Guantanamo Bay ‘Represents the Courage of the West’
By Yves Roucaute*
Le Figaro, France
Translated By Sandrine Ageorges
June 7, 2006
France – Le Figaro – Original Article (French)
In the midst of a global war against terrorism, the “Guantanamo affair” is a serious issue. But rather than support those on the front lines of this new kind of war, being waged by barbaric forces against all of civilization, the poison of anti-Americanism is ruining the morale of our nations [Europe].
The prevalent anti-American propaganda orders us to turn our gaze toward Cuba. Not the actual Cuba, Castro’s Cuba – who after having murdered over 100,000 Cubans over a half century, now rules through terror. Not Castro’s infamous prisons, where several thousand political prisoners rot away (the officially number is 336). In the scenic program of the politically correct: “the gulag of our times” is American, and Castro’s Cuba consists of warm sandy beaches.
Thus we return to Guantanamo. The propaganda denounces isolation and secrecy, calls for the intervention of U.S. courts, invents prisoners hold without being charged, imagines torture and violations of civil rights.
Isolated and beyond reach? One doesn’t need to look too far to find similar precedents that went unchallenged. When on June 22, 1940 Hitler launched an unprecedented air strike against England, Winston Churchill obtained from the Canadian government permission to detain 3000 German soldiers, captured by the British army, in absolute secrecy – at isolated camps at Kannanaskis, North of Ontario in the Canadian Rockies. Churchill gave three reasons: he avoided the chance that the detainees would return to the fight in the event they escaped; he prevented the passage of information from the prison; and he prohibited the development of networks of Nazis. When we look at the way Islamist networks are developing behind bars in France and England, doesn’t the option of isolation seem like a natural response to the asymmetric war being fought by terrorist networks spreading throughout the world?
Secrecy? This makes it possible to obtain information without the enemy suspecting it, and not knowing who has been captured or when. It allows for infiltrations, the substitution of individuals, reveals complicit individuals, and the implantation of disinformation. As a temporary measure, this type of confinement strategically useful. And it saves thousands of lives.
The intervention of the courts? Through which tortuous twist of the mind would this be necessary? As during every war, the confinement of a captured enemy is not to seek legal judgment, but to stop the fighting and investigate. Admittedly, after a certain period of time, the information is obtained and the secret detention is revealed. When interest in gathering information subsides and the possibility of a return to battle ceases, release and extradition to the home country is standard procedure. As for the current protests, after the Supreme Court decision (June 2004 in Rasul vs Bush) and the Detainee Treatment Act of December 2005, the legal debate goes on, but no one wants to see these dangerous prisoners from Guantanamo running lose or setting up networks within ordinary prisons.
Conditions of incarceration? Republics are not without obligation here. As Kant stated, because violations of human dignity are punished, Republics differentiate themselves from any form of tyranny. When forgetting this principle, a soldier commits two crimes: he violates natural law and destroys the founding principles of his country. Let’s leave aside those sanctimonious hypocrites who confuse penalties and rules for the sake of their own propaganda. The U.S. courts have fulfilled their moral purpose: after information on Abu Ghraib was released, they ordered punishments rather than a Welcome to Allah’s Paradise speech [execution].
But where is the proof of torture at Guantanamo? The famous report from the U.N. Human Rights Commission (February 2005) used by the anti-Americans leaves one speechless. This commission, whose members counted communist China, Castro’s Cuba, Saudi Arabia … found improper and suspicious that military authorities had permitted them to visit, but would not allow them to meet with detainees. Consequently, the commission refused to set foot in the camp and wrote its report based in part on testimonies of … freed Islamist detainees.
The last propagandist misadventure? A mediocre “documentary-fiction” film, The Road to Guantanamo, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, with such thick strings that one only regrets Sergei Eisenstein [Communist film maker and Leni Riefenstahl aren’t alive to see it. Is it true that there is no good reason to suspect the three heroes, who have been detained at Guantanamo? Should we take for granted their assertions that they were tortured, even when no evidence remains?
Victims of bad luck, they supposedly went to a wedding in Karachi, Pakistan, the meeting point for Islamists from around the world on their way to Afghanistan. Then they moved 1200km further down the road to Kandahar, headquarters of Al-Qaeda and meeting point of the Pakistani network. They then made their way to Kabul, where many Taliban reinforcements arrived with them. Due to coalition action there, our strollers found themselves on the Pakistani border to where the Islamists had withdrawn. With never-ending bad luck following them, they are then arrested by the Northern Alliance in the company of armed Taliban, who handed them over happily to U.S. authorities.
With every passing day, anti-Americanism looks more like the opium of the people. The heart of a soulless world from which morality is excluded, the odd reference point for a consciousness lost after the fall of the Berlin wall. If the true power of a Republic resides in its virtue, as Montesquieu once stated, the extent of this virtue can only be measured by the courage to fight for it. Guantanamo represents this courage.
* University Professor in philosophy and political science, Paris-X Nanterre, and is author of “Neoconservatism is Humanism” [Le néo-conservatisme est un humanisme](Published by PUF)