After a week of visiting Cuba in early February with a group of former U.S. Ambassadors, I was both impressed — and appalled. Change is definitely under way in Cuba — with small businesses being allowed to start up in a few sectors of the economy and people are allowed to buy and sell home and autos for the first time in 53 years. But over half a century of ‘revolution’ have left the country a physical wreck. Even its vaunted health care system proved remarkably hollow on closer inspection. And the living conditions of Cubans aren’t visibly different from, and in significant ways appear poorer than, their neighbors in the poorest Caribbean islands — except that, unlike their Caribbean neighbors, Cubans are not at all free. The irony is: Cuba is changing — economically — precisely to avoid and forestall changing politically. But that’s precisely the change the Cuba needs: a management change at the top, to relieve the country of the crew that’s been running the show for over half a century.
You can read more in my column at US News and World Report, here.
Practices Public Affairs
Republicans can’t win in November without winning the independent voters that Obama carried 52% – 44% in 2008. However ‘exciting’ it might be to conservatives to imagine crack debater Gingrich or culture warrior Santorum taking on Obama in the fall, only Romney has a chance of winning independents – instead of scaring and repelling them. But to win the nomination – and the enthusiastic support of his party – Romney needs, even this late in the game, to win the trust of conservative Republicans.
To read the entire U.S. News and World Report article, please follow this link.
Defense International Practices
The Obama Administration is reportedly studying further, drastic reductions in U.S. nuclear forces — unilaterally or negotiated with Russia — later this year, possibly down to a few hundred operationally deployed nuclear weapons. Would the U.S. remain a super-power, defending and deterring attacks on our allies worldwide, with a nuclear arsenal the size of Pakistan’s? Wouldn’t it be ironic — not to mention dangerous — if U.S. reductions intended to point the way to Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world ended up encouraging wider nuclear proliferation, a build-up of rogue nation nuclear capabilities, and a heightened risk of nuclear conflict?
To read the rest of Mr. Hughes’s article, see his U.S.News.com post here.