OK — Which of the presidential candidates is prepared to finally break US-Cuba relations out of the anachronistic Cold War cocoon they have been frozen in and initiate a new course that benefits American interests?
Barack Obama has sketched out the initial steps of a changed direction already, while Hillary Clinton in response said that the Bush administration’s management of Cuba was just fine with her until something triggered a reason to change.
When Fidel Castro hinted in December that he would be stepping down, I asked the Hillary Clinton campaign if this news was substantial enough for it to stop hugging the Bush line and consider a new groove. I was told by a Clinton adviser that if something significant occurred to justify a rethink, then a “full policy review” would be done by the Clinton team.
Well, the hint Castro gave is now real — and this seems significant.
The ending punctuation point of Fidel Castro’s tenure in office marks the conclusion of the longest serving head of state in power today (except monarchs).
The US embargo against Cuba — which all nations but three vote against each year in the United Nations — has utterly failed to generate any positive impact on the Cuban government or people.
Of all the low cost opportunities to demonstrate a new and different US style of engagement with the world, Cuba is at the top of the list. Opening family travel — and frankly all travel — between Cuba and the US, and ending the economic embargo will provide new encounters, new impressions, and the kind of people-to-people diplomacy that George W. Bush, John Bolton, Richard Cheney, and Jesse Helms run scared of.
This is a huge potential pivot point in US-Cuba relations. Will Hillary Clinton step up to the plate — and will Obama move beyond the somewhat timid proposals he offered previously and go to the gold standard in US-Cuba relations articulated by Senator Chris Dodd?
And will John McCain just ignore history’s offered up opportunity or will he continue to paw the dirt and blow steam at the island nation just off the Florida coast?
One interesting US presidential race tidbit involves Fidel Castro — who is know quite dismissive of and sparring with John McCain over McCain’s accusations that Cuban agents engaged in torture in Vietnam. However, before this spat, Castro said that the “unbeatable” US presidential ticket would have both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on it.
Something to consider. . .
— Steve Clemons