We all thought that Obama’s rise to power on a crest of a wave would help change the USA’s direction and improve it’s standing in the world. But like George Orwell foretold, nothing really changes.
Like other super powers through history, world domination, power and money rules the head as their leaders seek to continue their dominance in the world.
The latest knock to the Obama myth is the leaked documents regarding Guantanamo. Guantanamo hindered and scarred the Bush Jr administration with torture; the disregarding of the rule of law and the use of rendition. Guantanamo epitomises the hypocrisy of a moralising super power who has a complete disregard for other cultures and ways of life.
The one crumb of comfort that the Bush administration still had was blown out of the water yesterday with the leaks that show just how ineffective Guantanamo has been. The likes of Bush and Rumsfeld kept telling a sceptical world public that they knew things we did not. Now the shocking truth, that we all suspected has been revealed.
Like Tony Blair over the reasons on going to war against Iraq, whenever a leader says “we know something to don’t”, we can never believe them.
We now know that people were released from Guantanamo who went on to serve for the Taliban and other terrorist groups killing civilians and US armed forces, while at least 150 prisoners were completely innocent of any wrong doing but were incarcerated without trial or access to the rule of law.
Torture was wide spread and carried out on the slightest pretext or so called “intelligence”. Even after the US intelligence services were certain that detainees were completely innocent of any wrong doing they were happy to continue incarceration. As the Guardian article confirms even an 89 year old Afghan villager and a 14 year old innocent kidnap victim were incarcerated.
The array of documents passed to news organisations as a part of the Bradley Manning leaks continue to embarrass this US administration and the international reputation of the US.
While Obama made all manor of political gesturing over closing Guantanamo there are still 172 detainees with no prospect for closure any time soon. Many prisoners that they would like to repatriate cannot be completed as their home countries will not accept them.
The hole that Guantanamo has provided in the USA’s international standing will continue for years to come.
The long term lesson for anyone fighting a “war on terror” is that if you take the moral high ground the last thing you should do is sink to the level of those you moralise about.
The hopelessness of Obama’s position is clear as the Libyan crisis continues and the talk about the international criminal court, while the US will not sign up to it and abide by it themselves.
Once a country abandons it’s human rights and treaty obligations and further abandons it’s rule of law the moral grounding falls away. The Iraq war; the war on terror and Guantanamo will live in the memory for a longer time than even the Vietnam war, staining the reputation of the greatest super power in history. These mistakes and the arrogance of the Bush administration has created far more terrorists and enemies of the US than could have previously been imagined.
The abandonment of the rule of law and human rights for convenience will go down as the US’s biggest mistake as it’s power diminishes through the 21st Century.
The mistakes are set to continue though as they are determined to hang Bradley Manning out to dry. Obama’s administration is steadily being seen as a disappointment on so many levels, but Guantanamo and Bradley Manning will continue to haunt him.