Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cuba: The Legacy that Bush Forgot.

When Raul Castro assumed the reins of power from his ailing brother in late February many, including myself, were little moved and less than surprised. Indeed, I imagined a continuation of the elder brother's near half century rule with Raul being an extension of Castro's "revolution." And yet despite Raul's assertions that he would "continue strengthening the revolution," he's taken a comparatively moderate stance and moved in directions as yet unseen, liberalizing domestic restrictions that his brother upheld. A few items of note:

  • Yesterday saw the opening of luxury hotels and resorts, previously restricted to tourists, to all Cubans.

Certainly these developments are far from revolutionary, in fact they're the smallest steps away from the rigid isolationist rule of Cuba's preceding dictator. They are, however, steps in the right direction and could provide a small bit of kindling for re-instating US/Cuban diplomatic relations. Aside from Canada and Mexico, Cuba remains America's closest neighbor by proximity, and normalized relations could benefit both countries enormously and prove a small saving grace to President Bush's rather lackluster legacy.

Instead Bush is currently relying on:

  • The Iraq War, the outcome of which is decidedly questionable. Certainly the possibility remains that we'll see victory, but very likely said victory will be seen as the crowning achievement of a future administration.

  • The recent, sudden and intense interest in the seemingly obligatory Israeli/Palestinian drama is, at best, too little and too late. Further, the idea of a "two state solution" when one potential state is essentially fractured into two opposing non-states lends one to consider the time frame for resolution to be well beyond that of Bush's quickly dwindling time in executive command.

  • The Afghan War. I'll reach a bit here and assume that the latest push to further swell the ranks of NATO is directly related to the long term outcome of Afghanistan. Again, long term and so beyond the scope of Bush's tenure. Further, should the Afghan conflict be resolved in a positive fashion, I'd argue it will entail as much the inclusive actions of Pakistan's new government as those of NATO and American forces. Long story short: The new Paki government doesn't see the demise of Al Qaeda as a threat to conditional military funding from the US.

Certainly Raul Castro's leniency isn't without restriction, either economically (few Cubans can afford the luxury hotels and high def. tv's) or politically (cell phone usage will still be restricted via cell-cams and image transfers) but as I said it's a start. Why the Bush administration isn't all over this possible chance for an historic change in two steadfast enemy states policy toward each other is beyond me. Why allow such a close neighbor to fall further under the spell of Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian dreams of Latin American hegemony?

image via abcnews


Ymarsakar said...

America gave away the land of Cuba at least twice. They have little interest in it except to use it as a naval base.

Oil and the Middle East, with the Arab mentality and skill sets, are far more valuable as Bush sees it, to America's long term image and force projection capabilities.

Chavez, like all Hitlers and Stalins, will only push if they think they will get away with it. Iraq and Afghanistan will decide how far people think they can push America and get away with it.

G said...

This is a good post Jay.

I wonder if there was an underground phone phreak/hacker type movement in Cuba that tried to break in and use the mobile cells within the country?

Jay@Soob said...

I'm speaking less in terms of geo-political efficacy and more in line with the Bush administrations rather dour legacy. While normalized relations with Cuba wouldn't exactly be a saving grace for the Bush legacy it would at least be a silver lining. Further, as the policies of Hugo Chavez continue to catch up to him and destabilize his regime the symbolic quality of a normalized and quasi-capitalistic Cuba could be the final kick in the ass that Venezuela needs to unseat him. So I'd have to disagree with your assertion that Cuba is of little more importance than that of naval strategy.

Munz, to my knowledge the only resistance to Cuba's cell phone restrictions was a network in which the haves (Cubans who were allowed the cell phones) formed something of an umbrella for various havenots by including them in their cell plans. I.E. Cuban A (the privileged chap) has five or six cell phones that he lends out to un-privileged Cubans B,C,D,E, and F.