The superb diplomacy: How Obama changed the diplomatic history of US
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2016-03-27 09:54:42

The superb diplomacy: How Obama changed the diplomatic history of US

Obama

 

President Barack Obama is in Cuba for a historic three-day visit to the island and talks with its communist leader. He is the first sitting US president to visit since the 1959 revolution, which heralded decades of hostility between the two countries. Mr Obama said change would happen in Cuba and that Cuban President Raul Castro understood that. The two leaders met to talk about trade and held a joint news conference. Mr Castro denied that there are political prisoners in Cuba, telling journalists to “give him a list” and then they would be released “tonight”. He also defended Cuba’s record on human rights and pointed to problems in the US. “We defend human rights, in our view civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible, inter-dependent and universal,” Mr Castro said. Obama made this clear at the speech he gave at the Gran Tiatro in Havana. He spoke of political freedom and the importance of democracy in improving race relations in the US. He also tried to embarrass Castro, first by making the optics of a handshake seem rather awkward and then by forcing the president to take pointed questions from US journalists. All of this was meant not only to appease the Cuban exiles who form an important voting bloc in the swing state of Florida but to also demonstrate how trade and tourism does not equate acceptance. Obama used a familiar rhetorical technique in his Havana speech. He admitted the faults of US imperialism in Cuba, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and then absolved himself of all responsibility by saying he was too young at the time to be blamed for this. He did exactly the same thing early on in his presidency when he spoke to Muslim students in Cairo. This allows Obama to appear magnanimous while making no apologies for current US policies. Still, the image of an African-American president meeting Raoul Castro represents a new world where, while sanity and justice may not prevail, at least some of the shackles of the past have been thrown off. Cuba has already done tremendous work in health and education and now increased trade with the US can allow it to rebuild an economy devastated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US is unwilling to give up the Monroe Doctrine by which it believes it has the divine right to rule over the Americas but this Havana trip should be the sign of the superpower treating other countries in the region with a modicum of respect. Obama has done the bare minimum one would hope for but sometimes even that can be enough.

 

pk.shafaqna.com

 

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