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Argument: Guantanamo bay's existence fuels terrorist causes

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Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama's incoming director of national intelligence, told Congress in mid January 2009 that Guantanamo "is a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment and harmful to our national security, so closing it is important for our national security".[1]


Karen J. Greenberg. "8 Reasons to Close Guantnamo Now". In These Times. February 12, 2007 - "#6 It creates new enemies

Guantánamo has fomented that which it was created to combat—anti-American extremism and jihad.

Guantánamo is just the public face of a global network of “ghost prisons.” According to Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights),the United States has acknowledged 20 detention centers in Afghanistan, in addition to the bases at Bagram and Kandahar; as a prison near the Afghan border in Kohat, Pakistan; and the al Jafr prison in Jordan. This suggests that Guantánamo may have been a smokescreen for more inhumane, less legal incarceration and interrogation practices elsewhere.

According to Armando Spataro, a senior Italian prosecutor known for his work on global terrorism, Guantánamo and the U.S. renditions policy “is extremely damaging to all our efforts to integrate our Muslim communities.” Muslims around the world are asking why there is so little international opposition to the U.S. policy of imprisonment without due process. The collateral damage of Guantánamo—the incarceration of nearly 800 individuals who are denied legal rights, who regularly report being abused and who face a lifetime of imprisonment—is incalculable. It breeds new angers and resentments, and thus new enemies.

Last March, the Department of Defense finally released the names and countries of the detainees. It turned out that many were not captured on the battlefield but picked up elsewhere in the world, in the Gambia, in Pakistan, and even in Europe. In all, persons detained in Guantánamo Bay come from 46 different nations, including Spain, France and the United Kingdom."


Suzanne Nossel, Senior Fellow at the Security and Peace Institute. "10 Reasons to Close Guantanamo". Democracy Arsenal. June 12, 2005 - "To eliminate what has become a liability in the war on terror – Reports of ill-treatment of Afghan detainees at Guantanamo have become a rallying cry for anti-U.S. insurgents across the Muslim world. Getting rid of Guantanamo won't solve the problem, but – particularly if coupled with serious efforts to prevent all abuses in detention and interrogation - it will deprive them of what has become a highly evocative symbol around the world. (see Biden's comments - - Rep. Mel Martinez (R-FL) agrees)."


David B. Sandalow,Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy . "The Wrong Symbol: Mistakes at Guantanamo Fuel Muslims' Hatred for the U.S." June 26, 2005 - "Islamic anger against the United States remains intense and widespread. There are now only a few countries with large Islamic populations with which the United States still enjoys solid and good relations—Turkey, India, some Mideast countries such as Jordan and Egypt. Throughout the Arab world, publics are deeply anti-American. The poll numbers are abysmal, with those saying that they hold favorable views of the United States generally less than 10 percent of the population throughout the Arab world.

Largely for these reasons, while al-Qaeda may not have the capacity for centrally organized, spectacular attacks that it conducted up through 9/11, jihadist groups around the world have not diminished in size one iota, and the frequency and lethality of terrorist strikes remain at very high levels.

Defeating jihadism must become one of the two or three central pillars of American foreign policy, analogous to containment doctrine in the Cold War. Just as containment had a military element, but also powerful diplomatic and economic pillars, so we need to get beyond thinking of the war on terror in principally military and intelligence terms. These elements of hard power are essential, to be sure, but they are far from adequate.

Some efforts are being made to address what might be termed the "why do they hate us?" question. But beyond the broad vision Bush articulated in his second inaugural address, with its appropriate emphasis on freedom and democracy, they are piecemeal and inadequate to date.

Big initiatives are also needed in the educational and economic realms. These types of efforts were key in the Marshall Plan; they were key in the development of the East Asian tigers; they were central to the rhetoric and visions of presidents from Truman to Kennedy to Reagan. They involve core strengths of the United States as a country and hence of its foreign policy instruments. They should be central to our long-term strategy to win the struggle against terror. At present they are not.

Major support for educational reform in the Islamic world is required wherever countries are prepared to put aid resources to good use in creating schools—public or private—with more nuanced curricula and less of a role for firebrand clerics. Pakistan, Yemen, Indonesia and other poorer Islamic countries could benefit greatly from more aid for such efforts. Despite the Bush rhetoric, recent reports are that Pakistan has made little to no progress in regulating or reforming its madrassas, underscoring the problem.

In the economics realm, free trade accords are needed with larger Islamic countries as well as the small ones that such efforts have focused on to date. The goal should be not just to pump up selected countries' gross domestic products but to broaden employment opportunities. Angry, unemployed, bored and hopeless young men are among our greatest worry in addressing the chasm between the West and Islam. The Lieberman-Hagel Middle East Development Plan, envisioning $200 million a year for a regional development bank and related purposes, was a good idea when introduced in 2004 and should be revived.

This is just a beginning of what is needed. For example, no strategy for winning the war against Islamic terrorism would be complete without a strategy for the Israel-Palestine problem. But until we begin to broaden our thinking about the "why do they hate us" and "why is bin Laden so popular" questions, debates solely over questions like whether Guantánamo should survive can distract us from other critical aspects of the real challenges of the day."

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