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Obama to Visit Cuba

Cuban American FlagsVia the BBC:  President Barack Obama to make historic Cuba visit in March

US President Barack Obama has confirmed he will visit Cuba in March as part of a broader trip to Latin America.

He will be only the second sitting US president in history to travel to the island, after Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

US Republicans have criticised the visit, saying it should not take place while the Castro family is in power.

[…]

Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both sons of Cuban migrants, said the visit was a mistake.

Asked whether he would go, Mr Rubio said: “Not if it’s not a free Cuba.” Mr Cruz said Mr Obama would be acting “as an apologist”.

[…]

Mr Obama’s visit could coincide with the signing of a peace deal in Havana between the Colombian government and rebels from the Farc group to end that country’s civil war, due to take place by 23 March.

Of the various reactions I have to Rubio’s statement are, a) I am not surprised (really, what else is he going to say?), and b) half a century of this type of thinking has not accomplished anything (and, arguably, has helped maintain the Castros in power).

The futility of US policy towards Cuba is obvious to anyone who gives it even a passingly objective assessment.  Even if one wishes to argue that it made sense during the Cold War, there is no justification for its continuance over the last quarter century (as I kept having to remind myself in class yesterday, the Cold War ended a rather long time ago).  Certainly nothing about US policy towards Cuba since the early 1990s can be said to have enhanced US security nor has it helped liberalize Cuba.  So, apart from spite, what’s the point?  It isn’t as if we only have diplomatic relations with liberal democracies.

And, really, when the historical assessments are made, opening up relations with Cuba will be considered a significant accomplishment on the Obama administration.  Those who cling to the embargo (which Congress needs to lift) and/or abide in a fetishistic concern over the Castros are living deeply in the past (and are underscoring their allegiance to an utterly failed policy).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Full normalization will occur in the next few years. US policy towards Cuba has been driven by the angry first group of refugees who settled in Miami. That first group is old and dead or dying. The 3rd generation of Cubans for the most part have a very different attitude and realize this archaic policy left over from the cold war has been a dismal failure. If we had abandoned this policy after the cold war the Castro’s would already be long gone. Many of the younger Miami Cubans are now Democrats.

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  2. JKB says:

    Perhaps, but generally you don’t reward bad behavior:

    Ana Belén Montes – She’s still got 11 years to go on her 25 yr sentence for spying for Cuba. She also happened to be the Cuba “expert” in US intelligence when she was arrested.

    Walter Kendall Myers (and wife) – a career State Department employee convicted in 2010 of spying for Cuba for 30 years

    Given such deep usurpation of US government policy on Cuba and the Communist sympathies of many in the current presidential administration, can be really trust anything Obama does in regards to Cuba?

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  3. Scott says:

    Of course it is the right thing to do. Cuba is just 90 miles off our coast. Our relations can only be strengthened. American participation in their economy and culture will only hasten Cuba’s transition from its past.

    On a side note, I wonder how many more action is Obama going to do that will inflame the radical right of this country. Until the spittle-flected ravers run out of saliva?

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  4. @JKB:

    the Communist sympathies of many in the current presidential administration

    Sigh.

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  5. C. Clavin says:

    opening up relations with Cuba will be considered a significant accomplishment on the Obama administration.

    For such a piss-poor President he sure does have a lot of significant accomplishments.

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  6. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Given such deep usurpation of US government policy on Cuba and the Communist sympathies of many in the current presidential administration, can be really trust anything Obama does in regards to Cuba?

    Good point. You would have thought that, by now, 7 years into his presidency, a communist sympathizer like Obama would have closed out Gitmo given the base at Guantanamo back to the Cuban government? He could do this by Executive Order, so why hasn’t he done it yet?

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  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @JKB:

    You’ve really lost it recently. You were always on the right wing spectrum, but you generally held yourself above asinine stupidity, a la Jenos. What happened, man?

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  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Perhaps, but generally you don’t reward bad behavior

    Which is why St. Reagan never negotiated with the Soviets, since after all they were spying on us. Similarly, because the Chinese spy on us so relentlessly, we don’t have any diplomatic relations or do business with them, and Americans are barred from travelling to China. It’s a matter of principle.

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  9. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    She’s still got 11 years to go on her 25 yr sentence for spying for Cuba. She also happened to be the Cuba “expert” in US intelligence when she was arrested.

    Why the scare quotes around “expert”? Sounds like she was more of an expert than anyone even assumed!

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  10. Rafer Janders says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    What happened, man?

    Sadly, ODS is a progressive disease.

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  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Awesome. Long overdue.

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  12. An Interested Party says:

    …the Communist sympathies of many in the current presidential administration…

    Is it any wonder why we have such dysfunction in government when ridiculous tripe such as this is what passes as reasonable discourse among so many on the right…forget selecting candidates for the Supreme Court, it’s a wonder the president hasn’t been impeached yet…

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  13. Tyrell says:

    I remember well the night that President Nixon came on and announced that he was going to China ! We were left slack-jawed in numb disbelief. Some of the Republican leaders were literally speechless. But that worked out okay, except China now seems to be buying up everything and is getting a lot of military toys.
    I hope that the President can make some deals while he is down there: get Starbucks, McDonalds, and Chucky Cheese in. And internet for everyone. And work out some major league games down there. Hopefully he will bring a lot of cigars back home.

    Read “On China” by Henry Kissinger. Also, “Thirteen Days” by Kennedy and Schlesinger

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  14. C. Clavin says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Frankly I’m shocked a red-necked gun-totin’ Republican hasn’t exercised their second amendment rights on the man yet. Shocked.

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  15. MikeSJ says:

    Its the oddest thing. Right wingers act like China doesn’t exist.

    We have huge business and personal ties with a major communist country like China (that has nuclear weapons) and yet the right soils themselves over a visit with a two bit nothing burger of a country like Cuba.

    Frankly, it’s bizarre.

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  16. george says:

    @JKB:

    Perhaps, but generally you don’t reward bad behavior.

    And yet US Presidents from both parties rewarded the far worse behavior of the USSR (who were Cuba’s bosses, remember?) by visiting them, having diplomatic relations with them, and allowing economic trade with them.

    In what world does it make sense to have dealings with the head communist country (the USSR) but not one of their underlings? Talk about swallowing camels whole while straining at gnats.

    Seriously, this has always been about the Florida vote. If it was about communism, they’d have had zero diplomatic or economic relations with the USSR and Mao’s China.

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  17. Steve V says:

    What’s particularly impressive is that he’s able to advance his communist agenda while also being a stealth Muslim theocrat.

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  18. Scott says:

    @JKB: My first thought was Jonathon Pollard and Israel. Pollard apparently did enormous damage to this country and yet we have relations with Israeli and Israeli sympathizers in our government.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    generally you don’t reward bad behavior:

    So if Obama came to visit you, that would be a reward? I’ll never understand how conservatives think.

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  20. @JKB: Do you have a list in your back pocket of 57, no I tell you 65 names on it/

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  21. KM says:

    @JKB:

    the Communist sympathies of many in the current presidential administration

    On a different thread, someone asked why the OTB community felt Sanders would have a harder time running as a Socialist vs Hillary as a woman in the minds of the general public. I give you Exhibit A, ladies and gentlemen. Expect to see more of this once somebody in the echo chamber tries to link it back to the Dem candidates… all of them.

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  22. Tyrell says:

    I wonder how much a week at a ocean front condo would run. Build a good waterpark down there and I will go any day. Think of it: an Atlantis type resort. Investors are going to swarm that place.

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  23. Pch101 says:

    The hard right doesn’t understand that we have diplomacy in order to deal with those whom we don’t particularly like or trust, because the failure to deal with them can make things worse for us.

    It’s international politics, not a dinner party. We do it out of self-interest, not because we love or fear them.

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  24. @Pch101: Indeed.

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  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: Um, isn’t that how this whole revolution thing got started in the first place? Sinata/Rat Pack and the Mafia together in an arrangement with Batista to set up a Las Vegas (although with more sex ‘n drugs) right off the coast of Florida for US marks?

    There’s a reason why Castro was welcomed, y’know.

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  26. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Tyrell: You do realize that the Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands, Aruba, etc., already exist?

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  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @KM:

    On a different thread, someone asked why the OTB community felt Sanders would have a harder time running as a Socialist vs Hillary as a woman in the minds of the general public. I give you Exhibit A, ladies and gentlemen.

    Well, except….they’re already been calling Obama a communist, and he’s a middle-of-the-road Democrat. Sure they’ll call Sanders a communist, but they’ll also call Hillary the same thing. It’s not clear how he’ll be at any more of a disadvantage than she if they’ll both get tarred with the same brush.

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  28. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: This would be different since the mafia is now gone and the investing and development would be done by legitimate US companies in hotels, entertainment, travel, merchandise, technology, transportation, communications, and finance. It will require the dismantling and end of the disastrous communist system. Political prisoners will be freed, the people given full rights including freedom of speech, religion, and the press. You got people down there locked up just for speaking out, religious expression, and their writings. The president and Secretary of State must deal firmly and drive a hard bargain with these people if they expect the help and resources of the US.
    “Make them a deal they can’t refuse”

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  29. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: Or just watch Godfather II for a little insight into Cuba.

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  30. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: The mafia is now gone? Development would be done by “legitimate US companies”?

    (excuse me while I fall over laughing)

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  31. Lit3Bolt says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That’s an awesome point actually. I bet the Mexican cartels are currently looking at Cuba very carefully.

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  32. anjin-san says:

    @Tyrell:

    You got people down there locked up just for speaking out, religious expression, and their writings.

    The US has the world’s largest prison population. People in glass houses…

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  33. C. Clavin says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:
    Absent the poverty, Cuba is really more beautiful than those other Islands, which all have their own poverty issues.
    I haven’t seen the entire Island, but I’ve been to Gitmo twice.

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  34. Guarneri says:

    @anjin-san:

    C’mon, man. That’s a drug law issue, not a First Amendment issue.

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  35. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Yeah, but those people are making living wages these days. Cubans, now they might be willing to work for a dollar or two a day. Think of the Benjamins–the Benjamins!

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  36. Gustopher says:

    This is pretty beautiful electoral politics too — a small gift from Obama to Clinton. Cruz and Rubio might be a few decades younger than Clinton, but they will sound like weird anachronistic throwbacks to the Cold War when they complain about this.

    (If Sanders is asked about it, he should probably go right into a long argument about Cuba’s human rights violations… just to help build a distinction between Democratic Socialist and Authoritarian Socialist.)

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  37. Mr. Replica says:

    @Gustopher:

    Diplomacy, again?!!

    Could we just do an Iraq v2.0 on Cuba? Bomb’em back to year zero. Set up theme parks and fast food joints as far as the eye can see. Have a monorail that covers the entire island, with tours.

    “To the left we have the majestic Atlantic ocean, and to the right we have the world famous Gitmo Prison! If you are all very very quiet you can hear the music emanating from the torture er.. aggressive negotiations taking place inside!”

    No? damn….

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  38. becca says:

    Tyrell, you are just adorable. So earnest and uncomplicated. Maybe a bit too earnest and uncomplicated, like a character in a sitcom, but still adorable.
    I bet you reply with a really neat classic TV reference, too!

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  39. Guarneri says:

    Rumored to be on the Air Force One playlist headed for Cuba……

    “….Well I stepped inside, and slipped by the door
    While a dark girl sang, and played the guitar
    There was hookers, and hustlers, they filled up the room
    I heard about this place they call the Spanish Moon

    There’s whiskey, and bad cocaine
    Poison get you just the same
    And if that — that don’t — kill you soon
    The women will down at the Spanish Moon

    Well I pawned my watch, and sold my ring
    Just to hear that girl singing, yeah, yeah
    I don’t care who, you can wake up ruined
    You can lose it all down at the Spanish Moon…”

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  40. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    Gotta love a Little Feat reference…but for the life of me don’t see the connection.

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