Sunday, June 11, 2006

There's spin, and then there's...

... well, this.

Guantanamo is becoming more and more of a problem for the US, with even the UK coming out with some increasingly strong condemnation of both its existence and the practices regularly used there. Acts that constitute, in the eyes of many, torture seem rife; not to mention the psychological hardhip of being imprisoned, for years, with little or no legal representation, no trial, and no charge.

Against the background of this rapidly rising levels of international condemnation, the reaction from Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the camp commander, to the co-ordinated suicides of three inmates in the prison is nothing short of astonishing: "They are smart. They are creative, they are committed" - "They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us".

The logic of this seems to be that the suicides are part of the propaganda war against the US - by bringing even more attention and criticism over Guatanamo, they harm the US cause in the War on Terror. It is atonishingly blinkered, even by the standards of what we've come to expect, and depends for any sort of persuasive force upon an absolute commitment to the justness of the US cause - to the extent that practically any means in pursuit thereof are justified. I refer the reader again to my earlier post on the similarities between US anti-terror rhetoric and the prescriptions of Mein Kampf. Mission accomplished, indeed.

Certainly, the suicides can be viewed as an attempt to put pressure on the US to end the widely-recognised gross abuse of human rights that is Guantanamo Bay, in much the same manner as the hunger strikes before it (in which the three men also took part); and, as such, it will have the sympathy of millions worldwide, regardless of the spin placed on it by the camp commander. Does he, I wonder, view Lord Goldsmith's recent very public criticism of Guantanamo as also "an act of asymmetrical warfare" waged against the US? You know, he probably does...

**UPDATE** Incredibly, it seems that this may well be the official Government line on the issue, with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy(a reasonably high-ranking official, I believe) now saying that the suicides are "a good PR move to draw attention", part of a strategy to "further the Jihadi cause". Words fail me; the US seems to be losing all touch with reality on this point, utterly unable to see anything beyond its own blinkered view of its national security. This is not a line that will go down well internationally, to say the least: highly public, but not really very diplomatic at all. See the BBC report here (lots of good links on this page too regarding Guantanamo in general, including an interview with a detainee).

No comments: