Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hooray for this Washington Post editorial ('American Gulag') condemning the head of Amnesty International's recent naming of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay the "gulag of our times." One does not have to admire what we have done there (or at Abu Ghraib or other U.S. detention facilities) to object to AI's false equivalence with the gulag of the Soviet Union. The Post editorial says:
But we draw the line at the use of the word "gulag" or at the implication that the United States has somehow become the modern equivalent of Stalin's Soviet Union. Guantanamo Bay is an ad hoc creation, designed to contain captured enemy combatants in wartime. Abuses there - including new evidence of desecrating the Koran - have been investigated and discussed by the FBI, the press and, to a still limited extent, the military. The Soviet gulag, by contrast, was a massive forced labor complex consisting of thousands of concentration camps and hundreds of exile villages through which more than 20 million people passed during Stalin's lifetime and whose existence was not acknowledged until after his death. Its modern equivalent is not Guantanamo Bay, but the prisons of Cuba, where Amnesty itself says a new generation of prisoners of conscience reside; or the labor camps of North Korea, which were set up on Stalinist lines; or China's laogai, the true size of which isn't even known; or, until recently, the prisons of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The convenient left-wing orthodoxy, on the other hand, regards only the U.S. embargo of Cuba as unjust, without ever considering the lack of freedom, injustice, and oppression of the Cuban regime itself.

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