Obama made much of the fact that his father was an African immigrant from a small village with goats (or something like that). Few people have made anything of the flip side of that little bit of bio, which is the fact that the first black president has no connection to America’s slave culture. This is consistent with the fact that the blacks who get ahead in America tend to be the children of recent immigrants from Africa and the Carribean (think: Colin Powell), rather than from blacks who trace their American roots much further back than I can trace mine. I draw no conclusions from this; I just observe.
Obama’s decision to close Gitmo (sort of, maybe) in a year is nicely symbolic, but creates more problems than it solves (and what it solves is merely symbolic too, in that it placates the nutroots). Closing Gitmo means shutting down a physical site, but one is still left with the problem of the prisoners. American prisons don’t want them, especially because they’re already struggling with the rise of Islam in prisons, a rise that does not make for docile prison populations, but rather, one that increases the sense of aggression and entitlement. Releasing these prisoners who, in their own minds, continue to be at war with us, simply puts them back on the field. The 18th Century concept of a parole (which saw released prisoners promise to refrain from fighting for 18 months) really isn’t a workable concept today. The most logical option is to build a new facility that’s like Gitmo in all ways except that it’s not called Gitmo — which would be a perfect triumph of form over substance, something I suspect we’ll see with increasing frequency in the “image is everything” Obama presidency.
Also on the subject of Gitmo, this is precisely what John Kerry promised back in 2004 — we’ll turn this icky, politically incorrect war into a police action. Releasing Gitmo detainees into the criminal justice system is just the first step. But as many commented back in 2004, police actions are ex post facto. The person commits the crime and then you catch him. Bush’s system, mercifully for Americans for all these years, was pro active, stopping terror before it started. You’re right, Bob, about the inevitable consequences of Obama’s instant back-down.
One more thing: Suek is absolutely correct that this decision is going to give American troops a much greater incentive to “take no prisoners.” The POW concept, which is a fairly recent and humane one, removed fighters from the battlefield without killing them. If the battlefield is going to be turned into a revolving door, the only way American fighters can assure themselves that they won’t find themselves staring down the barrel of the same gun a second time is to disable that gun (and its operator) permanently.
Are any of you surprised the Obama is refusing to speak to the press? I’m not. He was able to leapfrog from being a nobody to being a president thanks to the gift the press gave him during the candidacy, which was their willingness not to make serious efforts to speak to him. He still has nothing to say, but he’s now in a position to impose the cone of silence from above, without being dependent on their slavering good will.
I notice that Obama is urging Israel to create a permeable barrier between itself and Gaza. In the same spirit, I think Obama should do away with the Secret Service. Indeed, to the extent no one has yet tried to kill Obama (and I pray that no one will), he’s actually in a better position security-wise than Israel, which actually has concrete proof that the people in Gaza mean to put their murderous threats into effect. To date, I’ve been less impressed with Obama’s much vaunted intelligence than others have been. I have absolutely no doubt that his is a feral, not a thoughtful, mental strength. This kind of stupid statement proves me right.
And on a totally un-Obama note, are you as impressed a I am with the progress they’re making in plastics (or is it wax) in Cuba?
UPDATE: I like Laer’s Gitmo solution, which is sort of the mirror image of my suggestion about Obama, Gaza and the Secret Service.