In the midst of all hell breaking loose as oil spills uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico, the economy still in shambles, and those two pesky wars being fought for God knows what reason, there lies a forgotten promise to the world; the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Shortly after his inauguration President Obama had ordered the closure of the infamous Guantanamo Bay by January 2010. The failure for this closure to actually occur is not an unforeseen one as the topic of Guantanamo Bay itself is one marred with red tape and taboo which will postpone the close of the prison camp until after Obama’s first term expires. Despite the postponement of the closing of Guantanamo Bay the consequences that accompany it cannot go unnoticed.
The closing of Guantanamo Bay is lauded as a means in which the United States can free itself from a symbol of oppression that serves as a rallying point for our current foes in the War on Terror, but ironically enough the very existence of the military base has been a symbol of oppression since its construction. Before Guantanamo Bay became a popular symbol for the evils of America it was once …another symbol of the evils of America. A brief history of the American establishment in Cuba demonstrates that since the Spanish-American war the United States has shown a need to assert its presence in Cuba, even when it was unwanted (Castro’s rise to power-Present). The contract signed allowing the United States to maintain its land claim in Cuba was done so by Batista, the puppet leader they established in the first place. This contract states that the agreement between Cuba and the United States can only be changed or terminated by a mutual agreement between the two countries leaving Cuba utterly powerless to do anything to remove their unwanted foreign presence.
This exercise in power has carried into the usage of Guantanamo to hold prisoners taken in the War on Terror effectively cementing its place in history as the one stop shop for all of your oppression needs by occupying one country against its will while displacing terror suspects from halfway across the world and holding them indefinitely. With such large scale operatuions being conducted through Guantanamo Bay it must be asked what will be done with the military base in Cuba after it is no longer used for the War on Terror? Nicholas D. Kristof suggests that returning the land to Cuba would serve as a type of dual atonement. By washing its hands of the Guantanamo prison camp the United States would be forfeiting the land for the sake of burying the events that transpired there (which is a leap of faith in its own right but I digress) and by returning the land to the Cubans it would be a gesture of good will towards Cuba of an unparalleled nature (unless the whole Elian Gonzalez ordeal still counts).
Regardless whether or not the land of Guantanamo Bay is returned to the Cuban people however is a moot point at the moment because the prison camp is still active and looks to be for the near future. Though I’m stating the obvious the clear first step is to begin to whittle down the usage of Guantanamo Bay as a terrorist detention center leading to its eventual close. The act of simply using a different facility to detain terror suspects in would: 1. Be a significant step in the right direction for the United States (Can anyone honestly think of Guantanamo Bay and not think of the scandalous pictures produced from some of our finest?) and 2. The Cubans would prefer to be absolutely free of our occupation, but I believe closing a prison camp utilizing interrogation techniques that require the most delicate of terminology to refrain from being declared torture as a solid first step towards mending the one of the many broken relations between nations.
For a president whose campaign was based on the premise of hope and change it would be damning to simply sweep his order to close Guantanamo Bay under the rug and simply push the matter to his second term or to his successor. Simply put the matter of closing Guantanamo Bay presents a crossroads of sorts for Obama, one from which he can demonstrate his message of hope on a worldwide scale by evacuating occupied lands that were taken unjustly and held as a sort of trophy of American dominance and used in vile fashion, or demonstrate that with one hell of a catchy message and enough grass roots campaigning you too could become the next president ready to push an agenda of more of the same crap peddled by the many predecessors before you despite giving it a fancy new exterior. Sadly the reality is that some half hearted resolution to end terrorist detention at Guantanamo will pass, but the ‘strategic need’ for the base will be pressing enough for it to remain under U.S occupation allowing it to remain the longstanding beacon of the assertion of American dominance and exploitation that it has become.