Thursday, March 13, 2008

On the Cuban Embargo

George Will argues for caution about ending the embargo on Cuba on the basis that trade with China has not brought freedom to that country.

I am unconvinced, though. Two things to consider: while politically China may be no closer to democracy than it was thirty years ago, almost certainly the degree of economic freedom has increased. Secondly, we must remember that China is a very large country, and that even a middle class that, in absolute numbers, seems large to us is only a small fraction of the overall population. Huge portions of its population (I think a majority) still live in rural poverty and virtually no amount of realistic economic growth is going to change this fact for at least a decade, probably two or three.

Change of this sort takes a long time in a country as large as China, and I don't see why we need to be pessimistic about the results of opening up the Chinese market in the 70s, or about what the results would be of lifting the Cuban embargo. It wouldn't clean up all of Cuba's problems, but it would be a lot better for everyone than what we have now.

That is all.

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