Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Another important step in reopening Cuba-American relations

The Obama administration announced this afternoon that it had removed Cuba from the list of terrorism-sponsoring nations, another step toward normalization between the United States and its small Caribbean neighbor.

It of course drew the expected responses.

From Jeb Bush:

"Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba's destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana. Today's news is further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them. Iran's leaders are surely taking note."

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of Cuban-American heritage, have been even more critical of the thawing in relations, with Cruz calling it a tragedy and Rubio describing it as ridiculous. Such arguments are just dumb -- flatout dumb.

By all accounts, Cuban support for anything that might accurately be described as terrorism ended at least a quarter-century ago. (The U.S. side of the terrorism ledger isn't exactly clean either). More importantly, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, again more than a quarter-century ago, and communism as an international threat collapsed with it.

Let it go, people. Move on. It is beneath us as a country to continue to treat Cuba as our personal little whipping boy.

True, the Cuban government remains repressive, with significant restrictions on economic and religious freedom as well as on free speech. But progress has been made, and we certainly have diplomatic relations -- in some cases close diplomatic and economic relations -- with countries with a much worse and much more recent record. The idea that Cuba represents some threat to the United States or world order is by this point absurd.

And most people understand that. Poll after poll has found that some 60 percent of Americans are now ready to open a new chapter with Cuba and re-establish relations. Even among Cuban-Americans in south Florida, more than half now support ending the embargo. Sixty-eight percent of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County support a reopening of diplomatic relations. And 71 percent of Cuban Americans in south Florida say the embargo has been a failure. They too recognize that while it has probably hurt the standard of living of the Cuban people, it has had no discernible effect on the stability of the Castro regime.

Unfortunately, though, that embargo remains in place and can only be ended by an act of Congress. That isn't likely under current leadership.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.