International Relations -Political Science The Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Business - Law Type: Term Paper Paper: #99725474 Related Topics: Guantanamo Bay, Political Science, Humanitarian Intervention, Political Aspects
Excerpt from Term Paper :

S. fails to consider the inmates as war prisoners, and does not allow them to defend themselves against the charges brought, is a complete breach of the Geneva Conventions. At the same time, statements such as Donald Rumsfeld's consideration that the prisoners of Afghanistan are unlawful combatants and do not enter the category of prisoners of war is simply a means of establishing a legal niche that would allow the State Department to increase the number of inmates and to limit the degree under which the practices from Guantanamo must face the international law scrutiny.

All these issues taken into account, it can be said that the matter of the legal status of Guantanamo inmates represents a human rights' issue and it must be considered the degree in which this attitude tends to affect the United States. There is in fact no legal justification or interpretation of the Geneva Conventions that would suggest the fact that the actions taking place in Guantanamo are lawful. From the perspective of the basic human rights, these are not met and they pose serious questions over the legality or justification of the actions undergone by the U.S. In Guantanamo.

Another important aspect that must be taken into consideration when trying to establish the feasibility and the obligation for the area to close down is the image of the United States. Since the early days of our history the American people and in general the American democracy have been widely viewed as one of the most important democratic countries in the world precisely because they offered the sense of equality and respect for all human beings, regardless of origin and nationality. However, at this moment the Guantanamo Bay example stands in complete contrast with the ideas promoted for more than 200 years throughout the world. In this sense, Colin Powell argued that "Guantanamo has become a major, major problem... In the way the world perceives America and if it were up to me I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow but this afternoon... And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system" (Reuters, 2007). Also, another high ranked official considered that the existence of Guantanamo may pose a threat to the image of the U.S. In this sense, he considered that "from the standpoint of how it reflects on us that it's been pretty damaging" (Al Jazeera, 2008).

Therefore aside from the legal aspects there is also the matter of the image the U.S. creates for itself. The facilities in Guantanamo represent an issue that could jeopardize the position of the U.S. As a fighter for freedom and as a supporter of the respect for human rights throughout the world.

The issues related to the legal matters concerning the Guantanamo prisoners are facts that are rather hard to understand by the public because they entangle particular matters related to international law. However, the negative image of the world in respect to the U.S. is widely determined by the constant news of the psychological problems detainees from the area suffer throughout their detention time. In this sense, there have been massive reports on the physical condition of prisoners as well as guards. Concerning the latter "the guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp are the "overlooked victims" of America's controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them. In some cases, a tour of duty at the camp has made guards suicidal and prompted a variety of psychiatric symptoms, from depression and insomnia to flashbacks." (Randerson, 2008) Therefore, it is obvious that there are more people...


On the one hand, there is the matter of the guards who are not only the witnesses of the abuses that take place but are also sometimes forced to treat the inmates in an abusive manner.

In terms of the treatment of the prisoners, they are clearly treated inhumanly. There are reports suggesting that the means of interrogation are taking the physical endurance capabilities to extremes. In this sense, there are images that portray the techniques used to intimidate inmates "including a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs, another where a prisoner was gagged with duct tape and a third where a dog was used to intimidate a detainee who later was thrown into isolation and showed signs of "extreme psychological trauma." (USA Today, 2004). This action can only worsen the image that the Western world has on the U.S. At the moment. From this point-of-view, the Abu Ghraib scandal came to strengthen the belief that the U.S. is practicing all sorts of techniques of interrogation that are degrading and insulting for the rights of the individual, for his own identity.

Indeed, it is rather hard to determine a possible solution to the issue at hand. This is largely due to the fact that there is more than one group of interests at stake. On the one hand, there are the supporters of a hard-line approach on the matter. From this perspective, the "war on terror" is a goal which justifies the means. The security of the United States in their view is dependent on the way in which the U.S. will be able to gather information and acquire new leads in the hunt for the terrorist networks around the world, in particular the Al Qaeda network. However, the matter of security cannot be viewed from a simple one-dimensional perspective. Security represents more than the hunt for the visible enemies; it also demands good relations with the world around us. From the perspective of the recent scandals related to the Abu Ghraib prison and the constant problem represented by the Guantanamo Bay area, it may be that in time, the U.S. will lose its aura of the savior of democracy as long as it is not willing to practice what it teaches.

On another point, the issue of human rights, as stated before is crucial for the world we live in today. It represents the mark of an era of civilization where the human life counts. However, the recent history has proven otherwise. At the same time though the United States must be a beacon of democracy and of the respect for human rights. But the fact that the United States takes little regard on the matters concerning the Geneva Conventions and on the activities of the International Criminal Court is relevant for pointing out that a change must take place. It should start with closing Guantanamo Bay.

There are several points that must be taken into consideration should such a solution be viable. First, there are those who argue that the maintenance of the facility under the U.S. control is a necessity for the war against terror and it represents the only place where prisoners can be made to divulge information essential for the U.S. However, there is yet another issue that could be seen as a solution. Transferring the detainees from the legal limbo that is Guantanamo to the federal courts under the U.S. jurisdiction would be a possibility. Indeed, there would be certain limitation of the techniques used in the future, but at the same time, the issue of human rights would be respected. Under the U.S. jurisdiction the independence of the law determines the legal aspects of the conduct of the state authorities.

Another issue is the political, social, and administrative harmony inside the country. The issue of Guantanamo has given rise to differing opinions, especially related to the abuses that have been reported. In this sense, the Democrats argue on the stringent need to conduct research that would determine the withdrawal from Cuba. They tend to adopt the idea of the supremacy of human rights. On the other hand, the Republicans who initiated the war in Afghanistan and Iraq are the strong supporters of the maintenance of Guantanamo as a place for elucidating the information related to the war on terror. However, should the base from Guantanamo close, it would enable both forces to reconsider their position and reconcile or find a common ground that would take into account a proper solution for the concerns of both camps.

In relation to the impact the closing down of the camp would have for the administrative issues, this would probably determine a greater control of the actions undertaken by the CIA on the field and at the same time it would limit the possibilities for abuses to take place. Having in mind that at the moment there is no clear jurisdiction on the Guantanamo camp, abuses can occur without the fear of punishment. However, should the prisoners come under American jurisdiction, a stronger control can be enabled that would limit the abuses and would also give a sense of clarity in…

Sources Used in Documents:


Al Jazeera. U.S. official wants Guantanamo shut. News Americas. 2008. (accessed 21 March 2008)

Human Rights Watch. U.S.: Geneva Conventions Apply to Guantanamo Detainees. 2002. (accessed 21 March 2008)

Kissinger. Henry. Diplomacy. London: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Nye, Joseph. Understanding international conflicts: an introduction to theory and history. New York: Pearson, 2005
PBS. Guantanamo Bay's Peculiar History. 2006. (accessed 21 March 2008)
Randerson, J. Guantanamo guards suffer psychological trauma. The Guardian. 2008. (accessed 21 March 2008)
Reuters. Colin Powell says Guantanamo should be closed. 2007. 21 March 2008)
Selsky, Anrew. Guantanamo: legal no-man's land?. News vine. 2007. (accessed 21 March 2008)
Silverman, Jon. Guantanamo's legal limbo ends. 2004. BBC News. (accessed 21 March 2008)
USA Today. FBI letter complains of aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo in 2002. 2004. (accessed 21 March 2008)

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