The Obama election was hailed throughout Europe as the beginning of a new era in which the mad policies of George Bush would end and be replaced by those which adhere to basic principles of human rights. Obama’s action in announcing the close of Guantanamo prison raised hopes America would finally come to grips with its tortured past under Bush. But, Obama’s decision to reverse a promise of releasing torture photos created confusion among Europeans who have been anxious to praise the new president. The left-leaning German daily, Die Tageszeitung, reacted by commenting “the president is abdicating leadership on this question (and this) is a tragedy. Because cover-ups and a lack of punishment were never good starting points for a new beginning.”
The Financial Times Deutschland noted Obama had promised his nation would adopt an ethical stance and “the dark chapters of the Bush era would be illuminated as quickly as possible…But, the most important aspect of the Washington changing of the guard is not that Bush-era methods be denounced. Rather, most important is that they be ended.”
Obama might attempt to dodge his responsibilities but all he has done is created an even worse scenario. Instead of controlling the torture discussion, he has allowed it to fall into the hands of those who want punishment and openness. Can Obama control those forces when they use the media to generate debate?