Sunday, August 12, 2007

GTMO: Symbol of Failure

Ian Bell in the British Herald tells it like it is:

...All actual British citizens were out of the place by 2005 [not so for British resident aliens], most with dreadful tales to tell. As the parliamentary intelligence and security committee reported less than a fortnight ago (another non-coincidence, I think), Britain's security services were "naive" in their dealings with the CIA in these matters, when not actually complicit, and any subsequent complaints were in any case ignored. But we - delete as applicable - still went along with a programme of kidnap, incarceration, rendition and torture with few arguments.

Guantanamo is an excellent example of how best to lose an anti-terrorist struggle. It stands alongside the introduction of internment in North Ireland in advertising an absolute failure of understanding. The base - first leased as a coaling station, according to the fascinating Gazette [the base newspaper] - no doubt has a symbolic standing for average, all-purpose western liberals. They don't count for much. Among Muslims in the Middle East, seeing precious few trials, and no convictions worth the name, its name will be potent for decades.

If [U.K. prime minister] Brown understands as much, good for him. But if the Prime Minister also cares to explain where he's been hiding his views since the latter part of 2001, all the better. The trouble with a war of beliefs is that it is far easier to make a catastrophic mistake, such as Guantanamo, than to rectify it. The belated release of five men because the US Supreme Court has begun to stir, and because a new Prime Minister needs a fresh start, will not purge all past errors.

"Guantanamo - The Most Potent Symbol of Failure" - The Herald