That Damn Guantanamo!
Obama gave a rather incredible press conference about his review of security lapses. When he evoked Guantanamo, the president all at once (“make no mistake about it”) (a) promised to close it, (b) promised not to send any more detainees home to Yemen, and (c) claimed it was a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda (i.e., apparently Bush’s Gulag had prompted the likes of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab to try to blow up an airliner).
This is nearly unhinged.
Mr. President consider:
1) Quit whining about closing Guantanamo, and close the damn thing. It either is useful or not. The American people are getting sick and tired of this sort of “Bush made me keep it open even though it is counter-productive” whining. If Guantanamo is a recruiting tool, then by all means stop the recruiting tool. Instead, we get the impression that these incredibly directionless people have discovered that Guantanamo has both utility and yet is a political liability among their more fervent supporters, and therefore they wish to continue its usefulness while blaming Bush for its unpopularity.
2) If you are not going to send back any more “alleged” terrorists to Yemen, then simply start trying them in your much preferred civilian courts. Why hold them any longer in the Gulag?
3) Let us get this straight: for a decade in the 1990s an ascendant al-Qaeda committed serial attacks against the U.S. and its interests. All that culminated in 9/11. In reaction to the mass murder, and as part of efforts to go after al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush opened Guantanamo Bay — after which we have seen no successful major attacks on U.S. soil comparable to 9/11.
So consider the logic: before Guantanamo, al-Qaeda achieved its greatest success in damaging America; after it, it suffered some of its most grievous defeats, but somehow its existence is counter-productive and a recruiting tool? What, Pray God, was the recruiting tool on September 10, 2001?
All things being equal, the idea that a terrorist will spend a lot of time in a cell in Cuba if caught seems much less of a recruiting tool than hearing that your enemy has banned the use of “war against terror,” made up grand achievements of your civilization, apologized for his country’s sins, publicly bowed to prominent autocratic Muslims, promised a public trial in New York for your heroic mastermind of 9/11, and in general blamed the war on his predecessor. All that seems quite an encouragement to join al-Qaeda in comparison to the punishment of incarceration if caught.
4) Does Obama have any notion of what enemies say and do in war? That al-Qaeda claims this week that Guantanamo is a recruiting tool hardly makes it one. For years we heard that American troops in Saudi Arabia caused Bin Laden’s anger — and now that they are gone? If one were to collate all of Dr. Zawahiri’s constantly changing complaints — Jews supposedly in Mecca, lack of American campaign finance reform, Israel, etc. — the list would become endless. Thucydides invented a word prophasis precisely for the idea of belligerents inventing perceived grievances for their various aggressions. Would Obama really believe Hitler’s whine about Versailles as he went into the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, the low countries, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, etc.? At what point would Obama, our modern-day Clement Attlee and Stanley Baldwin, have ceased trying to make Versailles “right,” and instead pondered that Hitler was an aggressive thug who cloaked his endless invasions in all sorts of whines that were designed to appeal to guilt-ridden Westerners?