• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.
There are three reasons to remove Cuba from the list. The first two are talked about most: 1) Cuba doesn't fit the definition of a state sponsor of terrorism; 2) Removing Cuba from the list may be a step towards improving relations and accomplishing other US foreign policy objectives.
The third reason is just as important: Removing Cuba restores some credibility to the state-sponsors of terrorism list and US counter-terrorism policy.
It is hard for the US to credibly argue about which groups and countries should be sanctioned for supporting terrorism when we keep a country like Cuba on a terrorism list for politics unrelated to real counter-terrorism issues. The rest of the world takes US counter-terrorism policy less seriously because Cuba's inclusion shows the US plays politics with its own terrorism designations. Parts of the hemisphere take US warnings about Iranian influence less seriously because the US places Iran and Cuba on the same level when it comes to counter-terrorism issues. Having a misguided Cuba policy in the mix with those debates undermines the US position on issues related to Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria.
Keeping Cuba on the state sponsors of terrorism list harms US national security by distracting attention and resources from real threats and harming US credibility on counter-terrorism cooperation. Taking Cuba off the list isn't just the right and smart thing to do for US-Cuba policy; removing Cuba will contribute to better focused counter-terrorism efforts in the hemisphere and globally.
-- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.