cuba would be made cautiously, allowing Mr. Obama to walk a fine line between those who want to end the embargo and those who see any engagement with Cuba as making concessions to a dictatorship. The official said that the administration also wanted to be careful to make it clear that its openness to engagement with Cuba did not mean the United States would turn a blind eye to the Cuban government’s poor record on human rights.
I agree that Obama shouldn’t let walking back a moronic Cuba policy jeopardize his domestic agenda, but let’s be clear about this: the political danger stems not from Republicans, who seem to have adopted a policy of almost complete and total obstructionism. Pursuing a sensible Cuba policy will do more to provoke the ire of New Jersey Senator and Democrat Bob Menendez, who despite being otherwise reasonable, thinks the responsible course vis-a-vis Cuba entails ensuring the continued poverty of Cubans and allowing Raul Castro to correctly point out that the United States contributes directly to the indigence of Cuba’s population.