Think ISIS Militants Are Scary? Wait Until Their Kids Grow Up.

The Buzz

The Islamic State takes pride in training children to become jihadists, suicide bombers and beheaders. While morally despicable, this is not a discussion about the ethics of training children to be soldiers. As a country already invested in a fight against the Islamic State, however, there are some very real concerns about these children that should be addressed when using airstrikes—and potentially ground troops in the future—to “degrade and ultimately destroy [ISIS].”

Obviously, the United States should be concerned about the safety of these children—many of whom have been orphaned in either Iraq or Syria, due to both internal conflicts and, ironically, the merciless acts of the “Caliphate” to which they pledge allegiance. But as the eerie five-part series on Vice News about the Islamic State documents, these children may grow up to be the new faces of ISIS.

In the second segment of the series, several children are interviewed either by the Vice reporter or an Islamic State fighter. A father who emigrated with his son from Belgium to the Islamic State in Raqqa asks his son why he wants to kill all the infidels (namely, in Europe). His son replies, “Because they kill Muslims.” Now, place yourself in the mind of this child. Your father drills into you that all non-Muslims are infidels who want to kill Muslims. He does not explain to you that the “infidels” are only aiming to kill bad Muslims like himself. He leaves that information out. So you grow up thinking that America is sending airstrikes to Raqqa, your new home, to kill all Muslims, when really America’s goal is to kill the Islamic State. Now, even if America could somehow convince this child and his peers that it only wants to eliminate the Islamic State—which, it does, and has publicly announced it will do—they have been taught to love the Islamic State and everything it represents.

In essence, these children, if continued to be brought up learning the ways of ISIS, will ultimately pose a much greater threat to Baghdad, Damascus and the Western world than their fathers and mentors did. Many adults in the Islamic State learned to speak the language of violent jihadism as just that—adults. Take the moldable, impressionable young mind of a child and teach him the language of violent jihadism at age seven, and he will speak it more fluently than his predecessors.

How, then, can these children be pulled out of the brainwashed state of mind in which IS militants have placed them? How can we reverse the teachings of ISIS? The simple answer: we probably can’t. However, there may be a way to discredit the teachings.

The Islamic State preaches that it carries out Allah’s will by purging the world of (mostly Western) infidels who wish only to kill Muslims and by spreading the Caliphate. It preaches that Sharia can be implemented only with weapons (which conveniently supports ISIS’ love of violence). Well, unfortunately, by implementing airstrikes, we are confirming—in the minds of those children—that what their leaders tell them about Western “infidels” is true.

So why doesn’t the Western world just cease with its counterinsurgency strikes on the Islamic State? Aside from the fact that it would force the Arab states and other regional actors whose security is more threatened by ISIS than ours is to lead the fight against the Islamic State, if we don’t kill any Muslims, then the preachings of ISIS to these children will be rendered falsehoods. Some psychologists assert that when parents or parental figures lie to children, they lose faith in those figures and are less likely to trust them, causing confusion and doubt within themselves and about those around them. If these children became disenchanted with their mentors, because they believe they are being lied to, there would likely be less of a chance that they would grow up to be ruthless, bloodthirsty jihadis blindly following, and ultimately leading, the Islamic State.

The children of ISIS are told that infidels are killing Muslims, and sure enough, they see America killing Islamic State militants. However, if the foundation of what they have been taught is flipped upside down, and they do not see Americans killing Islamic State militants, they may start to question the validity of the Islamic State’s leaders and their claims. Since many in the West have already asserted that airstrikes against ISIS are not working, and since the only other effective addition to the anti-ISIS campaign—sending ground troops—is an unpopular option, there does not seem to be much of an argument for continuing to attempt to eliminate the Islamic State—especially if by doing so, we are only showing those young, budding jihadis that their leaders are right and that their jihad is justified.

Rebecca M. Miller is an Assistant Editor at The National Interest. She tweets at @RebecMil.

TopicsISISCounterinsurgencySecurity RegionsIraqSyriaUnited States

10 Cold War Memoirs Worth Reading

The Buzz

Yesterday, I posted a list of great histories of the Cold War. Those books provide an excellent analysis of the U.S.-Soviet superpower rivalry. Their great strength is their detachment—they are academic efforts to make sense of the decisions governments made. But you can also gain deep insight into the Cold War by reading the memoirs of the people who made those decisions. Below are my ten favorite Cold War memoirs—firsthand accounts of the events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century.

Here are seven memoirs by American policymakers:

-Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department(1969). Acheson’s ten years at the State Department are hard to top. As assistant secretary of state for economic affairs (1941-1944), undersecretary of state (1945-1947), and finally as secretary of state (1949-1953), he served during some of the most critical years in American history. Here are just three of the major events he helped shape: the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the North Atlantic Treaty. If you want to understand how the Truman administration saw the emerging Cold War, Present at the Creation is a must read.

-James A. Baker III, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War & Peace, 1989-1992 (1995). The Cold War began. It also ended. And one of the reasons it ended peacefully—and many observers at the time worried that it wouldn’t—was Baker’s adroit diplomacy. He certainly brought well-tested negotiating and crisis-management skills to the task. After a successful law career, he served first as White House chief of staff and then as treasury secretary under Ronald Reagan. Baker’s memoir covers the final days of the Cold War and tells of how he and his colleagues struggled to make sense of the fact that the world they had known their entire adult lives no longer existed.

-George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (1998). I have left presidential memoirs off this list because they typically devote more space to domestic policy than to foreign policy. The elder Bush’s memoir is the exception. Written with Brent Scowcroft, his national security advisor, it makes clear that the peaceful demise of the Soviet Union was not inevitable. Leaders on both sides of the Iron Curtain worried about the new world they were entering, and on more than one occasion their initial instincts look terrible in retrospect. American voters may not have rewarded the elder Bush for his foreign policy successes, but historians are likely to be far kinder.

-Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (1996). Gates joined the CIA as an analyst in 1966 after being recruited while getting his master’s degree at Indiana University. He stayed with the CIA for much of the next quarter century, eventually becoming its director in 1991. That career trajectory enabled him to give a first-hand account of how five presidents, from Richard Nixon through George H.W. Bush, managed the Cold War. Gates explores how different personalities worked together to make important policy decisions. (Gates returned to the memoir genre in 2014 with Duty, his reflections on his time as secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011.)

-George Kennan, Memoirs 1925-1950 (1967) and Memoirs 1950-1963 (1972). If one person deserves credit for formulating the strategy that the United States pursued during the Cold War, it’s Kennan. First in the Long Telegram and then in the “X article,” he made the case for containment of the Soviet Union. Kennan left the Foreign Service in 1950, disillusioned that the Truman administration had given containment a more militaristic bent than he had intended. Other than a brief stint as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1952, he spent most of the next fifty-five years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton writing elegantly though critically about U.S. foreign policy. His first memoir covers his early years as a Foreign Service officer and the beginning of the Cold War. His second memoir recounts his time as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and conveys his reflections on U.S. Cold War policy in the 1950s and early 1960s.

-Henry Kissinger, White House Years, Years of Upheaval, and Years of Renewal (1979). As national security advisor for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and then as secretary of state under Ford, Kissinger dominated the U.S. foreign-policy process in a way that no one outside of a president has done before or since. He was a central figure in shaping U.S. policy in Vietnam, détente with the Soviet Union, and the opening to China to name just a few of the monumental policy initiatives he helped fashion and implement. In his three-volume memoir, Kissinger reflects on the decisions that the Nixon and Ford administrations made as well as on his relationships with both presidents.

-George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (1993). Few people can match Shultz’s career. He taught economics at MIT and the University of Chicago for nearly two decades, served as secretary of labor (1969–70), director of the Office of Management and Budget (1970–72), secretary of the treasury (1972–1974), and then headed up the Bechtel Corporation. He capped off his government career as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. From his seventh floor office at the State Department, he engaged in legendary bureaucratic infighting with Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and helped shaped U.S. foreign policy in the final years of the Cold War. In his memoir, Shultz takes readers behind the scenes of the Reagan administration and offers his assessment of Reagan the man.

Of course, the Soviets had their own views of the Cold War. Here are three memoirs by senior Soviet officials worth reading:

-Anatoly Dobrynin, In Confidence: Moscow’s Ambassador to Six Cold War Presidents (1995). Dobrynin served as the Soviet Union’s ambassador to the United States from 1962 until 1986. He witnessed a lot of ups and down during his quarter of a century in Washington: Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko lying to President John Kennedy in the Oval Office about Soviet missiles in Cuba, the rise of détente, and the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to name just a few. His memoir provides a different perspective on how American politicians and policymakers handled the Cold War.

-Mikhail Gorbachev, Memoirs (1996). In the West, Gorbachev is a hero for recognizing the inevitable and allowing the Soviet Union to collapse. For many of his fellow Russians he is a villain for the same reason. In his memoir, Gorbachev explores why and how he revolutionized his country, transformed relations with the West, and helped end the Cold War. His account hasn’t done much to change how Russians feel about him, but it does make clear that at critical points in history, individuals matter.

-Nikita Khrushchev, Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Volume III: Statesman(2007). Khrushchev was one of the Cold War’s most blustery personalities. He vowed to “bury the West,” challenged then–Vice President Richard Nixon in a kitchen debate, and banged his shoe on a desktop at the United Nations. Those theatrics, plus his reckless instigation of the Cuban missile crisis and his mishandling of relations with China, help explain why his Politburo colleagues dumped him as Soviet premier in 1964. While under house arrest following his ouster, he dictated his memoirs—and he had a lot to say. Khrushchev’s memoirs were originally published as Khrushchev Remembers in the 1970s. (Strobe Talbott, who later became deputy secretary of state and president of the Brookings Institution, was the translator.) But Khrushchev’s son had a new and more complete version published.

My suggestions hardly exhaust the supply of good Cold War memoirs. So please list your favorites in the comments below.

This piece first appeared in the CFR blog The Water's Edge. 

TopicsCold War RegionsUnited States

China's Slick Master Plan: A Bullet-Train Dynasty

The Buzz

It is often observed in China that, the worse the economy, the more active the nation's railway building becomes.

A flurry of new high-speed rail (HSR) announcements, domestic and international, might suggest that policymakers are worried. Indicators like electricity, freight, steel and wholesale price deflation all invite state-directed fiscal stimulus. Building railways is a popular and prestigious tool to buoy the industrial sector. Since 2008, especially, HSR projects have become Beijing's stimulant of choice. They have also become a geopolitical tool.

Are they sensible, grandiose, or merely an expedient way to keep growth going?

All of the above. China does “need” more railways, by any international comparison of GDP, land area and population. Its urbanization program demands mass rapid mobility. But urban planners question the merits of HSR. Bullet trains benefit very large metros but commutes can create empty bedroom communities in outlying cities. Last month, Japan proudly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Shinkansen rail line, though many lament the “funnel effect” that has emptied Japan's countryside into a few urban corridors.

The financial returns are uncertain. Only a handful of HSR routes are profitable. China Railway Corporation is laden with debt and its European counterparts look little different. In Japan, only the Tokodai line makes good money. Taiwan's HSR is, again, close to bankruptcy. Britain and California wring their hands about HSR's viability (China is interested in both proposals). But social returns can differ from financial returns, and Beijing is counting on HSR's economic boost to urbanization. So China steams ahead with an awesome program to link its cities by 2020. In the end, China's HSRs may cover 40,000 km, more than half the world total.

China's international ambitions in rail are even more remarkable. Its rail firms are active from Mexico to Serbia to Zimbabwe. The real jewel, however, is the immense spider web of HSR lines it plans from China to the edges of Eurasia and beyond: Moscow, Istanbul, Singapore, and Alaska.

The recent deal signed with Russia is an eye-popper. A future Beijing-Moscow line, 7000km in length, might eventually cost a cool quarter-trillion dollars, mainly Chinese funded. Analysts foresee 700 trains (1000 passengers each) running simultaneously. There are currently only 26 direct flights each way weekly, suggesting a dramatic tightening in the linkages between these superpowers. The 45-hour traveling time is daunting; a flight takes eight. Over such distances, the physics of lightweight aluminum tubes traveling at altitude easily trump the steel-on-concrete juggernauts on land. Hence the Moscow express, like the dubious Nicaragua canal, seems more like a political statement directed at the West.

These projects do extend influence and advertise technological prowess. Five decades after Japan amazed the world, China wants to become synonymous with HSR, “like watches are to Switzerland.” Even its soft-power apparatus presents itself as “spiritual HSR.” The New Silk Road network will reduce China's oceanic exposure while binding its neighbors. And they are willing partners. This is a “win-win”, although China probably wins biggest.

The asymmetry between its influence vis-a-vis its far weaker counterparts is what stokes anxiety about governance in its new multilateral development banks. As one Chinese scholar puts it, “good old-fashioned aid, with China doing everything by itself, meaning Chinese money, Chinese companies, Chinese construction materials and even Chinese workers, frankly is an invitation to malpractice and corruption.” Whether it is through new multilateral institutions (the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank specifically targets Silk Road HSRs) or bilaterally, Beijing will build railways regardless. China is overflowing with resources. It doesn't yet have Boeings or Toyotas to sell, but it has HSRs and will build them anywhere on its own dime. In a strange contrast to its anti-monopoly campaign against foreign firms, Beijing may merge its two state-owned locomotive makers into a hyper-competitive export champion.

HSR customers are governments, and Beijing likes that. The risk for its partners is that Chinese trains may vault—literally and developmentally— over them and leave them de-industrialized, a scenario already evident in Southeast Asia. In the last two years, China's own development banks extended almost US$700 billion of export financing, more than America has in its 80-year history. And if Beijing pushes these loans as a vehicle for Yuan internalization, it may create additional risks for borrowers.

Those who see the Waldorf Astoria purchase as “economic power shifting East” are missing the bigger point. China has long been accumulating claims; it is merely getting more sophisticated at diversifying them. Domestically, China invests roughly US$4.5 trillion annually (24% of the world total), but it saves an even more stupendous US$5 trillion (26%); the surplus capital logically must be exported.* Rather than accepting US Treasury’s in return, Beijing now wants real foreign assets which it can build and control.

*Global savings must balance with global investment. The 2% spread reflects China's net creditor position.

This piece was first posted on The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Image: Flickr/Creative Commons. 

TopicsEconomics RegionsChina

Space, the Final Frontier Between the Public and Private Sectors

Paul Pillar

Private enterprise that is engaged in transportation to space and the upper atmosphere had two catastrophic failures within the last week: the explosion seconds after liftoff of an Antares rocket launched by Orbital Sciences Corporation under a NASA contract to ferry supplies to the international space station; and the crash, killing one of the test pilots, of a rocket plane that Virgin Galactic hopes to use to give passengers rides through the mesosphere. Accidents can happen to anyone, but the incidents point to some issues regarding the relative roles and performance of the public and private sectors and how those roles are commonly viewed. Two issues in particular.

One concerns how a well-founded appreciation for the working of free markets has too often been translated into a crude and unfounded, and ideologically driven, belief that the private sector is inherently better than the public sector over a very wide range of activities. Genuinely free markets are indeed wonderful mechanisms for using competition and pecuniary incentives to get the best possible product or service at the best possible price. But large parts of the private sector are far from operating as classic free markets. There are numerous possible reasons for this, involving departures from unfettered competition and small numbers of buyers or sellers.

Orbital Sciences contracting with NASA is not like General Motors trying to sell cars, in which success of the business depends on large numbers of potential customers deciding for themselves what they like or don't like about the products offered by GM and its competitors. Instead there is only one customer, NASA, that presumably is applying the same standard that it always applied under its previous model of managing space launch projects itself and using private industry only as suppliers for segments of the project. There is no more incentive to get things right, and to avoid incidents like last week's launch failure, whether the work is contracted out or not. Of course, Orbital Sciences would not want a string of failures that would lead NASA to redirect its business to SpaceX or someone else, but NASA would not want that either.

It is hard to see where private enterprise is offering any cost savings with an arrangement like this. For government to contract with a for-profit business means starting with the need to make up for additional overhead, including the business's profit. It also is hard to see where any extra innovation is being offered. Indeed, pecuniary motives may have been working against innovation. The main engine that Orbital Sciences was using in the booster that exploded is a modified version of a Russian engine that dates from the 1970s. An independent consultant remarked about the incident with the Antares, “Coming up with new engines is a very expensive proposition. That was probably one of the reasons the Russian engine was so attractive.”

The other issue concerns the standards that the public and the political class commonly apply to success and failure in the public and private sectors. Frequent failure and creative destruction—of failed products and sometimes of whole companies—are central to the working of free markets. It is thus appropriate that as long as no one else is getting hurt, we are nonchalant about such failures. (The awful situation of financial institutions that are “too big to fail” should be an exception precisely because a lot of other innocent people do get hurt by failure.) But a far more rigorous standard often gets applied to activities by government, even activities that are at least as inherently risky and subject to failure as what those in the private sector who introduced the Edsel or New Coke were doing. The zero-tolerance standard applied to stopping terrorist attacks is one example. NASA's exploration of space has been another, especially where human lives were involved. We are taking more notice of failures by private sector space enterprises than we otherwise would because private enterprise is getting into an activity that government had previously performed and to which the higher standards of success and failure had historically been applied.

The nature of a project and its relationship to any public purpose ought to be prime criteria in success and failure and who ought to do the project. Virgin Galactic's project is designed to provide brief thrill rides to people wealthy enough to want to spend a quarter of a million dollars per ticket for that sort of thrill. Obviously there is no role for government in anything like that. One can even question why the National Transportation Safety Board is using its resources to investigate last week's crash. Let the market handle it all. If would-be thrill riders have enough concern about safety to turn their backs on Virgin Galactic's project, or even on the entire space tourism business, so be it; there would be no harm to the public interest.

As for the many other endeavors—including some bold, risky endeavors—where the public interest is involved, let us remember that some of those are suitable for markets to play a role but others are not.

Image: Flickr/NASA.                                             

TopicsSpace RegionsUnited States

A Republican-Controlled Congress Will Give Obama Foreign Policy Headaches

The Buzz

Much comment over the past several weeks has focused upon what a Republican victory on Election Day would mean for President Obama’s domestic policies, including the immigration reform package that the White House has been trying to push through unsuccessfully (not that the package fared well with Democrats in the majority either).  Will the congressional Republicans block what the administration is trying to accomplish?  Will a Republican-controlled Congress send over bills that are designed to force the president to use his veto?  And how will Democrats behave in the minority, after being the ones who called the shots in the Senate for the past eight years?”

Yet there is an equally important set of questions that need to be examined just as closely.  How will a Republican victory on November 4 affect the Obama administration’s foreign policy initiatives—some of the very same initiatives that, if successful, could stop the bleeding from the administration’s terrible poll numbers and form some sort of positive legacy for Obama and his team?

Whether the subject concerns the nuclear negotiations with Iran or the current military campaign against the Islamic State, it is very likely that a Republican Party newly dominated in the House and Senate will use committee chairmanships and majority status to set terms and change the confines of the debate.  Here are a few policy areas that could potentially complicate the administration’s efforts:

1. The Iranian nuke talks:

If there is one foreign policy position that unites a sometimes fractious Republican Party, it’s the common belief that the Iranians are mischievous troublemakers in the region and are not to be trusted.  Nowhere is this more present than the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with the Iranians, which are less than four weeks away from either ending in historical success or disappointing failure.

To say that Republican lawmakers are skeptical of the Obama administration’s negotiating strategy with Iran is a vast understatement.  The majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress are wholly opposed to any uranium enrichment capability and production capacity for the Iranians, underscored by the barrage of criticism that the White House received after the conclusion of the interim Joint Plan of Action agreement in November 2013.  That agreement permitted Tehran to keep its existing centrifuges running and allowed the Iranians to produce a limited amount of enriched uranium.  

The deal was constructed as a holding pattern, a mechanism for the United States and its P5+1 partners to freeze the Iranian nuclear program at the current level in order to provide the political space needed for longer and more comprehensive negotiations in the future.  Republicans, like Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Corker, were not amused by the administration’s efforts: “it looks like we’ve tacitly agreed that they [Iran] will be enriching for commercial purposes down the road,” Corker said on Fox News Sunday a day after the JPOA was inked.  “I think it’s now time for Congress to weigh in because I think people are very concerned that the interim deal becomes the norm.”

We should all expect this type of language to not only continue but to escalate and develop into concrete legislative proposals in a Republican majority Congress.  Senators Corker, John McCain, and Marco Rubio have already filed legislation that would compel President Obama to submit any nuclear deal with the Iranians to Congress for a full up-or-down vote.  Up until today, the White House has been able to count on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to kill any Iran-related bill that would cause the administration headaches.  A Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (if he wins a tough re-election fight) will play no such role.

2. ISIL in Iraq/Syria:

There was impressive support from Republicans when President Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes against ISIL positions in Iraq and in Syria in early August.  Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, expressed hope that U.S. airstrikes would result in a significant degrading of ISIL’s military capability.  Minority Leader McConnell applauded Obama’s decision to keep the Congress informed during the campaign, and even Minority Whip John Cornyn stated in a press release that he supported the president’s decisions (he would later call on Obama to submit an authorization for the use of military force to the Congress).

With the air campaign over two months old, however, bipartisanship has given way to concern that the administration’s “no boots on the ground” strategy for degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL is both too limited and too self-restricting.  Republicans are increasing their calls for a U.S. ground component, including the deployment of U.S. Special Operations troops, to improve the Iraqi army’s chances at driving out ISIL militants and ensuring that territory cleared is held by Iraqi soldiers over the long term.  The most outspoken proponent of a more aggressive U.S. ground presence, John McCain, will be the next Chairman of the Armed Services Committee if the Republicans are able to take the Senate.  It will be a lot harder for the White House to ignore these demands from the chairman of a powerful national security committee than from a senator in the minority.

3. Congressional Oversight:

Outside of the ‘power of the purse,’ one of the most important powers that any U.S. Congress has is the duty to monitor the executive closely and determine that the president and his top advisers are implementing policy appropriately.  Holding hearings and calling on senior administration officials to testify is the most effective and public way to do this.  While congressional hearings are often combative and tense due to the issues involved and the constant tension between the executive and legislative branches, the inauguration of a Republican-controlled Congress in January 2015 will guarantee that these exchanges will be more heated than when the president’s own party controlled the agenda.

Senator Bob Corker, John McCain, and Richard Burr are the exact opposite of what the Obama administration would refer to as Capitol Hill allies.  Unfortunately, these three people are also expected to rise to the chairmanships of their respective committees (Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Intelligence) in a Republican Senate.  With these three men in charge of such powerful committees, officials from the State Department, Pentagon, and Intelligence Community will be repeatedly grilled in a public forum (Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lucks out, given the nature of his work) and forced to defend policies that are either unpopular or ineffective.

Hearings rarely result in changes of White House policy, unless a scandal is so embarrassing that the administration has to introduce reforms to save itself from being lambasted (see the Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system, the IRS, and Ebola).  But sharp questions in full public view of the television cameras is a power in and of itself, oftentimes resulting in critical coverage on cable news.

4. Guantanamo:

Any hope that President Obama had in closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility—a central promise of his first presidential campaign in 2008—will be extinguished if Republicans retake the Senate.  The restrictions that Congress has put into place, which bars the administration from using any money appropriated to the Pentagon for transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States for imprisonment or trial, ties the president’s hands on the issue and has kept the infamous prison open.  Although congressional Democrats are also wary of closing the Gitmo facility and allowing dangerous detainees to come to the United States for incarceration, it’s Republicans who have been the most passionate about obstructing the administration’s efforts at closure.  

If a Senate led by a reliable administration ally like Democrat Harry Reid has not been able to amend the law by lifting the restrictions, then it’s a fool’s errand to expect a Mitch McConnell-led Senate to be any more innovative.  Despite President Obama’s desire to shutter the doors of Gitmo for good and meet a campaign promise that he clearly wished would have occurred during his first term, a Republican Congress will make the president’s job even more difficult, if not impossible—assuring that Gitmo will continue to operate even after Obama leaves office.    

Image: White House Flickr. 

TopicsDomestic Politics RegionsUnited States