Dawgnet News, Butler University
By Dan Fair
Dawgnet Staff Writer
Monday, February 20, 2006, 00:00 EST
If any one current policy epitomizes the hypocrisy that has been U.S. foreign policy in the last couple centuries, it is the continued trade embargo on Cuba. President John F. Kennedy established the embargo in 1960 in an attempt to oust Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Since its inception, the policy has proved to be a failure, yet it still lives on.
This continued policy towards Cuba is flawed in several ways.
First, the policy simply doesn’t achieve its objective. It’s been 45 years since the policy was implemented, and we still haven’t rid Cuba of Fidel, despite the best efforts of exploding cigars and the like. It has done nothing in Cuba but contribute to poverty and anti-American support for Fidel. It has hurt civilians substantially more than Fidel’s power.
Also, it demonstrates a massive hypocritical approach to foreign policy only too characteristic of the U.S. Communist China is one of our biggest trading partners.
We’ve even reestablished diplomatic and economic relations with communist Vietnam. So why do we continue to ban trade and travel to Cuba? The reason is because Cuba is communist. Get it now?
Some also argue that the U.S. is still upset with Cuba for stealing some American-owned resorts and hotbeds for oil. This just shows another level of hypocrisy from a country that stole everything west of the Atlantic, not to mention that in Vietnam, killing nearly 60,000 Marines should probably be considered worse than stealing a couple of beach resorts.
The policy also wastes time and money. The U.S. currently has surveillance cameras and undercover agents at Cuban airports to spot U.S. citizens breaking the law and spending money in Cuba. The maximum fine for these treacherous committers of treason is upwards toward $80,000. Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous for visiting a country, communist or not?
Lifting this archaic policy in Cuba benefits everyone. First, both economies could benefit from trade, particularly in agriculture. Obviously, whatever detriment our embargo has had on Cuba, it has not affected Fidel’s power. If Fidel is going to be in power, we might as well trade with Cuba and benefit from them while, more importantly, improving the economy and standard of living of Cuban civilians.
Trading with Cuba could also pull them away from trading partners that are less than supportive of Westerners, like Syria. Ideally, travel and trade with Cuba could instill some sense of democracy amongst the civilians and cause changes to their policies. Unlikely, but possible.
Opponents to lifting the ban say that human rights priorities must come first, and that we should not lift the ban until the gross human rights violations in Cuba stop. I could not agree more that human rights should come first on the list of priorities in Cuba. In 45 years of this policy, however, there has been little to no gain in human rights objectives. Boosting their economy could improve the standard of living and allow civilians to press for more rights. It’s extremely hard to fight for rights when you’re struggling just to get by.
The current policy in Cuba is outdated and a Cold War relic that is a sad reminder and one of the many places where the Cold War was not so cold and of a time when the world held its breath with the fear of nuclear war. As time evolves and world powers shift, so must policy. We won the Cold War, and we’re the only superpower left (for the moment). It’s time for us to move on.