Fresh approach to Cuba problem

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2009

American voters mistrust, or plain dislike, politicians for many reasons. One of those reasons is the inability shown by many elected officials to admit a mistake and go about trying to correct it.

The tenure of George W. Bush is a case study in this art of denying what everyone else can plainly see, but Bush is hardly the first in our country’s history to stick by a decision no matter how badly it turns out.

Fortunately for us, officials eventually are replaced in their respective offices, and the newcomers sometimes realize a different approach should be tried.

This seems to be the case with the United States’ trade embargo against Cuba.

Indiana Sen. Richard Luger, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said recently there now is an opportunity to “reevaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion, and open hostility” between the United States and its island neighbor to the south. And new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

With the events and attitudes of the Cold War firmly implanted on the minds of many, there will surely be howling associated with any easing of trade restrictions against Cuba.

The control exercised by the communist Cuban government is not in our best interests — and probably not the best interests of the Cuban people, either. But the issue seems to come down to simple logic: We employed a trade embargo to force the Cuban government to negotiate, the strategy has not worked, and now it’s time to try a new approach.

The timing seems right because both countries are under new leadership with Barack Obama replacing Bush and Raul Castro replacing his brother, Fidel. This situation—and many others our country faces—deserves a fresh attempt at the best resolution for all involved.

Besides, the United States right now could use all the trade partners it can find.