Commentary Magazine


Gitmo Will Stay Open (But It’s Really, Really Bad)

The Obama administration now acknowledges what the rest of us already knew. You can’t close a facility housing stateless unlawful enemy combatants with a presidential signature. “The White House admitted Sunday it would be unable to shut Guantanamo Bay in the near future, even as it acknowledged the U.S. naval prison camp is a rallying cry for Islamic extremists,” the AFP reports.

For a White House skilled in the art of dangerous mixed messages, this is a magnum opus. The damage is inflicted both at home and abroad. First, at home: the president has said he considers Gitmo a betrayal of American values, stating, “Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies.” He once went so far as to claim that “the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.” Now, with the admission that Gitmo must remain open, Americans are left to ponder the persistence of a self-described terrorist-creating policy. Is the machinery of our governance so decrepit that we have no choice but to move ahead with policies that are antithetical to American principles? Is there no way to fight a war on terrorism that is both honorable and effective?

Around the world, it will be noted that President Obama embraced the narrative of Islamist grievance against the United States, only to confirm its worst aspect by reneging on his pledges to be different and to right supposed wrongs. Peaceful Muslims who had shed no tears for terrorists didn’t need Obama’s patronizing gesture to reaffirm their distaste for jihad, while Islamists now have a colorful two-part talking point to bolster their claim that America is an untrustworthy force of evil: the American president gave lip service to their complaints and then continued to cage up their brothers like animals.

In total, incoherence triumphs. Amid accounts of  the Great Obama Comeback, let’s not lose sight of the enduring challenges created by the Great Obama Discombobulation.