President Barack Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism marks another important step towards the normalization of relations with a country that has been thought to be by some as post-cold war concept of the “rogue state”.
In a blog post by the highly respected Brookings Institute and penned by Ted Piccone a senior fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy and Latin America Initiative in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. His research is focused on global democracy and human rights policies; U.S.-Latin American relations, including Cuba; emerging powers; and multilateral affairs. Previously, he served as the acting vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program. He has made the following points —-
The President’s decision to remove Cuba from the dreaded U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism is further demonstration that Obama is convinced that U.S. interests in Cuba are best served through constructive engagement and not onerous sanctions. Now he must persuade Congress.
First and foremost, the Panama Summit will be remembered for cementing the historic process of normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba launched by Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro on December 17. The Panama meeting offered a chance not only for the rest of the region to ratify Obama’s overture to Castro, but to close the books on the Cold War and open a new chapter in inter-American relations. Bill Clinton led the way on this track in the 1990s, but the train got derailed in the 2000s under George W. Bush. The ghosts of Washington’s heavy-handed past, on matters such as the war on drugs, immigration, counter-terrorism, and the hangover of the “Washington consensus,” returned to haunt Obama’s second summit in Cartagena in 2012. The White House was determined to re-set course before sitting through another series of harangues against the sins of the past by delivering important progress on several policy fronts in the months leading up to Panama.
No issue was more representative of U.S. bullying in the region than the decades-old embargo against Cuba. When the region’s presidents said they would not come to Panama unless Cuba was invited as a full participant, the White House was forced to fish or cut bait. Correctly, President Obama chose to fish. The breakthrough of December 17 was rewarded with widespread praise by his counterparts and by publics in both the United States and Cuba. The president’s main task for Panama, then, was to deliver a winning message for the first face-to-face meeting in over five decades of hostilities. MORE..