Peace and Security
Yemen? Yes, boys and girls, it’s time to look at our world atlas again, to see where America’s tax dollars and troops are headed next.
President Barack Obama deserves credit for ordering a new study of NASA. The findings of his Augustine Commission review of our plans for human spaceflight are impressive as well. We needed to seriously question our financial will to send humans to Mars. Not every taxpayer is ready to sign on for that expense.
After beginning negotiations in April of last year, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have made tremendous strides towards completing an agreement. Once the treaty is signed, the Senate will need to approve it. Unlike most votes, however, treaty approval requires 67 “yea” votes.
Americans got a crash course on Yemen for Christmas. That’s because we’ve wanted to know more about the little-known, dirt-poor country in southwestern Arabia where the “underwear bomber” who tried to blow up a plane—bound for Detroit from Nigeria on Christmas Day—says he was trained.
Umar Farouk Abdulmatullab—the young Nigerian who got on an airliner in Amsterdam with explosive material strapped to his crotch, intending to blow up the plane over Detroit. (Detroit! As if Detroit didn’t have enough trouble.)
And you thought Star Wars was just science fiction, right? Ha! Remember how the heroic insurgents were first ferreted out by a drone? Remember how the rulers of the universe were called “The Empire?” Remember their vast force of identical armor-clad soldiers? Remember Darth Vader, the Empire’s evil genius, sounding for all the world like Dick Cheney? But perhaps most of all, remember how the whole Battle Star community, pro-war and pro-peace alike, went up in flames?
The Obama administration has failed to close the facility, where—by many accounts—inmates were harshly interrogated and even tortured, by its own deadline. Now there’s talk that the prison will remain open at least through 2010. And the proposal to move detainees to a maximum security prison in Illinois superficially retires Guantánamo as a symbol, while retaining the legal problems it embodies. Equally troubling is the administration’s expansion of detention facilities in Afghanistan that are almost impenetrable for lawyers and humanitarian groups.
With some notable exceptions and a great deal of grumbling in its ranks, Congress seems to be going right along with Obama’s Afghan plan. Such as it is.