With this fresh, astute, and compassionate exploration of the past two decades of U.S.-Cuban relations, Erikson emerges as a valuable new voice in Washington foreign policy circles. An analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue, Erikson conducted research that took him to Cuba (including Guantánamo Bay) 14 times, and he also gained access to leading players in Caracas, Miami, and Washington. This fair-minded author allows the contending actors to speak for themselves, expertly guiding readers through the increasingly splintered yet still powerful Cuban-American exile community, the world of the courageous opposition figures remaining on the island, and, most sharply, the tumultuous U.S. Congress. Erikson blasts both the Bush administration, for its counterproductive pugnacious hostility, which handed Fidel Castro a ready excuse to brutally squash dissent, and the congressional Democrats, for being cowardly, confused, distracted, and divided. Although the transition to a more open Cuba is likely to be gradual, Erikson suggests, the United States could accelerate the "revolution of expectations" among Cuban youth with a policy of engagement: of more open travel, cultural contacts, and economic exchange. The Cuba Wars is an eloquent cry for more realistic, decent responses that help -- rather than further punish -- the long-suffering Cuban people.
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