Former Cole Commander: Damn the Human Rights — Full Speed Ahead

The former commander of the U.S.S. Cole is none too happy with Barack Obama’s efforts to return the United States to the rule of law and the international community:

The former commander of the USS Cole, the American war ship that was struck by a suicide boat in Yemeni waters more than eight years ago, on Thursday slammed President Barack Obama’s orders to close the Guantanamo detention center and reassess the prisoners being held there.

‘’We shouldn’t make policy decisions based on human rights and legal advocacy groups,’’ retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kurt Lippold said in a telephone interview. “We should consider what is best for the American people, which is not to jeopardize those who are fighting the war on terror — or even more adversely impact the families who have already suffered loses as a result of the war.”

With respect, this is just wrong. I am one who believes that international relations should be largely understood through the lens of interests. But there’s still such a thing as right and wrong. And we should, in fact, make adequate respect for the law and for human rights an important priority when making our policy decisions. Over the long run, Americans will much prefer to live in a world governed by law and human rights than one of chaos and brutality. And other countries will be better-disposed to our national power and leading global role insofar as they see us upholding humane values and basic decency. Besides which, it’s the right thing to do.