I’ve found myself often disappointed with President Obama over the course of his presidency, but his recent decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba ranks among the most forward-thinking and courageous acts of his presidency.

Of course we got the usual knee-jerk attacks on the decision from Republicans, but I have yet to hear a coherent argument against lifting the embargo and establishing normal relations.

We all know the aisles of our favorite stores are full of stuff from China and Vietnam, both communist countries with lousy human rights records and plenty of American blood on their hands. What has Cuba done to deserve 50-plus years of (futile) embargo and isolation that they haven’t?

The Cold War is over and has been for 20 years. The “Red menace” is as much part of the past as disco and Studebaker.

Aside from a few petulant hold-overs with lovingly framed, yellowing photos of Joe McCarthy on their desks, most Americans have accepted this as reality. The Castro brothers, irrelevant Cold War relics themselves, will soon be gone. Father Time will do the job that mercenaries, exploding cigars and Mafia hit men couldn’t.

A friendly Cuba is possible in the foreseeable future – and unlike the never-ending debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan that the previous president bungled his way into, a friendly Cuba will not cost a trillion dollars or thousands of American lives to bring about.

President Obama should be commended for taking long-overdue steps toward a positive outcome in this unnecessarily long and pointless squabble with our island neighbor.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach