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The International Writers Magazine
: Cry Freedom

GUANTANAMO BAY- The New Alcatraz
James Skinner

With all the flak that is going on around the world caused by the escalation of Islamic terrorism it’s hard to write about anything else.

We’ve just had another three examples of this horror, right here in my adopted country (Spain) and everyone including myself is still trying to search through those partitions of our brain that continue to reject the reality of such unnecessary carnage caused by one sector of humanity against another. But here is a clue. Having lived and worked for several years in the Middle East I realised very early on that a whole sector of this planet is inhabited by humans that do not use logic nor common sense. Only the word of Allah. It is therefore very hard or nigh impossible for us Westerners to understand why we are in the situation we are today. To us, it just doesn’t make sense. So, as the saying goes, ‘East is east and West is west and never the twain shall meet!’

Yet there is a common denominator that can be addressed in this bloody mess. It is the one that has been around since the earth began. Property. I am not a historian, but when the human being evolved from monkey to homo sapien and elevated him/herself above his fellow animals using his superior intelligence to construct some sort of a civilisation,he brought with him the deadliest avarices inherent in all fauna. The constant hunger for a patch of land to claim as his own. Despite the craving by certain Muslims to depart this planet as fast as they arrived, and taking with them a few infidels on the way, everyone recognises that they too are in an eternal fight for that most worthy of human possessions. In this sense they are no different to the rest of us.

Many of us journalists, both amateur and professional, have always reiterated that if it weren’t for the fight over Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians coupled with the forceful existence of the State of Israel on Palestinian territory, the world situation may have been carved up in a different way. Who knows. When Britain handed over Palestine to the Jews after WWII they virtually signed a death warrant on western civilisation. You don’t believe it? Just take a good look at the geopolitical situation today and what do you see? The uprising of Jihad to re-conquer the Holy Land and if necessary seal the fate of the usurpers by annihilating them. At the moment they are doing a pretty good job at the annihilating bit but struggling over the territorial gains.

Then you have the impasse in Iraq. This screw-up is a constant free for all between a western coalition trying to instil democracy and Mohamed’s boys telling them to scram. And now Spain. The Catholic Kings kicked the Moors out of Andalusia some four hundred years ago yet they’re back again, knocking at our door with renewed lethal passports. The situation is no joke, believe me! So what the hell has all this got to do with Guantanamo Bay?

When a group of Islamic assassins took to the air on September 11th, 2001 and destroyed the World Trade centre in New York and part of the Pentagon in Washington D.C., they literally declared war on the United States of America. There is no doubt about that. Being in a state of war, the US military machine was activated. The immediate reaction, we all know, was a swift counter attack on the only known and suspected culprit, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. With the help of the 7th Cavalry this wild bunch, headed by a bearded monster called Osama bin Laden, who had been planning and training all kinds of goons in the art of anti-American terrorism, were soon broken apart. (For a time at least). Again, so much for recent history. But what effects are caused during wars, apart from death and destruction?

Wars create so called prisoners-of-war and of course, the need for somewhere to put them. With regards to the USA’s captives, what better location than the existing lost and forgotten paradise in southeast Cuba known as Guantanamo Bay. Apart from the fact that they have held a naval base there for over a hundred years, the place has now been turned into an American style XXI century POW camp. It’s got all the mod cons and sophisticated interrogation technology needed to break down a suspected war criminal. Its isolation adds to the base’s security. Hence the United States’ military justice system is untouched by ‘other’ human hands. On the last count there are some 600 internees from various countries that have been rounded up throughout the world. Some have been there since the end of the Afghan war. Most have not had proper democratic legal assistance. Due to its impregnability, it is ideal to ward off all the world’s do-gooders including journalists and international lawyers that continually accuse Uncle Sam of breaking the basic rules of human rights. They don’t appreciate that the US is now at war.

Let’s hold it right there and once again rewind!
Isn’t Guantanamo Bay in Cuba? And isn’t Cuba one of the US’s staunch non-Islamic enemies? How come during all these years since Brother Fidel took over in 1959 that he never tried to exercise his right and kick the yanks out of his converted Communist island? He has certainly tried through other means to oust the US Navy. Just think for a moment. Supposing China had a little piece of the Florida Keys to house part of its naval fleet and for years kept stomping around the Caribbean to the annoyance of Uncle Sam? How would Sammy feel if they then turned it into, ‘heaven forbid’ a Communist concentration camp? The tables may have been turned in this hypothetical example but that is exactly what Guantanamo Bay was and has become. This is not the only part of the world where this type of anomaly exists. Argentina and Great Britain went to war over the Falkland Islands in 1982 because of the eternal claim by the South Americans to ‘foreign invasion’ of one of their island possessions. And what about Gibraltar? Spain has been bickering for centuries about land usurpation by Britain without any solution in sight. Ironically, Gibraltar was used as a POW in WWII and is now a naval base. A sort of reverse situation to that of the Caribbean island.
So you see, no matter what war is being waged and by whom, be it ideological or religious, land grabbing always plays a leading role. Despite all this political mayhem, not all POW’s are murderers or terrorists. I’m sure that there must be dozens or more ‘birdmen’ who like Robert Stroud in Alcatraz found solace in a more peaceful species of the animal race. Canaries make lovely companions during solitary confinement!
© James Skinner. April 2004.

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