Afghanistan’s leader, Hamid Karzai, has told Obama that he will not sign an agreement that will let Obama keep troops in Afghanistan unless Obama agrees to close the prison on the island of Cuba.
Here is his threat. Either Obama does what he told the voters in 2008 that he would do if they elected him, or else Karzai will not sign an agreement to let Obama keep American troops in Afghanistan after 2014, as Obama says he is ready and willing to do.
So, Obama has a choice: (1) close the 12-year Bush-Cheney prison or (2) end the 12-year Bush-Cheney war.
To save face with liberals, Obama must give up a Bush-Cheney program. He gets to choose which one. So says the man with the funny hat.
Liberals, of course, are perfectly content with both programs. They re-elected Obama in 2012. They never say anything critical of either program. Whether it means keeping Americans in Afghanistan, who were sent there only to capture bin Laden “dead or alive,” or keeping 164 men in prison without a trial, it’s all the same to liberals. They may dismiss Bush as a brainless puppet of Cheney, but they regard Obama as the light out of the darkness. One of these days. Real Soon Now.
Is it Cheney-Bush-Obama? Of course. Obama wants both legacies to be his: (1) an endless war with no purpose and (2) a constant reminder that he has total executive power, and the courts have none.
He is being faithful to the legacy of Woodrow Wilson. Wilson had socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs imprisoned for ten years. Why? For criticizing America’s entry into World War I. Then, after the war was over, he left him in prison. He announced:”While the flower of American youth was pouring out its blood to vindicate the cause of civilization, this man, Debs, stood behind the lines sniping, attacking, and denouncing them….This man was a traitor to his country and he will never be pardoned during my administration.” The Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Republican Warren Harding commuted his sentence. Debs was released on Christmas day, 1921. He traveled to Washington, where he met Harding.
Wilson sent “the flower of American youth” to spill their blood in Europe. That was the liberal thing to do. Wilson sent Debs to prison for protesting. That was the liberal thing to do. Harding commuted his sentence. Liberal history textbooks dismiss Harding as among the worst presidents of all time. As Phil Ochs sang a generation ago: “Love me, I’m a liberal.”
So, the rubber is about to meet the road. Obama must give up one of the Bush-Cheney legacies: Afghanistan or Guantánamo. He wants to keep both. But Karzai has painted Obama into a corner.
It’s not easy to be a liberal.
Obama knows he is in a jam. He has sent someone to Guantánamo to oversee the release of the last 164 prisoners. There are 2,100 Army troops overseeing them. The envoy said the following: “For us, it is not merely about treating detainees humanely, it is about ensuring that our operations reflect the values for which America stands.”
Six of these prisoners will be tried for war crimes. The other 158 will be released after 13 years. After all, they did not actually commit a crime worth being tried for. As for the five extra years they spent in prison, “our operations reflect the values for which America stands.”
These things take time.