All Around the World


U.S.--Cuba Relations

By: Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab

Author Bio: Jonathan D. Rosen is a research analyst at Florida International University whereas Hanna S. Kassab is a visiting professor at Northern Michigan University. Rosen earned a master’s political science degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in the international studies from University of Miami. Kassab holds political science and history degrees from McMaster University and University of Miami.

The Castro Crisis

By: Meera Patel

As known by many, “the U.S.—Cuba relationship historically has been one of conflict and chaos for almost two centuries.”1 There has been a conflict between the two countries since the 1950s until 2014 when President Barack Obama implemented new foreign policies in regards to Cuba hence changing world politics. The progressive timeline from the beginning root cause to the results are summarized and explained by Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab in the informative book U.S.—Cuba Relations.

Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab open with the early colonial eras of the United States and what led us to Cuba. Cuba is a country where “the U.S. carried out a defensive yet expansionist strategy,”2 which was created by the policies of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny. After the original thirteen colonies gained independence from Great Britain in 1783, Manifest Destiny kept the colonies searching for more land; however, in 1823, President James Monroe signed the Monroe Doctrine delineating the foreign policies practiced in the United States. The doctrine acclaimed that the United States will practice isolationism until the United States government can no longer sustain security. President James Monroe also explicitly stated that the Latin American and South American countries could find protection and stability under the United States. The establishment of the Monroe Doctrine ensured that the European countries would not invade the United States’ sphere of influence. Both Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine aided the United States’ government to repress its will on Spain who imperialized in Cuba. Once Cuba was under the protection of the United States, Cuba gained independence but spent many years suffering from political instability and economic inequality. The United States government was interested in an authoritarian dictatorship that led to more internal problems in Cuba and eventually resulted in the rule of the semi-dictator Fidel Castro. Fulgencio Batista came into power before Fidel Castro but after the political unrest: “the Platt Amendment and the new Cuban government was met with extreme displeasure by the populace.”3 The Platt Amendment was short-lived — it gave the United States full control of Cuba and its resources for a year before the Republic of Cuba declared itself a sovereign country. The unknown factor of democracy led to political instability, hence the rise of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. Because of Fulgencio Batista’s actions, Cuba transformed into a socialist republic which was disliked by the public.

Rosen and Kassab then shift to explain the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States which began after World War II and lasted till the 1990s. Cuba came in between the Soviet Union and the United States’ crossfire when the country had acquired nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union which were spotted from a U-2 American spy plane. In response to United States President John F. Kennedy, Soviet Premier Khrushchev removed all nuclear weapons from Cuba. This was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis and “after the missile crisis, Kennedy wanted nothing to do with Cuba.”4 From the Cuban Missile Crisis until now, there have only been upward strides because the crisis was the lowest point in the relationship between the United States and Cuba. President Lyndon B. Johnson did not utilize the assassination plans to kill Fidel Castro. Instead, he began the efforts to mend the relationship between Cuba and the United States. President Barack Obama began the real change between the United States and Cuba; the Obama administration started in 2011 “in order to work with Cuba on issues such as environmental protection, human trafficking, and migration.”5 It was not until President Obama’s second term where stronger policies were passed to reconcile. Obama changed the lifestyle between the United States and Cuba by reestablishing diplomatic relations, expanding imports, exports, and traveling.

Ultimately, Rosen and Kassab discuss how a policy is not implemented as soon as a president comes up with the policy. Instead, the Congress must approve the new policies a president wishes to execute before the implementation occurs. The United States Congress have Cuban-American representatives who advocate policy changes that can benefit their Cuban heritage and roots. There are several organizations whose only agenda is to advocate different points in favor of the policies regarding Cuba. The key organization of the Cuba lobby, one of the most effective ethnic lobbies in the United States, is the Center for a Free Cuba; their major goal “is to publish articles about the U.S.— Cuba policy”6 and to spread their ideas in these publications. The organization also sponsors learning opportunities for people to attend and learn more about Cuba, another place for the Center for a Free Cuba to spread their ideas. The third role of the Center for a Free Cuba is its role in the Capitol where the organization produces reports distributed and dissected by the United States Congress. Even if the Congress agrees with the policies the president wishes to discharge, the president must ensure that his people are content with the changes about to be made. The most impactful policy made by Obama is lifting the embargo due to the major support: the “American public opinion has also evolved regarding the issue of the trade embargo.”7 After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the American people believed in the enforcement of a trade embargo and no relationship with Cuba. Now the American people are open to the idea of having a mutual relationship with Cuba and no imposed trade embargo. This proves how the American people and their thinking have evolved as time progressed. This change resulted in Obama’s vindication regarding the new policies.

Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab tie the Obama administration policies and Cuba to the presidential election. The presidential election of 2016 depicts the contrasting viewpoints on the topic of the Cuban policies carried through by Obama: “They [the Democratic candidates of the 2016 presidential election] believe that it is important to start a path toward a new relationship between Cuba and the U.S.”8 This is a striking difference from the Republican candidates because they believe that Obama’s policies are a waste and should be discarded as soon as they are in the office. Even though these policies are not helping either the Cubans or Americans right now, the change will be slow and steady therefore there needs to be patience. The advocates for the Obama administration’s Cuban policies exclaim that change will occur but in small increments over time because these changes can not occur overnight.

Both Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab — the authors of U.S.— Cuba Relations — implicitly stated that they believe the policies created under the Obama administration is important and crucial. The two authors for this nonfiction book have obtained a degree in political science hence they have the credentials to help the readers understand a concept. Both Rosen and Kassab have gone to college in Florida. Therefore they are familiar with the lifestyle and viewpoints of the native Cubans living there; many native Cubans live in Florida since refugees from Cuba fled to the United States and landed in Florida. Having lived in Florida for at least four years, both Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab have a bias due to their environment by learning from the people around them which could be the native Cubans. Finally, much of Kassab’s works pertain to politics of the Far-right and Nationalism since that interests him; this shows that his viewpoints may be biased since his ideas are similar to conservatism. However, there is evidence of this, even at the end of the book when discussing the contrasting beliefs between the Democrats and Republicans: “the question for Republicans is whether the current policy has achieved its goals.”9 Instead of showing compassion toward the Republicans, there is skepticism toward their critiques of the Obama administration Cuba policies. This disproves the possible bias thought to have been imposed on the book’s writing since Hanna S. Kassab did not involve his conservative (Republican) beliefs but instead defended the Democrats. One possible reason for this could be that most of the book was written by Jonathan D. Rosen while Hanna S. Kassab provided guidance to Jonathan D. Rosen. Finally, both Rosen and Kassab have written another book together: The Obama Doctrine in the Americas (Security in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century). In this book, Rosen and Kassab thoughtfully outline President Obama’s term and his interaction with Latin America. By not depicting the negatives, one can assume that their works are always biased towards the president and his actions/policies.

U.S.— Cuba Relations was copyrighted in 2016 which means that this information is all new and fact-checked with the most recent data. The book is also connected with the Library of Congress which is accredited. Therefore the sources and references must be accurate in order to hold high value (or be placed in such a prestigious place). Another reason why the 2016 print is better than other periods is it reflects what people think today which means that there will be more support for the policies the Obama administration formed for the relations between the United States and Cuba. The book reflects these ideas and Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab incorporate these ideas into their conclusions which are evident in the book. The editorial review on Amazon for the U.S. — Cuba Relations praises Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab on providing a concise analysis in response to the events during the era. Amazon’s editorial review emphasizes the good usage of historical accuracy, the hopeful tone, and clarity which allows the reader to grasp the unique relationship between the United States and Cuba: “this book is truly a rare gem for scholars and anyone who aims to grasp the complex history and evolving relationship between the United States and Cuba.”10 Rosen and Kassab wrote The Obama Doctrine in the Americas (Security in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century) which has a similar editorial review as U.S. — Cuba Relations. The Amazon editorial review delineates that the book had a thoughtful and balanced overview on Obama’s interaction with Latin America. Just like U.S. — Cuba Relations, The Obama Doctrine in the Americas (Security in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century) provides clarity in thoughts to relay the message of the authors to the readers.

U.S.— Cuba Relations overall moves in chronological order, but at times the book jumps around confusing the reader. Each chapter is divided up based on the years and within that chapter, there are subchapters to help the reader navigate through the history. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab also ended each chapter with a conclusion — except for one chapter — which ensures that the reader truly understands the material presented in the chapter. The conclusion also allows the reader to capture the important gist without having to remember it for themselves and take note of them. The chapters were not too long and not too short either, which means that if read in perfect portion chunks, there would be no difficulty completing the book quickly and understanding it. The vocabulary presented in U.S.— Cuba Relations is not superfluous so there should be no hindrance or utterance in reading the book because of the words utilized by Rosen and Kassab. Students attempting to learn more for school can do so without needing a degree in history because of the everyday language used in U.S.—Cuba Relations. There is no fabrication of facts — everything comes from another credible source — which means the information presented is authentic. All these small efforts made by Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab in U.S.— Cuba Relations leads the reader to pick up the book and breeze through it without falling behind or having to reread it because they forgot something.

The book reflects the changes — social, political, and economic — that have come to the United States as a result of the end of the Cold War and the rise of fears about “terrorism”. After placed in between the crossfire of the Soviet Union and the United States, “Castro understood now that the Soviets were the same as the U.S. in the way they treated Cuba. To them, Cuba was and always would be a weak power.”11 Fidel Castro’s mentality reflects the ideology he had at the end of the Cold War which is a social change because now the one friend Fidel Castro had is no longer reliable. Along with this, the United States severed all ties with Cuba because the United States government did not want to deal with an aggressive country who smuggled missiles against them. Another underlying reason for the disowning of Cuba is the “terrorism” fear since dictatorships and communism have been on the rise in Cuba so the United States did not want to spread it so thought to delete all relations before too late. The social changes depict changes in the American people’s beliefs and more open acceptance. The reason Obama’s policies are not a victory for Cubans is the Cubans in the United States do not think the policies created by President Barack Obama were effective. The political changes are obvious because the Cubans and Americans severed all relationships which mean that there will be a different international diplomacy since these two countries are now allies. Finally, the economic changes include the embargo act imposed on Cuba. The embargo act meant that there are no exports or imports made hence decreasing the revenue leading to no international profits. Granted there are other countries but the cost of shipping goods to and from Cuba is cost effective compared to other countries. The social, political, and economic changes after the Cold War and fear of “terrorism” are delineated in U.S.— Cuba Relations.

U.S.— Cuba Relations did not address the impact of digital technology on the United States since the 1990s; instead, the book delineated the facts on the politics and changes in the politics from the early 1900s till 2016 because of the different policies and ideas. The book may not have addressed technological advancements since there was no real big role directly that technology played; one connection could be to the Cold War but that would be a stretch. And while the Cold War deals with technological advancements, it did not directly affect Cuba because the Cold War was between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab in U.S.— Cuba Relations stated that the chaos and conflict between Cuba and the United States arose after World War II in the 1960s (during the Cold War) with the Cuban Missile Crisis. This simmered down because there has been minimal to no contact between the two countries until President Barack Obama formed his new Cuban policies, affecting foreign politics. One of the main reasons the policies implemented by the Obama Administration worked was because of the American people’s evolved beliefs since the Cold War era and acceptance to the more new and bold ideas pitched.

[1] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. U.S.— Cuba Relations: Charting a New Path. Lanham: Lexington, 2016. Xi.
[2] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 1.
[3] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 23.
[4] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 63.
[5] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 74.
[6] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 100.
[7] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 110.
[8] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 129-130.
[9] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 140.
[10] “U.S.–Cuba Relations.” Amazon Kindle. Amazon, 2017. Web.
[11] Rosen, Jonathan D., and Hanna Samir Kassab. 63.