In his article “The Relational Paradigm and Sustained Dialogue,” Harold Saunders speaks of the importance of “continuous interaction” in transforming the United States’ relationships with even “distant hostile” countries. His “relational paradigm” assumes that politics are based on open-ended, cumulative, and multi-level interactions between the “body politic” of two countries (including citizens in and out of official institutions). An example of how the United States’ relationship with one officially very “hostile” neighbor is being transformed through these sorts of “continuous interactions” is described in this Boston Globe article about recent US-Cuba relations:http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/04/20/cuba-and-united-states-are-warily-slowly-thawing-relations/LDEqbKk2hkk4cVn22PuYDO/story.html
The article discusses how, through the “US interests section” in Havana, US and Cuban diplomats and experts are working quietly behind the scenesto cooperate on a range of issues, including combatting human trafficking, improving airline safety, and working on joint public health and environmental efforts. At the same time, American visits to Cuba have increased rapidly, and Americans are now the second largest nationality to visit the island, after Canadians. Nearly 500,000 Cuban Americans visited last year (thanks to relaxed restrictions on their travel in 2009), as well as another 100,000 visitors on State Department sponsored cultural and educational exchanges. And a surprise announcement by the Cuban government last year that its citizens will now be allowed to apply to travel outside their country means that this exchange could become a two-way street. Despite the continued official hardline of the State Department on Cuba, these sorts of exchanges and cooperation are giving hope to many that relations are experiencing a thaw.