Guantánamo does not exist: Simulation and the production of ‘the real’ Global War on Terror

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Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantánamo, the high-profile US military detention and inter- rogation operation, was established in January 2002 to house the ‘worst of the worst’ of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It nevertheless became a public spectacle that was essen- tial for constituting the reality of a Global War on Terror. Through evolving media and VIP tours of the facilities coupled with the Bush administration’s military analyst programme (a system of reverse embeds used to promote Pentagon messages within the U.S. media), Guantánamo became a simulation essential for producing the real- ity of the war. It became a key way to convince the public that the war was real and necessary, but also that its conduct was just and humane, and therefore, by exten- sion, that the United States can be understood as ‘good’. Through a triple screen of the tours, the visitors and their mediation, the telegenic spectacle of Guantánamo was transmuted into a reality of Guantánamo as ‘safe, humane, legal and transparent’. The importance of this for producing understandings of the Global War on Terrorism (GWoT) bears closer examination. Without this triple screen, Guantánamo does not exist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193–206
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • mediation
  • war on terror
  • Guantanamo
  • simulation
  • baudrillard
  • spectacle


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