The U.K. has asked for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be released back to Britain, by order of the newly minted Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. This is not an altogether shocking move for a man who wants to distance himself from Tony Blair's almost comical commitment to keeping in step with the U.S. president's policy, which blatantly flouts the notion of habeas corpus. Brown, while much less likable in demeanor than his predecessor, is making a statement, and the response, while perhaps not causing many waves in the international news community, will serve as a kind of litmus test for how the US government will approach this new British regime.
It is easy for the U.S. in many respects to ignore the demands of other countries hoping to receive incarcerated nationals from the U.S. detention facility, mainly because they have little influence or power on American policies, and they are viewed as no real threat if denied access to their citizens. But the U.K., an ally worth preserving, is another story. The U.S. has to be smart about this, and must realize that it is treading on more brackish waters when it comes to mutual acceptance of international policy with the U.K. What was once barely passable during a Blair rule might receive failing marks with Brown. And further expulsion from government ties are not far off, when looking at the U.K.'s unsteady support of U.S. policy from the general population.
Not only does this diplomatic maneuver highlight what the future relationship with Britain might look like, but it also says something about how the U.S. views its place on the global stage. If the U.S. chooses not to trust in allies, they automatically claim dominance over them by default - and that is a dangerous place to sit. If the U.S. government claims to truly be for democracy, they have to trust in the tradition, and allow allies to handle their prisoners. The U.K. is not in such a different situation as we are, and should be allowed the benefit of enforcing their own rules and rights. If the U.S. refuses to hand these prisoners over, it will be a sad day indeed. But if the prisoners are given over, this does not solve the problem entirely. It is sad already, to consider the fact that one nation trumps many others when it comes to asserting their rights and their own democratic systems of national security. The U.S. uses a steep gradient when it comes to judging the abilities of other countries, and that kind of attitude is what contributed to much of this mess in the first place. As any good children's story or fable will teach you, once you place yourself higher than all the rest, the only place left to go is down, and that is truly disheartening. The best way to stay ahead is through cooperation with those seeking similar goals, and compromising in vital areas that assist in a unified notion of peace and well being. Peace must be agreed upon and accepted, not enforced, or artificially manufactured.