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Every Island Has Its Price

June 10, 2009

Life as an enemy of Barack Obama’s America isn’t that bad. You are given special attention with speeches and interviews and best-buddy handshakes. And if you have received training as a terrorist under the banner of religious extremists you get paid a life-long holiday on an insider-tip island in the South Pacific. “Obama is a Communist or a Democrat?”, one of the Uighurs bound for the island of Palau is reported to have asked. Bad grammar but good question, the French Cowboy would say, the line is sometimes blurry. Maybe Obama decided against sending the Uighurs into gulags as the parallels to the case of the two American journalists condemned to 12 years of “reform through labour” by the North Korean government would have been too inconvenient. Or maybe he just wanted to signal his belief in capitalist solutions. Because the Palau deal is nothing if not a homage to capitalism including a hat tip to the globalised economy: if you can’t do something yourself pay someone else to do it for you. And if ‘someone’ is an insignificant foreigner dependent on your charity then you can even pay him to do something really unpleasant others wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.

The Palau decision also showcases the additional benefit that comes with trade relations: your trade partners often become your best friends. (Please take note that this relationship doesn’t work into the other direction: when you are considered a friend you don’t need to be a trade partner on top of that. See Obama’s America and South Korea, Columbia, Canada.) Madame Clinton praises the “excellent relationship” and the “shared commitment to humanitarian values” between the US and Palau. (By now you probably have found the microscopic dot somewhere to the North of Australia on your world map. I won’t tell anyone that you didn’t know about its existence before the island became deus ex machina for Obama’s chances for a second term. Obama might not have been aware of it himself.)

So a new adoptive home for the Uighurs has been found (provided they agree to go there as one of their lawyers has ominously suggested). But what about the other Gitmo detainees? What’s more: what about the terrorist-trained Uighurs and non-Uighurs still out there on the hard-to-define battlefield who are intent to do serious damage to the US? Will they be sent to Palau too? Will they also be delivered with a $12 million check per capita? Or will no one make an attempt to capture them? On the loose they are a security threat, all right. But captured they are a threat to President Obama’s collection of brownie points. No doubt, this is one of the tough decisions of which Obama so often reminds us that he has to make them. Too bad Jeremiah Wright can’t give him guidance because for one thing he has been officially thrown under the Obama bus and for the other “[t]hem Jews aren’t going to let him talk to [Obama].”

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