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Obama Is Taking Cuba-America Relations In The Right Direction

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Obama shook Raul Castro’s hand at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. This was the first time in more than half a century that an American and Cuban President shook hands. I feel this will probably be remembered as the highlight of Obama’s Presidency; particularly after many blacks are dissatisfied and angry over the growing incidences of black young men being killed by mostly white police officers.

Even though the main reasons for improved relations could be the fear of Russia arming Cuba with nuclear or other dangerous weapons, yet improved Cuba-America relations are good not only for these countries, but also for the region and the whole world. I feel that anything which reduces tensions between any two countries and promotes dialogue or understanding between them is good for the world.

Obama has done very little for the uplift of minorities. In some ways, minorities have been worse off because many whites think that since he is a minority, he will favor minorities. A white President would probably have been more sensitive to minority issues because he could easily be accused by minorities for being insensitive to their concerns. On the other hand, Obama could always say that he understands the problems of minorities better because he himself is a minority. Not only that, he can say that he has also suffered in the same way as minority people claim that they have suffered.

In the case of Cuba, it automatically highlights the issue of minorities because Cuba is a Latin American country. Therefore, it brings that dimension into the equation. After all, Latinos are the largest minority group in America today. I feel that improved US-Cuba relations will also help in improving relations between white and non-white America.

Besides the racial factor, there is also an ideological factor. Raul Castro has made it clear that Cuba will not abandon the path of socialism and communism. Therefore, relations between Cuba and America will prove that two countries with different political systems can peacefully coexist.

In the final analysis, improved relations between America and Cuba uphold the principle of unity in diversity. You do not have to be identical or similar in order to peacefully coexist. Accepting and tolerating diversity brings us into harmony with nature. Nature is diverse. However, there can be a uniting thread in diverse things. This can be compared to a garland which has different colored flowers. However, the flowers are united by a common thread. The common thread is of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. These can be raised to the ultimate height when different people are bound together by love.

I feel that Obama has done something worthwhile which really makes him worthy for the Nobel Peace Prize which he has already received. So far, many people have wondered what his achievement was which made him worthy of that prize. Many people felt that he was given that award because he proved that a minority can become President of the United States, the most powerful country of the world. Even though one can justify his Nobel Peace Prize on that basis, but it is much more worthwhile to actually do something that makes you worthy of the prize. I feel that finally, he has done something which can have far-reaching consequences for maintaining peace and harmony in the world.

The world is very dangerously close to a most destructive Third World War. The West is pushing Russia to a point where it cannot be pushed any further and can retaliate with nuclear weapons. For all practical purposes, this will mean the end of the world as we know it. The West is making the biggest mistake in its calculations. It is assuming that Russia will react to the events as the West has. This approach denies diversity and is based upon uniformity. Unity is different than uniformity. Uniformity does not usually lead to unity. It actually creates more conflicts. On the other hand, tolerating and accepting diversity will promote unity. If two countries with different political, social, and cultural systems can learn to live peacefully as good neighbors, then they promote the cause of world peace.

Obama is going to face opposition from many in the Republican Party and some in his own party (Democrats). However, if he is seen as someone who is trying to unite people, then his opponents will look like they are trying to divide people. In the long run, people will admire someone who is trying to unity them instead of dividing them. Certainly, Obama has the edge.

The truth is that the world is going through a very dangerous period in history. There is a very real possibility of a Third World War which can go nuclear. In the period of the Cold War, the roles of the West and Russia were exactly the opposite of what they are today. The Soviet Union was more aggressive while the West was generally on the defensive. The Soviet Union was pushing and possibility of a Third World War depended upon how the West reacted to the Soviet push. Generally, the West took a very calculative approach and reacted very calmly and rather in a subdued and submissive manner. I like to give an example from history. In the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, the Soviet Union was on the side of India while the West was supporting Pakistan. India defeated Pakistan and dismembered it. The West limited its criticism to verbal criticism only and without a military response. If there had been a military response then the conflict could have turned into World War Three.

This time, the roles are reversed. The West is pushing the Soviet Union in Ukraine and other places the Soviet Union in Ukraine and other places and expects it to react like it did then. However, the Russian response can be very different than the West expects. Russia is much more likely to use the military or even the nuclear option, making a Third World War a real possibility.

Improved Cuba-America relations can bring another big reward. Cuba always had good relations with the Soviet Union and Russia. Cuba can play a very constructive role in bridging the gap between Russia and the West. I wrote quite a while ago that Fidel Castro will go down in history as one of three world leaders who had the maximum impact on world history in the twentieth century. The other two being Mao Tse-tung of China and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam. Fidel Castro is still alive. Maybe he has a role to play in preventing a Third World War. Obama might have given Fidel Castro the chance to become unique among the three leaders by becoming the only one who played the same role in the twenty-first century.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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