Sunday, February 01, 2009

U.S. Out of Cuba!

Nick Kristof had an interesting column in Wednesday's Times about how we need to have some kind of inquiry about the use of torture during the Bush years in order to avoid doing it again.

I really can't go along with all of it. For instance, he recommends that it be run by Brent Scowcroft and John McCain, "dominated by military and security experts". Somehow that's supposed to add up to nonpartisan, even though we know that McCain, while making a show of being against torture, supported the Bush regime in the Senate when it came down to it.

Maybe this is the best we can do. I hope not. I would think that a federal grand jury might be a more appropriate body to investigate, or, even better, the International Court of Justice. Probably he's right that that isn't going to happen, but we don't have to like it.

Buried in the column, though, is a great suggestion. In the context of Obama's order to close the detention facility in Guantanamo, he makes the following suggestion:

So let’s do more than just close the prison. The best move would be to hand Guantánamo back to the Cubans.

Why spend tens of millions each year for a naval base that has very little military utility? We can project power in the region from Florida, and the main effect of the base has been to bolster Cuba’s Communist regime by creating a nationalist backlash and a scapegoat for the Castros’ repression and incompetence.



So how about it? Can anyone think of any foreign policy benefit the United States derives from spending whatever we spend to maintain the naval base? It's got to be an irritant to the Cuban government and it doesn't advance our ability to defend ourselves (assuming we're ready to stop pretending Cuba is any kind of threat to the United States).

Let's just do it.

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