Omar Khadr, is being returned to Canada after 12 years of illegal and immoral detention in Guantanamo Bay. He is probably a dangerous man and probably holds very different views on religious freedom to me but his detention, and that of 166 others in Guantanamo, is a major problem for US (and coalition) troops on the ground right now. Their detention is a cynical calculation of where the balance is between deterrent and motivation. If there is no way to escape Guantanamo because of the US military’s lack of accountability then why wouldn’t you shoot?
If I am a young Afghan with a gun thinking about killing a US soldier who has flown around the world with his gun to shoot in my village then the choice becomes horribly stark; shoot and run or surrender and spend the rest of my days in a prison camp being subjected to torture, humiliation and solitary confinement. If Guantanamo is intended to deter violence, while troops are still on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, then it is a practical and theoretical failure.
Perhaps the US feels that it is so superior militarily that it is better to provoke this desperate confrontation and smoke out the last remaining ‘terrorists’. Many are indeed warped and bent on violence but a tragically large number are young, hopeless and brainwashed teenagers just like half the dopey 15 years olds in every American high school or Irish secondary school. Perhaps the US thinks that they will win 99 out of 100 such shoot outs and perhaps they are right, but the strategy is so callous for the families of the dead and imprisoned, and so rotten for the next soldier that has to come along offering the same deal in the next village.
It is very hard to feel sorry for a guy like Khadr who is clearly an extremist and has a radical family motivated to a violent confrontation with the West but in his last moments before shooting, with Guantanamo hanging over his head, I can at least begin to understand his last innocent choices.