Opinion / Editorials

Obama opens historic door

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-19 07:28

Sudden as it is, the thaw between the United States and Cuba, signaled by the presidents of the two countries announcing they will start talks on restoring diplomatic relations, should not have come as a surprise.

It is long overdue.

Just as US President Barack Obama observed, the 53-year-old US trade embargo against Cuba has been a failure.

The sanctions were meant to isolate and bring down a Cold War-era ideological foe. But after more than half a century, Cuba is alive and well, and sticking firm on its own course.

Nor has the embargo brought to Cuba the American brand of democracy.

And, most ironically, it has hurt the people of Cuba, whom American politicians have claimed they want to help.

The embargo is one of the vestiges of the Cold War that should have been consigned to history's trash can long ago.

Which is why the United Nations General Assembly has condemned the US administration for 23 years in a row.

On Oct 28, altogether 188 of the 193 UN member countries voted for the resolution titled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba".

The reason this anachronistic policy has remained is because of American politicians' obsession with the ideological cage they have built for themselves.

Immediately after Obama's announcement, there were vows, from both Republicans and Democrats, to oppose the shift in policy.

House Speaker John Boehner blasted the decision as "another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship..."

Senator Marco Rubio, calling Obama the "worst negotiator" of his lifetime, described the decision as "terrible for the Cuban people".

Since overall trade and travel bans can only be lifted by the US Congress, Obama has a tough battle ahead.

But on this specific matter, at least, Obama will find almost the entire world behind him, because he is truly opening a "new chapter" in his country's ties with not only Cuba, but much of Latin America.

By choosing to "cut loose the shackles of the past", Obama has displayed praiseworthy statesmanship.

By turning a game of no winner into one where everyone wins, Obama may find this one of, if not the, most memorable legacies of his presidency.

For the average Americans, the benefits go far beyond the iconic Cuban rum and cigars.

For them and their country's less-than-robust economy, Cuba is a land of opportunities.

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