If you ask me, Obama's action on Cuba was a master stroke, and full of foresight. He has undercut Putin's ability to use Cuba as a pressure point against the U.S. going forward and has, in a single action, transformed a net negative for the U.S. and Cuba into a net positive for its government, people, and businesses.
In the life of any country a situation can arise that requires a clear choice between positive change or stagnation and decline. At such times, only the collective will of the people can generate sufficient will to begin the process of change. And yes, sometimes the awakening of national consciousness begins with struggling over a mountain of dirty and snowy slush on the side of the road.
With the world's most successful democracies obsessed with recent failures, international politics has drifted toward more dangerous potential outcomes. Sensible deterrence, bold efforts to reform international institutions, and a readiness to fulfill responsibilities have all fallen victim to the West's exaggerated sense of failure and political stalemate.
This new oil price drop simply is crushing producers' currencies in foreign exchange markets. The combination of the petrodollar losing its ability to act as a store of value, combined now with exchange rate blues, may be the straw that breaks the producer "camel's back" in respect to OPEC and dollar denomination. Such a moment would seem ripe for Russia and Iran to begin a gradual challenge to Saudi's leadership of the OPEC cartel and to the dollar-denominated energy system, if enough OPEC members and other producers are prepared to rebel. Iran has been lobbying hard in this direction.
With oil prices falling, corrupt officials see defense spending as their last opportunity to pocket government funds -- and they have no intention of sharing that windfall with foreign defense industry competitors. Putin's recently announced policy of substituting Russian goods for previously imported products will enable those senior officials to siphon off a significant portion of budgetary funds.