The United States and Cuba have re-established diplomatic relations, formally putting an end to the Cold War that had bedeviled international security and global peace for greater part of the 20th century. If the world ever came close to a nuclear Armageddon it was over the conflicting worldviews between these two countries. The United States had tried everything for regime change in Communist Cuba – it even landed the Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 – but had failed. Cuba has stood the test of the time: while some other rival Communist powers crumbled under the weight of their own failures like the USSR or embraced pragmatism and has survived with dignity like China the Castros’ Cuba has remained defiant and persevered in its own style of governance. It is the Obama’s United States that has changed – by accepting the reality that political values are essentially country-specific and not as perceived by power brokers in Washington. President Obama took the first step and offered to resume diplomatic relationship, to which President Raul Castro responded positively. From July 20 their embassies in each other’s capital would become functional. In the letters exchanged between the two heads of state they have emphasised principles of sovereign equality and of the settlement of disputes by peaceful means that bind states to “refrain from any threat or use of force against the territorial integrity”. They also underscored the importance of “political importance” of a state and of “non-interference in matters which are within its domestic jurisdiction”. And, that means President Obama has decided to withstand and wear out all-powerful anti-Cuban caucus in Washington and a section of American media. The critics of his Cuban move have promised to defend in the Congress and outside the longstanding embargo on Cuba, particularly banning trade and restricting travel. The Republicans’ 2016 presidential election candidate Senator Ted Cruz has described President Obama’s move an “unconditional surrender to Fidel and Raul Castro,” threatening rejection of nomination of ambassador for embassy in Havana and its funding.
Yet there is enough of bipartisan support for the president’s decision which is expected to build up momentum over the time. President Obama had rightly concluded that the United States had failed to isolate Cuba. How should Cuba change it should be for Cubans to decide, and not for the Americans whose passion to change the world to match their worldview has of late been quite a costly proposition. And for the world outside there is a message also, and that is that peace is a better option than hostility and confrontation. The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, sponsored the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, precipitated situation for a nuclear clash in 1962 and imposed sanctions, triggered mass exodus of Cubans and imposed more embargoes, exacting heavy price from the common man on the island. But all of it was futile because the Castros’ Cuba did not succumb to American pressure. As we see the last vestige of the Cold War being wiped away we are optimistic about the future of world politics, hoping peaceful coexistence of otherwise differing political ideologies and religious creeds would become norm of inter-state relations. And in it there is also a message for those tend to rely, wrongly, on bluster and bulling the neighbours as a viable foreign policy option. It didn’t work between the United States and Cuba and it will not work elsewhere, including South Asia. A case in point is India’s many decades-old oppressive occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, and the fact is that it hasn’t worked. Not a day passes when there is no anti-Indian demonstration by the Kashmiris and brutal reaction by occupying troops. If Cuba could not be browbeaten by the world’s most powerful country there is no reason Kashmiris would accept Indian control. Indeed, the credit for driving the last nail into the coffin of the Cold War goes to President Barack Obama.