USA*Engage Blog

The Way Forward With Cuba
Monday, 1 June 2015
by Richard Sawaya, Vice President of USA*Engage
The May 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing “Cuba: The Way Forward” provided a valuable, if rare, moment of clarity about U.S. hemispheric policy. In his testimony, Ambassador Thomas Shannon, one of our most able and accomplished career diplomats, quoted Hans Morgenthau: “Our purpose is not to defend or preserve a present or restore a past, it is to create the future,” emphasizing that U.S. global engagement is meant to defend one kind of future against another kind of future.
The New Status Quo and U.S.-Cuba Relations
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
by Richard Sawaya
The position of those in high dudgeon about President Obama’s negotiated change of policy with the Cuban regime can be summed up by former Texas governor Rick Perry’s declaration: “We got a bad deal. This administration basically empowered the Castro regime with no thought of the Cuban people.” While this may work as an applause-seeking sound bite, does it stand up to reason?
The U.S. embargo and its bilateral appurtenances are more than a half-century old. Brothers Fidel and Raul have seen nine U.S. presidents from both political parties come and go. During that time, the challenges born by the Cuban people are inarguable. But the embargo has compounded the problem.
What to Make of the Cuba Handshake
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
by Jake Colvin
For as much as the media made of the handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, it's not nearly as juicy as other aspects of the U.S.-Cuba relationship.

The handshake itself is small potatoes.  President Obama was right not to have snubbed a handshake at a memorial for Nelson Mandela, which would have turned into an even bigger story. 

The reality is that there are much more important developments in the U.S.-Cuba relationship, and strong potential for principled engagement to further benefit the Cuban people and America's national interest.

Dealing with Iran
Monday, 8 April 2013
by Richard Sawaya
In the remarkable and riveting Israeli documentary, "The Gatekeepers," constructed around interviews with six former heads of Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon – recipient of the medal of valor, Israel's highest decoration; head of the Israeli Navy, who accepted the Shin Bet post only after Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, serving from 1996 through 2000 – paraphrases Von Clausewitz: "Victory is the creation of a new political reality."

He is commenting, as his five comrades do in their ways, on the paradox that has prevailed since the outcome of the 1967 war; that since Rabin's assassination, the series of tactical "successes" effected by Shin Bet in responding to terrorism and implementing occupation of the conquered territories has afforded successive Israeli governments the means to avoid a strategic agreement regarding a Palestinian state.