What to do about Guantanamo?

Transporting a Guantanamo captive on a stretcher in 2002 (picture US Department of Defense)

I was on 18 Doughty Street this evening, discussing various issues on the new internet TV station devoted to politics. Various points came up, including the European summit (obviously) but also there was mention of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Apparently an e-mail is circulating inviting people to suggest things that Gordon Brown might do in his first 100 days as prime minister, and one suggestion was to call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

Absurd, of course, because Tony Blair already has. (This blog wrote about his rather peculiar statement here.) It took a long time before the British government finally got to where the British people were on this issue – that Guantanamo is a scandal – but it got there. You can read some of the saga here and here, in Federal Union’s own analysis of the issue.

Elsewhere during the broadcast, I raised the question of European foreign policy, saying that one of the reasons why we needed a new European treaty was to enable the different European countries to voice their common policy more effectively. Either I didn’t get the chance or didn’t have the wit to mention this again in the context of Guantanamo.

I asked what Britain could do about Guantanamo, other than voicing its criticism, and the answer of course is nothing. All the running in dealing with the problems of terrorism has been made by the Americans because they lack a serious and capable partner in Europe. Individual EU member states are too small; only together could they provide the Americans with what they need.

The Europeans have no right to criticise the Americans for acting unilaterally when they themselves are unable or unwilling to act with the Americans in a multilateral framework. If the Europeans do not want to see a repeat of the damage caused by the Guantanamo camp, they had better get serious about foreign policy themselves.

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If you did not catch it at the time, you can watch the programme at http://doughty.gdbtv.com/player.php – it was the Vox Politix show on 21 June, and should be available for another 7 days.

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