Sunday, April 12, 2015

President Obama - Lame Duck Liberator

As President Obama enters the final stretch of his final term as a lame duck president he is burnishing his reputation as a liberator through his restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba and now the nuclear deal with Iran. Despite each country’s repressive governments, increased trade eventually leads to greater freedoms, initially economic for the citizenry. Although many European countries have been doing business with Cuba for years, there’s nothing remotely close to trade with the geographically Near Abroad U.S., as the gold standard of economic opportunity and psychologically legitimacy. For the Obama administration these agreements represent powerful political and economic achievements with Cuba in December 2014 followed by Iran in April 2015.

Historically it’s always been the regime change of the oppressing country that enables sanctions to be lifted. This liberation of millions of people from economic bondage through the lifting of sanctions is a result of regime change but not what we are accustomed to seeing.  It’s the American regime change under the Obama administration that has made this possible with Cuba and Iran who have maintained the same repressive governments for decades.

One can argue that particular geopolitical timing can be attributed to the success of this process. However there have been many opportunities over the decades under different US administrations particularly during economic boom times to initiate this opening. Additionally both Democratic and Republican administrations staunchly maintained sanctions far beyond the point that they were economically effective enough to force regime change.

These upcoming changes impact the younger generation of Cuba and Iran more than any other demographic.  The younger, highly educated adult generation in Cuba and Iran are biting at the bit to participate in a globalized society where opportunities can be achieved far beyond their borders without traveling overseas. The lifting of sanctions permits a freer flow of information and knowledge that enriches their citizenry. That’s not to say that there won’t be fits and starts or that their governments will still maintain repressive, non-democratic policies. However, even a slight crack in the door to trade with the lifting of is the economic crowbar to open up political expression and a form of representation.

Whichever party wins the US president elections in 2016 will certainly reap the benefits of new economic opportunities with Cuba and Iran, who will still be our political enemies, yet, as the saying goes, “Someone with whom we can do business.”

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