Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator who led the country's communist revolution in the late 1950s, died on Nov. 25. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Update: We are re-posting this item from December 2014 in light of the death of Fidel Castro. The former Cuban leader may have just exited the scene, but a check of the polls indicates the political emotions of the era he represented passed long ago. 

Republicans were quick to accuse President Obama of appeasing our nation's adversaries and showing weakness when he first moved to establish a relationship with Cuba in December 2014.

"First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba: One More Very Bad Deal Brokered by the Obama Administration," blared the subject line of a release from Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Tex.) office.

"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of this administration continuing to show the rest of the world and dangerous leaders like those in Iran and North Korea that the United States is willing to appease them," Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said.

"It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it's Iran or in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing, and that’s what’s happening here," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Fox News.

But there's one very important way in which Cuba differs from all of these other bad actors on the world stage. And it's this: Americans aren't scared of Cuba -- like barely even a little bit.

Despite Cuba's proximity to the United States (about 90 miles from Florida) and its alliance with other antagonistic countries like North Korea and Russia, Americans have grown progressively less and less concerned that the island country actually poses a threat to the United States.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll, in fact, showed that just 5 percent of people viewed Cuba as a "very serious threat" and 21 percent said it was a "moderately serious threat." Another 72 percent said it wasn't a threat at all or "just a slight threat."

Back in 1983, two-thirds of Americans viewed Cuba as at least a "moderately serious threat," but that number has fallen steadily since then.

In addition, Cuba today simply can't be compared to the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and the others as far as the threat it poses. Seven in 10 Americans say each of those countries poses at a least a "moderately serious threat," compared to 26 percent for Cuba.

As President Obama makes his case that normalizing relations with Cuba is a good idea, this is a major factor working in his favor. As long as Americans aren't afraid of Cuba, they will likely be more accepting of a diplomatic relationship.

It's no coincidence, after all, that the sharp decrease in fear of Cuba has coincided with a sharp rise in support for diplomacy.

The Post's Katie Zezima breaks down the practical implications of the new U.S. policy toward Cuba, including travel, trade and bringing back Cuban rum and cigars. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)