CUBAN REGIME CHANGE?

From NYT/AP:

Eager to please a key Florida constituency, President Bush directed his secretary of state and his Cuban-born housing secretary Friday to recommend ways to achieve a transition to democracy in Cuba after 44 years under Fidel Castro.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Housing Secretary Mel Martinez will chair a panel that will “plan for the happy day when Castro’s regime is no more and democracy comes to the island,” Bush said during a Rose Garden ceremony.

“The transition to freedom will present many challenges to the Cuban people and to America, and we will be prepared,” the president said.

Bush also said the United States would step up enforcement of existing restrictions against the communist regime, such as a ban on tourism by Americans, and crack down on the trafficking of women and children in Cuba. The United States also will launch a public outreach campaign to identify “the many routes to safe and legal entry” for Cubans who try to flee their homeland, he said.

“We’ll increase the number of new Cuban immigrants we welcome every year,” Bush added. “We are free to do so, and we will for the good of those who seek freedom.”

While both parties are guilty of playing to the Cuban exile vote, this policy is just absurd. While intelligent observers can disagree over the extent to which Saddam Hussein’s regime threatened US interests, there is virtually no argument that Castro is no threat. And there are certainly poorer countries in the world–even the hemisphere–than Cuba. Indeed, our 40-plus-year-old embargo contributes to their poverty. It’s time to put this relic of the Cold War behind us.

FILED UNDER: World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Paul says:

    It’s time to put this relic of the Cold War behind us

    And when Castro quits executing dissidents en masse maybe we can.

    I’m not exactly sure how the policy can be “absurd,” all he is doing is saying that we will enforce existing laws. (well and allow more people in)

    my 2 cents

    P

  2. Jose says:

    “…while both parties are guilty of playing to the Cuban exile vote …”
    Are the parties only guilty when the seek the Cuban-American vote? Does the same standard apply when the parties seek the Jewish or the African American vote? Why the discriminatory difference?

  3. Jose says:

    “…while both parties are guilty of playing to the Cuban exile vote …”
    Are the parties only guilty when the seek the Cuban-American vote? Does the same standard apply when the parties seek the Jewish or the African American vote? Why the discriminatory difference?

  4. James Joyner says:

    Jose,

    When it causes us to alter our foreign policy in adverse ways, yes. And it sometimes does. Clearly, our policy stance in the Arab-Israeli conflict has been affected by diaspora politics. There aren’t too many examples I can think of where the black vote has impacted foreign policy, although arguably our stances on South Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s was one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    James:
    I represented the US at the UN for five years. During that time there hardly was a week when I was not visited by a group of American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds requesting US support for some upcoming UN vote of deep concern to them. The Armenian-Americans came seeking support for a vote against Turkey re genocide. Ditto the Greek-Americans re Cyprus. Irish-Americans came with regards to Northern Ireland. Puerto Ricans came to lobby against a Cuban-inpired resolution declaring the island an American colony. African Americans came with regards to South African apartheid and for the liberation of Nelson Mandela. Nicaraguans came for support against the Sandinista regime. And, given the fixation of the UN on blaming Israel for almost everything that goes wrong in the region, multiple Jewish groups would periodically pass through my office.
    My point is that American ethnic groups seeking the support of their elected representatives is as American as, well, apple pie. It is a traditional and legitimate political behavior and well within the rules of the game. My original point above was that Cuban-Americans have as much right to play by these rules as any other group. And, within a representative democracy such as ours, it would be an anomaly if candidates seeking election would not be “guilty of playing” for the votes of their constituents.
    Jose

  6. Anonymous says:

    James:
    I represented the US at the UN for five years. During that time there hardly was a week when I was not visited by a group of American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds requesting US support for some upcoming UN vote of deep concern to them. The Armenian-Americans came seeking support for a vote against Turkey re genocide. Ditto the Greek-Americans re Cyprus. Irish-Americans came with regards to Northern Ireland. Puerto Ricans came to lobby against a Cuban-inpired resolution declaring the island an American colony. African Americans came with regards to South African apartheid and for the liberation of Nelson Mandela. Nicaraguans came for support against the Sandinista regime. And, given the fixation of the UN on blaming Israel for almost everything that goes wrong in the region, multiple Jewish groups would periodically pass through my office.
    My point is that American ethnic groups seeking the support of their elected representatives is as American as, well, apple pie. It is a traditional and legitimate political behavior and well within the rules of the game. My original point above was that Cuban-Americans have as much right to play by these rules as any other group. And, within a representative democracy such as ours, it would be an anomaly if candidates seeking election would not be “guilty of playing” for the votes of their constituents.
    Jose