Well, I have had some time to sit and think about the situation with the Gitmo detainees that Bermuda has taken in. My previous writings, both here and on Progressive Minds, were written more in the heat of the moment, and especially in my post here I agree I did let my anger get to me a bit, what with the treason bit and all.
Overall my position remains largely the same:
This is a US problem, and if these detainees are cleared by the US, and the US does not feel confident in repatriating them to the People’s Republic of China, then it is incumbent on the US to take them in. This argument is strengthened by the fact that the US is better able to accomodate these people, and has an existing and extensive witness protection programme which could have easily took care of them.
I think its increasingly clear that there is going to be a huge negative public reaction to this move. The full extent of it at this moment is hard to make out, and whether this will lead to a no-confidence motion in the House of Assembly are just add to a growing sense of resentment and simmering anger towards Dr. Brown I cannot tell.
I was speaking last night to one of my closest advisors on things in general and geopolitics in particular. This person is in particular an expert on the People’s Republic of China, both in its domestic and geopolitical spheres. She had a number of interesting comments, much of which I cannot remember (it was 2am for me and I was half-awake). However, she did make a convincing argument, of which I will try to recall here.
Her main argument was that for all its sabre-rattling, the PRChina is quite content NOT to have these people returned to it, and that they may have even been framed by the authorities there for their own purposes, re creating a phantom of domestic islamic terrorists and thus legitimating its own domestic ‘war on terror’ such as was exploited during the Beijing Olympics last year. The PRChina has no interest in seeing their return – their being outside of the country actually benefits their geopolitical agenda. And yet at the same time they can exploit the situation, through sabre-rattling, for its own ends and domestic consumption.
At the same time she finds its hard to believe that the UK Government were truly in the dark about this decision, but the way its been handled actually suits them quite well. Its no secret that the UK is happy to see us cease being a colony, and this helps to a degree in that regards. Furthermore it helps get them ‘off d hook’ by pleading a diplomatic bungle and as such appeasing the PRChina bluster. No doubt they will recieve some sort of concessions from the US for this, perhaps something in Afghanistan or something. They will have to maintain a facade of outrage with both Bermuda and the USA, but it would be their hope that after a week or two the whole scandal is eclipsed by other news, and they get to move on with their own agenda.
The US benefits by simply washing their hands of the problem which threatened to be an ongoing thorn in their side. No doubt there will be outrage in the US that such detainees are being ‘rewarded’ with new lives in paradise islands, but this is no doubt the more politically expedient option for them. Domestic settlement of them would have caused much more headaches for the US in domestic politics, as well as both opening the Government up to litigation for unfair detention, and setting a precedent for future detainees and refugees.
Bermuda benefits from this too. It is not that hard to speculate that, apart from some monies to ‘assist with the settlement of these people’ we have also recieved various concessions, most likely as regards tax haven legislation (which also benefits the US capitalists if we’re honest about it). Further, it aids both US neo-colonial interests in further bringing Bermuda within the US imperial sphere, assists the UK with its wishes to end its formal colonialism. It also benefits Dr. Brown, both with an engineered spat with the UK and by being an increasingly embarrassing sychophant of the new US President. And, of course, having nice pictures of Bermuda splashed around the world for free by the media may even boost our tourism in the long-term!
Sure, there are risks here. As mentioned there will be US citizens upset with ‘rewarding’ detainees with island paradises. In the UK this move opens the UK Labour Government to an attack from the Opposition Conservatives. In Bermuda the huge negative public reaction to this threatens some serious political repercussions for Dr. Brown, as well as fuelling the growing disillussionment with Westminster ‘five-second’ Democracy, and potentially opens the door open to independence discussions spiralling away from mere formal and cosmetic Independence to a more substantial critique of geopolitics, RealPoliticks and neo-colonialism. There is also a risk of xenophobic and anti-American backlashes.
Under this theory the major players seem to have calculated that the long-term benefits are worth a predictable short-term tempest of sabre-rattling and supreme fury amongst the Bermudian populace.
This is no doubt a more sophisticated argument than my gut reaction of the US coercing us into this situation. Its still neo-colonialism, and still needs to be condemned. But its probably much closer to the mark.
On a final note on this issue I feel its important to stress that public anger over this action should not be vented on the four Uighurs. They are in my opinion mere pawns in a complex geopolitical game of poly-tricks. They are in Bermuda now, and it is the ethically right thing to let them stay, to give them asylum, just as we did almost a century and a half ago to the slaves of (I believe it was called the) Amistad (not the same one as the movie), an event which is commemerated today at Barr’s Park.
Public anger should be vented at Dr. Brown and the US Consul, and even at Government House in as much as it represents the UK. The Uighurs should be offerred our compassion as the pawns they are. Save your anger for those who made the decisions, not those who are victims of it.