In the New York Times’s overview of the 250,000 diplomatic cables stolen by Bradley Manning and subsequently transmitted to the Times and others, we are given this view of the Obama administration in action under the rubric of “Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison.”
When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
Such a deal! How could Slovenia pass up a chance to meet with Obama? Don’t tell me the Slovenians thought the prize was a zonk.
But what about Belgium? Given a shot at prominence, Obama-style, it must have concluded that hosting the European Parliament brings it just about all the prominence it can stand.
And what about Kiribati? The Kiribatis are known to drive a hard bargain. Overcrowding is a problem; did Obama’s diplomats point out that the Chinese Muslim detainees might be helpful in motivating the natives of the main island group to relocate to the less-populated islands? Or were the Kiribatis holding out for a shot at Monty’s Cash Register?