Over 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy ended all relations with Cuba, imposed an eventual embargo, and engaged in a match of nuclear poker with the Soviet Union. Today, the U.S. is working to normalize relations with Cuba after half a century of tensions and diplomatic warfare.
As Cuba fought for its freedom in the 1950s, former leader Fidel Castro approached the U.S. with good intentions. Using the “duck test,” a system that works with deductive logic, they claimed that Castro looked like a communist, sounded like a communist, and therefore, must be a communist. They rejected his attempts to establish relations with the U.S. and worked towards a plan to remove him.
The April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was an absolute disaster. With a change of location at the last minute and an improperly trained rebel fighting force, the Americans suffered an embarrassing defeat and it was quickly revealed that they were behind the invasion.
Fast forward to October 1962, Kennedy refused to back down after suffering previous embarrassments; he stood his ground during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Americans assumed that the Russians were arming Cuba, but they never had any concrete evidence and the reconnaissance flights provided by the American Lockheed U-2 planes only yielded effective results as a result of luck. The original flight was rescheduled and the eventual one that took place had the perfect weather which revealed the installation locations. Whichever side you take in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the entire ordeal was a game of bluffs and neither side should take pride in the way that the events played out.
Today, the U.S. and Raul Castro are working to normalize relations. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke with Raul for over an hour discussing the construction of embassies in the capital cities of both countries and the possible end to diplomatic restrictions.
“These steps will be the most significant changes to our Cuba policy in more than 50 years,” a senior administration official told reporters. “What we are doing is beginning the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.”
Another high ranking official stressed the need for the two countries to move past their grudges and to forge a working relationship moving into the future.
“If there is any U.S. foreign policy that has passed its expiration date, it is the U.S.-Cuba policy,” the official said.
Photo credit: BPhipps.