I turn 50 this year. So does the Cuban Revolution. Dwight D. Eisenhower was President when I was born -- to be followed by JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2. That's ten presidents.
For 50 years Castro has been persona non grata. We've made peace with Russian, China, and even talk on occasion with North Korea and Iran. But, as for that little Island off the coast of Florida, we've had little connection. Alone among the world's powers, we have kept our distance from Cuba -- largely as a result of the political clout of the Cuban emigre community in Florida.
US Law prevents any meaningful contact as long as Fidel (or his brother Raul) are in power. Today, Fidel resigned from the Cuban Presidency. His younger brother is likely to be named President in his stead and the transition will begin.
You would think that after 50 years of a failed policy we would be interested in a course change. But for some reason we live in fear of what would happen if we would engage Cuba. My sense is that engagement with Cuba would lead to reform and renewal. Isolation has done nothing but damage our image in the world and create hardship for the Cuban people.
My sense is that Barack Obama is the most likely candidate to reengage. His principle is that we should sit down even with those we don't like. Don't negotiate out of fear, but don't fear to negotiate -- he likes to quote JFK. Too bad JFK didn't do this in 1961 rather than adopt a CIA hatched plot doomed to failure. Remember the Bay of Pigs?
Now, I'm no communist and I'm no apologist for Fidel, but enough is enough. Indeed, America is bigger than this! I see a new day is dawning in Cuba, let's join them in building it. Let's put away fear and live in hope!