Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating US-Cuban Normalization


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

December 19, 2014


                President Obama has just finished his last press conference of 2014 in a good mood.  The agreement to normalize US-Cuban relations is indeed a milestone in making peace between two countries whose formal state of war began in the Bay of Pigs more than two months before this president was born.  As far as personal credit goes, the agreement he and President Castro announced this week, this will surely rank as his major foreign policy peacemaking accomplishment.  It belies the historical reality of how many Cuban and US individuals, groups, and no doubt many diplomatic contacts have connected to rise from grassroots peacemaking to formal diplomatic recognition of the Cuban state, including, ways that individuals persuaded Pope Francis and the Canadian government to do their parts to persuade the two presidents and their advisers to announce what amounts to an unratified treaty of peace.  It took two generations for that formal and informal peacemaking force reached a tipping point at the top of the political culture.

                By contrast, in our domestic war on crime and excessive use of police force against people of color, and in our wars to “destroy” the Islamic State and “combat terrorism,” the prevailing logic is one of fighting warfare with warfare, with punishment, with containment if not extermination.  Causes for public recognition and celebration of turning away from war toward peace such as this week’s agreement between the presidents of Cuba and the US, including exchange of prisoners of war, come seldom.  In the spirit of Hanukah and Christmas, I take this moment to enjoy the light of peace and mutual understanding that now shines on our relations.  Love and peace, hal

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