Family and holiday routine has interrupted regular blogging. I’ve been working on new posts on project management and high tech that will shortly appear at AITS.org, as well as here.
In the meantime, much has happened in the world. Among these events was the President’s announcement on normalizing relations with Cuba. The usual suspects have squeaked but this is a policy a long time coming in sweeping away the last vestiges of the old Cold War. As a student of both history and political science I cannot let this go by without some comment.
Those of who served during the latter part of that long standoff known as the Cold War understand that, after the initial institution of containment of Soviet imperial ambitions, that the Iron Curtain fell only after the implementation of policies such as the West German Ostpolitik under Willy Brandt and greater U. S. engagement through rapprochement.
Low level social and cultural contacts are more effective in bringing about change in oppressive regimes than isolation. An isolated people are more easily manipulated, tending to play into the regime’s hands fostering paranoia, xenophobia, and social control. This is not just opinion but the result of numerous studies tracking the incremental changes that led to liberalization and liberation in central and Eastern Europe.
It is harder to blow up the world if one realizes and acknowledges the basic humanity of one’s adversaries. We had to learn that lesson anew after the nearly disastrous ramifications from FleetEx ’83 and the similarly foolish brinkmanship of Able Archer ’83. Both of these Reagan era exercises almost led to thermonuclear war. (I participated in the first, on an LST just off the Kamchatka Peninsula, as part of the greatest naval armada ever assembled).
I think Mr. Obama has once again proven himself clear-eyed and level-headed in changing a failed policy that nonetheless has managed to survive due to political intransigence and perceived electoral politics. The repressive regime in Cuba is no less hesitant to fully embrace this change than our own extremists. I think that this alone is a good indication that this president has made the right decision.
Note: The links for this post did not appear in the first version. I have refreshed them for update.