Monday, December 29, 2014
Understanding Our Cuban Foreign Policy
Just recently the US has “normalized” relations with Cuba, a country with which we have had an awkward relationship for decades. But this should not have been a surprise because the real reason that we have been estranged has become less of an issue as time goes by, but it is a reason that you will never read about in the popular press and even many foreign policy journals seem to be unaware, or choose not to bring it up in their analysis.
I will therefore, in my own words, describe why I think our policy towards Cuba has in the past been so intransigent and why it matters less today. It has to do with how we nominate and elect our President. The explanation goes something like this.
It is possible to win the nomination of one of the parties to be a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America without carrying certain key states, such as California, New York, Illinois and Florida. However, losing such a state, with its vast number of delegates makes winning the nomination that much more difficult as you must make it up by winning a large number of “minor”, in terms of numbers of delegates, states.
Therefore, it follows that if you want to be President of the United States, you must work very hard to win these key states and each of these states has its own local politics and political forces who must be catered to and appeased. The politics of California are very different from the politics of New York and the politics of New York and California are both very different from the politics of the State of Florida.
If you want to win the state of Florida, then you pretty much have to win Dade County. If you don't win Dade County then it is still possible to win the state of Florida but its much harder and you have to win pretty much everywhere else in the state. But if you want to win Dade County, then you pretty much have to win the City of Miami. It is basically not possible to win Dade County without Miami.
It turns out that the City of Miami had a large population of ex-patriot Cubans and most of these Cubans had come to this country because they had to flee the island of Cuba when the revolution happened. These people all still had relatives back in Cuba and the whole thing was ugly and they are, or were, hopping mad.
Now you may say, well, we can not run the foreign policy of this country because one little interest group has a grudge because they lost a war. Well, thats easy for you to say, but if you pissed off this group you were probably not going to carry Miami, and if you did not carry Miami, then you probably would not carry Dade County and if you did not carry Dade County, then you probably lost Florida and if you lost Florida then you may very well have lost the nomination of your party for the Presidency of the United States.
As this Cuban population has aged, their descendents, although still not all that happy about Castro and the communists, are not as committed to the cause as their parents and grand parents were.
And that, I propose to you, is one of the key reasons that our foreign policy has been the way it has been for many years. It is not the only reason, but it was certainly part of the reason, and it is a reason that with time has become less important.