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From Gitmo to the Palau islands
Is sending 17 terrorism suspects to a tiny Pacific nation a "canny" move, or a sign of desperation?
 

A "little Pacific nation is willing to do what Germany, Australia, Canada, and about 100 others wouldn’t," said Carol Huang in The Christian Science Monitor. Palau, a remote collection of islands famous for its tropical climate and diving, has agreed to resettle 17 Uighur Muslims who were captured in Afghanistan but China wants to bring home. What made Palau do it? For starters, $200 million in U.S. development aid—no chump change for a nation of 20,000 people.

"One can’t blame Palau for taking the deal," said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. What country wouldn't be willing to take in 17 men—even if they are al Qaida–trained terrorists who "might not be quite as cuddly as Obama promises"—to instantly double the size of its economy? Here in the U.S., we should be embarrassed that our government had to ask such a favor. "As for the other Gitmo detainees, the bidding starts at $12 million per terrorist now."

This certainly has the whiff of desperation, said Andy Worthington in The Huffington Post. But Palau, a former U.S. trust territory, is "actually a rather canny option" for an Obama administration trying to clean up the Guantánamo problem. It can resist pressure from Beijing because it has relations with Taiwan and not mainland China. If you find bribing a tiny nation distasteful, remember that this move is just a pragmatist's attempt to clean up part of "Bush and Cheney's despicable legacy."

 

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