This blog entry was posted on Senator Chris Dodd's campaign site today but was also written for publication as a guest post by Senator Dodd on "The Washington Note" and "Huffington Post." I view this statement as the kind of truth-telling and honest candor that aspirants to the White House should exhibit in all of their foreign policy and national security commentary. I could not agree more with Senator Dodd's views. -- Steve Clemons
Senator Chris Dodd is the senior Senator from Connecticut, serving his fifth term, and is running for the Democratic Party nomination to run in our nation's 2008 presidential race.
I want to see the peaceful transition to democracy occur on the Island of Cuba in my life time.
That isn't going to happen if we continue the misguided policies of the last forty-six years. We must open the flood gates to contacts with the Cuban people. We must remove restrictions on the ability of Cuban Americans to provide financial assistance to their loved ones. Even small sums of money in the hands of ordinary Cuban families can serve as catalysts for private investment to gain a foothold in Cuba.
I have long supported the freedom to travel to Cuba, which is why I have joined with twenty of my colleagues in a bi-partisan way to co-sponsor S.721 the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2007.
It is simply un-American to bar American citizens from traveling to foreign countries. In fact, Americans are currently free to travel to both Iran and North Korea, two countries which pose far more serious threats to American national security than the government of Cuba.
But more than that, the United States' most potent weapon against totalitarianism is the influence of ordinary American citizens. They are some of the best ambassadors we have, and the free exchange of ideas and the interaction between Americans and Cubans are important ways to encourage democracy in Cuba.
For more than forty-six years, the United States has maintained an isolationist policy toward Cuba, which I believe has not achieved its intended objectives, namely to hasten a peaceful and democratic transition on the Island of Cuba. Rather, it has solidified the authoritarian control of Fidel Castro, and has adversely affected the already miserable living conditions of 11 million innocent men, women, and children on the Island.
I have long opposed restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to the Cuban people. Frankly I believe it is immoral to deprive innocent people from access to American medical and farm products. Moreover, we hurt our American farm families with such an ill conceived policy. It is a commonsense policy to encourage Cuban authorities to purchase US food and medicine rather than other foreign purchases that may impact adversely on our nation's security.
The Island of Cuba is in the throes of a transition to a post-Castro Cuba. A US policy of staying the course leaves us on the sides as the future of Cuba is being written. It is time to engage before it is too late to have a positive influence on the political landscape which is rapidly taking shape there. In a Dodd administration the United States will engage with the Cuban people in support of a peaceful transition to democracy.
-- Chris Dodd, United States Senator