In the Miami Herald today, Sen. Barack Obama sketches his Cuba policy and outlines his plans for diplomacy. Remember that Obama has said he'd meet with Fidel Castro and other dictators without preconditions -- preconditions being Bush-Cheney-lite-esque -- and he hasn't backed down in the face of criticism.
Here's what he writes about diplomacy now:
Accordingly, I will use aggressive and principled diplomacy to send an important message: If a post-Fidel government begins opening Cuba to democratic change, the United States (the president working with Congress) is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between our countries for the last five decades
The contours of Obama's preconditionless diplomatic posture are becoming clear. "Without preconditions" does not mean without prior assumptions or bargaining positions; it does not mean a tabula rasa. He does not expect Castro to live much longer, and he probably would not meet with Castro in the event that the Old Man managed to survive for a few more years.
Is this an injudicious reading of Obama's words? He does write, earlier on:
But as we reach out in some ways now, it makes strategic sense to hold on to important inducements we can use in dealing with a post-Fidel government, for it is an unfortunate fact that his departure by no means guarantees the arrival of freedom on the island.