For those who are wondering how we should deal with the hunger strikers at Gitmo, Max Boot reminds us of the Margaret Thatcher approach:
In 1981, when IRA terrorist Bobby Sands was starving himself to death while in a British prison, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not order him force fed, she did not give in to his political demands (to be recognized as a political prisoner, not a common criminal)–and she did not mourn his passing. She declared on the floor of the House of Commons: “Mr. Sands was a convicted criminal. He chose to take his own life. It was a choice that his organization did not allow to many of its victims.” With statements like that, Thatcher established her reputation as the Iron Lady–a leader not to be trifled with.
In contrast, Boot says, President Obama is trying to find out what he can do to appease the terrorists:
The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan — the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop…. I don’t want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can. But I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?
A strange locution, to say the least. Is Obama tormenting himself over why “we” are keeping Gitmo open? Is he wondering why he has done nothing to keep his promise to close it down?
He seems to be saying that the hunger strike is a legitimate response to the injustice being visited on these poor terrorists by the big, bad USA.
People like Andrew Sullivan will surely think that this places Obama on the moral high ground. In truth, it is squeamish and weak. And it causes more hunger strikes than it ends.