Some time ago, I was contacted by Montana Senator Steve Daines with an email entitled “Keep Guantanamo Open”. I was so appalled by the worldview presented in this letter that I felt compelled to share some thoughts and clearly communicate my position on the matter of Guantanamo Bay in particular and national security in general.
Ethics, honor, and human decency demand that we close this facility immediately and return those detained therein to their respective nations, for trial there, if their countries deem it appropriate, or for extradition to the United States if they face criminal charges in this country, as provided by international law.
Furthermore, while I have your ear, please allow me the opportunity to clear up a misunderstanding in regards to some “values” Senator Daines and others have ascribed to me and purportedly uphold.
I, for one, do not spend my life in fear of any nation or ideology on earth, and therefore do not need to be made secure from them. To echo Eisenhower, the advent of the nuclear option ensures there can never again be a conflict of any scale on this planet, and these wasted efforts on the part of Senator Daines and others in the maintenance of a military state are rooted in a worldview that has long since passed being relevant.
To illustrate my point, let us consider for a moment the world that such people imagine and contrast it with reality. Where again do they find this overt military threat? It simply does not exist. At best there is a cultural threat, a poli-economic threat, but there is no military threat, and, I would argue, no real threat at all. No power in the world today is going to march against another, intent on commandeering the rest by force. Such talk is preposterous.
Let us take our thought experiment even further. What if the United States was to abandon its military position completely? What is the worst that would happen? Every country on earth aspires to emulate our success. Are they going to attack us? Enslave us? We buy their goods, we innovate advances that improve their lives, we are a model of freedom for the world. What nation is going to march against and supplant us?
Who could? So what if they did? Is there something so different about Chinese or Russian life that would fundamentally change how we live? Are there people in the developed world who actually believe there are sovereign nations bent on foreign conquest? To even ask the question is to appear ridiculous.
Imagine now the alternative. What if we were to eliminate all borders and allow people to freely move about the earth? What if we were to train every single person in their own defense and limit the use of military force to the protection of human and legal rights? What if we were to work in concert rather than discord? How would such a world differ from that of today?
To move forward, we must accept that, ultimately, the peoples of the earth will live in peaceful coexistence. This is an absolute inevitability. The sooner we can align ourselves with this reality, the better off we all shall be.
In doing so, we must become open and accepting of other modes of living and realize that violence alone is our enemy. We can no more expect the other peoples of the world to bend to our will than we should bend to theirs. Surely there may be conflict and resolution as competing forms of poli-social-economic systems vie for primacy, but there need not be violence. Violence assumes resistance, and nature does not allow resistance to prevail. It is, in fact, futile. It will be overcome.
Recently I posed this question to a dear friend: “How do we move from where we are today to Star Trek?” I was disappointed by his response.
“How do we get there? Through competition. Nations competing against each other to be the first to gain advantage.”
That doesn’t sound like something Captain Kirk or Picard would say. It sounds more like the type of rhetoric I would expect to hear from Hitler, or perhaps Steve Daines.
The United States has occupied Guantanamo Bay Naval Base continuously since 1898. If that doesn’t put the artifice of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis into perspective, I don’t know what will.
A reasonable argument for competition from Robin Hanson – Long Views Are Competitive. However, I still believe what makes humans unique is inscribed in our ability to act contrary to our interests, and our further evolution contingent upon transcending this apparent need for competition.