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The Cuba Opening: American Foreign Policy Meets Reality

December 18, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

There is a flurry of news media accounts that the United States and Cuba are in talks to restore diplomatic relations. One hopes that such negotiations prove fruitful, thus ending a quarrel that has lasted some fifty-five years and benefited neither country. Restoring diplomatic ties would pave the way for ending the long-standing U.S. economic embargo against the island nation, and that move could be the catalyst for a commercial bonanza. Cuba would become a vacation destination for tens of thousands of American tourists, as it was in the decades before Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. The route between Miami and Havana could become a busy air corridor for commercial flights. Thousands of Cuban exiles and their families in the United States have a powerful incentive to travel back to the island for both business and personal reasons. Without the arbitrary interference resulting from the diplomatic feud and the accompanying U.S. embargo, the two countries are natural economic partners.

Cuba would be the principal beneficiary of normalizing relations. The opening of trade and investment with the vast U.S. economy would make it possible for Cuba to enter the twenty-first century. No longer would images of the island be those of a country stuck in a time warp, with the streets of Havana and other major cities currently being notable for the presence of automobiles from the 1940s and 1950s. Although economic mismanagement by Castro and his associates is the principal reason for that unhappy development, U.S. hostility and the vindictive policies it generated also have played a major role. Normalization of relations would enable Cuba finally to become something more than a large used car museum.

A willingness to restore diplomatic ties with Havana suggests that perhaps the suffocating Wilsonian approach to U.S. diplomacy may finally be weakening.”

But while Cuba would benefit greatly from the end of the bilateral cold war with Washington, the United States would also benefit. The economic gains to America, while relatively modest in the context of a $17 trillion-a-year economy, would be significant. More important, though, normalizing relations with Havana could be an important step in ending a counterproductive approach in overall U.S. foreign policy that has lasted for more than a century.

Until the administration of Woodrow Wilson, the United States generally had a practical, straight-forward approach to relations with foreign countries. Washington maintained diplomatic ties with numerous governments, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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