Promises, shmomises:

An air of secrecy surrounds the fate of 53 political prisoners whom Cuba agreed to free in its historic deal with the United States last month, as Washington and Havana’s refusal to publicly identify the dissidents is fueling suspicion over Cuba’s intentions…

…[O]fficials said a prisoner release was not a precondition for renewing diplomatic ties. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that not everyone on the list has been set free yet, but it was always understood that they would be released “in stages.”…

The lack of transparency is contributing to a growing sense of concern that Havana will not follow through on its promises.

If there’s “a growing sense of concern,” it’s certainly not on the part of Obama administration officials, for whom this quid pro quo was almost certainly for show. As in many of its “negotiations” with countries hostile to the US, the appearance of getting something in exchange for what we were giving up was only a thin veneer, because the administration was determined to capitulate.

But even if the Obama administration really did care about the fate of these prisoners, it has done nothing—absolutely nothing—to convince the Castros or any other leaders on earth to fear retaliation if they don’t follow through with the terms of any agreement they might make with the US.

This is the Obama legacy. Prior to Obama, although there were periodic shifts in policy, the world knew it could count on a basic steadfastness, sameness, and reliability from the American government. No matter what party the US president was from, or how hardline or conciliatory, with a few exceptions (Vietnam in the 70s, for example) a certain basic commitment was there no matter what changes occurred in administrations.

No longer. Obama has left that assumption in tatters, and the world will act accordingly.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]