Our writers then offer a succession of proposals for cooperation in military affairs and law enforcement, health research and hurricane preparedness, energy development and migration policy, commerce and academic exchange, and for reuniting Cuban families — to build trust back into the U.S.-Cuba relationship. Most of these ideas require nothing more than political will to implement them. We’re not recommending talk for its own sake. Cooperation in these fields will give political leaders in both countries the confi-
PREFACE 9 dence they need to close this fifty-year chasm of mistrust, so we can finally engage in the difficult negotiations that will bring this conflict to an end. This is how President Obama can break the diplomatic deadlock with Cuba. Of course, the last defenders of the embargo will try and stop him. They’ll disparage the very idea of talking to Cuba. They’ll call it capit- ulation to communism. They’ll warn Obama: “If you talk to the Castros today, they will deceive you or embarrass you tomorrow.” For them, Cuba is a problem without a solution. But they’re wrong. For more than a generation, American soldiers and scientists, aca- demics and activists, never stopped trying to keep the conversation going, and they overcame the resistance of American policy and domestic politics to build productive relationships with their Cuban counterparts. Now is the time for their government to join them. It is time for us to talk to Cuba. This is the course that President Obama should follow. Set aside the Cold War hatreds and the rhetoric; and step by step, let a free exchange of ideas lead to normalized travel and trade, and then offer the United States and Cuba the chance to live together as neighbors. Were he to take this step, the impact would be dramatic, and not just on the island. Ending the embargo would be an unmistakable sig- nal to Latin America that the United States will no longer view the region through the Cuba lens, and it will also send a powerful mes- sage that our nation is ready to embrace this world not as we found it in 1959 but as it exists today.
Introduction: The Case for Changing U.S. Policy Alan M. Webber U nited States-Cuba policy, after enduring fifty years as an unre- solved standoff, has finally and formally reached the end of its usefulness. Now at this defining moment, a new American adminis- tration has the opportunity to devise a new policy toward Cuba, one that elevates authentic U.S. interests and emerging global realities over obsolete ideology. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. committed itself to a “no use of force” policy, agreeing not to invade Cuba militarily. U.S. strat- egy has instead used a strict and unyielding economic embargo — the only policy tool available aside from covert operations — to create conditions that would lead people within Cuba to rise up and over- throw the government of Fidel and Raúl Castro, and replace it with a democratically-elected government.