Cuban reforms are inevitable but the loss of external investment risks economic and social collapse – offering normal trade relations is vital
Ashby 13, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He served in the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration as Director of the Office of Mexico and the Caribbean and acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere(Timothy, "Preserving Stability in Cuba After Normalizing Relations with the United States – The Importance of Trading with State-Owned Enterprises" 3/29/13, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, http://www.coha.org/preserving-stability-in-cuba-timothy-ashby/)//AD
Cuba underRaúlCastro has entered a new period of economic, social, and political transformation.Reforms instituted within the past few years have brought the expansion of private sector entrepreneurial activity, including lifting restrictions on the sales of residential real estate, automobiles, and electronic goods. Additional reforms included, more than a million hectares of idle land has been leased to private farmers, where citizens have been granted permission to stay in hotels previously reserved for tourists, and freedom being granted for most Cubans to travel abroad.
Stating that it was time for the “gradual transfer” of “key roles to new generations,” President Raúl Castro announced that he will retire by 2018, and named as his possible successor a man who was not even born at the time of the Cuban Revolution. 
The twilight of the Castro era presents challenges and opportunities for US policy makers. Normalization of relations is inevitable, regardless of timing, yet external and internal factors may accelerate or retard the process.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is likely to undermine the already dysfunctional Cuban economy, if it leads to reductions in oil imports and other forms of aid. This could bring social chaos, especially among the island’s disaffected youth. Such an outcome would generate adverse consequences for US national and regional security. To maintain Cuba’s social and economic stability while reforms are maturing,the United States must throw itself open to unrestricted bilateral trade with all Cuban enterprises, both private and state-owned.
The collapse of Cuba’s tottering economy could seismically impact the United States and neighboring countries. It certainly did during the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, precipitated by a downturn in the Cuban economy which led to tensions on the island. Over 125,000 Cuban refugees landed in the Miami area, including 3 ls and mental patients. Today, the United States defines its national security interests regarding Cuba as follows:
• Prevent Cuba from becoming a major source or transshipment point for the illegal drug trade;
• Avoid Cuba becoming a state with ungoverned spaces that could provide a platform for terrorists and others wishing to harm the United States. 
All of these national security threats are directly related to economic and social conditions within Cuba.
US policy specifically supports “a market-oriented economic system”  toward Cuba, yet regulations prohibit the importation of any goods of Cuban origin, whether from the island’s potentially booming private sector – including 300,000 agricultural producers – or State-Owned Enterprises (“SOEs”).  Such a policy is counterproductive to US interests. Regardless of over 400,000 entrepreneurs, including agricultural cultivators, it could be many years, if ever, when Cuba’s private sector would be ready to serve as the engine of economic growth. SOEs employ 72 percent of Cuban workers. 
A rational commercial rapprochement towards Cuba 1,000 crimina
would therefore require a change in current laws and in the system of regulations prohibiting the importation of Cuban goods and products. Normalized bilateral trade will benefit the Cuban people by helping to provide economic stability and fostering the growth of a middle class – both of which are essential for the foundation of democratic institutions. Two-way trade must include both Cuba’s private sector as well as SOEs.
Cuban collapse destroys the global war on terror and makes conflicts in hotspots around the globe more likely
Gorrell, 5 - Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, paper submitted for the USAWC STRATEGY RESEARCH PROJECT (Tim, “CUBA: THE NEXT UNANTICIPATED ANTICIPATED STRATEGIC CRISIS?” http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA433074 GWOT=Global War on Terrorism Regardless of the succession, under the current U.S. policy, Cuba’s problems of a post Castro transformation only worsen. In addition to Cubans on the island, there will be those in exile who will return claiming authority. And there are remnants of the dissident community within Cuba who will attempt to exercise similar authority. A power vacuum or absence of order will create the conditions for instability and civil war. Whether Raul or another successor from within the current government can hold power is debatable. However, that individual will nonetheless extend the current policies for an indefinite period, which will only compound the Cuban situation. When Cuba finally collapses anarchy is a strong possibility if the U.S. maintains the “wait and see” approach. The U.S. then must deal with an unstable country 90 miles off its coast. In the midst of this chaos, thousands will flee the island. During the Mariel boatlift in 1980 125,000 fled the island.26 Many were criminals; this time the number could be several hundred thousand fleeing to the U.S., creating a refugee crisis.
Equally important, by adhering to a negative containment policy, the U.S. may be creating its next series of transnational criminal problems. Cuba is along the axis of the drug-trafficking flow into the U.S. from Columbia. The Castro government as a matter of policy does not support the drug trade. In fact, Cuba’s actions have shown that its stance on drugs is more than hollow rhetoric as indicated by its increasing seizure of drugs – 7.5 tons in 1995, 8.8 tons in 1999, and 13 tons in 2000.27 While there may be individuals within the government and outside who engage in drug trafficking and a percentage of drugs entering the U.S. may pass through Cuba, the Cuban government is not the path of least resistance for the flow of drugs. If there were no Cuban restraints, the flow of drugs to the U.S. could be greatly facilitated by a Cuba base of operation and accelerate considerably.
In the midst of an unstable Cuba, the opportunity for radical fundamentalist groups to operate in the region increases. If these groups can export terrorist activity from Cuba to the U.S. or throughout the hemisphere then the war against this extremism gets more complicated. Such activity could increase direct attacks and disrupt the economies, threatening the stability of the fragile democracies that are budding throughout the region. In light of a failed state in the region, the U.S. may be forced to deploy military forces to Cuba, creating the conditions for another insurgency. The ramifications of this action could very well fuel greater anti-American sentiment throughout the Americas. A proactive policy now can mitigate these potential future problems.
U.S. domestic political support is also turning against the current negative policy. The Cuban American population in the U.S. totals 1,241,685 or 3.5% of the population.28 Most of these exiles reside in Florida; their influence has been a factor in determining the margin of victory in the past two presidential elections. But this election strategy may be flawed, because recent polls of Cuban Americans reflect a decline for President Bush based on his policy crackdown. There is a clear softening in the Cuban-American community with regard to sanctions. Younger Cuban Americans do not necessarily subscribe to the hard-line approach. These changes signal an opportunity for a new approach to U.S.-Cuban relations. (Table 1)
The time has come to look realistically at the Cuban issue. Castro will rule until he dies. The only issue is what happens then? The U.S. can little afford to be distracted by a failed state 90 miles off its coast. The administration, given the present state of world affairs, does not have the luxury or the resources to pursue the traditional American model of crisis management. The President and other government and military leaders have warned that the GWOT will be long and protracted. These warnings were sounded when the administration did not anticipate operations in Iraq consuming so many military, diplomatic and economic resources. There is justifiable concern that Africa and the Caucasus region are potential hot spots for terrorist activity, so these areas should be secure. North Korea will continue to be an unpredictable crisis in waiting. We also cannot ignore China. What if China resorts to aggression to resolve the Taiwan situation? Will the U.S. go to war over Taiwan? Additionally, Iran could conceivably be the next target for U.S. pre-emptive action. These are known and potential situations that could easily require all or many of the elements of national power to resolve. In view of such global issues, can the U.S. afford to sustain the status quo and simply let the Cuban situation play out? The U.S. is at a crossroads: should the policies of the past 40 years remain in effect with vigor? Or should the U.S. pursue a new approach to Cuba in an effort to facilitate a manageable transition to post-Castro Cuba?
Hotspots all risk escalation to global nuclear war
David Bosco (a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine) July 2006 “Forum: Keeping an eye peeled for World War III” http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06211/709477-109.stm_
The understanding that small but violent acts can spark global conflagration is etched into the world's consciousness. The reverberations from Princip's shots in the summer of 1914 ultimately took the lives of more than 10 million people, shattered four empires and dragged more than two dozen countries into war.
This hot summer, as the world watches the violence in the Middle East, the awareness of peace's fragility is particularly acute. The bloodshed in Lebanon appears to be part of a broader upsurge in unrest. Iraq is suffering through one of its bloodiest months since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Taliban militants are burning schools and attacking villages in southern Afghanistan as the United States and NATO struggle to defend that country's fragile government. Nuclear-armed India is still cleaning up the wreckage from a large terrorist attack in which it suspects militants from rival Pakistan. The world is awash in weapons, North Korea and Iran are developing nuclear capabilities, and long-range missile technology is spreading like a virus.
Some see the start of a global conflict. "We're in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said recently. Certain religious Web sites are abuzz with talk of Armageddon. There may be as much hyperbole as prophecy in the forecasts for world war. But it's not hard to conjure ways that today's hot spots could ignite.
Consider the following scenarios:
Targeting Iran: As Israeli troops seek out and destroy Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon, intelligence officials spot a shipment of longer-range Iranian missiles heading for Lebanon. The Israeli government decides to strike the convoy and Iranian nuclear facilities simultaneously. After Iran has recovered from the shock, Revolutionary Guards surging across the border into Iraq, bent on striking Israel's American allies. Governments in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia face violent street protests demanding retribution against Israel -- and they eventually yield, triggering a major regional war.
Missiles away: With the world's eyes on the Middle East, North Korea's Kim Jong Il decides to continue the fireworks show he began earlier this month. But this time his brinksmanship pushes events over the brink. A missile designed to fall into the sea near Japan goes astray and hits Tokyo, killing a dozen civilians. Incensed, the United States, Japan's treaty ally, bombs North Korean missile and nuclear sites. North Korean artillery batteries fire on Seoul, and South Korean and U.S. troops respond. Meanwhile, Chinese troops cross the border from the north to stem the flow of desperate refugees just as U.S. troops advance from the south. Suddenly, the world's superpower and the newest great power are nose to nose.
Loose nukes: Al-Qaida has had Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in its sights for years, and the organization finally gets its man. Pakistan descends into chaos as militants roam the streets and the army struggles to restore order. India decides to exploit the vacuum and punish the Kashmir-based militants it blames for the recent Mumbai railway bombings. Meanwhile, U.S. special operations forces sent to secure Pakistani nuclear facilities face off against an angry mob.
The empire strikes back: Pressure for democratic reform erupts in autocratic Belarus. As protesters mass outside the parliament in Minsk, president Alexander Lukashenko requests Russian support. After protesters are beaten and killed, they appeal for help, and neighboring Poland -- a NATO member with bitter memories of Soviet repression -- launches a humanitarian mission to shelter the regime's opponents. Polish and Russian troops clash, and a confrontation with NATO looms.
As in the run-up to other wars, there is today more than enough tinder lying around to spark a great power conflict.The question is how effective the major powers have become at managing regional conflicts and preventing them from escalating. After two world wars and the decades-long Cold War, what has the world learned about managing conflict?
The end of the Cold War had the salutary effect of dialing down many regional conflicts. In the 1960s and 1970s, every crisis in the Middle East had the potential to draw in the superpowers in defense of their respective client states. The rest of the world was also part of the Cold War chessboard. Compare the almost invisible U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo today to the deeply controversial mission there in the early 1960s. (The Soviets were convinced that the U.N. mission was supporting a U.S. puppet, and Russian diplomats stormed out of several Security Council meetings in protest.) From Angola to Afghanistan, nearly every Cold War conflict was a proxy war. Now, many local crises can be handed off to the humanitarians or simply ignored.
But the end of the bipolar world has a downside. In the old days, the two competing superpowers sometimes reined in bellicose client states out of fear that regional conflicts would escalate. Which of the major powers today can claim to have such influence over Tehran or Pyongyang?
Today's world has one great advantage: None of the leading powers appears determined to reorder international affairs as Germany was before both world wars and as Japan was in the years before World War II.
True, China is a rapidly rising power -- an often destabilizing phenomenon in international relations -- but it appears inclined to focus on economic growth rather than military conquest (with the possible exception of Taiwan). Russia is resentful about its fall from superpower status, but it also seems reconciled to U.S. military dominance and more interested in tapping its massive oil and gas reserves than in rebuilding its decrepit military.
Indeed, U.S. military superiority seems to be a key to global stability. Some theories of international relations predict that other major powers will eventually band together to challenge American might, but it's hard to find much evidence of such behavior. The United States, after all, invaded Iraq without U.N. approval and yet there was not even a hint that France, Russia or China would respond militarily.
Independently, enforcing the embargo itself undermines the war on terror
Johnson, et al, 10 – Andy Johnson is a director in the national security program at The Third Way (“End the Embargo of Cuba”, The National Security Program, 9/6/10, http://content.thirdway.org/publications/326/Third_Way_Memo_-_End_the_Embargo_of_Cuba.pdf)//EX
Keeping the embargo in place requires that the US government devote time and resources to fighting a Cold War-era threat. Senator Chris Dodd argued in a 2005 oped that the US spends “extraordinary resources” each year to enforce the sanctions instead of devoting such resources to the fight against terrorism.4 While the financial resources dedicated to enforcing the embargo may be limited compared to resources dedicated to other causes, lifting the Cuban embargo could put the US in a better position to fight terrorist organizations by freeing up resources currently enforcing the embargo.
For example, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which governs travel and trade between the US and Cuba, is also responsible for maintaining sanctions against truly problematic countries, including Iran and North Korea. OFAC also is responsible for responding to economic threats posed by terrorist organizations and narcotics traffickers. By ending OFAC’s need to regulate the Cuban embargo, OFAC could instead devote those resources to respond to the current threats posed by rogue states and terrorist networks.
Cuba also remains on the State Department’s state sponsor of terrorism list along with Iran, Syria, and Sudan,5 despite claims by experts such as former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism Richard Clarke that Cuba is only on the list for domestic political reasons.6 A 1998 report by the US Intelligence Community determined that Cuba does not pose a threat to US national security,7 yet the State Department continues to keep Cuba on the list. By normalizing relations with Cuba and removing Cuba from the list, the State Department could better focus on actual state sponsors of terror and instead use resources in the Western Hemisphere bureau to initiate a new path for engaging Cuba.
Greater focus and resources to counter-terrorism is vital – WMD terrorism risks are increasing
Clark, 13 - Bruce Clarke is a retired Army Colonel with extensive strategic, operational and tactical experience. He is widely published on a myriad of strategic and operational subjects. Immediately prior to his retirement from the Army, Colonel Clarke was the Director of US National Security Studies at the US Army War College (Bruce, The Examiner, “ The end to the war on terrorism--really?” 5/28, http://www.examiner.com/article/the-end-to-the-war-on-terrorism-really)
I have been struck by the response to what my liberal friends call President Obama’s most significant speeches since taking office. They claim that he not only did not simply declare an end to the post-9/11 era. He also offered a vision of America's role in the world that he hopes could be one of his lasting legacies. The vision is one based upon liberal thoughts of law and order and criminal proceedings not one that is based upon national interests.
He argues, they claim, that we should favor energetic diplomacy, foreign aid and more measured responses to terrorism to the active engagement of terrorists in the past. Some have even suggested that he wants to capture terrorists and bring them to the US for trial. Thankfully even his liberal supporters understand the fallacy in this.
Unfortunately this ambitious vision is unattainable because it is not based in the reality that is the world today.To say that it is fraught with risks, and hostage to forces that are out of the president's control would be an understatement.
His poll based attempt to change the agenda (polls show an American war weariness) away from violations of the first amendment, the IRS scandal and Benghazi does not consider:
The toxic civil war in Syria
The extremist threat in Yemen
The American relationship with Pakistan as we seek to withdraw troops from Afghanistan
The increasing threat that is Iran and its proxies – Hezbollah and Hamas
The upcoming Islamic summer both domestically and internationally
The growing tensions created by Chinese attempts to dominate the South China Sea
The increase of Al Qaeda and its affiliated Islamic terrorist groups in North and Central Africa—the French are withdrawing from Mali, but the terrorists are not defeated, only scattered. The President’s claim that Al Qaeda has been defeated is blatantly false according to the RAND Corporation and even some liberal think tanks.
Al Qaeda may be less concentrated than it was in Afghanistan but it is much more widely spread than it was.
North Korea’s, reduced from the recent heights, but still present bellicosity continues
Finally, if all of these problems were solved he has no clear sense of what comes afterward
He made this speech at the same time that the Saudis are concerned about the growing Iranian nuclear threat and overall threat to the region. Every arm chair strategist in Saudi Arabia has a version of the upcoming attack on the kingdom.
Amid all of this uncertainty, it was telling that neither the president in his speech nor his aides afterward made any firm declarations about how his vision would be carried out. For example the vaunted reduction in drone strikes lacked any specificity.
The reality that was not even mentioned in the President’s speech is that the terrorist threat is also likely to last for decades, and it may increase as technology advances. He never mentioned weapons of mass destruction (WMD). WMD in the hands of terrorists is the greatest threat to the US, Israel and our allies around the world! No one should doubt that al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Iran's Revolutionary Guards will use them when they get them.
This risks extinction
Ayson 10 - Professor of Strategic Studies and Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies: New Zealand at the Victoria University of Wellington
(Robert, “After a Terrorist Nuclear Attack: Envisaging Catalytic Effects,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 33.7, InformaWorld)//BB
But these two nuclear worlds—a non-state actor nuclear attack and a catastrophic interstate nuclear exchange—are not necessarily separable. It is just possible that some sort of terrorist attack, and especially an act of nuclear terrorism, could precipitate a chain of events leading to a massive exchange of nuclear weapons between two or more of the states that possess them. In this context, today’s and tomorrow’s terrorist groups might assume the place allotted during the early Cold War years to new state possessors of small nuclear arsenals who were seen as raising the risks of a catalytic nuclear war between the superpowers started by third parties. These risks were considered in the late 1950s and early 1960s as concerns grew about nuclear proliferation, the so-called n+1 problem. It may require a considerable amount of imagination to depict an especially plausible situation where an act of nuclear terrorism could lead to such a massive inter-state nuclear war. For example, in the event of a terrorist nuclear attack on the United States, it might well be wondered just how Russia and/or China could plausibly be brought into the picture, not least because they seem unlikely to be fingered as the most obvious state sponsors or encouragers of terrorist groups. They would seem far too responsible to be involved in supporting that sort of terrorist behavior that could just as easily threaten them as well. Some possibilities, however remote, do suggest themselves. For example, how might the United States react if it was thought or discovered that the fissile material used in the act of nuclear terrorism had come from Russian stocks,40 and if for some reason Moscow denied any responsibility for nuclear laxity? The correct attribution of that nuclear material to a particular country might not be a case of science fiction given the observation by Michael May et al. that while the debris resulting from a nuclear explosion would be “spread over a wide area in tiny fragments, its radioactivity makes it detectable, identifiable and collectable, and a wealth of information can be obtained from its analysis: the efficiency of the explosion, the materials used and, most important … some indication of where the nuclear material came from.”41 Alternatively, if the act of nuclear terrorism came as a complete surprise, and American officials refused to believe that a terrorist group was fully responsible (or responsible at all) suspicion would shift immediately to state possessors. Ruling out Western ally countries like the United Kingdom and France, and probably Israel and India as well, authorities in Washington would be left with a very short list consisting of North Korea, perhaps Iran if its program continues, and possibly Pakistan. But at what stage would Russia and China be definitely ruled out in this high stakes game of nuclear Cluedo? In particular, if the act of nuclear terrorism occurred against a backdrop of existing tension in Washington’s relations with Russia and/or China, and at a time when threats had already been traded between these major powers, would officials and political leaders not be tempted to assume the worst? Of course, the chances of this occurring would only seem to increase if the United States was already involved in some sort of limited armed conflict with Russia and/or China, or if they were confronting each other from a distance in a proxy war, as unlikely as these developments may seem at the present time. The reverse might well apply too: should a nuclear terrorist attack occur in Russia or China during a period of heightened tension or even limited conflict with the United States, could Moscow and Beijing resist the pressures that might rise domestically to consider the United States as a possible perpetrator or encourager of the attack? Washington’s early response to a terrorist nuclear attack on its own soil might also raise the possibility of an unwanted (and nuclear aided) confrontation with Russia and/or China. For example, in the noise and confusion during the immediate aftermath of the terrorist nuclear attack, the U.S. president might be expected to place the country’s armed forces, including its nuclear arsenal, on a higher stage of alert. In such a tense environment, when careful planning runs up against the friction of reality, it is just possible that Moscow and/or China might mistakenly read this as a sign of U.S. intentions to use force (and possibly nuclear force) against them. In that situation, the temptations to preempt such actions might grow, although it must be admitted that any preemption would probably still meet with a devastating response.
The unconditional offer of normal trade relations boosts US-Cuban relations and fosters a stable transition
Koenig, 10 – US Army Colonel, paper submitted for a Masters in Strategic Studies at the US Army War College (Lance, “Time for a New Cuba Policy” http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA518130)
The option with the greatest possibility of success and reward for the United States is to support the Cuban people, but not the Cuban government. The United States should take the following actions unilaterally:
• Lift completely the economic embargo. Establish banking and financial relationships to facilitate the trading of goods and services between the two countries.
• Lift completely the travel ban to allow not only Cuban-Americans with relatives but also all other Americans to travel to Cuba. This interaction of Americans with Cubans will help raise the awareness of Cubans about their northern neighbor.
• Next, the United States should engage the Cuban government to develop a bilateral trade agreement. The goal of this initiative would be to achieve normal trade relations between the two countries.
This leaves the issue of compensation for United States companies and individuals whose property was expropriated by the Cuban government. With the embargo lifted, the United States should enlist the assistance of the European Union and Canada to apply pressure to Cuba as well as to assist in negotiations with the World Trade Organization to address issues with illegally confiscated property.36 The United States will gain leverage with the Cuban government as relations improve, and that will be the time to address human rights in Cuba. The return of the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban spies arrested and convicted in Florida, should be worth some human rights concessions. In Cuba, these men are known as the “Cinco Heroes” and their plight is well known.37
So what leverage do we have now that we have unilaterally given the Cuban government most of what they have wanted? Offer to return back to Cuba the Guantanamo Naval Base after the government of Cuba shifts towards a representative orm of government. The foundation for this action has already been laid with the Libertad Act. “The future of the Guantanamo base, a provision in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 states that once a democratically elected Cuban government is in place, United States policy is to be prepared to enter into negotiations either to return the base to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutually agreeable terms.” 38 The United States Congress should soften the language referring to a democratically elected government and instead substitute that a representative form of government is required before entering into negotiations for the Guantanamo base.
Once Cuba makes changes towards a representative form of government the United States can start working on democratic reforms. The carrot is to offer Cuba, in exchange for changes to a democratic form of government, support for their return to the Organization of American States (OAS). Until Cuba makes changes towards democracy, the United States should block the request of several member states to let Cuba into the organization. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it well in a recent interview. “Many member countries originally sought to lift the 1962 suspension and allow Cuba to return immediately, without conditions, others agreed with us that the right approach was to replace the suspension — which has outlived its purpose after nearly half a century — with a process of dialogue and a future decision that will turn on Cuba’s commitment to the organization’s values.”39 These values include promoting democracy and defending human rights.
The window of opportunity is open now for this type of change. The Obama administration has taken some steps in this direction with the lifting of remittance limits, unlimited visits to relatives in Cuba, and the ability to provide cell phones to relatives in Cuba. The other recent change is the new majority of Cuban-Americans, in Florida, that support removal of the embargo. Based on votes in the United Nations and the European Union it is clear that world opinion would definitely be supportive of this action. The combination of the above mentioned events now points to an opportunity to make real progress that will benefit both nations. The United States would gain in soft power, gain an additional economic trading partner, and have a chance to influencethe type ofchanges in the Cuban government as the Castro influence wanes. Clearly, support to the Cuban people will indirectly provide support to the Cuban government, but that could work against the regime as well if the people realize that improvements in their living conditions are not the result of communism, but from the interaction with the capitalist world.
There is a sound reason for unilaterally lifting the trade and travel embargoes without first seeing positive actions from the Cuban government. From Cuba expert Carlos A. Saladrigas, Co-Chairman, Cuba Study Group, “We can go back in the history -- in the 50-year history of United States-Cuba relations and clearly see that any time we begin to see a little bit of relaxation of tensions in the relationship, whenever we begin to see a little bit of openness on the part of the United States or Cuba, historically the Cuban government has done something to counteract that trend and significantly revert back to their playbook.” 40 The United States needs to take the initiative away from the Castro regime, and have them react to actions they have publicly called for (removal of the embargo), but in reality are unsure of the second and third order effects and their ability to control the outcome.
One of the first problems for the Cuban government after the removal of the embargo will be the excuse for the poor performing economy. “… the embargo and the United States policy of confrontation and isolation have been incredibly useful to the Cuban regime as an alibi for the failures of the regime to meet the fundamental needs of the people on the island, but also is a significant source of legitimacy, both internal and external.” 41 This situation may present the United States with the opportunity to step in to assist with market reforms if the Cuban economy sputters and the government realizes they don’t have a scapegoat.
The efforts expended by the United States to keep the embargo effective, the loss of trade, and the loss of soft power in most of the world are clearly not worth it in comparison to the threat that Cuba poses today. The gains to be achieved by following any path other than the unilateral removal of the economic and travel embargoes are small in comparison to the overall costs of continuing the current failed policy. The United States is losing far too much soft power in its efforts to punish and isolate the government of Cuba. American firms could be left out of any economic gains as Cuba continues to grow its economy. As Cuba emerges from the economic difficulties of the last two decades, the United States has an opportunity to influence the future direction of our southern neighbor. The current United States policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances United States interests.42
The United States cannot afford to miss out on the window of opportunity to affect a positive change in the relationship with Cuba. If Cuba is able to continue on a path of economic progress and emerge once again as a true regional power, with communism intact, the United States will be the loser in this half century struggle. Cuba is spreading its limited influence to Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, and will be ready to bring in any other countries in the Americas that want to move away from the United States orbit. The United States can’t stand by and watch Cuba regain strength, intact as a communist country, but must take this opportunity to create an inflection point for Cuba that guides her onto a path that will benefit the nations of the Americas.