It was a milestone for President Obama to visit Cuba – the first American President to visit Cuba since Coolidge in the 1920s. While this may seem like a fulfillment of the process of rapprochement begun when Obama shook Raul Castro’s hand at the Mandela funeral in South Africa, there are still a number of stems that need to take place to truly make the relationship between Cuba and the United States a normal one.
After that landmark meeting (and baseball game!) in Havana between President Obama and Raul Castro, it is tempting to say that the process or re-establishing a relationship with Cuba is complete. But 55 years of history cannot be simply forgotten – and elements on both sides of the Florida Strait have incentives to throw up roadblocks to further engagement.
That is why this is so important. There are still a number of steps both countries need to take in order to truly make the relationship between Cuba and the United States a normal one, ranging from a lifting of the embargo by the US Congress to a decision by the Cuban government on how to deal with the over $7 billion claims by American companies on assets nationalized after the revolution. Neither of these steps will be easy – but they will be necessary to a full normalization of relations.
So far, this rapprochement between Cuba and the United States has been a great lesson in how effective diplomacy can build national security in the 21st Century. Here at the American Security Project, we are dedicated to the idea that America can become stronger, safer, and more prosperous by means other than military.
Now, in order to fully return to normal relations between the US and Cuba, both sides should fully engage in a series of confidence-building measures that can build towards a normal relationship. That’s why, this month the American Security Project is starting a new initiative: “Pathways to the Future of US-Cuba Relations” that will examine how to build confidence between Cuba and the United States in a series of discrete areas:
- Military to Military Engagement
- Supporting US Foreign Direct Investment into Cuba
- Cooperating on Environmental Protection
- Standing up to Regional Challenges in the Caribbean: Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime
- Building a strong Energy System in Cuba
- Building Relations through enhanced People-to-People Exchanges
- Supporting a Free, Available, and Open internet for all Cubans
Watch for articles, blog posts, and ASP looks forward to helping build a closer relationship between the governments of the United States and Cuba. Even more importantly, ASP hopes to build a long-lasting relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba.