So Why Not Cuba?

This week, the US took a step to normalize relations with Libya:

The United States restored
full diplomatic ties with Libya on Monday, rewarding the
longtime pariah nation for scrapping its weapons of mass
destruction programs and signaling incentives for Iran and
North Korea if they do the same

The logic was that Libya still is a sucky dictatorship, but it has taken some important steps forward into the light which we want to reward.  Perhaps more importantly, the administration acknowledges that increasing intercourse with the western democracies tends to have liberalizing effects in countries in this world of open communications (see: China).  Its a difficult trade-off, but I am fine with this.  Certainly we are no virgin in terms of having diplomatic relations with bad governments.

My question is:  Why doesn't this same logic apply to Cuba?  I think it is pretty clear that embargo and shunning over the past 40+ years have had as much effect as they are going to have.  Why not try engagement?  I think this particularly makes sense well before the chaos that may ensue after Castro's death.  If anything, just by reading the behavior of Cuban expats, Cubans remind be of the Chinese in terms of their entrepreneurship, and I certainly think engagement has worked better than shunning in China. 

Of course I already know the answer to my question:  Because Cuban expats make up a large voting block in the most critical presidential election swing state and no candidate wants to be soft on Castro.  But this seems to make it even more of an opportunity for a second-term president who doesn't have to contest Florida again.

Update:  Yes, I did indeed spell it "Lybia" at first.  Seems vaguely Feudian.  Excuse 1:  Blogging is a real time function.  Excuse 2:  Its just a hobby.  Excuse 3:  I was a mechanical engineer in school


  1. Chris:

    I think that if you ask "Why Libya" you will find a more likely answer to your question. Libya is located in the Middle East (natch) and the "War on Terrorism" trumps any and all philosophical reasons to isolate them. I'm confident that there was a quid pro quo involved for liberalizing Libyan relations.

  2. Matthew:

    Nah, Cuba is about pure stubbornness. It's about the captain going down with the ship. Lifting the embargo is like saying "you win Castro" and that simply ain't happening. Maybe after his death; though personally I don't think it will happen until after Raúl's death also. Cuba has a really fascinating economy (fascinating in the bizarre way). I don't think it would convert as easily as China's.

  3. dearieme:

    perhaps you could "apologise" for the Spanish-American war while you're at it?

  4. Steve:

    Lybia isn't in the Middle East.

  5. dearieme:


  6. Ironman:

    Excuse 3: I was a mechanical engineer in school

    Could be worse. You could have been a computer science major, and we all know how well spell-check in MS Word works!

    - A fellow ME

  7. Oscar Ramirez:

    New Engaging Book on Camagüey Cuba Celebrates Life!

    **Cuba, I Remember You is a book about family, love, relationships, and survival in difficult circumstances that all readers will find to be a wonderful reading experience.
    Bettie Corbin Tucker
    For IP Book Reviewers
    Independent Professional Reviewers

    See more about the book at:


    A collection of 14 short stories, all in Spanish and English, based on the author’s experiences of childhood before and after the Communist revolution. Includes Appendix for educators wishing to use the book in Spanish or English foreign language classes. Lots of nostalgia for those who knew Cuba in the 50’s and 60’s and plenty of humor for readers in general. Includes also many period family photographs that illustrate the stories and bring them vividly to life!

    About the Author

    Dr. Oscar M. Ramírez-Orbea, was born in Camagüey, Cuba, in 1955. He emigrated with his family to the US in 1966, after completing elementary school in his home country. He longs one day to return to his native city of Camagüey and to all the fond memories it holds for him. CUBA, I REMEMBER YOU/CUBA, TE RECUERDO is Dr. Ramírez’s first narrative work. More

    Available now from Airleaf Publishing ( or call today to order your copy at 1-800-342–6068.

  8. FM:

    Why Libya? Because Libya saw the light and reversed course on their WMD programs, Pan Am 103 reparations, etc.

    Over the last few years, the turnaround has been dramatic. This is the largely unrecognized jewel of the war on terrorism.

    For more see: