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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

17 February 2006

Closing Guantanamo?

The United Nations has released a report calling on the United States to close down the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay which holds about 500 detainees (and which has held many more since September 11). Secretary General Kofi Annan received the report with the call to America to shut down the camp “as soon as is possible.”

Relating to my previous post (“Electronic surveillance and the war on terror,” 05 Feb 06), what I find particularly interesting (and troubling) is the general inability of the American government to appraise the long-term implications of the war on terror. The sense after September 11 that the terrorists were a new enemy that had to be confronted was both natural and logical; and so were many of the expediencies that were summoned to deal with this new threat.

But four and a half years after September 11, the US government has done little to adjust to this new environment by creating new institutions and forging new consensuses. Guantanamo Bay, the recently-revealed electronic surveillance system, and the secret prisons in Eastern Europe are a few examples of ways in which the American government has acted without building the necessary consensus to make these policies sustainable.

There is no doubt that the US cannot combat terrorism by relying on the strategies and tactics that it used to fight the Soviet Union; but the problem with the American government is that it has taken this truth and elevated it to the illogical extension that everything that it tries and is new is acceptable and useful. This is a long-haul battle and the US government will need to do better that than.

“Annan backs UN Guantanamo demand,” BBC News, 17 Feb 06 (link)
United Nations Commission on Human Rights, “Situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay,”
Future E/CN.4/2006/120, 15 Feb 06 (link at BBC web)



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