Fidel Castro has been ailing for years, and 2010 looks to be his last year on earth. Control of Cuba will formally pass to brother Raul, who has been running the country during Fidel’s dotage. The transition will be peaceful, as most citizens, though they are dissatisfied with components of Fidel’s totalitarian system, don’t reject socialism outright. Cuba won’t change overnight, but Fidel’s demise will mean that all the doctrinal rigidities tied to his name (lack of press freedom, immigration restrictions, a cult of personality, persecution of gays) will get a second look. Foremost, Raul, recognizing the economic potential of improving ties with the U.S., will curtail the government’s anti-American rhetoric. The Obama administration, always on the lookout for rapprochement with rogues, will send a delegation of assistant secretaries from the State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Commerce Departments to visit. Within short order, and perhaps by year’s end, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce a plan to normalize relations with Cuba by the year 2013.