The United States has consistently lost the communication battle in the War on Terror (WoT) to a bunch of self-styled propagandists who, even when combined, don’t have half the resources of the US government (USG).
Consequently, while the US can win short-term battles due to the civil-rights destroying capabilities of its security organizations, long-term success will come only when the USG is able to stop people from becoming its enemies in the first place, and this cannot happen if it continues to lose the messaging battle to its low-cost opponents.
Some of this could be blamed on the USG’s ineptitude in conveying its message and the contradictory nature of its policies – killing people with drones as if life was a video game does not engender positive feelings for those moving the joystick.
However, there are a number of USG agencies and American companies trying to do good things around the world but their message stands no chance of being heard over the din of Guantanamo.
This has been particularly true over the past few months as the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp (GBDC) has returned to prominence due to the hunger strikes of a majority of those residing at the Camp.
While the world has been stunned at how the US military has been treating those participating in the strikes – force feeding never looks good – the reaction of the country’s political class, especially on the right, has been at best, preposterous, and at worst, dangerous.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham’s statement that the “American people don’t want to close Guantanamo Bay … to bring these crazy bastards … to the United States” is one example of the numerous idiotic statements being spewed on this topic.
Senator Graham’s credibility, by the way, on representing the wishes of the American people is a little shaky since he voted against a gun-control law that is supported by a vast majority of the country’s citizens.
This view shows a stunning lack of understanding of why GBDC should be closed, some of which are that keeping it open is unethical, against American values and defeats any positive action taken by the USG.
Even putting these esoteric reasons aside, detaining these individuals at GBCD ignores the fact that a number of them have been cleared of any wrongdoing or being of any future threat to the US.
Obviously, the problem with unloading these individuals is that they have been tainted with the stench of suspicion and this makes it more difficult for the US to send them to another nation – even if it may be that individual’s home country.
This leaves Washington stuck between a rock and a hard – but not impossible – place as the USG can take a number of actions to worm its way out of this quandary.
The first action the USG could take is to simply to act as if it was working hard towards transferring these detainees to other nations.
This singular superficial action would show the world the US has no choice but to hold these innocent detainees at GBDC and dilute a large part of the Camp’s impact. However, the current administration’s inaction in not even selecting a senior official to replace the previous ambassador shows a stunning lack of understanding of how easily this part of the issue could be resolved.
Admittedly, this solution would not solve the whole problem since GBDC holds a number of detainees who are certifiable “bad guys.” These should not be released and, consequently, should be either charged in the country’s federal courts or transferred to overseas prisons – Egypt, for example, would likely be happy to take some of these people in exchange for some baksheesh.
In addition, filing cases against these individuals would show the world the US justice system spares no one and gives everyone their place in the sun.
Unfortunately, the US’ existing policies show it to be a bully who hurts innocents thus destroying its global image.
I fully admit, though, that my recommendations are practical and do not consider the political blowback from those blowhards – such as the aforementioned Senator Graham or the talk radio hosts on the right – whose job is to complain without offering solutions.
Regardless of the impact, the USG should not consider the manure being spewed from these intellectually-challenged professional complainers because the US is a nation that rises above sewage, not one that wallows in it.