Hi, I'm Nick. This is my blog. I'm a life-long unschooler living in New York. You can find more about me here.

I help run the Recurse Center (YC'S10).

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Caught in limbo

June 10, 2007

What do you do after you have rounded up "enemy combatants" from around the world, imprisoned them for a few years, and then determined that they are, in fact, not terrorists at all?

What do you do if returning them to their "home" countries would most likely lead to their torture or even execution?

The New York Times today has a fascinating look behind the scenes of this whole nightmare:

The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.

To make matters worse, the U.S.'s attempts to find safe countries to place former Guantanamo detainees have been thwarted by the Chinese government:

American diplomats said they had contacted governments from Angola to Switzerland to Australia. Increasingly, though, they have seen the shadows of their Chinese counterparts.

“The Chinese keep coming in behind us and scaring different countries with whom they have financial or trade relationships,” said one administration official, who insisted on anonymity in discussing diplomatic issues.

It's become almost a truism that China's global influence will continue to expand rapidly for the foreseeable future. The U.S. has caused untold suffering and destruction under the Bush administration, but those who cheer on the U.S.'s declining role on the world stage ought to take a good, hard look at who's most likely to fill the power vacuum.