President Obama is headed for Panama this evening for an historic meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, on the sidelines of a major regional summit.
Looming large in the meeting is the ongoing review of Cuba’s inclusion on US lists of “international sponsors of terrorism,” with President Obama saying he will soon decide on the issue. Reports are that the State Department has recommended removing them.
Obama offered an upbeat assessment on the likely removal of Cuba from the list, saying the US would need “strong evidence” to support putting nations on that list.
Which historically has not been the case. The US traditionally has used terror listings to bludgeon international rivals. There was never much justification for Cuba to be on the list beyond long-standing US acrimony toward them.
Even with the removal seemingly imminent, US officials are indicating that they’re holding off while trying to get certain guarantees from Cuba about their access to diplomatic facilities. This underscores the reality that the terror list has little to do with terrorism, and Cuba’s presence or removal from the list will have nothing to do with terrorism.