Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Anna Applebaum's Op-Ed bring's up the question of Amnesty International's use of the term "Gulag" to describe Guantanamo Bay. She makes several good points about mischaracterizing the United States. Soviet Gulags killed millions to keep a dictator in power, whose power could not be checked. The U.S. claims it will look into Guantanamo abuses, and has taken some steps to monitor and change. Also President Bush is hardly a Josef Stalin. Not only does he lack the same reputation and brutality, but American's can hold him accountable with little fear of being killed, especially if one is caucasian. (However, there are reports of Bush protesters being shoved out of rallies and arrested.)

Amnesty is supposed to be an independent political organization. Using the term, "Gulag" puts it in a political position against Bush's policies, and its rhetoric will do nothing but inflame those whose policies they intend to change. In other words, diplomacy calls for moderated dialogue if progressive movements are to ensue. If Amnesty wishes to change the policy in Guantanamo, they must meet with the Attorney General with their findings, while posting their research to the world in a way that doesn't cast America as a former Soviet Dictatorship.

Dick Cheney and John Bolton could also learn a lesson. If they wish to successfully engage North Korea, they would abstain from language that infuriates Kim Jong Il, and use more subtle economic threats via China to reach their objectives. But, since they haven't used this path, Kim John Il is continuing to pull out of the six-party talks.

Back to Amnesty, the "Gulag" metaphor also increases international pressure against US military operations around the world. Infuriating U.S. adversaries around the world is no way to ensure a quick end to the war in Iraq. In short, the truth about Guantanamo shouldn't be silenced, but used more diplomatically to change to policies set by those in power.

In many ways though, I think real diplomacy is taking a nap.

No comments: