John Kerry Pushes For A Smarter Cuba Policy

In an op-ed today, John Kerry takes on the useless embargo we have against Cuba:

For nearly 20 years after the fall of Saigon, the Vietnam War took a less bloody but equally hostile form. The United States and Vietnam had no diplomatic relations. Vietnamese assets were frozen. Trade was embargoed. But in 1995 the United States normalized relations with Vietnam. The Cold War had ended, and we even signed a trade deal with a country where 58,000 Americans had given their lives.

The result? A Vietnam that is less isolated, more market-oriented, and, yes, freer — though it has miles to go.

Yet when it comes to a small impoverished island 90 miles off the coast of Florida, we cling to a policy that has manifestly failed for nearly 50 years.

While our Cuba policy has largely stood still, reality has changed dramatically. Today, the Cuban "threat" is a faint shadow, change is afoot in the Cuban leadership, and — importantly — Cuban-Americans increasingly seek broad, far-reaching interaction across the Florida Straits.

We need a Cuba policy that looks forward, brings our strengths to bear, and builds on what works to help the Cuban people shape their country's future.

Democracy in Cuba rightly remains an American policy goal. But for 47 years, our embargo in the name of democracy has produced no democracy at all. Too often, our rhetoric and policies have actually furnished the Castro regime with an all-purpose excuse to draw attention away from its many shortcomings. We have played to Fidel Castro's strengths, not ours.

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