Brent Scowcroft, the dean of George H. W. Bush’s foreign policy brain trust, was, as you likely know by now, in favor of the first Gulf War and the war in Afganistan but was opposed to the Iraq War from before it began. Though a Republican, he has shown the flexibility and disdain for ideology that comes from being a true adherent of the realist approach to foreign policy.
That doesn’t just apply to the Middle East. Here he is talking to Steve Clemons about the long-standing Cuba embargo:
If you couldn’t hear the soft-spoken Mr. Scowcroft, here’s what he said: “My answer on Cuba is Cuba is not a foreign policy question. Cuba is a domestic issue. In foreign policy, the embargo makes no sense. It doesn’t do anything. It’s quite clear we can not starve Cuba to death. We learned that when the Soviet stopped subsidizing Cuba and they didn’t collapse. It’s a domestic issue.”
What he’s saying is that domestic politics, embodied in this case by the powerful and hard-line Cuban exile lobby in Florida that no politician with national ambitions can alienate, is keeping the embargo in place. Common sense, on the other hand, suggests that decades of the embargo have not produced any results in the island nation, other than a less prosperous and less healthy Cuban people. After all, Castro is leaving on his own terms and has hand-picked his successor.
You never know. With Scowcroft and Obama on board for reform, common sense may pull off a come from behind victory.