Obama on U.S./Cuba Policy
At home after getting off the graveyard shift this morning (man do I hate those), I got a chance to read Obama's op-ed piece, and it basically offered nothing much more than the "current approach hasn't worked, it's time to try something new" philosophy.
Marc wrote a very good analysis of the op-ed at Uncommon Sense and I don't really have much more to add to it. I picked up a couple of things that Marc mentions:
#2 is a point that many people fail to mention or forget about our current policy: all it takes for the restrictions to be lifted is for the regime in Cuba to take positive and definite steps towards democracy. Helms/Burton is pretty clear on that. Therefore, Obama is pretty much in lock step with the current policy in this regard.
2.) Obama's linkage of better Cuban behavior, i.e. "If a post-Fidel government begins opening Cuba to democratic change ...," to a softening of what's left of the so-called embargo, is substantively not that different from current American policy, as outlined in the Helms-Burton law, the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba report and elsewhere. He is not calling for a unilateral, unconditional lifting of the embargo. (Obama does not say whether he would lift the embargo if a democratic Cuba elected, say Raul Castro, as president.)
3) There was nothing in the op-ed about the biggest disaster of current U.S. policy on Cuba: Wet-foot, dry-foot. Would he scrap it or keep it in place?
As far as the lifting of travel restrictions, I mostly agree with Marc. I don't think I would go as far as opening up all travel to Cuban-Americans, but the current "once visit every three
years" restriction don't make any sense to me whatsoever. Still, as Marc astutely indicates, lifting restrictions is not the panacea or magic bullet that anti-embargo and anti-restrictions people argue it is.
I've followed Obama closer than the other Democratic candidates not because I would vote for him, but because I believe he's truly sincere and well-intentioned. This doesn't mean he's right, of course, but at least his words on this issue offer an opportunity for sincere debate of the issues, not some incoherent back-and-forth with a pro-castro loon such as what is occasionally presented on shows such as Polos Opuestos.