Opinion Politics

Opinion: Obama’s trip to Cuba should be applauded

Photo courtesy of Pete Souza via White House
Written by Matt Stephens

While Donald Trump is burning bridges with Mexico in an attempt to force them to pay for a wall, President Barack Obama is trying to restore a broken relationship with Cuba.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit communist Cuba since 1959, according to CNN. While many people discuss the Islamic State Group as being a threat to the United States, it is important to remember the Cold War and the threat Cuba once posed. Foreign policy is a concept that arguably neither political party has learned to master.

However, as the old cliché goes, ”treat others the way you would want to be treated.” This sign of outreach to the Cuban people this week was an extraordinary action by Obama. This is how we, as Americans, should handle foreign policy. This does not mean we should let people walk all over us. This simply means sometimes it is better to make friends than enemies.

Let’s be real, many countries do not like the U.S., and we ourselves do not like other countries. I am not saying Obama needs to have brunch with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. I am saying it is time for the U.S. to try to make peace with the world. We present more of a threat to our national security when we threaten war or try to invade or overpower others.

Following attacks in Brussels yesterday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump declared further support for waterboarding. This is just silly. I have broken down the topic of waterboarding once before in a previous column. However, how are we any better as individuals when we torture others? People like Trump are part of the reason why America is so hated by so many other countries. How can we present ourselves as the land of the free when we torture others? Hate speech will get this country nowhere. Many have criticized the president for venturing into Cuba, but that is what leaders have to do. They have to talk with enemies.  

Fox News columnist Mercedes Schlapp shamed Obama and said he is basically wasting his time.

“The president’s utopian mentality fails to align itself with the realities of a system and government that has suffocated the freedoms of the Cuban people for decades,” Schlapp said.

Obama did not praise Cuba, though. He spoke about numerous things that need to be fixed in the communist state.

Obama explained to Cuban President Raúl Castro that he should “need not fear the different voices of the Cuban people — and their capacity to speak, and assemble, and vote for their leaders.”

People listen more to others when they are not being yelled at. IS is an alarming issue to the U.S. However, we cannot go around threatening war. Where would we even attack IS? We have no real clue where its members are. Some IS members are in our country, some are in parts of the Middle East while other are in Europe. We cannot threaten to bomb everyone. What we can do is work with other countries to hopefully build bridges instead of walls.

About the author

Matt Stephens

Matt Stephens is the social media director and an opinion columist. Matt also works for WOUB-TV, where he is a reporter for local high school sports as well as Ohio Bobcats Golf and Softball. Matt is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a strong advocate for Chipotle burritos.

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