Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hearts and Minds

Anyone who has given any thought to the problem of terrorism knows it is a battle for hearts and minds. You need to make the ground as infertile as possible so the seed of terrorism cannot be supported. When people don’t perceive that they have constructive avenues for change they resort to unconventional tactics against the system which leaves them powerless.

How are we doing on hearts and minds?

Here is a post from Daily Kos which gave me pause:

Guantanamo Bay's Freed Detainees
Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 06:03:45 AM PST
It was just last September that George W. Bush
said of the many enemy combatants we've detained since September 11th changed everything:
"It's important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held at Guantanamo. These aren't common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield -- we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo. Those held at Guantanamo include suspected bomb makers, terrorist trainers, recruiters and facilitators, and potential suicide bombers. They are in our custody so they cannot murder our people. One detainee held at Guantanamo told a questioner questioning him -- he said this: 'I'll never forget your face. I will kill you, your brothers, your mother, and sisters.' "
And today we
learn the results of an AP investigation into what happened to the 360 or so former detainees who were returned to their home countries. For example:
"Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.
The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.
At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida.
All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."
One can only assume that the rigorous process Bush spoke of was the same one used to judge pre-war intelligence. Said one man who was held for three years at Guantanamo Bay:
I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory. It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days.
If they didn't want to kill our brothers, mothers and sisters before, they probably do now. "

This is just one of many examples of poor execution in our “war on terrorism.” With so many battles lost for hearts and minds I fear we have been digging a very big hole. With every new administration initiative we dig deeper. It will take many years and much effort to turn this around. The true long term costs of this “war” has yet to be added to the balance sheet. Save your money, it is going to be expensive for many years.

For those of you who are more visually inclined, here is a video. Consider the sailboat as our administration's unhinged fantasy in the battle for hearts and minds. Consider the ferry the cold fist of reality striking their fantasy.

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