From the article: “Commentators have largely overlooked the important role Latin American diplomacy played in pushing Washington to change its fifty-six-year-old policy. This is a mistake, because Latin America’s role in influencing U.S.-Cuban relations holds larger implications for how the United States views diplomatic opposition from Latin America and elsewhere. During the last two decades, Latin American states undermined the legitimacy of Washington’s policies, raised their costs and pressured for a new approach. As Kerry noted more diplomatically in his press conference with his Cuban peer, “I thank our friends from around the hemisphere who have urged us—in some cases, for decades—to restore our diplomatic ties and who have warmly welcomed our decision to do so.” Cuba was more than a symbolic issue. The embargo’s unilateralism, and the extraterritoriality with which it was often implemented, damaged Latin Americans’ interests and offended their commitment to the principle of national sovereignty. For the United States, the opening to Cuba improves the U.S. position vis-à-vis rising Chinese influence by creating new investment opportunities and enhancing U.S. prestige. The dramatic policy change, made under Latin American pressure, is the most recent example of how U.S. interests can benefit, paradoxically, from successful opposition by foreign countries pursuing the “soft balancing” of U.S. power.”
With John Kerry in Havana today, Max Friedman and my op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel argues that this stroke of diplomacy begets wider benefits for the United States in the Western Hemisphere.
From the Sentinel:
On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry will raise the flag over the U.S. Embassy in Havana. His visit caps the new trend. Diplomacy is back in the Americas. The secret talks that led to the re-establishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations are just the highest-profile example. For years, Latin American leaders have pressured and cajoled the United States to change its Cold War policy on Cuba. Finally, the Obama administration listened. Having done so better positions the United States in the hemisphere.
Abstract:The concept of soft balancing first emerged in analyses of other countries’ attempts to counter U.S. primacy through nonmilitary means after the end of the Cold War. Soft balancing is not a new phenomenon, however. In the early twentieth century, Latin American states sought to end the United States’ frequent interventions in the region by creating international norms against military intervention.