Fidel Castro officially stepped down this morning as President and Commander-in-chief of the military in Cuba. Castro came to power in 1959, overthrowing the brutal and corrupt (but U.S. friendly Batista regime) and installing a regime that, like most "communist" regimes so far, has failed to live up to its promise -- though to be fair, it took the United States a few hundred years before it decided to adhere (at least in law) to the promise that "all men are created equal."
U.S. foreign policy has been ridiculously pre-occupied with Cuba, with the United States maintaining a long-standing economic embargo in the (failed) hope of choking the people of Cuba to death. Meanwhile, countries like China and Chile (under Pinochet) that commit far greater human rights violations are rewarded with ample U.S. economic interaction...in fact, in the long view of history, you might be able to argue that China won the Cold War, mainly because the U.S. thought it was over when the Soviet Union collapsed...unlike the Soviets, the Chinese understood that to defeat Capitalism, you have to appeal to the Capitalists -- and what's more appealing than a country where the cost of labor (and therefore products) is driven down by slave and prison labor and a lack of pesky safety standards...
Although on a smaller scale than China, Cuba also jails political prisoners and spies on its own citizens, which we all know would never happen in the United States. Agents of our government would never infiltrate domestic organizations and report on the everyday activities of ordinary citizens, or create massive disinformation campaigns, nor would they go around compiling secret files on celebrities and eminent researchers and community activists.
But, anyway, before I get off on a tangent, the main point is that we've maintained an unhealthy obsession with a tiny island nation that seems to be handling itself just fine. Unlike U.S. citizens, EU and Canadians and most other countries can visit Cuba freely, and they do.
Castro steps down in preparation for Cuba's next elections, which like Florida in 2000, have historically been less than free and open. In all likelihood, Raul Castro will succeed his brother, and the U.S. will continue its embargo. In fact, the U.S. has already promised it will continue the embargo, because stupidity has no limits.
Speaking of stupidity having no limits, George Bush said, "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty." I think he said the same thing about Iraq.