Global Independent Analytics

Obama's Cuban revolution

What are the chances that after Obama's visit to Cuba the relations will be reset and reopened in a new, friendly way?

Edward-Isaac Dovere in his article for Politico discusses recent Obama’s visit to Havana and its future geopolitical consequences for the world.

Somehow Obama, using the force of his personality, managed to move towards normalized relations with Cuba. It is a rare instance when a president can start and nearly finish such a task within his own time in the office. Despite resistance and without cooperation from Congress Obama still successfully pursued the Cuba reopening.

Dovere continues: “The detractors point to the dissidents arrested and rearrested in the days leading up to this trip, all while the Castro government has slapped back at the idea that Obama will be able to use the trip to get it to change. On the contrary, they’ve said Obama’s arrival will be proof that the human rights abuses they’ve been accused of must not exist, because otherwise he wouldn’t have come.

But even that attests to the force of Obama’s presence. In Havana, the big deal isn’t just that an American president is visiting again, the first time since Calvin Coolidge arrived by battleship in 1928. It’s not that Air Force One will land.

It’s that Obama will walk out.”

However, he remains rather reluctant to what will happen after January 20, when the President’s chair will be taken by one of his successors; that is why he has not gotten deep into post-presidency planning. Some say that he will work on a book and travel freely, something that he was not able to do having the weight of official U.S. policy.

“He’s the most popular political leader in the world outside of the U.S., with a star power, a mega power that will enable him to play important roles in conflict resolution, rescuing political prisoners and peacekeeping and dealing with different countries,” said Bill Richardson, the former United Nations ambassador and governor of New Mexico, and the only candidate in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries who agreed with Obama then when he talked about changing tactics on Cuba, cites Dovere.

Cubans, who have experienced news blackout fully, know little about Obama’s presidency. However, that was before they saw his speech announcing the reopening of the relationship on state television in December 2014. The speech was followed by another speech in April 2015 when Obama shook hands with Raul Castro. The Cubans also had a chance to compare different approaches: Raul held an open position, unlike usual anti-American stance.

The single independent poll which took place after their meeting demonstrated that Obama’s popularity among Cubans rapidly increased and stayed at that level for months. The only person who could compete with Obama in numbers in Cuba was the Pope.

Obama will reap the fruits of his recent visits in the next few days, trying to make normalization the new reality back in Washington. Besides that, Cuba’s Seventh Communist Party will hold a convention in April, where new economic and political reforms will be discussed.

What is more important not only for those administration members, who accompanied Obama on his trip but also to those, who have yet only privately indicated support, is Obama’s point on the issue: the question is when not if.

 Dovere assumes: “It’s because the Cuba policy fits in to Obama’s overall approach that has some of the detractors complaining. Like with the Iran deal, they see Obama too willing to sign on with dictators for the sake of racking up an imaginary accomplishment that they say will cost America in the end.

And that’s not even getting into the symbolism of being on the same island as Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has disappointed his own party by failing to close yet and is enraging the Republicans by telegraphing that he’ll close it on his own authority before he finishes. (American officials have insisted that it’s not on the table at all in discussions on this trip.)”

Even the House Republicans expressed their optimism regarding this trip and its future results: in one big move Obama reset relations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Analysts say that with Cuba off the table, the left in Latin America no more will be a subject of scapegoating, and Cuban tourism will eventually attract a lot of money.

“But Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass urged people against making too much out of Cuba, or how it reflects Obama’s larger philosophy of engagement and breaking convention.

“It may work here for a unique set of reasons, but when he tried it in the Middle East from the Cairo speech on, it didn’t work—on steroids,” Haass said.

Nonetheless, Haass said, for all the history of Cuba in the world and the American psyche, at this point the nation is so isolated politically and economically that Obama’s got leeway.

“Even if this approach doesn’t succeed,” Haass said, “it’s not as if it’s an enormous geopolitical risk,” concludes Dovere.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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