President Obama today announced that the United States would take steps to normalize relations with Cuba, resuming trade and economic ties and opening a U.S. embassy in Havana.
Obama said the change was needed and just because the old policy of walling Cuba off had not dislodged the Castros from power.
“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Obama said in remarks from the White House. “These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work.”
Obama pointed to “a younger generation of Cuban Americans” who are less supportive of the old policy, and said that “neither the American nor the Cuban people are well served” by it.
The president said he would have acted sooner if not for the imprisonment in Cuba of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was released today. The United States also exchanged three Cuban spies in our custody for an American spy who had been imprisoned for years in Cuba.
Some Republicans were quick to voice their opposition.
“The President’s decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable. Cuba’s record is clear,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“This is an incredibly bad idea,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Democrats seemed mostly supportive, except for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who said Obama’s decision had “vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”
Writing in the Weekly Standard, Elliott Abrams said America’s sudden rapprochement with its enemy will chill allies around the world, especially with respect to Iran and the possibility that Obama will try to normalize relations with the Ayatollahs.
The American collapse with respect to Cuba will have repercussions in the Middle East and elsewhere—in Asia, for the nations facing a rising China, and in Europe, for those near Putin’s newly aggressive Russia. What are American guarantees and promises worth if a fifty-year-old policy followed by Democrats like Johnson, Carter, and Clinton can be discarded overnight? In more than a few chanceries the question that will be asked as this year ends is “who is next to find that America is today more interested in propitiating its enemies than in protecting its allies?”
Updates may follow . . .