German Chancellor Demands Closure of Guantanamo

In an interesting development, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is a Christian Democrat, has demanded the U.S. to close its enemy-combatant holding facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Wenige Tage vor ihrem Antrittsbesuch in den USA hat Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) eine Schließung des umstrittenen US-Gefangenenlagers Guantanamo gefordert. Merkel sagte nach einer CDU-Vorstandsklausur in Mainz, sie werde über dieses Thema auch mit US-Präsident George W. Bush reden. “Wir werden versuchen, Gemeinsamkeiten zu finden”, fügte sie hinzu.

[Only a few days before her official visit to the United States, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has demanded the closure of the controversial U.S. prisoner camp at Guantanamo. Merkel said after a closed-door session of the CDU leadership in Mainz that she will speak with U.S. President George W. Bush about this matter. “We will try to find common ground,” she added.]

This is interesting because it is a criticism that seems more natural coming from the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the SPD, who could use Guantanamo as a cheap and easy political talking point. Merkel is from Germany’s conservative party and this criticism might therefore be taken more seriously.

The article notes that “former prisoners have described the internment as brutal and have reported abuse.” It also points out that the U.S. has consistently denied these reports. I think it is telling that there are even “former prisoners,” i.e. people who were once held there and who are now free.



  1. Interesting positioning from Merkel. I suspect that this is a kind of mandatory obeisance to European sensibilities on Guantanamo. And politically it probably makes a lot of sense.


  2. If Merkel wants to work with Bush then she has to push Bush on his human rights record. This is the price of her overture to Bush.It doesn’t mean that Bush has to close Guantanamo. But if Merkel wants to work with him then she needs to demonstrate that she is nonetheless commited to human rights. We are, after all, heirs of the holocaust.Schröder did not have that problem because he had joined the Gaullists confronting Bush, a policy that Merkel wants to reverse.We are living indeed in remarkable times where a German chancellor has to disassociate herself from the human rights record of the United States of America.


  3. HL, I understand the irony of your statement, but don’t be too hard on the Germans. One bad-apple chancellor shouldn’t cast a shadow on all German chancellors, most of whom have been exemplary.


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