Why Obama Should Actually Bite The Bullet And Close Guantanamo Bay
Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba, has demanded the return of Guantanamo Bay; Barack Obama's response has been a speech bubble with nothing but three dots in it.
The demand comes in the midst of the defrosting of the long, chilly relationship between Cuba and the United States. Now that the Cold War is over and Cuba is no longer a nuclear gun Russia has to our head, the time seems right.
All I know about Cuba is based on "The Godfather Part II," and the pre-revolution scenes make Havana look like a rather nice place to spend spring break. But, in all seriousness, a truce is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Cuba is only 90 miles away.
We might as well be friendly to our neighbors if they do not pose an imminent threat of war.
The time is also ripe to honor Castro's request and close down Guantanamo. This isn't caving to his will; this is a convenient opportunity to do something that should have already been done.
It has been 617 days since President Barack Obama promised to close down the torture site of prisoners who were detained for reasons that would never fly in a US court of law.
These men were locked up for suspicions of terrorism and kept within the barbed-wire walls until our interrogators were through with them. As a world leader, having a tropical torture site is not a particularly good look.
Recently, a CIA report on US "advanced interrogation" tactics shocked the nation. We accepted that our country had engaged in some questionable practices, but to see those practices deliberately detailed in an extensive report turned even some of the strongest stomachs.
The government document told stories of forced rectal feeding, abusive neglect and revolting sanitation conditions. Obviously, this was disconcerting news to hear of our country.
Barack Obama has tsk-tsked these tactics, but he hasn't done enough to show the United States is finished with the barbaric and useless practice of torture.
While Guantanamo is still open, our military forces still have a vacation home from the Bill of Rights. We can't have two sets of rules for citizens and "suspected terrorists."
If we do, an American citizen only needs to be labeled "suspicious" for his or her basic rights to be stripped. It is a dangerous door to leave open.
If Obama wants to communicate that America views torture as obsolete, he must shutter Guantanamo's doors.
The closing of this shady prison will send an important international message.
If we exit Cuba, we signal to the world that the United States is ending another outdated, yet prevalent practice. For years, the United States has rolled into weaker countries and done whatever the hell it wants.
Since 1945, the US has attempted to assassinate dozens of foreign leaders and entered several sticky wars we may not have lost, but certainly didn't win.
Some of those guys we targeted were bad dudes, but we've flexed our military muscle a bit too often whenever something we don't like happens. And, it's not like we're only killing for the poor people under a brutal ruler's thumb.
Often, our violent actions are motivated by our own political or economic reasons, rarely with consideration for the native peoples of that country.
Taking bad dudes out, whether through detention or assassination, only allows potentially worse dudes to rise up in their place. For example, we assassinated Osama bin Laden, but in Al Qaeda's vacuum, ISIS has risen.
Bin Laden deserved to die, but the Middle East is still as unstable as it was with him alive.
We've been the World Police with reckless abandon, but a more measured approach might lead to more peaceful future.
The closure of Guantanamo would be a genuinely friendly gesture toward a country we could crush. If we can honor this small, reasonable request from the leader of Cuba, we can show that the United States does not always have to be a bully.
We've tried detention. We've tried torture. We've tried assassinations.
If we can't give peace a chance, at least we can close Guantanamo.