Former Sec of State George Shultz says QUOTE ME: End the US-Cuba Embargo. End the Travel Ban.


George Shultz Cuba.jpg
Former Reagan Administration Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of State George Shultz thinks that the US embargo against Cuba should “simply be lifted.”
In a letter issued by Secretary Shultz to David Dreyer and the Center for Democracy in the Americas, Shultz writes (pdf available here):

I have long felt and have said publicly on a number of occasions that, with the cold war behind us, we should simply remove the embargo on Cuba.
I’m glad to hear that you are making headway on a bill that would repeal the travel ban for all Americans. This is a step in the right direction. I am glad to be on record, and you may quote me as supporting this effort.

Shultz echoes sentiments offered by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft who has stated that the US-Cuba embargo makes no sense in foreign policy terms.
Shultz’s views are not exactly new as he said that American sanctions against Cuba were “ridiculous” on the Charlie Rose Show in April 2008. His comments were not as widely reported as they should have been at that time, however.

Shultz said:

I think our policy of sanctions against Cuba is ridiculous.
During the cold war it made sense because it was a Russian base. They used it for flying spying missions, and so on, but that’s over. And all we do by our sanctions is allow Castro, and now maybe his brother, to blame the problems of Cuba on us.
And at the same time I think particularly now that there’s some transitioning of some kind probably coming about, we’re much more likely to get a constructive outcome if there’s a lot of interaction. And to try to prevent interaction under these circumstances, I don’t think is sensible.
— former Secretary of State George Shultz interviewed by Charlie Rose, 4/24/08

President Barack Obama invited George Shultz two weeks ago to join him along with Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn to observe Obama chairing a Security Council Meeting at the United Nations on the subject of nuclear non-proliferation and arms control.
I watched President Obama greet Shultz and the other world leaders and special guests — and it was obvious to me sitting in that chamber that President Obama connected with George Shultz and valued his presence that day.
The Obama national security team should take stock of George Shultz’s views on the only part of the Cold War that managed to get colder during the Bush administration and do much more to thaw the ice in this hemisphere.
The US-Cuba embargo undermines America’s position in the world. Everyone knows this. Barack Obama knows this.
There will be a vote in a couple of weeks in the United Nations that has practically become ritual. About 185 nations will vote against the US, Israel, and one or two of our island protectorates on the US embargo of Cuba.
It’s time to end America’s isolation on this anachronistic stand that mattered perhaps in the 1960s, if then, but definitely is “ridiculous” today.
— Steve Clemons


25 comments on “Former Sec of State George Shultz says QUOTE ME: End the US-Cuba Embargo. End the Travel Ban.

  1. loupgarous says:

    Mr. Shultz’s comments, unfortunately, have been overtaken by events.

    Russia is once again an open adversary, and Cuba is once again a Russian base.

    And it’s not clear that the Cuban secret service (DGI) has ever ceased targeting the United States and her allies.

    Re-impose the sanctions.


  2. ARG says:

    As a Cuban-American, raise outside of the Cuban-Exile community since age 7, I learned that being “American” was a mindset of beliefs in Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. This end will never be achieved in Cuba through economic oppression, political and social isolation.
    From what I’ve been able to experience from the Cuban-Exiled community it’s that their single motive for participating as a voting block in Miami, Florida is to shape foreign policy towards Cuba for “self serving” interests, and not what is best for America.
    Changes in Cuba will come from the people that have have struggled with hunger, social isolationism, and a stale economy on the heals of the politics of the Cuban-Exiled community. I say, good luck…they have created a bigger problem than what was there 40 years ago.
    The lesson learned is that Oppression is never the road to freedom and economic development…maybe it’s time to change our views towards Cuba and minimize the importance we give the Cuban-Exiled Community with it’s political agenda.
    In my opinion, Cuban Exiles lack the awareness of what it means to be American. So, why give them a voice?
    Best Wishes,


    • loupgarous says:

      All Cuba’s present government would have to do to relieve the hunger and oppression its people suffer would be to abandon Communism. Just totally walk away from controlling every aspect of the people’s lives. In fact, it’d be pretty good advice for the Obama Administration, too.

  3. arthurdecco says:

    You won’t have to invade Canada to steal what you want from us, OA. Our very own mini-Bush will be waiting at the border with the keys to the country in his one sweaty hand and a decree threatening anyone who resists the invasion with life in prison for treason in the other.


  4. Outraged American says:

    Site detailing where the US gets its oil from. Iraq is way down on
    the list. We can invade Canada or Mexico and be home on the
    Sticking out my virtual tongue at Questions and JohnH (although
    John H, I do generally like your commentary, but Iraq was not
    about oil so you’re doing a Chomsky on that one probably
    And for those who live in fear of tinyurl:


    • loupgarous says:

      OA, you can’t bother the tin-foil crowd with facts. If it wasn’t Iraqi oil, it’d be human kidneys from Syria or some other excuse to smear those who favor prompt military intervention.

      There’s ONE case in which the CIA was undoubtedly guilty of unduly weighting evidence for resumption of nuclear weapons activity in Iraq, and that was the aluminum tubes. The premier scholar on nuclear weapons intelligence, Jeffrey T. Richelson, in his book “Spying on the Bomb,” lays the blame for that almost entirely on George Tenet, CIA director at the time. Bush told Tenet NOT to hype the case for WMD repeatedly, and Tenet disobeyed him – helping cause a way that cost me my younger son. If I were convinced that Bush deliberately pushed this war, I’d be Obama’s biggest booster.

      As it is, the biggest lie told about the War in Iraq is that it was done to make people money. And people whose intelligence I used to respect parrot that lie every day.

  5. questions says:

    Paul, you’re mixing metaphors.


  6. Outraged American says:

    Again Questions is trying to reframe the Iraq debate to be about
    oil. Iraq was never a major US oil supplier.
    You’re going to force me to call-up an expert to prove it, and
    since I’m already drunk, excusable because it’s Friday and April
    Fool’s da. Although I might make a fool of myself, which I do
    well and often.
    Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. Not in
    that order, are our oil suppliers, but I will call an expert and
    But I’d do anything for Questions, including trying to remember
    all the math classes I took 26-30 years ago (do the math
    Questions and you would QUESTION how a 46 year old would
    have been in college that long ago. ANSWER: I got out of college
    when I was still in my teens)
    Three semesters of Calculus, Linear Algebra, Differential
    Equations, Set Theory, Real Analysis, Game Theory (but that was
    part of another class) Mathematical Modeling, Statistics, and I
    honestly can’t remember what else. I was a double major with
    astrophysics and we had breadth of study requirements. And I
    really wanted to forget it all.
    Damn Anglo-Indian parents — Questions, I was forced into the
    sciences, but I thank them now for that introduction to critical
    thinking, because my mean little sister got to major in FArt
    History and had a McCain/ Palin sign on her lawn.
    At least I didn’t have to major in PHILOSOPHY, or I’d still
    probably be wittering on pondering Descartes and wondering
    whether any of you exist or not rather than attempting to
    change what’s on the ground.
    Hey Paul, Question was all for public pools in Phoenix shutting
    down during the summer, which granted is not very long or hot,
    so we could concentrate our tax dollars on really important
    things. Although her arguments were too philosophical for me
    to get through them beyond attacking Israel’s enemies using the
    dollars that would kept my lap pool open.


  7. Paul Norheim says:

    I`ve probably read philosophy with a different approach than you. Among other things,
    it learnt me to swim, and sharpened my eyes, aiding me in seeing the landscape through
    the fog.


  8. questions says:

    Yup. We have competing obligations. And I don’t know how to prioritize them. Escape? Honesty?
    Call it what you need to.
    I hardly think I’m drowning anyone. Can’t you swim?


  9. Paul Norheim says:

    “Oh Paul, give me a fucking break.”
    I`m fucking serious. You`ve insisted in countless of posts that status quo is
    problematic; change is problematic; US presence results in lots of unintended
    consequences, and US absence results in lots of unintended consequences – so what the
    hell can we do or not do to improve the impossibly complex problems we are dealing
    Most of us are aware of the fact that the issues are not easily solved, and that
    retreating from a problem also has consequences worth examining. But you are frequently
    transforming these kinds of dilemmas into eternal theoretical quagmires for the rest of
    the TWN participants to drown in (and for you to escape into), instead of offering
    precise criticism or constructive suggestions.
    That`s not philosophy, questions. It`s escapism.


  10. questions says:

    Oh Paul, give me a fucking break. If the world were easy, we’d be done with it already. The fact is there are competing demands, competing moral obligations, competing security obligations, miscommunication, traps in deeply unfortunate game theoretic situations and on and on and on. If the Nobel gives some impetus for our finding some reasonable compromises on some of this I’m all for it. So please stoop with the crap about all my fucking dilemmas and bewilderments and insecurities. They are the world’s fucking dilemmas and bewilderments and insecurities, and if you can’t see all sides of a problem, that’s your impoverished imagination at work, not my fevered brow.
    End of not-very-peaceful diatribe.


  11. Paul Norheim says:

    And by the way, Questions:
    if one of the consequences of the Nobel price is that it “shifts Afghanistan policy and
    Iran policy”, you wouldn`t support that in any case – due to the unintended
    consequences of any policy or shift of policy in any direction or non-direction.
    You`ve written a dozen of posts expressing this doubt and these dilemmas during the
    last months.
    Sorry Questions, but as far as you are concerned, the Nobel to Obama would just add
    more insecurity, dilemmas and questions to the endless list you`ve already offered us.
    You should be really scared, bewildered and confused right now.


  12. Paul Norheim says:

    The Nobel Price is intended as a reward and encouragement for actual achievements,
    not for the lofty promises of a politician.
    They are gambling with the prestige of the Nobel Price.


  13. questions says:

    But Paul, think of the pressure he’s under now to live up to it! Smart politics if you ask me. I think the Nobel Committee might deserve its own peace prize if this shifts Afghanistan policy and Iran policy.
    Big fucking egos at stake now. For all the dems who will glom on to this as well.


  14. Paul Norheim says:

    I saw the news about Obama receiving the Nobel Prize a minute ago. I was highly
    Losing the Olympics, but winning the Nobel Prize. Congratulations Chicago!
    Congratulations America!
    When that is said, I have to admit that in my opinion this was a stupid choice –
    extremely premature. As a Norwegian, I feel embarrassed.
    Three or seven years from now – who knows?
    But picking him due to his promises, his speeches and his charisma was foolish. As
    far as I am concerned, they could just as well have picked Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey,
    Pamela Anderson or Paul McCartney.


  15. questions says:

    Nobel seals it. I say the travel ban will go.
    Once it’s an ego trip as well as smart policy….
    OTOH, Repubs will be pissier than they’ve been? Or will they finally get on board with the rest of the world?
    Sometimes Nobel politics is smart politics!


  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…fight ants while giants are allowed to stomp all over your constitution and corrupt your political system”
    Truer words are rarely spoken here.


  17. arthurdecco says:

    “…but you choose to feel proud that you fight ants while giants are allowed to stomp all over your constitution and corrupt your political system.
    everyone has a soapbox.” samuelburke
    “nuff said.”


  18. samuelburke says:

    steve i give you credit for the work you have done is pushing the
    end to the cuban embargo but forgive me for this rant but as
    americans we have way bigger fish we have to fry.
    it takes big cojos to make a statement like that one in america.
    george shultz you sure are a brave man.
    id rather praise jimmy carter who stands up balls to the wall and
    takes it on the shin for his country.
    now let george shultz say, end the special relationship with
    israel…because it endangers the lives of american citizens here
    and abroad, and the threat of world war is increased because
    of the pressures put on our political military system by israels
    american jewish supporters backed by the chrito-zionist lobby.
    and ill applaud him as an american hero.
    the cuban embargo is a good one to end and i say good
    riddance, it proved itself not to work over five decades…its
    demise will allow all of the beach loving, prostitute chasing
    great american tourist to travel to habana and exploit the poor,
    miserable, communist abused population on the captive island
    nation. hip hip hoo frigin reh.
    while ending the special relationship with israel will save
    american soldiers lives, and diminish the chances of the united
    states from being attacked by muslims enraged at the backing
    that the united states gives to israel. israel has indiscriminately
    attacked a defenseless, captive palestinian population and we
    look like fools for supporting them and condoning them, and
    supporting them with our debauched american dollars.
    all thanks to the special relationship that only happens because
    of american zionist money corrupting our political military
    the suppression of the goldstone report by the u.s makes us the
    laughing stock of the world.
    and all of those things happen because of the special
    relationship with israel.
    ask me how i really feel when i see american leaders cowering
    against the israeli american lobby…and how i really feel when i
    see the american intelligence agencies apparently cowering in a
    corner while israel runs roughshod within our country making a
    laughing stock out of our intellingence community.
    but you choose to feel proud that you fight ants while giants are
    allowed to stomp all over your constitution and corrupt your
    political system.
    everyone has a soapbox.


  19. Desert Rat says:

    “There never has been any justification for the embargo against Cuba. It has only hurt the Cuban people and America.”
    This might be a bridge too far. I think there were reasonable geopolitical reasons for a Cuban Embargo until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    Like a lot of foreign policy stances, this one has simply outlived its usefulness. The younger generations of Cuban-Americans don’t even support it.


  20. alfredo says:

    There never has been any justification for the embargo against Cuba. It has only hurt the Cuban people and America.


  21. Old Atlantic says:

    Add Mexico instead. The consequences of dropping the ban on Cuba is another Mexico. Schultz is not for us he is against us. Look at the fall in housing prices in cities that are taken over by immigration. This is spreading to the East Coast as well. Schultz can’t look farther than his next broker’s statement.


  22. John McAuliff says:

    I doubt that Israel will appreciate being lumped within “one or two of our island protectorates”.
    However they constitute 50% of our allies in last year’s UN vote against our embargo. This is a bit hypocritical as Israel, like everyone else in the world, does not embargo Cuba.
    In fact Israeli citizens vacation there, manage Cuba’s biggest citrus plantation, and invest in one of the largest property development projects in the Havana area.
    Meanwhile, the Obama administration sounds tone deaf by playing accompaniment to Sen Bob Menendez and the Cuban American National Foundation’s effort to sabotage the New York Philharmonic’s performances in Havana.
    More on that here
    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development


  23. ... says:

    let’s hope the usa can figure out the way to go on afganistan quicker then it is on cuba! things move flatteringly slow in washington…


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