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Opinion / Chen Weihua

Some Americans yet to wake up from Cold War

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-15 07:51

Some Americans yet to wake up from Cold War

US President Barack Obama speaks at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, December 15, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

US President Barack Obama announced on Dec 17 that he would pursue normalization of relations with Cuba, the island country only 144 kilometers from Key West in Florida, ending the 54-year-old US embargo, but many Americans are still living in the Cold War.

Though Obama's decision has been applauded internationally, many within the US have criticized him for appeasing the communist government in Cuba and undermining the cause of freedom and democracy there. There have been plenty of op-eds on these lines in mainstream US media in the past four weeks.

Indeed, Obama faces a tough battle to make good his announcement, for he needs the help of Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo with powerful people such as Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, standing in the way.

Having made three trips to Cuba in the past four years, I too am a critic of Obama, but for making the move far too late.

In 2004 as a state Senator from Illinois, Obama had criticized the "failed" US policy on Cuba. So when he became president in 2009, many hoped he would change it. But it took him six long years to make the move, to the disappointment of many. In a sense, Obama let the "failed" policy extend for six more years.

Contrary to popular belief that lifting of the embargo would only benefit the Cubans, the new policy will end the US' isolation in the United Nations General Assembly, which has been condemning the inhuman embargo almost unanimously every fall. Also, it will help ease the anger of many Latin American countries over the absurd US policy that outlived the Cold War by a quarter century.

Obama is absolutely right as the rest of the world has known for a long time - that the US policy on Cuba has been a miserable failure. However, the new Cuba policy has not succeeded in awakening some Obama supporters from the Cold War. In fact, quite a few of them want to turn the new policy into one that increases US presence in Cuba to counter Chinese and Russian participation there.

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