The Obama Legacy in Cuba

Council on Foreign RelationsMoving fast in his waning months, President Obama concluded he had not done enough to overturn U.S. policy toward Cuba and ensure that his new policies will survive. So he has issued a new “Presidential Policy Directive” that goes even further.

Two things are striking about it. First, what the United States gets in return from the Castro regime is exactly and precisely nothing. This is not a bargained-for exchange; Castro makes no promises, allows no one to get out of prison, does not even make a vague allusion to reform. Nothing. This is because Cuba policy is, for the President, less an exercise in statesmanship than the true product of ideological politics. This policy is a remedy, a medicine, an apology, to make up for what he sees as decades of American sin toward Cuba.

Of course, in Mr. Obama’s imagination “Cuba” means “Castro;” the Cuban people are really not an actor here. The benefits of all the commerce that will now grow go directly to the regime. For example, the hotels that Mr. Obama wishes to fill with American tourists are owned by the Cuban military. No matter, it seems. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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