Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Episode 32: The Guantanamo Factor


I have been pretty bored with the news as of late. With the economy in shambles as it is now, who is surprised by people like Blagojevich? Who cares what kind of chili dog Obama had at a hole in the wall restaurant the other day? But there have been a few new stories out now that peeked my interest: Guantanamo, Bush’s exit interview, and the Inauguration. For this episode, let’s talk Guantanamo.

Chris Mathews on Hardball posed this question: (paraphrased) If we know that Guantanamo detainees rabidly hate America and are extremely determined to attack America if freed due to Guantanamo’s closing, yet the detainees have not yet committed a crime, or don’t have sufficient evidence to indict them, what do we do with the detainees?

It is a question so loaded it deserves its own paragraph. And to which there is no easy answer. As an AVID “24” fan, I have seen my hero Jack Bauer bend (and break) the laws of the Geneva Convention on numerous occasion. However, it is likely, that he would have been able to extract the answer he needed to prevent a nuclear attack. Isn’t it realistic to expect that such a scenario can happen in the real world?

I think a practice of torture is dead wrong. It is below the standards of any civilized nation. However, war has changed. Gone are the days when wars are fought between nations to protect land and ideologies. It is an irrational battle, fought between factions belonging to no country. Soldiers who pledge allegiance to no flag. It is a war in which the overarching cause is the cultivation of a corrupt sect of religion. I think the Geneva Convention is outdated and does not include adequate provisions to deal with modern warfare. So what do we do? How do we fight these guys?

Thus, I think there are only a few things we can do. We could declare war on Afghanistan and put the Geneva Convention in play. We could redefine our moral standard for 21st century combat. We can “extract” information in the dark. Or we can wait for the detainees to attack us, or get caught planning to attack us so we may try them under law.

Declaring war is not only a bad idea, it would fruitless because I think Afghanis by and large do not subscribe to terrorist actions, and would be punished for the sins of a relatively small part of the population. We would only end up losing an ally. If we redefine our moral standards, how low will be go? Where will the line between right and wrong be drawn? We have been “extracting” information… and it has diminished our standing in the world. And waiting for an attack is too dangerous.

Of the options listed, redefining our moral standard for 21st century combat is probably the right answer, albeit the difficult answer. It is an impossible goal because everyone has a different idea of right and wrong. All I can say with certainty, is Obama should close Guantanamo, but its execution will be on of the most difficult decisions of his administration.
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1 comments: on "Episode 32: The Guantanamo Factor"

Joseph M. Fasciana said...

I must admit that I too have had the political blah's, as reflected on my blog. On torture, it has and always will exist throughout and until the end of mankind. What an oxymoron "mankind"



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