Robb: Obama shouldn't visit Cuba
Robert Robb, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:30 a.m. MST February 24, 2016
I favor normalizing relations with Cuba. But I don't think President
Obama should visit Cuba next month.
The most persuasive reason relations with Cuba should be normalized is
that it is unimportant. Cuba no longer poses a threat to the United
States as a staging platform for the Soviet Union or an exporter of
destabilizing communist rebellion elsewhere.
The Soviet Union no longer exists. Russia is a strategic worry, but it's
not an ideologically-driven expansionary power as was the Soviet Union.
Any geostrategic mischief it might engage in via Cuba would be minor
Russia is economically distressed. It's not in the business of propping
up client states. And Cuba itself is an economic basket case. It doesn't
have the resources to be stirring up trouble elsewhere.
Cuba has authoritarian governance. But the United States has normal
relations with authoritarian regimes throughout the globe. What's the
human rights rationale for boycotting Cuba but doing business with Saudi
Arabia, which has a much more repressive regime?
The fact that Cuba is unimportant is a reason to fully normalize
relations. But it is also a reason not to have a presidential visit.
I'm not one who thinks that a presidential visit should be considered a
diplomatic benefit for the recipient, to be bestowed and withheld
strategically. De-emphasizing the pomp of presidential meetings and
visits would be a good thing.
But if Cuba is unimportant, why a presidential visit? A presidential
visit isn't going to prod Cuba toward economic and human rights reforms.
If those occur, it will be according to organic domestic pressures and
Even when Fidel Castro's Cuba was a threat, the left in the United
States tended to romanticize it. The suspicion is that Obama wants to
visit Cuba before the end of his presidency in part in that spirit.
But that romanticization is as misplaced as the right continuing to see
Cuba in Cold War terms.
The correct approach is to normalize relations with Cuba. And then
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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