Unfinished Business: America and Cuba after the Cold War, 1989-2001 by Morris Morley, Chris McGillion
|Reviewed By:||Paolo Spadoni|
|Reviewed in:||Political Studies Review|
|Date accepted online:||04/03/2004|
|Published in print:||Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 196-301|
Morley and McGillion provide a compelling account of how the US approach towards Cuba during the post-Cold War era has been shaped by domestic politics considerations. The authors' main argument, supported by extensive research and interviews with key players, is that the Cold War conceptual framework was never abandoned, and that both George Bush and Bill Clinton succumbed to erratic demands of Cuban-American hard liners and their allies in the Congress. Instead of reciprocating Castro's timid overtures to capitalist practices and signals sent from Havana for an improvement of bilateral ties, Washington strengthened its economic pressure on the island and placed conditions on normalized relations that could never be met by the current Cuban government. Unilateral economic sanctions against Cuba have not only triggered deep protests from US trade allies for their extraterritorial character, but ultimately failed to reach their major foreign policy goal: the removal of Castro from power and the end of the institutional structures of his revolutionary regime.
Two minor problems can be identified in this book. First, links between events taking place in Cuba and those occurring in the USA are not always clear. For instance, a more detailed account of Cuba's opening to foreign investment would help the reader better to understand the impetus for the Helms-Burton law. Second, the authors do not discuss the implications of Helms-Burton (especially its demands for free-market economic reforms) for future US-Cuba relations in a post-Castro period. What would happen if Cuba held free and fair elections and a new 'democratic' candidate (neither Fidel nor Raul) with a staunch socialist programme emerged as the legitimate winner? Such a development would still be insufficient for a fundamental shift in US policy towards Cuba and might ultimately exacerbate, rather than relax, the current tension between the two countries. Notwithstanding these minor problems,