Detente For Cuba

Mikhail Gorbachev has an interesting piece advocating closer relations between the United State and Cuba.

Many other U.S. political leaders have spoken in favor of normalizing relations. Yet the U.S. government prohibits average Americans from even traveling to Cuba. While it calls for human rights in Cuba, the United States prevents its own citizens from sharing free enterprise, freedom of movement and free thinking with the Cuban people.

The only way to get out of this time warp is to replace the current policy with a policy of constructive engagement similar to the one being pursued toward other so-called Communist countries.

I understand Gorbachev’s argument, and there are good arguments for a policy of constructive engagement. However, the impetus is on Cuba to reform itself.When Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) visited Cuba his anti-embargo stance softened in the face of Cuba’s abysmal human rights record.

The Soviet Union under Gorbachev embraced a policy of glasnost and perestroika which allowed Soviet dissidents greater freedom. Right now Cuba has been engaging in ever more totalitarian crackdowns on dissenters, including the jailing of anyone who speaks out against the Castro regime.

Constructive engagement may be an option, but it can only bring a better life if Cuba is willing to act as well. If Cuba ends its policy of jailing dissenters and stifling basic freedoms it would be entirely appropriate for the United States to lift the embargo in full. Until that time, lifting the embargo would only encourage Castro to continue to oppress the people of Cuba.

4 thoughts on “Detente For Cuba

  1. I am not too fond of the Castro regime, and even less so of those american left wingers who apologize for it. Yet, the fact that Cuba is singled out for this treatment when regimes just as bad get treated well does not sit well with me. Anti-Cuban sanctions will be morally consistent in my eyes only when we stop chumming around with Saudia Arabia and even more moderate states like Egypt (it sucks to be a coptic christian in Egypt) that also jail dissidents and obstruct freedom. I want constructive dialogue with Cuba. It seems that we should have the political courage to engage with parts of a nation who want to change (and Cuba has lots of dissidents). Sanctions have never toppled a single leader. Look at how much good they did in Baghdad.

  2. I’m still waiting for Jay Reding to insist upon an embargo for the totalitarian regime of China because he is such a strong defender of improving the lives of third world peasants across the globe. I get the feeling I could be waiting awhile before such a proclamation is made, however.

  3. And what would that achieve? Would such an action lead to increased human rights in China or would it make the situation worse? Considering that China is tentatively embracing reform, shutting the door to China would likely force Beijing to become even more despotic in their methods. Furthermore, such a policy would destabilize the entire region, causing massive unrest in Taiwan, China would be less likely to help in stabilizing North Korea, and you’d have a nation with thousands of nuclear weapons in a situation where they are suddenly cut off from the rest of the world economy. That’s simply asking for trouble.

    Now I’m agnostic on the sanctions on Cuba. If someone can show that a policy of constructive engagement works to improve human rights, I’d be all for lifting the embargo. However, I still maintain that Cuba would have to show some initiative before that happens.

  4. It seems as if you wanted to be taken seriously and take a principled stand against trading with oppressive dictatorships, you would need less excuse-making and more ideological consistency. Either you’re against dealing with brutal and oppressive governments who abuse human rights or you’re a willing participant. There’s no in between. You can’t custom-fit your argument to exclude a country where American sweatshop profiteers make most of their money, and then funnel much of that money into Republican party coffers, yet expect to con people into believing that a tiny island nation with an oppressive regime is entitled to full extent of your selectively halfhearted ideological wrath.

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