There was a point in time where the Republicans held a commanding position on foreign policy, it is a shame that this position has been eroded over time and even more of a shame that they let their hatred for Obama get in the way of common sense. It is true that Cuba is a Communist country and does not allow many of the freedoms that we enjoy. It is also true that they are one of the largest human rights abusers. However, the only way to get them to alter their path and take a more democratic approach is to engage them economically, not politically.
Been There Done That
For decades the embargo against Cuba has been in place and this whole time there has been no change or alteration that can be attributed to America’s policy towards the island. In fact, the embargo has removed any reason why Cuba should engage with us at all and why it could still support communist elements in other countries. There was no ramification for doing so. No way to place economic sanctions, no way to engage them on the International front and certainly no way to use force to compel any alterations of Cuban policies at home or abroad. In fact, any chastising from the U.S. was always met with a “so what” attitude. So why did it take so long for anything to change?
Politics as Usual
The reason why there has been some but little movement in reengaging Cuba is the powerful southern Florida lobby of Cuban exiles. All it takes is one good look at Mark Rubio Republican from Florida to see how powerful the old Cuban exile community is. Of course, there is always the fact that Republicans have qualms about dealing with any communist state, unless it makes them rich…. *cough China. All one needs to do is look at one of the positions of the Republicans concerning Cuba is the calling for Cuba to pay for seized economic property in the Cuban Revolution. I am sure the Republicans would be more willing if Cuba was to pay them.
Why Engaging and Ending the Embargo Will Work
Cuba could seriously use a big economic boost. By allowing tourists, and the import of goods from Cuba, the economy there would eventually come to rely on the influx of money. As this flow of money increases, the more connected Cuba will be and dependent on American money. It is already partially dependent on the money sent from expatriates. This puts us the U.S. in the position to demand things like greater access, reformed courts and more. This is a very simple concept that, as a country, we have used a great deal in the past. Why? Because it works. The American people and economy get a boost, so does Cuba and we get more leverage. There is literally article after article and publications from leading think tanks that say almost the same thing. Engage Cuba economically and a political shift will occur. If anyone needs an example, look at China. No it isn’t perfect but China is now a player on the world stage and still has to deal with more international norms than it used to. The big one currently is the WTO.
It didn’t take long after the announcement for many Republicans to already start the complaining. Some even calling the President the worse negotiator since Jimmy Carter. To begin with, it shows how little foreign policy the Republicans really understand. Not to mention a little hypocritical. They scream “jobs, jobs, jobs” but won’t ease and embargo that has done nothing but harm the economy for decades. To be perfectly honest, the economic potential of Cuba is boundless if we played our cards right. Of course we won’t because the Republicans can’t see past their dislike of the President to do something that makes sense. Naturally, since we can’t invade Cuba the Republicans don’t see a good outcome but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
We need to end the embargo against Cuba and engage them economically. We can work with the Cuban people, who want an economic change, to bring more freedoms to the island and get a needed economic shot in the arm. We won’t because the Republicans will stick to the party line and the Tea Party Nazi’s won’t have it.