Monday, January 17, 2011

Easing Raul

One of my more outlandish predictions of a few weeks ago was that Obama would radically improve relations with Cuba this year.  While so far there's no evidence indicating that specific prediction will happen, there has been some progress made in the policy area.  Although the changes don't make the restrictions any looser than they were under Clinton, they are still improvements upon the Bush years (as so many of Obama's policies are).

As I've pointed out at a blog I post at anonymously (I don't want the cranks following me around the net), U.S. policy towards Cuba is stupid with a capital "S".  Cuba poses no military threat to the U.S., nor does it harbor terrorists that threaten the U.S.  Cuba has a higher level of democratic freedoms than Việt Nam, a country with which the U.S. has normal relations.  In addition, Cuba has roughly the same amount of press freedom, but a much better corruption ranking than Việt Nam.  Cuba's Peace Index score is much higher than that of the United States, though both are lower than Việt Nam.  At the leadership level, Raul Castro seems pretty intent on moving the country towards a more market economy.  Fidel, who was long a polarizing figure (or was long made into one) doesn't seem inclined to stop his brother even though he has mostly recovered from his illness of a few years ago.  While I don't believe that a free market either equals or necessarily leads to democracy, I do think that in the case of Cuba that improvements in one will be hard to separate from improvements from the other.  That is because the cultural similarities between Cuba and the capitalist democracies of the Americas are stronger than those between the East Asian mercantilists and the democracies of the Americas and Europe.

In other words, there is no justifiable reason for the US to continue its current policy of isolating the island nation.  There is, as I noted before, the politics of Florida, but that's a very poor excuse for such a counterproductive policy.  So, hopefully, my prediction will come true, and I will be asking my congresscritters to press the president to make it happen.

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