Whenever I attend State Department briefings for editorial writers in Washington, this question inevitably comes up: Why does the United States feel the best way to influence democratic change in China is to maintain diplomatic relations and trade, while the best way to do the same in Cuba is through embargoes and no official relations?
Through the years, the answers haven’t varied much. First, as a Bush administration official told us years ago, you shouldn’t expect those kinds of consistencies in foreign policy. Each nation presents a different set of circumstances and history. Second, Cuba is 90 miles from our shore, which makes the presence of a communist dictatorship a special case.