Yglesias gets shrill:
Washington Post correctly says that John McCain is "distorting history" as he criticized Barack Obama's pro-negotiations position. The United States really only has two experiences with a sustained effort at the Bush/McCain approach to diplomacy. One would be our effort to deny recognition to Communist China during the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations. This, it's generally acknowledged, was a strategic fiasco that denied us the opportunity to gain leverage vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. Indeed, it was a fiasco of such enormous proportions that Richard Nixon's role in undoing it actually manages to stack up in a non-trivial way against his otherwise terrible record in office.
The other is our fifty year effort to starve the people of Cuba into rebelling against Fidel Castro. McCain actually defends continuing this policy, but everyone with a functioning brain understands that it's been a ludicrous failure.
Indeed. It's baffling how head-in-the-sand American establishment thinking has been on this subject.
It ought to be enough to point out, as Yglesias does, that American policy towards Cuba has been a study in ludicrous failure. But that probably won't be enough to generate rationale debate on the subject.
Instead, I'd like to see Obama frame the debate in terms of how it has restricted the freedom of regular old Americans. For example, most Americans, if not all, cannot travel directly to Cuba. And that's our policy, not Havana's. And it's obviously ridiculous and an affront to Liberty. Why should the American government limit where Americans can travel?
Fresh thinking is desperately needed in the area of foreign policy generally, and in our Cuba policy particularly. If Obama can help provide that, he will have accomplished much.