Writing to Foreign Affairs, Rens Lee makes the strategic and economic case for America to rethink its embargo on Cuba:
"Current U.S. policy makes Cuba a target of opportunity for a resurgent and increasingly hostile Russia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talks openly about "restoring [Russia's] position in Cuba," and hints are surfacing in Moscow that Russia might reestablish a military and intelligence presence on the island in response to the planned U.S. missile defense shield in eastern Europe. Points of cooperation under consideration include using Cuba as a refueling stop for long-range bombers and for reconnaissance ships and aircraft and reopening a gigantic Soviet-era electronic monitoring and surveillance facility near Havana."
"Also, it is hardly coincidental that the warming of Cuban-Russian ties and the discussion of a renewed military relationship have followed closely on the accession of Raul Castro as the de facto Cuban leader. Moscow has historically regarded Raul's brother Fidel as emotionally volatile, a view stemming from Fidel's erratic behavior during the Cuban missile crisis, when, in the Soviets' view, Fidel was trying to provoke a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. With Raul -- who resembles a Soviet-style apparatchik -- in charge, Russia may feel more comfortable deploying strategic or intelligence assets on the island."
"Another good reason to reevaluate U.S. Cuba policy relates to Cuba's huge potential energy reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, which the U.S. Geological Survey says could contain 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas."
"In sum, current strategic and economic realities argue for dealing with the communist Cuban regime as is -- not insisting on regime change as a precondition for improving relations. Opening trade with Cuba could, as many argue, plant the seeds of democracy and free enterprise and give Americans some leverage to moderate the regime's police-state characteristics. But positioning the United States to participate in a potential Cuban energy bonanza and keeping Cuba out of the orbit of both regional drug kingpins and the United States' geopolitical competitors represent more immediate challenges."