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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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It’s a terrific arrangement — for Cuba 

By BEN BOYCHUK 

Manhattan Institute’s City Journal
P
resident Barack Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro was a nice photo-op. The president got to look like a peacemaker and Castro got to look like a legitimate statesman.

Neither of those things is true.

The question that should be at the forefront of any U.S. foreign policy decision is: Who benefits? What would the Castro regime gain from the president’s decision to remove Cuba from the terror-sponsor list? What does the United States get in the bargain? Cuba’s organized crime ring masked as a government would benefit a great deal.

U.S. corporations would be able to do business with the Castros without fear of prosecution. More importantly, Cuba would have greater access to international markets as well as the International Monetary Fund — a money pit of fraud and corruption funded largely by U.S. taxpayers.

Obama’s decision means the United States will forgive and forget Cuba’s ongoing practice of harboring known terrorists from Colombia and Spain, along with dozens of U.S. fugitives who include one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted.

Removing Cuba from the list also means the Cuban military can continue unabated its training of Venezuelan paramilitary “colectivos.” These groups are an informal extension of the socialist government, responsible for providing neighborhood “security” by weeding out and beating up the democratic opposition.

In return, the Castros promise to be good and give Americans access to cigars, rum and some beautiful beaches. That’s about all.

The president’s posture toward Cuba is of a piece with his foreign policy in general: lots of verbiage, good “optics” and plenty of unilateral decisions that boost our adversaries while leave us looking like chumps.

In the end, Obama can add one more shiny placard to his presidential library, while the global reputation of the United States is further tarnished. Some bargain. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at bboychuk@cityjournal. org.