Wednesday, September 05, 2018

US Cuba Policy Under Trump

Dan Erikson has a good discussion of U.S.-Cuban relations. I like this point:

I think that U.S. interests would be best served in Cuba by allowing a much wider swathe of American society to engage with the island. Governments are notoriously bad at picking winners and losers. Having served in the U.S. government, I don’t think we are serving the American people effectively by trying to micromanage how, when, and why they engage with the Cuba people. I think that my fellow citizens are perfectly capable of deciding which church or school or museum to visit, where to travel, and how to best experience Cuba in ways that will build ties of friendship and respect with the Cuban people and lead to positive change.
This has been a major paradox of U.S. Cuba policy, which is that politicians and pundits who speak the loudest about personal freedom from government control are also the loudest about having the government control how you engage with Cubans.

This is also an interesting point:
Even though the Trump Administration has adopted a more aggressive tone regarding Cuba, it often seems kind of perfunctory, like they are phoning it in. Their real passion in the hemisphere is directed towards Venezuela, which of course is connected to Cuba, but has also surpassed it as a U.S. foreign policy focus. As far as I can tell, the U.S. bilateral relationship with Cuba is in suspended animation right now, with a few exceptions.
I tend to agree with this, since there is some hot rhetoric but not much strategy that I can discern. It tinkers with Obama but doesn't roll it back to Bush (though I must say this seems preferable to the Bush policy). Maybe the lack of strategy will change with the naming of well-known anti-Cuba activist Mauricio Claver-Carone to lead Western Hemisphere Affairs on the National Security Council. Donald Trump may or may not give it any bandwidth at all, especially with the Russia investigation taking up his attention. On the other hand, nothing like some harsh foreign policy to get your base excited when you're on the defensive.


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