Major Papers


cuba, us foreign policy, international trade, embargo, sanctions, policy analysis, efficacy, Havannah club


This major paper examines the Cuban embargo as an ineffective hard power policy and explores the potential of soft, hard, and smart power as alternative approaches to resolve the failures of the 60-year-old blockade. The paper analyzes the historical context and rationale behind the embargo and assesses its impact on Cuban-American relations, regional stability, and U.S. national interests. The study argues that the embargo has failed to achieve its intended goals and has instead perpetuated a cycle of hostility, isolation, and human rights abuses. By drawing on the theoretical frameworks of soft, hard, and smart power, the paper presents policy recommendations for engaging with Cuba and promoting positive change. These alternatives include diplomatic engagement, economic incentives, cultural diplomacy, and people-to-people exchanges. The study concludes that the current embargo policy is outdated, counterproductive, and inconsistent with modern conceptions of international politics. A smarter approach is needed to address the complex issues and opportunities presented by Cuba and the wider region and to promote U.S. interests and values in a more constructive and effective manner.

Primary Advisor

G. Callaghan

Program Reader

S. Brooks

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year