1217kayyem.mp3

President Obama made a surprise announcement this morning: after over fifty years of frostiness, the U.S. will be re-establishing a diplomatic relationship with Cuba. In Havana, many Cubans celebrated the news, calling normalization "a shot of oxygen, a wish come true." To homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, it's a sign that sanity has taken over at long last.

"The Cold War is over," she said.  

Normalization eases a host of national security worries for the United States, said Kayyem, including the concern over a mass migration from Cuba if the political situation in the country worsens. It also allows for freer commerce between the two nations, providing the struggling Cuban economy with an influx of American cash from exports like cigars.

Kayyem said the move falls squarely within the president's constitutional powers, but that doesn't mean he won't have to duke it out with Congress come January.

"Constitutionally this is purely in his camp. This is foreign relations. Where he chooses to open up an embassy is his," she said. "Obviously the Senate Republicans can come back and close off money for an embassy or something. We will see that fight."

But, Kayyem predicted, putting up a fight over Cuba would be a politically short-sighted move for Republicans.

"That the Senate Republicans would take this as an issue shows how backwards their notion of the way the world works now," she said. 

"Openness, globalization are the ways in which not only our country will thrive and our state will thrive, but also poor countries like Cuba," Kayyem continued.

To hear more from homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, tune in to her full interview on Boston Public Radio with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan above.