Tag: Guantanamo bay

Tulsi Gabbard Is a Hawk in Dove’s Clothing

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Already, the 2020 election cycle is beginning to heat up. After a 2016 rift in the Democratic Party, the political party is seeking to reunite against President Trump. Yet, eight candidates have already declared their own shots at the presidency. One of these candidates is Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

A veteran of the Iraq War, she claims to be of the non-interventionist wing of the party. In many ways, she hopes to cater to those who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. Gabbard does happen to be like Sanders in many ways, but this only reflects her deceit and double-sidedness.

Is Tulsi Gabbard Really Antiwar?

One of Tulsi Gabbard’s biggest talking points so far is that she opposes wars. In particular, she has criticized continual actions on the part of the United States in Syria and Afghanistan. However, it would be foolish to equate these limited responses with truly opposing the practice on its face. There is a clear difference between opposing a particular war and opposing the very concept of war.

An excellent place to begin searching for Gabbard’s true position is her voting record. But rather than portraying the 37-year-old congresswoman as a dove, it suggests that she is more mixed on the matter. Admittedly, she did oppose two key defense funding bills in 2018. Yet, the same is not true for the bill that would appropriate this funding.

On September 26, 2018, Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of a key defense appropriations bill that, quite frankly, had some absurd elements. First of all, it appropriated a grand total of $670 billion for the military in 2019. Though she seemed to oppose gargantuan spending levels previously, it appears Gabbard had no problem voting for it the next time it came through.

Moreover, the bill prohibits any funding to be used for the release or transfer of individuals at Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International has long since called the detention camp “The Gulag of our time“, and the inhumane modes of torture that the base forces on its prisoners are no surprise. Even the United Nations, an organization in no way fervently dedicated to peace, has tried to get the United States to close Guantanamo Bay. Tulsi Gabbard, though, voted for an appropriation bill that would make it much more difficult to remove those detained from the subhuman conditions that the camp does little to hide. Such a move shows blatant disregard for human life, a value generally necessary to truly be antiwar.

A Hawk on Terrorism

In addition, it is worth noting that Gabbard has even admitted to not unilaterally opposing war. Particularly, she proudly supports wars against terrorism. In 2016, she told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that “When it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk”.

The interesting thing about this statement is that it undermines her very opposition to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria. Without a doubt, there are active terrorist groups in both of those areas. By her own definition, therefore, she logically favors wars in the Middle East that fight terrorism. Yet, these have had disastrous effects. In particular, our actions in Afghanistan led to a surge in Al Qaeda membership. At the time of 9/11, the group only had about 400 members, but at the height of the war, they boasted tens of thousands.

Wars against terrorists, and specifically, the War on Terror, usually lead to the terrorists winning. And considering that the definition of terrorism is violence for political gain, it is unclear just at what point Gabbard’s own military interventions would qualify as acts of terrorism. Being a hawk against terrorists is not an admirable trait.

In Favor of Drone Strikes

Furthermore, Tulsi Gabbard has very clearly stated that she favors the use of drone strikes against military opponents. Admittedly, this is preferable to supporting an all-out ground war, but it is also a far cry from being anti-war. It appears that her concerns more closely are for the lives of exclusively Americans. This position blatantly disregards the lives of the many foreign civilians that American drones kill every year.

In this way, Gabbard appears to more closely mirror the tactics of Presidents Trump and Obama. After all, Obama’s drone strikes have killed many civilians in eight countries. There is absolutely nothing that indicates that Gabbard’s use of drones against “terrorists” (I use the term in quotations because they are the ones defending their homeland, while the American military ravages their cities) would produce a noticeably different result.

All in all, it appears that Tulsi Gabbard is not truly opposed to war. Though she may be slightly less hawkish than some other candidates, this is an easy task; it does not, in any meaningful way, show a real dedication to peace. Do not let her words fool you, and do not expect a sudden policy of peace if she wins the presidency in 2020. Tulsi Gabbard, through her support of wars and drone strikes, is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


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It’s Time to Replace our Outdated Prison System

By Daniel Szewc | Poland

The majority of the world’s modern justice systems, although punitive in nature, have a few major flaws.

Firstly, it is wrong to jail people for failing to pay their taxes. Ultimately, it does not matter how high the taxes were. This act puts someone in a cage, where his only option is to live off of state money. Though he is there in the first place for not giving the state enough money, he now can be the cause of even greater monetary losses. This is beyond paradoxical.

Bearing this in mind, we must now apply a similar argumentation for the crimes that have physical victims involved. In many countries, rapists and murderers live in prison for decades off of taxpayer money. This warrants a risk of them running away, which happened to Glen Stewart Godwin. Sentenced to prison for a brutal murder, he ran away in 1987 and then again in 1991, and hasn’t been found since. Stanislaw C.’s case is another excellent example. After serving a 25-year sentence for the murder of his wife, he murdered another woman because “he wanted to go back to prison”. It is impossible to justify murderers and rapists living off of tax money that the victims and their families helped to pay for.

According to psychology, surroundings influence behavioral patterns in an incredible manner. The more time one thief spends with others, the more likely he is to learn new methods of stealing and prepare to steal again. Understandably, in the current prison system, many of the thief’s fellow inmates may also be thieves, so this very thing may occur. In prison, it is also worth noting that the thief will be subject to potential drug addictions much more than in the outside world.

Well, what should we change the prison system for? There are only two types of punitive damage: moral damage and physical damage. The prison system takes a bite at the former, whilst leaving life lasting consequences. The only other option is to rely on the latter. Fines alone cannot exist as a judicial course of action for any crime, as such a system would mean that billionaires would be unpunishable. A physical punishment, on the other hand, is admittedly harsh and horrific. But the consequences of such when entering society are far lower than that from years in prison. Moreover, the punishments would be cost-effective and timely, robbing far less of the prisoner’s life and exposing them to a harsh environment for less time.

As for rapists, murderers, and pedophiles, a death penalty ensures no further harm. As civilised people, we cannot allow the possibility of such predators escaping. If there’s one place nobody can save you from, it’s your coffin. For example, one Polish murderer, Mr. Poznański, nearly killed a psychiatrist with a glass that he smashed whilst she was examining him. He had admitted to his prior murder long before the examination. With a guarantee of guilt, the death penalty saves future lives. Though unpopular, such a system actually does a better job in guarding life and liberty than the current prison disaster.


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Donald Trump Made A Bad Move On Guantanamo Bay

By Willie Johnson | United States

Like numerous presidents before him, Donald J. Trump has been widely criticized for failing to keep campaign promises. From building a border wall with Mexico to imprisoning Hillary Clinton, he has failed to live up to many expectations, but that’s not always a bad thing. His recent executive order to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serves as a shining example of how our president’s failure to follow through (and the outrage it would incite) would have been a better alternative to his choice of maintaining a system that is both illegal and morally corrupt.

Let’s flashback to January 2009—Newly inaugurated President Barack Obama tried to keep a campaign promise of his own by signing executive order 13492, mandating the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility no later than one year in the future. It stated that prisoners still being held would either be released or transferred to a detention facility elsewhere. It was meant to serve the interests of both national security and foreign policy by treating detainees as enemy combatants under the rules of the Geneva Convention. A solid plan, no doubt, but one that was unfortunately overturned by congressional legislation. Nine years later, it’s back to bite us all.

What’s the issue with Guantanamo Bay, anyway? First of all, the grounds for its very existence is shaky at best. It was first established as an American naval base in 1903, but even the Department of Justice admits that its status as a U.S. territory is up for dispute. It isn’t under foreign jurisdiction either, making it the perfect place to carry out internment and interrogation techniques that would otherwise be illegal. The camp’s classification as a detainment facility is a thinly veiled attempt at hiding the obvious. If we are fighting a war on terror, Guantanamo is a prisoner of war camp, and should, therefore, adhere to the regulations of the Geneva Convention and Red Cross—both of which clearly state that there exists no status between a prisoner of war and a civilian. Detainees there occupy that illegal middle ground. Failing to close the facility is failing to respect international law.

In his first State of the Union speech, President Trump stated that his decision to keep the Guantanamo Bay facility open was based on the need for a place to detain newly apprehended ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists. The executive order he issued the same day calls for humane and legal treatment of detainees, but as stated before, such behavior cannot be assured without the threat of repercussions that simply aren’t present at Guantanamo. If the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was any example, fair treatment of prisoners is not always a prerequisite in American facilities outside of American soil. Regardless of alternative solutions, however, the potential for such crimes should be snuffed out as soon as possible.

The president has failed to realize that in trying to crack down on terrorism and improve the nation’s security, he is perpetuating a cycle of injustice established long before he took office. If he can find a way to agree with his predecessor and approach the issue with the no-nonsense attitude he is famous for, that cycle will end. No government should operate outside its own laws, and the United States is no exception.


Image from NBC news.