The course of US-Venezuela relations over the past five months has been surprising indeed. Few of us criticizing the executive order naming Venezuela a national security threat in March, imagined the opening of high level diplomatic contact in April that has lasted four months.

Mike McCarthy’s World Policy Journal piece provides a nice take on this about-face, presenting it as an important backstory to the US-Cuba thaw. Put differently, taking a more pragmatic, less ideological line with Venezuela resonates with and supports the change in policy with Cuba.

The new direction faces obstacles, of course, as the US has protested democratic conditions in Venezuela as it heads to legislative elections in December.

McCarthy ends saying: “the emerging sense one gets is that the Obama administration wants to find a new balance between realpolitik and crying foul, as it is attempting to do with Cuba.”