A Small Step Towards Sanity and the High Road
Other than raw vindictiveness, there is no reason to view this as anything other than an unqualified good, no matter what your attitude towards the Castro regime. It’s a small step, only easing the tight restrictions on groups already permitted to travel to Cuba, but a step nonetheless.
It continues to amaze me that even this small step in the right direction is fraught with political peril, meaning that there remains a tremendous political constituency for whom vindictiveness and the “low road” approach remains an end unto itself without any consideration for whether that approach is actually capable of achieving the purported end of bringing down the Castro regime.
The embargo against Cuba is a particularly egregious example of the failure of the “low road.” It has been in place now for 50 years with the purported goal of “putting pressure” on the Castro regime and ideally of forcing that regime to stand down. Indeed, this may well have made sense at first, at least if you buy into the notion that the “low road” of trade embargoes actually “puts pressure” on the target regime and can force it out of power. After all, Cuba lies just miles off the Florida coast and by all accounts Cuba’s economy should be uniquely dependent on the economic behemoth that lies to its North.
But 50 years later, what is there to show for all of this? Is the Castro regime any less secure than it was in 1960? Obviously not. Are the people of Cuba better off in any sense of the word as a result of the embargo? Again, the obvious answer is a resounding “NO.” To the contrary, Cuba – along with our other senior citizen age embargo target, North Korea – remains one of the last remnants of the Cold War.
Yet we continue to value the vindictiveness of the “low road” so much that the most that is politically feasible is the loosening of restrictions on people who are already permitted to travel to Cuba. It makes us feel good to know that we are trying to punch our sworn enemies, the Castro brothers. So we keep throwing the punches, missing with every blow, tiring ourselves out in the process, and connecting only on the Cuban people sitting ringside. Needless to say, this doesn’t do much to get those ringside spectators to start shouting “ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!” Quite the opposite I’d imagine.
Still we refuse to consider even the possibility that the high road is the solution, and if not the solution, will at least be an improvement over the status quo. At the bare minimum, we’d all be able to enjoy a fine Cuban cigar again with the knowledge that buying that cigar maybe made some laborer in Havana a little bit better off while doing absolutely nothing to strengthen the Castros’ position, or at least no more than the lost cigar purchases under the embargo are strengthening the Castros’ positon.