Warwick Amnesty discuss how Obama can fulfil his first hundred days in office

On Wednesday, the 4th of February, Warwick Amnesty hosted a debate on President Obama’s first 100 days checklist campaign.

The purpose of the event was to gauge whether Obama will fulfill many of the promises he made during his election campaign.

Speakers included Andrew O’Brien on one side and Andrew Bradley on the other, mediated by Justin Greaves from the Politics department.

The debate was kicked off by Andrew Bradley asserting that, although Obama has now officially signed orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre within one calendar year, its presence was not as bad as people perceived.

Its very existence, he argued, was at least subject to some degree of public scrutiny, however little this may be, as opposed to the reports of extrajudicial acts carried out by the United States in murkier corners of the world.

Andrew O’Brien, however, took a more conservative stance on the matter. In matters of the state, he maintained, security and national interest take precedence over all other concerns, at times even human rights matters.

While Obama was, to an extent, elected on a platform of morality, his goal of reclaiming the “moral high ground” after the George Bush era is questionable.

O’Brien added that, while Guantanamo Bay may close, the United States may simply open another similar institution, as the terrorist security threat is ever present.

“What,” he said, “would happen, if tomorrow there is another terrorist attack on mainland America? Surely, they would decide to keep it open in times of such urgency.”

There was a strong turnout at the event, and the audience made numerous positive contributions.

One man in the audience, in particular, was dismayed at what he perceived to be O’Brien’s pessimistic attitude toward President Obama and the high hopes many people hold.

In the face of such remarks, O’Brien made a suitably cutting retort, arguing that while President Obama may indeed have good intentions, in politics, especially when one’s security and interests are at stake, one cannot always afford to pander to idealistic sentiments.

There were, nevertheless, many positive remarks made about the event as a whole and the awareness of human rights it has raised.

One third year student commented, saying: “It’s been great to be able to hear arguments from both sides of the debate, the discussions were highly informative and pertinent to issues we all face.

“It’s important to get people from all walks of life involved in such issues, as it affects us all. I think Warwick Amnesty has done a good job in organising this event and I hope to see many more in the future.”


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