We must be getting some pretty good stuff in return from Cuba. Or at least I assume that’s the case, since we’re still handing out presents.
The State Department is expected to recommend that Cuba be removed from the government’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, a U.S. official tells CNN on Tuesday, a notorious designation that has been a stumbling block in the establishment of embassies in both Havana and Washington.
“Our expectation” is that Cuba will be removed from the list, the official said. But the official cautioned the Obama administration has yet to make any formal announcement. While that announcement from the State Department is not expected Tuesday, it could come as early as Wednesday.
On a conference call with reporters, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the State Department is “nearing its completion” of its review of the state sponsor of terrorism designation process. He did not rule out an announcement this week.
Cuba has raised the designation as a major objection in its talks with U.S. officials regarding normalizing relations between the two Cold War adversaries.
So this isn’t official yet because we have to wait for the relatively bad DC theater act of the State Department giving their “official” recommendation of the change of status. (This is intended to convey the impression that somebody there might actually have a different opinion than the President and are bring gravitas to the situation by advising and guiding him.) In a way, I wonder if the Castros will actually miss the designation. After all, it means being kicked out of a fairly exclusive little club where the only other members are Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
This is more than just a “kick me” sticker attached to any given nation’s back. The definition given by the State Department specifies that such a designation automatically invokes restrictions based on the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. The result of that is a series of sanctions and bans on exports, economic aid, military aid and the ability to deal with many financial entities. Without lifting that designation – in theory – some of the existing sanctions on Cuba couldn’t be lifted. (The reality is probably different at least in some cases.)
I do wonder exactly how much terror sponsorship the Cubans have been doing in recent years, given that they’ve been pretty hard up for resources. But their intelligence assets are no doubt worth quite a bit to this day, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve still had spies in action well past the end of the cold war. If this is the price of normalization, then it would be good to have a better idea exactly what it is that we’re getting in return. I haven’t seen many specifics coming out of the White House yet. But as I’ve written before, it’s not like we had that many other moves available beyond just leaving things as they stood before.