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Every once in a while we end up with what should be called a perfect storm in politics, which is precisely what has happened today. As authorities in Brussels race to assess the damage and catch terrorists, back here in the US, it is politics mostly as usual on the road to the November election. Because our President was in Cuba, the stage was already set for vitriol on foreign matters, so there was just a slight shift in gears.
However, it’s fair to guess that very few people are connecting dots between Brussels and Havana, via the campaign trail — including the candidates. Yes, there will be a fresh crop of comments about the evils of terrorism, and claims that the current administration is utterly incompetent. There might even be a random statement attacking the fact that the Obama Express is not changing course or agenda because of the bombings. I think we can set that aside on the basis of the logistical nightmare Obama’s presence in Belgium would cause, so let’s move on, shall we?
Havana is going to be an historical moment for Obama, and while it’s fine to say he’s simply attempting to build his legacy, the fact is that this administration decided to follow a very old adage on this one. Our country has been insane when it comes to Cuba, because we have stuck with the same policy for so long, while simultaneously expecting a different result. Hate what Obama is doing as much as you may like, but the facts on the ground include direct cash flow to at least some residents of Cuba, and a slow step into the present when it comes to technology as cellular service is slowly reaching the masses there. Of course, it is primarily for the benefit of tourists now, but Pandora’s box has been opened at least a crack. No matter what, the stage has been set for significant change in Cuba, thanks to Airbnb and mobile communications. While trade will be a primary topic of conversation in dealing with the regime, the big deal is the exportation of lifestyle to the citizens — something that they will probably decide to fight to keep if the regime attempts to yank it away from them.