Thursday, June 04, 2009

On closing Gitmo: the conservative argument

The conservative thinker Bill Lind has taken a slap at the president and at his leading critic in an essay published simultaneously on both Antiwar.com and Military.com.

'The recent fire/counterfire between President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney over Guantánamo, the prisoners held there, and techniques used in their interrogation revealed a distressing ignorance in the White House. Specifically, it revealed that Obama and his advisers are ignorant of military theory.

'Cheney won the debate by drawing the usual Republican distinction, that between doing what is necessary for national security and being nice. If Republicans are allowed to frame the issue that way, they will always win. But in fact, theirs is a false position. We do not have to choose between doing what works in the "war on terrorism" and doing what is morally right. The two are the same.'
Lind was an acolyte of John Boyd, the eccentric military theorist who is the subject of my dissertation. I’ve shared the general relief that Obama is backtracking on much of his campaign rhetoric about Dubya’s war measures, but truth to tell, Gitmo has always been hard to swallow. Necessary evils are always hard to swallow. Now here is John Boyd, speaking through Bill Lind, to tell us that Gitmo isn’t necessary. The full essay is worth a read, on the website of your choice, but it comes down to this final bit of advice:
'solve the issue of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere by designating all of them as what they are, namely prisoners of war. International law specifies how POWs must be cared for. POW camps on American soil are nothing new; we have had them in every war. POWs may be exchanged or held until the war is over. This is what the Bush administration should have done from the outset'
Blue skies! – Dan Ford

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