- Within hours of being sworn into office (by John Roberts, a man unable to remember 35 words in the right order at one time), President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors to suspend legal proceedings for 120 days against prisoners held in the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Considering that the entire Guantanamo Bay system has been tainted, I believe irredeemably, by the willful and knowing imprisonment of the innocent and the continued deceptions of the Pentagon and the Bush Administration, I believe this to be a good thing. We don’t know what’s coming next, of course, and it’s always possible that President Obama will institute a system that’s actually worse than the military tribunals, but I doubt it. If we ever expect to be taken seriously by Arab nations, this step was necessary as a bare minimum.
- And as Marc Lynch reports,
Al-Jazeera reported that 38 Islamic figures (including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Rashed Ghannouchi, and other prominent personalities) offered an immediate response to his invitation to a new way of interaction between the U.S. and the Islamic world. Even al-Quds al-Arabi, a newspaper staunchly opposed to U.S. foreign policy, allowed that Obama’s inauguration demonstrates that for all of America’s flaws and hypocrisies, democracy remains the best form of government.
Marc links this response largely to Obama’s hopeful rhetoric in his inaugural address, but notes that, “It will take some real effort to begin to demonstrate the credibility and sincerity of this new way forward.” I’d say that halting the Gitmo prosecutions is a pretty good first step towards demonstrating that (much needed) credibility and sincerity.
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