10:45 GMT20 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was keeping the Guantanamo Bay prison open makes political sense, pleasing his support base and reassuring them that the United States is not in global retreat, analysts told Sputnik.

    On Tuesday, Trump said in his first State of the Union address that he had just signed an order to keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba open indefinitely.

    Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, attempted, although in vain, to shut down the camp, surrounded by controversy over arbitrary detention grounds, torture allegations and lack of access to proper judicial process for detainees.

    Trump Determined to Scrap All Obama Security Policies

    Trump made clear repeatedly during his 2016 election campaign that he opposed Obama’s unsuccessful efforts and that he believed the Guantanamo facility was essential to US security.

    "To the Trump administration, the decision to keep Guantanamo open makes political sense," Emeritus Professor of International Relations Beau Grosscup, from California State University, Chico, said on Thursday.

    Keeping Guantanamo open is also part of Trump’s determined strategy of reversing all of Obama’s policy decisions that he could, Grosscup explained.

    "Trump has made clear that anything President Obama attempted, like closing Guantanamo, or achieved, like constructing a new relationship with Cuba, he will reverse," he said.

    Trump’s supporters believed shutting down Guantanamo would be a sign of US national weakness on the world stage and Trump was determined to avoid any such perception, Grosscup pointed out.

    The president’s supporters "see the closing of the retention center as a retreat of the US Empire, thus a closing is unlikely especially at a time when they have returned to posturing Cuba as an enemy state," he said.

    However, Trump was unlikely to scrap another policy Obama had approved in the so-called Global War on Terror of assassinating terror suspects around the world using US military forces, Grosscup noted.

    "One Obama policy Trump has not reversed, and [is] unlikely to do so is Obama’s terrorist suspect assassination program. He will not return to the [President George W.] Bush policy of capture and interrogation," he said.

    The US armed forces had supported Obama’s preference for assassinating terrorist suspects over capturing and jailing them for indefinite periods and they were likely to approve of Trump’s continuation of that policy, Grosscup suggested.

    "The services seem very happy with avoiding the ‘mess’ of taking and interrogating prisoners, much preferring Obama’s assassination program… Thus, unless Trump’s right wing administration sees a symbolic advantage in adding more inmates to Guantanamo, it is unlikely to happen," he said.

    Trump had promised his supporters he favored the torturing of terrorist suspects, but there was widespread opposition within the US armed forces and intelligence services to re-instituting it, Grosscup pointed out.

    "Torture has left a sour taste in the military/intelligence services mouths, so he [Trump] will meet stiff resistance on that front," he said.

    Trump Sends 'Thumb in the Eye' Message to Critics of US Policies

    George Mason University Professor of Law Francis Buckley told Sputnik that Trump’s decision to keep Guantanamo open maintained more freedom of action and multiple options for the US government in dealing with and detaining terrorist suspects.

    "It’s an entirely sensible decision, from an American perspective, and as an added benefit is a thumb in the eye for those who dislike America," he said.

    Relocation of the prisoners, who are currently in Guantanamo, is one of the biggest hurdles to resolve before closing it down. Their countries of origin do not necessarily want to have them back, while their transfer to the United States raises concerns stateside.

    The 2016 Defense Authorization Act, passed under Obama, included a special provision that forbade the use of public funds for transfer of prisoners from the detention in Cuba to the United States.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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