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Every once in a while we end up with what should be called a perfect storm in politics, which is precisely what has happened today. As authorities in Brussels race to assess the damage and catch terrorists, back here in the US, it is politics mostly as usual on the road to the November election. Because our President was in Cuba, the stage was already set for vitriol on foreign matters, so there was just a slight shift in gears.
However, it’s fair to guess that very few people are connecting dots between Brussels and Havana, via the campaign trail — including the candidates. Yes, there will be a fresh crop of comments about the evils of terrorism, and claims that the current administration is utterly incompetent. There might even be a random statement attacking the fact that the Obama Express is not changing course or agenda because of the bombings. I think we can set that aside on the basis of the logistical nightmare Obama’s presence in Belgium would cause, so let’s move on, shall we?
Havana is going to be an historical moment for Obama, and while it’s fine to say he’s simply attempting to build his legacy, the fact is that this administration decided to follow a very old adage on this one. Our country has been insane when it comes to Cuba, because we have stuck with the same policy for so long, while simultaneously expecting a different result. Hate what Obama is doing as much as you may like, but the facts on the ground include direct cash flow to at least some residents of Cuba, and a slow step into the present when it comes to technology as cellular service is slowly reaching the masses there. Of course, it is primarily for the benefit of tourists now, but Pandora’s box has been opened at least a crack. No matter what, the stage has been set for significant change in Cuba, thanks to Airbnb and mobile communications. While trade will be a primary topic of conversation in dealing with the regime, the big deal is the exportation of lifestyle to the citizens — something that they will probably decide to fight to keep if the regime attempts to yank it away from them.
As for the connection with Brussels for today, and the EU in general, admittedly that has much more to do with Obama’s hated Gitmo than anything else. The problem with radicalized Muslims returning to EU nations, particularly Belgium which appears to have the most, is something that European nations are going to have to address, and soon. The term “oubliette” entered my mind, not so much for its actual definition, but for how Hollywood depicted it in the film “First Knight.” There, it was called a “place of forgetting” — a dank, dark place where one could be left to literally rot away, as the rest of world forgets about that person’s existence. It was an honest depiction by most standards, since the term is derived from the French verb, “oublier” – to forget. Gitmo gained a reputation for torture, but perhaps it could do with a change — a place to be forgotten.
Yes, I am making the radical suggestion of the US offering the EU a solution to their terrorist problem, in the form of a place to drop the worst in Gitmo, ostensibly to simply let them rot away as they are forgotten. It may seem harsh, but there is no honor or selling point for recruitment in that scenario. Also, if there is an international interest in keeping Gitmo secure, and the Castro regime would start acting up in defiance of progress toward this century, there would be natural allies in any action to keep it in line — or remove it.
While it has been at least a little uncomfortable for many Americans to think about terrorists being so close to home, we do need to remember one thing — escape essentially involves two options that are not particularly favorable. One is going out into open sea in the hope of being picked up by a ship without the aid of modern navigational tools or GPS devices. The other is attempting to reach the US, where they would likely be greeted by armed Americans who wouldn’t think twice about using weapons against them.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that anyone in the US or the EU would bring this up as a solution. Perhaps it is too simple to implement, or too difficult to sell after years of condemning the existence of Gitmo. On both sides of the Atlantic, simple solutions are rarely offered because they do not justify radical increases in bureaucracy, and reversing positions on anything important is typically viewed as dangerous. What politician wants to admit being wrong?
However, it is time that we stop only looking for complicated solutions to problems. Most people have heard the story about a trailer truck getting stuck in a tunnel. Groups of engineers couldn’t come up with a complex solution to the problem — a little boy saying that maybe they should let the air out of the tires to make the truck shorter resolved the issue.Published in