Working With Us | Products | Case Studies | FAQ | About Online Media

Grow Up

Aug
16
2006

With Fidel Castro ailing and aging, my message to our leaders in Washington is simple: grow up.
I’m no fan of Castro, communism, or dictatorships, but I’ve never understood our stubborn attitude toward that island nation a mere 90 miles from the shores of Southern Florida.
The history of our feud with Cuba is not lost on me. I recognize the nuclear threat that once emanated from the shores of the erstwhile Caribbean paradise and our desire to see a pro-US government restored there. But the critical mass of that situation peaked more than 40 years ago, and all but disappeared 15 years ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
US foreign policy, meanwhile, as seen fit to embrace our one-time mortal enemy the USSR, now known simply as Russia, as well as China – a country that poses a serious if latent threat to our domestic and foreign interests.
George W. Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin are regular pals, and we choose to turn a national blind eye to China’s economic and military belligerence because, it is argued, maintaining warm relations with that country and its emerging consumer population (and powerful/cheap manufacturing base), is “good for business.”
Castro stands alone as the recipient of our lingering Cold War ire. It’s silly, it’s short-sighted, and it is dangerous.
A quick look around the globe reveals turmoil everywhere US power is projected. From the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula we are at swords’ points with Islamic extremists and totalitarian crackpots. In Europe, once trusted allies have cooled in their attitude toward us, and we remain stymied by the many challenges that face us in Africa.
There are no easy answers to any of those situations, and I am sympathetic to both sides of the aisle here at home; those who believe we must fight – for as long as it takes – an enemy that sees us as the Great Satan, and those who feel we have a greater need to withdraw and spare precious American lives and treasure.
Meanwhile, the United States’ standing in its own hemisphere suffers from neglect. The problem of illegal immigration tells me that the people of Central and South America still regard America as the land of opportunity, but we seem adept at alienating the governments of those nations to our south. And it all points to our obstinacy with Castro.
Imagine how, instantly, our perception across Latin America would change if we were to offer Castro an olive branch, set aside a half-century of animosity and – before he dies – lift our ancient embargo and open diplomatic relations with Havana.
Let Fidel Castro tell his people they won. So what if it means a brief meal of political humble pie? At its heart America is a gracious nation, and we’d be prouder of doing right by our neighbor than we would feel momentary shame at the image of Castro’s triumphant gesturing.
In the 1980s America evoked the Monroe Doctrine in Nicaragua, Grenada, El Salvadore, and in prosecuting a drug war against the cocaine cartels of Central and South America. But if it is to hold any meaning beyond simply being a policy of military convenience, the Monroe Doctrine must also be a guide for political pragmatism. Our interests in this hemisphere go far beyond seeing to it that puppet banana republics receive their share of love while antagonists feel our glowering stare.
Had our posturing with Cuba been different these last 15 years, we might not be dealing with the problem of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez; greater economic prosperity throughout the region might have taken hold, giving less motivation for illegal immigration; closer ties and more influence with oil producing countries in the region might have translated to less pain at the pump and, perhaps, a diminished reliance on the troublesome Middle East.
Furthermore, the recent discovery of high quality oil fields in Cuban territorial waters, and the technological ability to drill into these deep water reserves, is exposing our embargo for the sham that it is. Apart from denying American cigar aficionados easy access to rolled Havana leaf, the US suffers no direct effect from that obsolete policy, but earlier this year bills were introduced in both houses of Congress to exempt US oil companies from the embargo, laying bare our attitude on the matter of Cuban relations as nothing more than a 45-year temper tantrum.
While we are generally regarded as the mightiest power on earth, our respect lags on the international stage. Cuba gives us an opportunity to do the right thing. Eighty roses and a sincere Hallmark card from Washington to Havana could be the best foreign policy investment we make.
There’s still time, but not much.

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 11:05 AM | Permalink

<< Back to the Spotlight blog

Mike Spinney's bio
Email Mike Spinney




Get Our Weekly Email Newsletter




What We're Reading - Spot-On Books

Hot Spots - What's Hot Around the Web



Spot-on.com | Promote Your Page Too

Spot-on Main | Pinpoint Persuasion | Spotlight Blog | RSS Subscription | Spot-on Writers | Privacy Policy | Contact Us