Today President Obama moved to normalize relations with Cuba. I am going to shock some people who may assume they think they know what I think; I applaud President Obama's action to normalize relations with Cuba.
This is a bold step and in my view about 35 years late. Cuba, along with North Korea, are the last two real Communist Countries left in the world. Sure, there are still several other one-party states ruled by a Communist party but they are no longer totalitarian. There are Communist parties ruling these countries but they are not Communist countries. They are authoritarian states. They may exercise absolute political power but not totalitarian authority. A totalitarian state allows no other spheres of influence. In a totalitarian state, thought control is exercised and the state must suppress the influence of family, religion, economy, and arts. Every function of society must serve the state.
There is a difference between being a state where all political power is held by a single party and a state which controls absolutely every aspect of person's life. Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, and Ho Chi Migh's Vietnam were totalitarian. Not so today. Russia is no longer communist at all, of course. In China and Vietnam, there is a thriving private sector in those countries and there is room for different points of view, different taste, access to other ideas and an opportunity for entrepreneurship and pursuit of happiness. China has millionaires. People can read western books and watch western movies and their is glamour and fashion and pre-communist culture is not suppressed.
Even before the end of he Cold War, some countries of Eastern Europe had already essentially abandoned Communism as an economic theory. The agriculture sectors had already been reprivatized in many countries, because otherwise the Communist could not freed their people. People were wanting consumer goods and little by little countries like Yugoslavia and some others were beginning to change.
Actually, I think the time to lift the Cuban embargo would have been about a year after the fall of the Berlin wall. Once Cuban lost their mentor and benefactor the Soviet Union, I think it would have been impossible for Cuban to remain doctrinaire Communist, if we would have ended our embargo. With contract with the outside world and visitors wanting to spend money in Cuba, and Cubans' with money wanting to spend, Cuba would have succumbed to the opportunity for a private sector to flourish. We have already seen some of this. Cuba has allowed people to have the deed to their homes, they have allowed a larger private sector, they have allowed a private sector taxi service and allowed people to own computers and cell phones. With visitors with money visiting the inland, entrepreneurs would have gained more influence even without the right to vote for their leaders.
If we would have ended the embargo thirty-five year ago, you would have seen joint partnership to develop hotels and resorts with Cubans and Cuban would have had to modify their communist economy to make those investment more attractive and secure. I think it we would have ended our embargo 35 years ago, Cuba would be a much freer country today. The greater contract with outsiders would have created a greater demand for consumer goods and greater realization that Cuba was not a workers paradise. It would have proven difficult to maintain revolutionary fervor in a country in which people interacted with the enemy and benefited from interaction with the enemy.
In my view, U.S. sanctions have served to remove the positive influences that American businesses, workers, religious groups, students and tourists would have had in promoting U.S. values and human rights. I doubt Communist Cuba would be communist country today, had we not isolated them and given them the American enemy to rally against.
I can understand the view of those Cuban refugees and Americans of Cuban descent, who want Cuba to crumble and the old order restored. I don't think it will ever happen, but I do think Cuba can evolve and join the rest of the world.
We lost 50,000 American lives in Vietnam, but still eventually normalized relations with that county; why not Cuba?