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Keep an Eye on Guantanamo Bay For a Glimpse Into Our Future

12 February 2002

The darkness is so great in the U.S., I'm afraid that by the time light begins to shine more clearly, and we all stop for a moment to really see -the devastations, the horror, the horror, the horror - it will be too late.

In the U.S., we remain pathetically blind to the world's suffering, stuck in the nightmare of Sept. 11, bogged down with the fantasy of eliminating terrorism and of protecting our consumer lifestyle, which is the cause of so much misery elsewhere.

The overweening pride, the utterly shameful hubris, with which we suck the world dry of its diminishing resources in the face of so much global suffering, can only end in tragedy.

Didn't the Greeks understand this more clearly than we, who have made ourselves into the new Global Police with our requisite war technology, backed by corporate renegades and revenues?

Surely they understood the fatal flaws of the gifted - the horrible, grisly failures to which they were prone - and of the folly of relying so confidently in the power of their technology.

Even the West's great spiritual treatise, the Bible, warns: 'Pride goes before a fall.'

Yet, the collective pride of the American people, the continuing belief in the rightness of violence and plunder, blinds us to our own wrongdoing. Therefore, given the force of an ill-guided moral imperative, that of taking vengeance, we can continue to believe that we can do no wrong.

Screw everyone else. So what if there's 'collateral damage'? We are 'good' and 'decent' people with the world's best interests at heart. Generally, it's safe to say that Americans, indeed, are good and decent people. But we remain eminently ignorant of the terrible state of the world, and of how our own foreign policy has contributed to the devastation for which, one day, we will pay the price.

Rather, we continue to think that, with the world in such a terrible mess, we are the only 'good' and 'decent' people on the planet. How else to explain our wealth and affluence?

For the first time in a generation, we've experienced what others around the world see every day: burning buildings falling out of the sky, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children, crushed to tiny bits of flesh and splintered bone, friends torn asunder through vengeance.

In our hubris, our great false pride and self-assurance in God's blessings - who only blesses America, of course - we stand firm against the world, justly delcaring our cause for war, thumbing our noses at international law and decency, ready to torture and destroy our enemies, just as they were ready to torture and destroy us.

So now we, a nation of good and decent citizens bent on imposing our will on the rest of the world, can ship prisoners of war to foreign soil, deprive them of their human rights and subject them to torture.

In fact, we don't even call them prisoners of war, but 'unlawful combatants.' This way, we can sedate them, place hoods over their heads, handcuff and shackle them, and transport them to Camp X-Ray for in-processing and detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they will likely stand trial before military tribunals and possibly face death.

'The United States,' according to an article from the Inter Press Service, 'has reserved the right to try the prisoners on its own terms, refusing to call them prisoners of war (POWs) because this designation would trigger rights protections under the Geneva Convention.'

These extraordinary measures taken by our government and military have sent a chill through the global community.

Human Rights Watch and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, raised the first red flags, warning the world of U.S. non-compliance with the Geneva Convention in the handling of these prisoners of war.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 'seems unaware of the requirements of international humanitarian law,' said Jamie Fellner, director of Human Rights Watch's U.S. Program. 'As a party to the Geneva Conventions, the United States is required to treat every detained combatant humanely, including unlawful combatants. The United States may not pick and choose among them to decide who is entitled to decent treatment.'

Robinson was equally firm in her response to Rumsfeld's contempt for international law and decency.

"All detainees must at all times be treated humanely, consistent with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Geneva Convention of 1949," she told reporters in Geneva soon after the first 'detainees' were transported to their new tropical paradise.

"I think it's important at a time of difficulty that human rights and international humanitarian standards be clearly upheld and observed," added Robinson.

What, in God's name, does the U.S. government plan to do with these prisoners that it should refuse to guarantee them international human rights protections established in 1949 by a world already torn by fascism?

The already checkered history of George W. Bush, whose rise to the presidency was anything but clean or acceptable, indicates an unsavory fate for these men now living in cages, exposed to the elements.

Bush, contrary to his 'compassionate conservatism,' clearly does not have a very high regard for the sacredness of life. He will, if he so desires, have these prisoners destroyed. He did it before, sending more people to their deaths than any other governor of Texas, and he'll do it again.

Additionally, and more alarming still, is the role that Florida, home state of his brother, Gov. Jeb, may play in this new concentration camp industry, and the emerging fascist regime that supports it.

Among the key players is the Florida Defense Alliance, whose members include Captain Robert A. Buehn, Naval Commander at Guatanamo Bay, and General Tommy Franks, who has orchestrated the war on terrorism from the U.S. Central Command in Florida.

'The mission, goals, and objective of the Florida Defense Alliance,' the alliance boasts, 'point the way for the state of Florida to become a proactive participant in future defense realignment discussions and decisions.'

Future defense realignment?

We're talking about shifts in the balance of military power, shifts that indicate more global control for the Bush family enterprise of state-sanctioned terrorism.

The alliance is proud of its contribution to the Florida economy: 'Florida appreciates that the military has a combined, annual economic impact on the state of over $30 billion.'

As Gov. Jeb continues to receive similar economic rewards from brother George, that figure is likely to climb. And it's clear from the alliance's mission statement that more military operations will be given to Florida.

The mission of the alliance is 'to promote base efficiencies and to further military missions in this state.' Like harboring 'unlawful combatants' in concentration camps on nearby foreign soil.

Americans should be paying closer attention. Florida has become the lynchpin for the new Bush family despotism, where blatant scorn for democratic elections and processes is the norm.

Enterprise Florida, the state's schlocky promotional tool for attracting more business and revenue - which, of course, makes Jeb a popular governor - helped launch the alliance.

This is an unabashed collaboration of business and defense on a scale of which we have so far failed to realize, and which suggests the potential for human rights horrors that 'decent' Americans would never tolerate.

But keep an eye on Guantanamo Bay for a glimpse into our future. The way prisoners are treated there will be the prototype for the treatment of offenders of all varieties, including dissidents who oppose the Bush family agenda.

Bush is taking Americans for a ride. He is not a nice man, and he doesn't give a whit about your democratic rights. Before our very eyes, after stealing an election, then whacking away at our constitutional freedoms, he's established his first concentration camp.

What's next?

What's it going to take for Americans to wake up? Another Sept. 11? Our government, which is anything but representative, is leading us into a quagmire of fascist rule.

Instead of sounding the alarm, however, we boast how great we are as a nation. This is a truly sad, dark time.

Stacey Warde
Published by Common Dreams (c) Stacey Warde

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