Paul Haven 2013 6/21 (Associated Press) “Cuba, US try talking, but face many obstacles”
To be sure, there is still far more that separates the long-time antagonists than unites them. The State Department has kept Cuba on a list of state sponsors of terrorism and another that calls into question Havana’s commitment to fighting human trafficking. The Obama administration continues to demand democratic change on an island ruled for more than a half century by Castro and his brother Fidel. For its part, Cuba continues to denounce Washington’s 51-year-old economic embargo. And then there is Gross, the 64-year-old Maryland native who was arrested in 2009 and is serving a 15-year jail sentence for bringing communications equipment to the island illegally. His case has scuttled efforts at engagement in the past, and could do so again, U.S. officials say privately. Cuba has indicated it wants to trade Gross for four Cuban agents serving long jail terms in the United States, something Washington has said it won’t consider. Ted Henken, a professor of Latin American studies at Baruch College in New York who helped organize a recent U.S. tour by Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, said the Obama administration is too concerned with upsetting Cuban-American politicians and has missed opportunities to engage with Cuba at a crucial time in its history. “I think that a lot more would have to happen for this to amount to momentum leading to any kind of major diplomatic breakthrough,” he said. “Obama should be bolder and more audacious.” Even these limited moves have sparked fierce criticism by those long opposed to engagement. Cuban-American congressman Mario Diaz Balart, a Florida Republican, called the recent overtures “disturbing.”
Lifting the embargo would send a signal of indecisiveness and weakness.
José Raúl Perales 2010 August “The United States and Cuba: Implications of an Economic Relationship” (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Latin American Program, Senior Program Associate)
According to Sánchez, one of the main reasons for the establishment of the U.S. embargo against Cuba was neither Cold War calculations nor Cuban Americans’ angst. Rather, it was the fact that the Cuban regime had expropriated assets belonging to U.S. businesses and citizens. Additionally, while the embargo became law in 1962, it can be said to only have truly begun in 1992. Up until President George H.W. Bush signed the Cuban Democracy Act in 1992, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies (such as Coca-Cola México, for example) were allowed to do business with Cuba. On top of this, with the Soviet Union as its benefactor, Cuba was receiving over USD $6 billion in aid per annum throughout this period. Sánchez proposed that if one thinks of the embargo as effectively beginning in 1992, then it has actually been quite successful. From 1992 until 2000—when Cuba located another foreign benefactor—the regime was forced to make positive changes: the economy was dollarized, assets were sold off, and foreign investment was pursued. This is not to say that the embargo’s status quo is preferable, but just that the ineffectiveness of the embargo is overstated. The U.S. embargo may need to be changed; however Sánchez vehemently opposed its complete elimination. The Helms-Burton Act created a clear roadmap stipulating the conditions by which the embargo could be suspended and ended. These include: legalization of political activity, the release of all political prisoners, dissolution of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior’s Department of State Security, establishment of an independent judiciary, and a government that does not include the Castro brothers. Only when these conditions are met and democracy is reestablished should the embargo be scrapped. Elimination of the embargo prior to meeting these conditions will rightly be perceived as weakness in the face of political pressure. For instance, the Obama administration has little intention of signing a free trade agreement with Colombia—a staunch ally with whom the United States has a very positive economic relationship—because of concern over the country’s inadequate labor rights. Imagine the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy were it to punish a consolidated democracy with strong, albeit imperfect, labor rights, yet capitulate and reward the Cuban government for systematically abusing labor rights. What sort of message would that send to the world?
That destroys U.S. credibility
Bolton, 2009 (John Bolton, Senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, LA Times, “The danger of Obama's dithering” October 18, articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/18/opinion/oe-bolton18)
Weakness in American foreign policy in one region often invites challenges elsewhere, because our adversaries carefully follow diminished American resolve. Similarly, presidential indecisiveness, whether because of uncertainty or internal political struggles, signals that theUnited States may not respond to international challenges in clear and coherent ways. Taken together, weakness and indecisiveness have proved historically to be a toxic combination for America's global interests. That is exactly the combination we now see under President Obama. If anything, his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize only underlines the problem. All of Obama's campaign and inaugural talk about "extending an open hand" and "engagement," especially the multilateral variety, isn't exactly unfolding according to plan. Entirely predictably, we see more clearly every day that diplomacy is not a policy but only a technique. Absent presidential leadership, which at a minimum means clear policy direction and persistence in the face of criticism and adversity, engagement simply embodies weakness and indecision. Obama is no Harry Truman. At best, he is reprising Jimmy Carter. At worst, the real precedent may be Ethelred the Unready, the turn-of the-first-millennium Anglo-Saxon king whose reputation for indecisiveness and his unsuccessful paying of Danegeld -- literally, "Danish tax" -- to buy off Viking raiders made him history's paradigmatic weak leader. Beyond the disquiet (or outrage for some) prompted by the president's propensity to apologize for his country's pre-Obama history, Americans increasingly sense that his administration is drifting from one foreign policy mistake to another. Worse, the current is growing swifter, and the threats more pronounced, even as the administration tries to turn its face away from the world and toward its domestic priorities. Foreign observers, friend and foe alike, sense the same aimlessness and drift. French President Nicolas Sarkozy had to remind Obama at a Sept. 24 U.N. Security Council meeting that "we live in the real world, not a virtual one."
Makes laundry list of global conflicts inevitable
Victor Davis Hanson (professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution) December 2009 Change, Weakness, Disaster, Obama” http://pjmedia.com/blog/change-weakness-disaster-obama-answers-from-victor-davis-hanson/
BC: Are we currently sending a message of weakness to our foes and allies? Can anything good result from President Obama’s marked submissiveness before the world? Dr. Hanson: Obama is one bow and one apology away from a circus. The world can understand a kowtow gaffe to some Saudi royals, but not as part of a deliberate pattern. Ditto the mea culpas. Much of diplomacy rests on public perceptions, however trivial. We are now in a great waiting game, as regional hegemons, wishing to redraw the existing landscape — whether China, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria, etc. — are just waiting to see who’s going to be the first to try Obama — and whether Obama really will be as tenuous as they expect. If he slips once, it will be 1979 redux, when we saw the rise of radical Islam, the Iranian hostage mess, the communist inroads in Central America, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, etc. BC: With what country then — Venezuela, Russia, Iran, etc. — do you believe his global repositioning will cause the most damage? Dr. Hanson: I think all three. I would expect, in the next three years, Iran to get the bomb and begin to threaten ever so insidiously its Gulf neighborhood; Venezuela will probably cook up some scheme to do a punitive border raid into Colombia to apprise South America that U.S. friendship and values are liabilities; and Russia will continue its energy bullying of Eastern Europe, while insidiously pressuring autonomous former republics to get back in line with some sort of new Russian autocratic commonwealth. There’s an outside shot that North Korea might do something really stupid near the 38th parallel and China will ratchet up the pressure on Taiwan. India’s borders with both Pakistan and China will heat up. I think we got off the back of the tiger and now no one quite knows whom it will bite or when.