Looks like we have a brand new Coalition of the Willing shaping up:
Palau agreed to accept 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay, indicating a resolution to one of the thorniest issues facing the Obama administration’s decision to close the prison camp.
The announcement today by the Pacific archipelago, which would clear the last of the Uighurs from the camp in Cuba, was a major step toward the U.S. goal of finding new homes for detainees who have been cleared of wrongdoing but cannot go home for fear of ill-treatment.
President Johnson Toribiong said the decision of Palau, one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, was “a humanitarian gesture” intended to help the detainees restart their lives. His archipelago, with a population of about 20,000, will accept up to 17 of the detainees subject to periodic review, Toribiong said in a statement released to The Associated Press.
“This is but a small thing we can do to thank our best friend and ally for all it has done for Palau,” he said.
And then two unnamed U.S. officials had to go and rain on everyone’s parade by pointing out that the $200 million doesn’t hurt either:
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development, budget support and other assistance in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year.
The American way, huh? When all else fails, just buy them off. So I guess it’s going to be the Coalition of the Willing to be Bought?
*** Update, 8 a.m. ***
First, it says much about how poorly the effort to close Gitmo is going that no nation, other than an island resort nation that is heavily dependent on aid from the U.S., is willing to take the Uighurs. The Obama administration considered the Uighurs the easiest bunch of detainees to relocate. But Canada, European nations, and others have rejected the Obama administration’s various proposals to take them. If the Uighurs cannot be easily relocated, what will come (sic) of other detainees that the Obama administration does not want to try or detain?
Second, $200 million is a steep price. At that rate, the Obama administration is willing to pay almost $12 million per Uighur if Palau takes all 17 Uighurs. How much will the Obama administration pay to nations in exchange taking (sic) other detainees, who may be more worrisome? Is $12 million the going rate? Will the Obama administration pay more to nations that are willing to take detainees with even more troubling terrorist dossiers?