FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How to Close Guantanamo

President Barack Obama once again has made it plain that he intends to close Guantanamo. Those who doubted his previous promises on immigrant rights and Cuba should realize that he is serious about Guantanamo as well.

Most of the remaining 122 Guantanamo detainees, including 47 of 54 already cleared for release, are from Yemen. Obama cannot realistically send them back to that unstable center of civil strife and chaos. He therefore is proceeding to release small handfuls of detainees to places like Uruguay while asking congressional Republicans to lift their ban on sending Guantanamo detainees to high-security U.S. prisons. If those efforts prove fruitless, there now is a new way to achieve his promise:

Return Guantanamo to Cuban sovereignty, where it belongs historically.

Arrange to release the remaining detainees to Cuban soil under Cuban security. Involve regional diplomats, the United Nations and the Vatican in working out the arrangements.

With changing times, there is no national security or commercial argument for Guantanamo remaining under U.S. control. The base is a complete anachronism on the one hand, and a constant blight on America’s global reputation.

The 45-square mile Guantanamo base was taken as a consequence of the 1901 Platt amendment, over the objections of a Cuban constitutional assembly. It was meant to locate coaling or naval stations for the projection of American military power in the region. The underlying strategic reason was declared by the island’s American overseer, Col. Leonard Wood, chief commander of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, in 1901:

With the control which we have over Cuba, a control which will soon undoubtedly become possession … we shall soon practically control the sugar trade of the world … the island will gradually become Americanized and we shall have in time one of the richest and most desirable possessions in the world.

Those days are over, and so is the Cold War, when the base was considered strategic for rapid response to guerrilla insurgencies or Soviet expansion. Similarly, the Panama Canal was returned to Panama in 1977 without any significant geopolitical consequences, although it cost Jimmy Carter serious political capital at home.

Today, when the U.S. is attempting to build more constructive relations with Latin America and facing non-military competitors like China for influence, Guantanamo is a burden.

It will shock many Americans to realize that the U.S. attempts to pay Cuba less than $5,000 annually for use of the base, and that the Cubans have not cashed any of the checks (since an accidental cashing in 1959, according to Castro), a gesture of refusal that has lasted more than a century.

The Cubans have rightly worried in past decades that Guantanamo would be used as a launching pad for American troops against Cuba. Sixteen thousand U.S. Marines were deployed there during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The base was a support station for the 1994 U.S. invasion of Haiti. U.S. military exercises have been conducted on a number of occasions, including beach landings by Marines.

The prestige of the U.S. Navy, which is broadly questioned as gunboat diplomacy in Latin America, is hardly a reason to defend a base whose purposes are obsolete. The Obama administration should be conducting talks at the highest levels, if it has not already begun, in order to correct the injustice of Guantanamo not only as a torture site but as a violation of the sovereignty of a state with whom our government finally is normalizing relations.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail