Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gitmo's Legacy

The Wall Street Journal outdoes itself in pure chutzpah. Below is the entire text of today's short editorial, "Gitmo's Nomads" (no link, avail to subscribers only):

As a measure of Europe's concern for the men held at Guantanamo, we offer the story of 15 Uighur inmates. Captured in Afghanistan where they were for reasons that remain unclear, the men are not considered "enemy combatants" by the U.S. military, which wants to release them.

Only these Uighurs can't go home to China, which brutally represses this Turkic-speaking Muslim minority of some eight million living in the country's northwestern corner. So Washington is looking for a third country willing to grant sanctuary. Sweden, France, Germany, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey are among those that have been approached, according to news reports. You'd think that Europe, so critical of U.S. detention policies, would jump at an opportunity to reduce the prisoner pool at Gitmo. Yet not a single country has offered to take them in.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court deferred to a lower court an appeal by two of the Uighurs who want to be released in the U.S. If Washington's talks with Europe falter, U.S. asylum may be the only humane option. But the Uighurs are not America's problem alone. They were picked up during the "good war" -- good in the sense that Europe supported it -- in Afghanistan. The German daily Die Welt reports that Berlin rejected Washington's request because it didn't want to offend Beijing. When we called the German government, the reply was a curt "no comment."

Chancellor Angela Merkel has done much to repair the diplomatic damage done by her predecessor Gerhard Schröder. But even she found it necessary to open her first visit to Washington in January with a call to close Guantanamo. Ms. Merkel will be back in Washington next month, giving her an opportunity to show that she wasn't playing to the anti-American gallery. Reserving 15 seats for the Uighurs on her flight back might do the trick.

So desite the fact that they have loudly criticized our illegal detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo, because Europe "supported" our invasion of Afghanistan, they are obliged to take these guys off our hands? I'm sure we don't want to offend Beijing any more than the Germans do, which I assume is why we're trying to pawn off the Uighurs to them.

This is yet another example of those who presumably fight for the cause of freedom speaking out of both sides of their mouth. If freedom for Iraqis is worth fighting a war over, surely freedom for Uighurs is worth offering them asylum.

This is not about Europe's lack of concern for Guantanamo detainees. This is about the US government not standing up and taking responsibility for its own actions.

The Uighurs are not Europe's problem, but our own.


Blogger mkchicago said...

So that's how you spell Uighur. I've only heard it pronounced 'Weeger' on the radio. Always made me think they were detaining a bunch of suburban hip-hop white boys.

As to your comment...

"This is not about Europe's lack of concern for Guantanamo detainees. This is about the US government not standing up and taking responsibility for its own actions."

... I don't see why it's not about both. You're correct to point out US hypocricy vis a vis asylum, but why isn't the WSJ's point about European hypocricy valid as well?

2:07 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"why isn't the WSJ's point about European hypocricy valid as well?"

Because Europe didn't spirit away the Uighurs from the battlefield and hide them in their extrajudicial prison camp for 3 years.

It's only hypocrisy if you're breaking your own rules. As far as I know, Germany has no constitutional obligation to patriate war-refugees seized and held by a foreign power. If you're positing that they have a moral obligation to do this, you're going to have to work it out for me.

2:51 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

I'm positing that a country with a liberal asylum law (e.g. Germany, US, Canada) should allow the Uighurs asylum rather than bending to China's whim. This should be a problem for all countries commited to helping political refugees.

(Wether or not the liberal asylum policy is a correct one for any individual country is a discussion I'll leave for the book club. Did you start the book yet Germanicus?)

3:13 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...


If only our government would do something about white suburban boy bands. Perhaps Gitmo ought be kept open, just for other people.

I think the Germans and other European countries are run by pinheads, but it is "our mess" (I don't reckon the Uighers asked to go to Gitmo). The bigger question (besides to what degree to offer asylum to furners) is why we have most favored nation trade status with a nation given to abusing dissidents. Do we really want to cast our lot with the creeps in Beijing? So far our relationship with them has netted us higher oil prices. Gee thanks Hu.

7:43 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

I understand the "our mess" part of the argument, and yes, we should be the first to offer asylum. However if we're not going to do the right thing I would hope that one of these supposed freedom loving democracies would step up. While the US may be the most at fault I don't think Europe,Canada et al should be free to wash their hand of this.

3:09 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Or to put it another way would you say that the US was blameless and the onus was entirely on Cuba in
this episode?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"If we're not going to do the right thing I would hope that one of these supposed freedom loving democracies would step up."

Since when is making good on America's mistakes is Europe's responsibility? If Germany decides to take on the Uighurs, hey, good for them. But you can't hold it against them for not offering.

Besides, the reasons that these guys were picked up in Afghanistan and held in Gitmo still haven't been explained, and the details of their confinement are still sketchy at best. Germany would be woefully negligent to just take these guys without a clear understanding of what they are taking on.

The US and the Cubans didn't kill those Jews; the Germans did. By your "reasoning," even Oskar Schindler has blood on his hands.

4:51 PM  

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