President Bush’s belligerent speech on Cuba signals that he intends to continue his Administration’s delusional crusade for regime change–despite the self-inflicted wounds of the Iraq war. His unwise and misguided warning to Cuba was troubling for its inference that there might (read: should be) violent upheaval on the island; his effort to push the Cuban people toward that; and his effort to split the country’s military.

The speech shows how distant Bush remains from understanding Cuba’s reality today, and how little leverage the US has to exert a positive influence on the transition well underway. This past Spring, in a special issue on Cuba guest-edited by Peter Kornbluh, The Nation laid out a new US policy–one that would end 48 years of delusion and discord. “The next occupant of the White House,” we argued, “will have an unusual opportunity to bring US policy toward Cuba into the twenty-first century.” lifting the embargo and building normal relations.

Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson put it well, referring to the US’s intransigent stance. It is “the dumbest policy on the face of the earth. The time has come to change it.”