During the campaign, candidate Obama spoke of easing restrictions on the ability of Cuban-Americans to travel back to their ancestral island and to send money to relatives living under Castro’s thumb–small steps that nevertheless offered a welcome change to the confused and antiquated US policy toward Cuba’s communist regime. But the realization that things have gone terribly wrong is not exclusive to Democrats. Today, Richard Lugar, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will release a staff report critical of decades of misguided and often counterproductive US policy vis-a-vis Cuba. (Thanks go to Steve Clemons for posting an early draft.) The report is shocking in its indictment of past approaches and offers a real opportunity for bipartisan cooperation on righting one of US foreign policy’s most self-defeating wrongs.
From the report:
Economic sanctions are a legitimate tool of U.S. foreign policy, and they have sometimes achieved their aims, as in the case of apartheid South Africa.
After 47 years, however, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of “bringing democracy to the Cuban people,” while it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further sacrifices from Cuba’s impoverished population.
The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests.
Photo used under a Creative Commons license from peamasher.